The red planet is red no longer, as Mars has become a perfectly inhabitable world. But while Mars flourishes, Earth is threatened by overpopulation and ecological disaster.
- Hugo Awards
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December 31, 1993
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Excerpt from Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
At a certain moment before dawn the sky always glowed the same bands of pink as in the beginning, pale and clear in the east, rich and starry in the west. Ann watched for this moment as her companions drove them west, toward a mass of black land rearing into the sky--the Tharsis Bulge, punctuated by the broad cone of Pavonis Mons. As they rolled uphill from Noctis Labyrinthus they rose above most of the new atmosphere; the air pressure at the foot of Pavonis was only 180 millibars, and then as they drove up the eastern flank of the great shield volcano it dropped under 100 millibars, and continued to fall. Slowly they ascended above all visible foliage, crunching over dirty patches of wind-carved snow; then they ascended above even the snow, until there was nothing but rock, and the ceaseless thin cold winds of the jet stream. The bare land looked just as it had in the prehuman years, as if they were driving back up into the past. It wasn't so. But something fundamental in Ann Caybome warmed at the sight of this ferric world, stone on rock in the perpetual wind, and as the Red cars rolled up the mountain all their occupants grew as rapt as Ann, the cabins falling silent as the sun cracked the distant horizon behind them.
Then the slope they ascended grew less steep, in a perfect sine curve, until they were on the flat land of the round summit plateau. Here they saw tent towns ringing the edge of the giant caldera, clustered in particular around the foot of the space elevator, some thirty kilometers to the south of them.