Book Review: Red Planet Blues
Red Planet Blues by Robert J. Sawyer
Kindle Edition: 368 pages
Publisher: Ace Science Fiction
Language: English

Plot Summary:

In the future, the first manned expedition to Mars discovered a trove of fossilized lifeforms leftover from ancient times when Mars was lifebearing. In a world where virtually anything could be manufactured at will, this triggered a 'fossil rush' to Mars by prospectors searching for items that were truly unique. Some years later, the billionaire inventor of uploading technology set up a colony on the planet to support the prospectors and market the technology too them if/when they scored a big enough find to afford to become immortal. The number of prospectors grew, and with them came the people to provide the other services a boom town might want.

Eventually, Alex Lomax comes to Mars. On the run from prosecution on Earth, he sets up as a private investigator on Mars. Business is slow, until one day a beautiful woman walks into his office with a problem...

What follows is partly science fiction and partly the 'classic' detective story told on another planet and with some characters being superhumanly strong uploads.

OA Relevance: Low to Moderate

The future depicted by Sawyer includes destructive uploading, artificial bodies that are as (or more) capable than biological ones and appear fully human, and it's implied that it's an age of abundance. However, only Mars has been colonized, and then only to the degree necessary to support the hunting of Martian fossils. In some respects it might feel like the early Interplanetary Age, but differences in technological development make it more of an alternate version of the OA timeline.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly:

Sawyer is a solid author and the story has plenty of twists, turns, and plot surprises. Perhaps the biggest issue I had was that, while some of the tech presented is obviously very advanced (uploads and human perfect robot bodies), most of it seems barely beyond what we have in the here and now. However, the overall story generally keeps that from being too jarring. The characters are interesting, although Lomax is definitely the center of this tale and everyone else is there just to move his story forward.

Overall Rating: A solid, although not overly exciting read.

The story is a good read, but it doesn't contain and big or mindbending concepts. If you like the idea of an old fashioned 'Humphrey Bogart-like" detective story in space, however, this one may rather appeal to you.

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