by Greg Bear
Cover Artist: Wayne Barlowe
Review by Paul Haggerty
Orb Books Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765318237
Date: 01 May 2007 List Price $14.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
When in the course of human events, one planet tries to exert undue control over another, the smaller planet sometimes has to resort to desperate measures. This is the status quo of the world of Moving Mars by Greg Bear. Mars has been settled for a hundred years or more and the founding families have formed a networked society with complex obligations and privileges. But to Earth, there's no single point of contact to deal with. And having to herd the Martian cats to get any kind of deal made is driving them crazy. Obviously the only thing to do is to trick them into giving up their way of life and create a unified planetary government. And if trickery doesn't work, then there's always force. Earth may have out grown it as a nasty habit of lesser society's, but let's not forget that old habits are extremely easy to pick back up.
What would the world (any world) be without angry students demanding their rights? Even on Mars the forces of evil (or at least the campus administration) are hard at work ferreting out the students whose opinions don't mesh well with the party line. In this case two hundred students are purged from the University of Mars due to either real or just perceived sympathies with the old Binding Multiple government. The university is pushing for a single state on Mars and people clinging to the old ways are just an embarrassment.
Unfortunately, these students know their rights and they're not going to just slink off silently. What follows is the first shot (complete with martyrs to the cause) that heralds the coming struggle between the mother planet and the rebellious teenager. Of course the struggle is far bigger than any of the students could imagine, but that doesn't keep them from thinking the planet spins around them.
Over the years that follow, Casseia Majumdar, tentative rebel, becomes more and more involved in the political struggle, trying to find a way to unite Mars for the good of all Martians, without letting Mars become what Earth wants it to be, submissive and easy to riffle for loose change. Charles Franklin, Casseia's first and awkward love, finds politics too ambiguous, and throws himself into the structured mathematics of Quantum Mechanics. As the two grow apart, neither expects that their divergent paths will still bring them back together when the trouble with Earth begins to reach its crisis point. Because Charles and the other egg-heads of his group have come up with something wonderful in the interstices of space and time where things are never what we've always taken them to be and the rules of the universe play peek-a-boo behind mathematical curtains. It's a discovery that may move our understanding of the universe in ways we've never imagined. And hopefully give Mars the breathing room it needs to mature.
Moving Mars was originally published in 1993, so this reissue was an interesting piece of history to revisit. Some of the science postulated is now known to be totally wrong, but others parts turn out to be eerily prophetic. It's an interesting read with lots of neat science and planetary biology that teeters on the border between the possible and the impossible.