Robinson's Mars Trilogy: Books to TV Pre-Preview

Did you watch The Expanse? I hope so. I’d written about the TV show and the excellent books they were based on last year, and now I’ve got some info on another sci-fi series headed to TV.

It’s called the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson, and if you’ve never heard of it, allow me a few minutes to recommend it, and why the TV show will probably be great.

Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars are ostensibly about the colonization and terraforming of Mars. They take place over roughly 200 years, though thanks to medical treatments, many of the characters appear in all three books.

You’d think books based on terraforming would be boring, but they’re not. Not only is the humans-against-nature conflict prevalent throughout, Robinson dives into the inevitable politics of a new planet, especially the nearby neighbor of one so overpopulated. Think The Martian movie with more people and less jokes.

It’s a beautifully detailed and carefully created universe.

Robinson is a great writer, though definitely a hybrid of the old-school “big idea” writers of the mid-20th century, and the more character-and-story-based sci-fi writers of today. Which is to say, there are interesting characters, tons of huge ideas, but also huuuuge swaths of all three books that are literally just someone driving around. Chapters and chapters and chapters of nothing but description of the landscape. It’s like driving through Iowa. Yep, I get it, more corn. Except instead of corn it’s rocks. There’s a short collection, The Martians, so I’m sure they’ll be able to keep the travelog to a minimum and focus on the good stuff.

Regardless, I’m really excited. The producer is the insanely talented J. Michael Straczynski, creator of Babylon 5 and more recently, the excellent Sense8 (I’m giving him credit over the Wachowski sisters because, well, did you see Jupiter Ascending?). He’s also producing, along with Game of Thrones’s Vince Gerardis. That is some heavy talent to go along with some solid source material. I have high hopes.

The only odd part is that it’s on SpikeTV, their second scripted show in 10 years. Guess we’ll see how they’ll handle it.

Unfortunately, we’ll be waiting. Fortunately, if you haven’t read the books, you have time. It debuts in January.

And you know what else is premiering in January? The new Star Trek (with Bryan Fuller!!!), and the second season of The Expanse. Greatest month of sci-fi on TV ever? We shall see...

Update: Well that's timing. Turns out the series is now on hold because one of showrunners left. Bummer. More info over at Deadline. Hopefully it won't be delayed too long.