Code, etc.

Notes on the Mars Trilogy, part 2

The quality of the prose varies widely between the volumes of the trilogy. In Red Mars it is workmanlike. In Green Mars, Robinson hits his stride. Up to this point the style is serviceable, but not a conspicuous quality. Blue Mars contains the finest writing of all three, but also some purple passages.

The changes in tone could negatively affect the unity of the trilogy, but for the particularity of the subject. The lexicon of Martian geography – caldera, albedo, planitia – and the cod-Latin names of planetary features from Lowell and Schiaparelli are used throughout. These, and the frequent references to scientific theories, confer a Martian quality on the writing. The abstruse terms that punctuate the prose create a sense of cohesion, setting up resonances that tie the work together and constantly remind the reader of the strangeness of the venue.

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