Greg Bear takes science fiction to an entirely new level of depth and understanding. He’s a great writer and the characters he creates can really hold their own against some pretty spectacular science and technology. This book is about the colonization of Mars, a few generations after the initial contact. The Earth, Moon and Mars are part of a loose organization called The Triple. Earth folks are proceeding in all the science-y ways, getting biological enhancements, experiencing simlated realities and prolonging life while Martians are a more serious bunch, concerned with the more immediate issues of survival and resourcefulness. One Martian woman works her way up through the political process [visting Earth along the way] at the same time as things between the Earth and Mars starts to sour. Add to this mix some technology that is not fully understood and could have devastating impacts and the political finesse required to work things out is a challenge to our heroine.
Oddly, this is a book about politics, it is also about science. Like other Bear books I have read, most notably the Darwin series, he infuses books with a hearty dosage of both. So, while we learn about the atmosphere on Mars and the differences in a society where years are longer and days are shorter, we also learn about the many forms of governance that Mars has, has had, and will have. This is not a short book and some of this information is detailed in a way that only a real fan would truly love, but it all coheres into a whole story that’s fascinating from start to finish.