Study Guide

Red Mars Part 6, Chapter 4

By Kim Stanley Robinson

Part 6, Chapter 4

  • Frank returns to Burroughs like a boxer ready to take on the toughest opponent of his life. Okay, not really; we just really wanted to link to this.
  • Frank asks his assistant, Jeeves, why UNOMA has given in to the transnationals. In a word: greed.
  • He joins Janet, Vlad, and Ursula for dinner, and they watch Earth news on television. Overpopulation is rampant, and the best (read: scariest) solution seems to be famine. Earth's problems are resonating into space and becoming Mars's.
  • Janet lets Frank know that Maya is in Burroughs but probably avoiding him. For his part, Frank's completely oblivious to the fact that Maya's mad at him and also loves him. We sense an on-again coming.
  • When Frank sleeps that night, it's back to the dreamscapes. This time John and Frank are spending time on a space station, playing chess, talking of the past, and looking down on the world. John tells Frank the world is history, that they'll do better than that, but Frank wonders if they can.
  • Frank wakes up and goes looking for Maya. He finds her laughing with some guy in the dining commons, though, so he leaves in a huff.
  • With the space elevator coming soon, Frank moves to Pavonis Mon, the new hub of Mars. The mountain is covered with tents of the new workforce—the new community is a slum already.
  • Over the next few days, Frank tours the elevator base, and everyone watches as the cable slowly crawls out of the sky and lowers into its base, which has got to be a freaky thing to watch.
  • Frank spends his time getting his office moved and meeting with American executives. Then the thing touches the ground and, like Jack's beanstalk, reaches into the sky.
  • This is when trouble hits: people from the tents are complaining that the private security forces are just gangs extorting them for money and claiming it's for their protection.
  • Frank personally meets with a man from El Paso, but the guy brings a whole crowd. They give him a tour of the tents, where everything is crowded and makeshift, like a shanty town.
  • The next week, a set of tents goes on strike. Frank goes to the strike and tells the strikers this will only make matters worse—instead they should form a committee, document their cases, and have victims sign statements. He can use this to prove the transnationals are breaking the treaty.
  • Afterward, Frank yells at the head of the security team for not doing his job.
  • Then Frank decides he can only do one thing: he needs to talk with Phyllis.