the wonderful wizard of mars
January 8, 2003 9:27 PM   Subscribe

The System Administrator's Guild demonstrates true geek wisdom in governence. Like the scientist-intellectual class in Kim Stanley Robinson's epic Mars Trilogy, the members of this Guild elect volunteer leaders to fulfill the group's administrative functions. Robinson's democratic fantasy land--where there are no real politicians--is often overshadowed by the sheer scientific whiz-bang wonderment of his novels. The trilogy is great not for its descriptions of space elevators and artificial gravity but rather because it is a fine example of Feministische phantastische-utopische Literatur and represents insightful social commentary. It even has its own little world-wide subculture, whose members most hopefully sit around and fantasize about how a newly-habitable world--made possible by the genius of the human mind and the skill of human hands--is politically, socially, economically, spiritually and environmentally shaped by the powerful and influential "First Hundred". Although the Sysadmin Guild's most recent executive board election showed a relatively poor voter turnout--touted on the site to be a "very high" 28.5%--I can't help but think they may be on to something. Perhaps a healthy disinterest in ruling and wielding power would be good back here on Earth [NYT].
posted by Hammerikaner (4 comments total)
I actually just finished "Green Mars" and it's a wonderful series so's nice to read good sci-fi that is based on reality more than fantasy (see "Night's Dawn Trilogy", another good series but science fantasy). I'm looking forward to the final book after I finish the Two Towers (again).

How valid are the facts presented in the books? Can we use them as a blueprint?
posted by Dantien at 5:54 AM on January 9, 2003

You have no idea how happy I am to log on and read about the Mars Triology. What fabulous books! I wrote one of my college applications essays (years ago) on the effect Red Mars had on my thinking....

posted by pjgulliver at 6:42 AM on January 9, 2003

Ditto; reading the Mars Trilogy is the single event that got me deeply involved in the Mars exploration advocacy world (maintaining multiple websites, running magazines, making Mars maps and even going to Utah to take part in a Mars simulation base) - apparently KSR has this effect on a lot of people...

I think KSR is broadly okay on the scientific aspects although many feel that he is too optimistic in some senses and not optimistic enough in others (unsurprisingly, as time goes by, the latter camp is becoming larger). Can't really comment on the political aspects although I love his descriptions of the Martian Underground, the gift economy and the world of Blue Mars.
posted by adrianhon at 7:41 AM on January 9, 2003

To this day that remains one of my favorite sci-fi series (though i found the latest short story book a bit lacking). One of my favorite ideas from the book would have to be the method of population control through the rights to 3/4 of a child (thus every couple can have 1.5 children, making the rights to the .5 child a sellable commodity). It would definitly be an interesting world were every person born automaticly had some form of collateral which would be desired by others.
posted by NGnerd at 11:27 AM on January 9, 2003

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