Moving Mars Themes
by Greg Bear

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Moving Mars Themes

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Casseia is engaged in a maturation process that is inseparable from the political coming-of-age of Mars, and thus she represents themes tied to human values, identity and destiny. Responses to and uses of technology by individuals and societies on both Mars and Earth are important aspects of Casseia's story. Human adaptability in the face of alienation and change is illustrated by the fairly comfortable lifestyle on Mars, despite a natural outdoor environment characterized by low temperatures, thin atmosphere, and high radiation levels. Martians spend most of their lives in pressurized underground warrens, emerging only when clothed in protective outfits.

Martians have embraced other technology besides that of artificial habitats. Genetic engineering produces physical attractiveness in people. Robots, called arbeiters, perform most chores. "LitVids" provide information and communication. Scheduled spaceships travel between Mars, Earth and Earth's Moon. Self-aware artificial intelligences exist to augment humankind's thinking power — addressing the theme of the nature of thought and reality. People obtain implants for entertainment or for various professional purposes. Advanced nanotechnology is used in healing the sick or injured, growing food, even constructing buildings.

But Casseia's experiences, both on Mars and Earth, call into question the results of unbridled technology. In the astonishingly "advanced" United States, for example, the people have become decadent, confused, and increasingly diverse and disputatious. There are even class divisions between the "therapied" and "untherapied." If Martians fare better, it is because they remain...

(The entire section is 376 words.)