A very plausible telling of what life on Mars would be like for the first colonists.
This is the first book in Robinson's Mars trilogy. It covers the first 30-or-so years of human life on Mars, beginning with the arrival of the first 100 colonists in 2027. Robinson weaves an intricate almost-science-fact tale, complete with believable characters, political intrigue, amazing science, and future hopes.
The story opens with the murder of John Boone, the de facto leader of the first 100 colonists due to his natural leadership abilities and his having previously visited Mars. The story then jumps back in time several years and chronicles the journey and arrival of the first 100 colonists. While everyone is excited to be among the first to experience this strange new world, everyone does not agree on the best way to handle the building and colonizing of the red planet.
Factions and conflicts arise, and John Boone rises to become the figurehead that most everyone looks to for guidance and direction on how things should be done. As time goes on, some people disagree with the way Boone is taking things, and some groups dissent and disappear into the wild uncharted deserts of the Martian world.
After Boone's death, another leader arises: Frank Chalmers. Chalmers was a friend of Boone, though they tended to disagree most of the time. As Chalmers tries to get the UN bureaucrats to see things from the Martian colonists' point of view, unrest spreads through the masses of immigrants and revolution breaks out. Many of the immigrants and colonists want to separate themselves from the control of the UN and other Earth-bound parties, but these power groups don't give up so easily.
While the story does tend to wander occasionally, Robinson's style makes the journey enjoyable. If you enjoy character-driven epic science fiction, you will enjoy this book.