Study Guide

Red Mars Part 5, Chapter 2

By Kim Stanley Robinson

Part 5, Chapter 2

  • John Boone stands at the bottom of a giant shaft looking at what might be a bird overhead. Except, you know, no birds on Mars, so…
  • Realizing something is falling, he and his tour guide, one Etsu Okakura, beat feet. Thanks to Mars's low-pressure atmosphere and weaker gravity, they manage to escape, whereas on Earth terminal velocity would have dropped the truth too fast for escape to be possible.
  • John tries to help Okakura to his feet, but the man would rather get up on his own than owe a debt of giri.
  • The falling object turns out to be a robot dump truck. They explore the truck and discover a soot-like substance on it—John figures it is the remnants of an ammonium nitrate explosion. Foul play most likely.
  • Okakura questions John, and John mentions this is the sixth case of sabotage he's seen; Okakura blames the Reds.
  • The two ride the elevator out of the mohole, and John receives an impressive view of the project. They then head to the Japanese town of Senzeni Na.
  • On the town's fifth floor, Okakura explains to others what happened. John says there is no reason to believe the culprits came from Senzeni Na at all, but they should set up an alarm system and put some more guards on duty—waste of time maybe, but it has to be done.
  • John gets a tour of the town and plays it up First Man on Mars-style. He has to pop a omegendorph (a feel-good drug designed by Vlad), but he makes it through.
  • When he's shown to his suite, he puts in a phone call to Sax.
  • The two discuss who could possibly be trying to sabotage the terraforming projects, and Ann's name is brought up; John agrees to talk with Ann.
  • John steps onto his balcony. He has a new task, a mystery to solve—the game is afoot.
  • Ann is doing survey work around the Argyre Basin, so John borrows a glider from Senzeni Na's dirigible.
  • At Ann's base of operations, he finds that Ann is out with a team, so he has lunch with the people there and then heads out to meet her.
  • Seems Ann is out looking for evidence that Mars ever truly supported oceans. So far they're finding nothing, but John wonders if Ann is really looking.
  • John brings up the sabotage incidents, but Ann claims innocence—she may want Mars to stay as it is, but she's not that stupid.
  • Ann mentions that John should be asking the Coyote about these things. What the who? Seems the Coyote is a folktale floating around Mars—legend is that the Coyote can travel the surface without a walker. Yeah, on Mars the act of walking around is a pretty bid deal.
  • John asks Ann to discourage any acts of vandalism for the sake of innocent bystanders, but Ann just contends that it would save lives if they'd just leave the planet alone.
  • On the way back to Ann's base, John tries discussing Hiroko, but there was no word on that coop-flying bird.
  • While watching the television for Earth news, Ann points out that since things are now open on Mars, they'll only get worse for Earth. Many are already violating the Antarctica Treaty and have begun drilling for oil there.
  • John tries to show Ann the advantages to the changes. On Mars, people aren't fighting for nations but for a new future. And although Ann may have lost the war with terraforming, her input keeps the process from being as devastating as it otherwise might be.
  • He mentions that even though they terraform the planet, the planet changes them; Ann promises to one day remind him he said this.
  • On his way out, John is told by Simon that Ann is pregnant despite being sixty. John congratulates the father-to-be, telling him to take care.