Review: White Mars by Brian Aldiss and Roger Penrose

Oh dear, oh dear! It’s quite hard to make me stop reading a novel once I’ve
started - I’m too curious to know how it finishes. This book made me bail out
at page 71 (out of 323) and it was only an act of will that kept me going that

It’s my own fault really, the blurb does give fair warning:

How can we achieve a better world? A happier future? A new understanding of
human life? This startling and authoritative book shows how such a society
could be built. In so doing it produces a beautiful and grim new myth.

but wait, there’s more!

And while the utopian debate is in progress, the question of alien life
enters in a dramatic way. Oh yes, size matters!

The novel throngs with characters. People are important. They must co-
operate or perish. The mover and shaker is Tom Jefferies; on the austere world
on which he and his company are exiled, he slowly creates his goal, the
humanising of science, the improvement of human existance, the freeing of the
mind from its dangerous past.

This is the first time I’ve seen a novel described as “authoratitive” and I
don’t believe it merits that classification either. It does manage to be dry,
slow moving and lacking in characters that have any real depth. Now, if this
was a relic from the so-called “golden age” of science fiction we could
perhaps forgive the book some of these flaws but it was published in 1999 and
so the authors have no excuse whatsoever.

Instead of a compelling narrative we are treated to pages of description (of
dubious merit) of the problems with previous human societies which makes even
Vogon poetry seem appealing.

Definitely do not buy this book. I borrowed it free from my local library and
I still feel cheated.

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