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Moving Mars

Posted by Joel Gerlach on 04/17/2020

Dear Mr. Bear, 1. What is your favorite book you've ever written? And quick followup question: 2. Why is it Moving Mars? ;) I am mostly kidding. I just finished the Audible version of Moving Mars for the fourth time. Several years ago, I bought out all of Powell's copies of Moving Mars and gave them out to my friends and family as gifts (surprisingly, they had four in stock! Thanks Powell's!). Over the years I've read it and listened to it so many times and yet after a while I'll always come back and go through it again and it's like a fresh experience every time. In this world, it is incredibly rare to find a book (Scifi or otherwise) or watch a movie where no matter how hard you try, you can't think of a way to improve upon it. Moving Mars is one of those examples for me. A book written so well that try as I might--though I find myself rarely ever to be truly critical of someone else's work--I cannot think of a way it could have been done better. The book is complex, nuanced, and is like the perfect roller coaster that continues to accelerate and climb all the way to the final climax without ever becoming dull. Truly, it is a thrill. There's mystery upon intrigue and the "aha!" moment when the book's title is revealed to the audience is always fresh and exciting every time. Over the years I've read almost all of your books (Eon and Anvil and Strength of Stones are some of my favorites) but Moving Mars, to me, rises above them all because of the simplicity of its narrative and the crystal focus on its protagonist. Where other authors might get mired in complexity, Moving Mars keeps its focus and never wavers all the way until the finale, where I'm always moved almost to tears at the final sentence of the book: "...and the sky was bluer still." I don't mean to come here to gush endlessly about the book, but I do have questions, I promise! I am very curious--if you're willing to reveal it--where the inspiration for Moving Mars came from, specifically the decision to write a story where an entire planet becomes a method of transport. And how did you decide to make politics, especially interplanetary politics, a core focus of the book? Moving Mars feels so thoroughly cohesive from start to finish where everything you read feels central to the plot and doesn't wander. So final question: what was outlining the story for Moving Mars like? Did you always know exactly what you were writing or did you have to wander to get there? From the bottom of my heart, thank you for writing such an amazing book. Especially now with everything going on in the world, Moving Mars actually gives me a greater perspective, context, and appreciation for the politics of Earth and what it might someday mean for our big red neighbor. Thank you for reading this short essay. And I hope you are staying safe and healthy. Sincerely, -Joel G.

Re: Moving Mars

Posted by Greg Bear on 04/20/2020

Many thanks, Joel! MOVING MARS is indeed one of my favorites. In a way, I was responding to Heinlein's challenge in THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS. But also, I wanted to write about the Mars we were discovering through our various visits, and speculating some on what living on Mars would actually be like. Over the years, we've been introduced to a lot of Martians, including Donna Shirley, whose book MANAGING MARTIANS is well worth reading. And of course there's that fine trilogy by Stan Robinson, who met Astrid and me at a good many Mars events in Pasadena! And who was also there for the inception of writing THE FORGE OF GOD in Yosemite.

Re: Moving Mars

Posted by Sean M. Brooks on 04/23/2020

Dear Mr. Bear: and of course your own father in law Poul Anderson wrote some stories set on Mars or featuring Martians. The most prominent example from his works being THE WAR OF TWO WORLDS, which is kind of a riff on H.G. Wells WAR OF THE WORLDS. Altho I consider Anderson's story to be far better. Sincerely, Sean M. Brooks

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