Study Guide

Red Mars Part 1, Chapter 2

By Kim Stanley Robinson

Part 1, Chapter 2

  • John Boone's speech picks up where the introduction leaves off, ending with the suggestion that Mars has made humans "fundamentally different beings" (1.2.1). Wow, this book sure lays the heavy stuff on early.
  • Frank Chalmers sits in the audience thinking John's speech is all lies, but also realizing that John believes the lies. So he's lying, but not a liar. Okay.
  • Maya Toitovna calls Frank up for his speech.
  • At the podium, Frank is amazed at how large the city is and, minus the clear plastic tent enclosing it, that it stands in the open air—it's a far cry from someplace called Underhill.
  • His own speech mirrors John's, despite Frank's feelings to the contrary. But he figures lies are what the people want, so he might as well give them to them.
  • On the platform, the crowd mingles with the first one hundred, including Samantha Hoyle and Sax Russell; John, Maya, and Frank, we've already meet.
  • Frank leaves the platform in a huff and heads for the perimeter. While thinking about how John, Maya, and their Terran admirers plan to decide the fate of Mars for themselves, Frank seems to be trying to push his fingers through the piezoelectric plastic. He believes they are nothing without him.
  • Frank stalks to the Arab/Swiss part of town and joins some Arabs for coffee; among them is his friend, Zeyk
  • The men are discussing John Boone's speech and how they believe he'll only promote Mars's interests for countries and cultures of his choosing, mostly America. They think Boone has it out for them in particular.
  • When Frank leaves them, a young Arab named Selim catches up with him. He asks if Boone is really anti-Arab, and Frank tells him that he believes John will use the treaty renewal to promote Western biases.
  • Frank promises to talk to John tonight and says he'll meet with the young man later.
  • As he returns to walking the streets, the citizens begin preparing for Fassnacht, a festival of Mardi Gras-esque proportions.
  • During the sunset, he makes his way to the farm and steals three patches of pesticides, making a mental note to himself that this stuff is of the deadly-to-human variety. Maybe he's just fanatical about his zucchini?
  • On his way to meet John, Frank stops in the Arab sector and scratches the word Jew into a few plastic windows. Okay, now we're starting to get the feeling this guy might not be on the up-and-up.
  • Frank bumps into John. He asks John why he's trying to keep Mars to himself and cut him out of the negotiations. John claims he isn't, but Frank doubts whether or not he's talking with John his friend, or John the politician.
  • Frank heads to his meeting with Selim. At the park, he embraces the young Arab, poisoning him with the pesticide patches—now, unbeknownst to the young Arab, he has a mere six hours to live.
  • He tells Selim that the talks were useless, and Selim claims John must be stopped.
  • Later that night, Frank bumps into Maya, and they vaguely discuss some incident that happened between them on the Ares. Then in the thirty-nine minute lag between midnight and 12:01AM, a race riot breaks out in the city. Good times.
  • Sax Russell finds Frank and Maya to inform them that John has been attacked and chased into the Martian landscape.
  • They search for John all over before thinking of the farm—John's found among the radishes, jacket covering his head to conserve oxygen.
  • They carry John to a medical center, but it's too late and though the doctors work on him, he's pronounced dead.
  • Frank gets angry with Maya for suggesting that he never cared for John, and leaves the medical center, wondering what he'll be able to accomplish now that the planet is under his control.