The Ghost of a Review of White Mars

Hindenburg

Oh, the humanity!

I know I promised a review of Brian Aldiss’ White Mars. I know I promised to compare it to Finches of Mars.

I just can’t. I just can’t make myself argue and list its politics. I just can’t talk about its literary values.

Two Martian utopias. Two bad Martian utopias. I just … I just can’t.

I can’t make myself go back. I can’t relive it.

Glimpses really. Just glimpses.

A consortium of Europeans, Asians, and the U.S. send a bunch of scientists and their aides to Mars to science and look for the Omega Smudge. Things collapse on Earth. A moving mountain shows up. A new consciousness arises in the Crusoe Martians. Time travelers show up.

I can steal.

I can steal others’ work.

This article says its a response to Kim Stanley Robinson and tells you its place in the history of 1990s works on Mars.

John Joseph Adams puts in the time line of Martian novels.

John Clute and David Pringle say it’s “narratively congested“.

I can let Paul Wesson, theoretical physicist, discuss its shortcomings.

I can’t do a review though.

I can rant.

About the cheap, teleological mysticism of stating the universe “needs consciousness  to fully exist”.

That environments are not “sacrosanct”. There’s no Big Man, Big Woman, Big Alien in the sky who sad so. Impersonal forces may punish your trashing of the environment, but no Cosmic Priest made that rule.

That particle physics is the only boring science there is.

That Aldiss indicts the “folklore of interplanetary” science fiction and names Edgar Rice Burroughs, Leigh Brackett, and Kim Stanley Robinson as co-conspirators.

That you can’t complain about nations being bad and yet think that local values should not be subsumed by global culture. Nations are what keep and preserves local values.

That the Martian society of no money still looks like it has something that does the same thing as money.

That the ending is as utterly implausible as H. G. Wells’ magic utopia-by-comet-gas In the Days of the Comet.

A MOVING SENTIENT MT. OLYMPUS!, Oh, excuse me, Chimborazo.

But I can not review this book.

I can be kind.

Aldiss and Penrose at least spare us the curse of most utopias — some smug person condescendingly saying “As you know, that’s always been a problem. But here …” (“Or you f’ing retard, of course it’s a problem!!)

A few characters are more than names.

I like the idea of ending universal suffrage.

I agree antibiotic resistance is a problem.

Women maybe would like to be alone for birthin’ those babies.

But I can not review this novel.

I can be a bureaucrat.

I can give you little bullet points for these two books:

  • Aliens: White Mars ludicrous, Fin … (oh, just F and M. My fingers don’t want to even make extra strokes for this book.) Anyway, plausible aliens for F.
  • Corrupt Institutions: W — all those countries, F — Universities and Colleges (Oh, sure Aldiss doesn’t seem to realize, at least in America, that both are perfect monopolies, jack up their costs above inflation, price fix, get the Feds to keep the student loans a’coming, and the bankruptcy laws to keep those payments from stoppin’)
  • Problems: yeah, climate change for both and the usual gripe about capitalism and not spending enough on education and welfare. (You might want to check out what the UK did with all those oil funds from the North Sea yet its underclass persists. Americans can check out the Kansas City experiments.)

But I can’t rant any and respond any more. These books will influence no minds anyway.

I can’t review this book.

I can write rotten doggerel about it but not a review.

I will not put it in a box.

I will not talk about it a lot.

I cannot join the refrain

When these Martians complain.

The characters are too many,

The crawling mountain too funny.

The talk of particles and sentience

Bored me, left me without patience.

Scientists get to play

While others have to pay

No god for Mars, but Mars a temple

Because red worship is so simple.

For God there is no apologetics,

But worship for Nature’s aesthetics.

 A Modern Utopia was nary so dull

Though its spine was crammed more full.

But I can not review Brian Aldiss’ and Roger Penrose’s White Mars from 1999.

 

Actual reviews of fantastic fiction are indexed by title and author/editor.

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