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>Moving Mars

April 20, 2010

>At this past weekend’s chess tournament (High School Nationals), I finished reading a small paperback book that went to France and back with us, traded around but never getting to me. It would have been easier to read it in the bright sunlight of Nice, rather than in any of the public spaces of a hotel/convention center. Why are public spaces always so dimly lit?

Being inside under inadequate artificial light seemed appropriate for the topic of Moving Mars, by Greg Bear. It’s set under Mars, much as Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is set under the moon’s surface (and the families, called Binding Multiples, remind readers of Heinlein’s line marriages). I thought the title was going to be metaphorical, you know, but it turns out that it’s quite literal. To understand the science, you’d need to have a microchip implanted to work as an “enhancement” to your brain, but what there is seems plausible, seductively so.

Nothing struck me as totally new in the science or the fiction, but it all works well, especially the characterization and dialogue. You care about the main character, Casseia Majumdar, and you come to see the universe through her very Mars-centered eyes.

There are some very interesting snapshots of earth’s future, like when Casseia travels to earth and visits Washington, DC where “the [cherry] trees blossomed once every month…tourists expected that” and “in the Potomac, water welled up in glistening hills and ripples and a line of caretaker manatees broke the surface, resting from pruning and tending the underwater fields.”

The main genius of this novel is in the description of what the inventor of the device that can move Mars calls “frame shift.” It’s fascinating, and heartbreaking–the latter mostly when you raise your eyes from the page and realize you’ve been reading fiction.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. April 20, 2010 11:49 am

    >This is going to make me sound really stupid, but I think somehow I missed that you went to France and back – was this recently? Or maybe I saw it and my overburdened brain of late just didn't retain the information. I feel like a putz.

  2. April 20, 2010 6:21 pm

    >Amanda, We were in France last June. I had some posts about M is for Magic scheduled, and the last one didn't post while we were gone, so I edited it to incorporate some of our experiences: http://necromancyneverpays.blogspot.com/2009/06/sunbird-from-m-is-for-magic.html. There are a few posts about France before and after that one, too. I found them by searching for the word "Chartres."

  3. April 20, 2010 8:49 pm

    >I've read some of Greg Bear's work although it's probably been 10 years now since I did so.If I send you a book (another Banks but I promise nothing like the Wasp Factory), would you consider reading it? It's one of his sci-fi books, so not as shall we say shocking as the other one.

  4. April 20, 2010 9:39 pm

    >Elizabeth, my review of Consider Phlebas is coming this week when I get time to write it…at this point, I think it might take someone sending me a book to get me to read another one by Banks.

  5. April 20, 2010 11:32 pm

    >I'll wait then to see what you liked/disliked about Phlebas.

  6. April 21, 2010 1:04 am

    >Ah, when you said that, I thought you meant RECENTLY, like as in you just got back from vacation. I was going through the last few posts trying to figure out when I'd been completely lame. 😀

  7. April 21, 2010 1:23 am

    >Amanda, now you know how far back my TBR pile goes…

  8. April 21, 2010 2:47 pm

    >Hmm. Great Doctor Who story involving micro-chips and another with ear pods for cell phones. One of these years, we'll get you on the bandwagon.

  9. April 21, 2010 2:56 pm

    >Lemming, I like the Dr. Who episodes I've watched, but watching videos is a social activity around here, and Ron doesn't care for Dr. Who for some reason.

  10. April 22, 2010 2:48 am

    >I think this book has homages to Podkayne of Mars, a Heinlein juvenile about another precocious protagonist told in first person.

  11. April 23, 2010 1:54 pm

    >Ron, oh yeah–I think I read that book once. Maybe another for the reread list.

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