Red Mars explores the colonisation of Mars. This journey begins with the First Hundred, who set up the initial settlement. (This reminded me of The 100.) One of the biggest challenges faced is that of radiation and atmosphere. This leads to significant debate around terraforming. Eventually, the debate is decided for them after someone sneaks in some algae into windmills. From there the novel explores the arrival of those coming to Mars not just to live and survive, but to exploit the environment. With this comes a change in culture, politics and conditions.
In the end, this is not The Martian. I wonder if that is because The Martian is somehow more authentic? Maybe, things have changed in the 30 years since Red Mars was published? However, I feel that sometimes Robinson’s narratives are as much about people and their consequences, as they are about the literal plausibility of everything discussed, from the burning up of ice asteroids to building a space elevator. It is interesting to consider this alongside as Antarctica, a foreign space on earth.