Read it for the first time in 1993.
Going into this book 20 years later, the feeling I had was one of trepidation. Would the book have stood the test of time?
And the answer is: Unfortunately no.
One of the things that I've noticed almost from the onset was a huge dissonance (I don't remember spotting it 20 years earlier, but now I did): Why plan the mission without firmly establishing at least some sort of general idea about what sort of terraforming might be done?
I cannot imagine spending hundreds of billions of dollars to send Men to Mars without a proper plan in place. It was quite inconceivable more than 20 years ago, and it still is.
Also at times I had the impression that there were things Robinson just didn't want to bother to develop. The name of "Underhill" pops up out of nowhere in the middle of a paragraph inside a chapter with no explanation at all. You'd think the naming of the first settlement would be somewhat more momentous.
It just doesn't seem like there was much of a story present at all.
Great swaths of the book consist of characters wandering around being lonely and accomplishing nothing, though it hardly feels like there's much character development to speak of.
hen they wait until after they arrive on Mars to have some big, nasty row about terraforming? Surely this would be an issue that would have been hammered out well in advance of anyone leaving orbit?
What about the fact that the 1st 100 settlers waited until arriving on Mars to start bickering? How could the 1st 100 have been chosen so badly?
The answer given is not convincing, ie, apparently everyone lied horribly during the recruitment phase because they wanted to get there... WTF??? What kind of behaviour assessments were given to this guys??
What about Maya? What was the purpose of including her thread in the book? It serves no purpose, except as the love triangle Boone/Chalmers/Maya.
The only redeeming fact about the book is the Science. For that 3 stars.