Blue Mars (Mars Trilogy, Book 3)

Monday, February 25, 2019

Blue Mars (Mars Trilogy, Book 3)
Kim Stanley Robinson, 1996

Hugo winner - 1997

Premise: Sequel to Red Mars and Green Mars. The people of Mars take the next steps in trying to create a new society while not abandoning the problems of Earth. The survivors from the first settlers learn how different life becomes when you live for hundreds of years.

This book was long, and, much like its predecessors, it’s more a collection of connected stories than a novel. The book overall tells the story of the aftermath of the revolution, the creation of the new Martian government, and then the various ways people learn to live on Mars. Because each section follows a different character, you get a variety of perspectives, but that also means that some plot threads or ideas are dropped and never really picked up again.

Overall I enjoyed this one because I enjoy Nadia and Ann, and both of them were important characters. Nadia’s section is all about the creation of the new government and social structure on Mars. In 2018, it was downright soothing to read about people working hard and arguing in good faith about how to create the best society by learning from the past (particularly learning from what hasn’t worked).

Ann, long-time leader of the Red movement (those who want to prevent or delay terraforming) has largely lost any personal drive, but she comes to a kind of peace that feels genuine and reasonable. Sax, her long-time rival and champion of terraforming, continues his own physical and mental healing from the previous book. Other sections follow second-generation character Nirgal in his search for a life of meaning, and original leader Maya in her attempts to guide the politics of the next generation while struggling with aging. (I’m sure there are others I’m forgetting - did I say it was a long book?)

One section I didn’t much like follows a third-generation character, and she was just such a young careless hedonist compared to the other characters that I couldn’t really sympathize with her.

The longevity treatments that felt somewhat silly to me in the previous book are given appropriate political and personal weight here and become a much more interesting element.

Overall it’s a strong book, but I think I found it more impressive than compelling as a whole.

4 Stars - A Very Good Book

Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong and What You Really Need to Know and Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy

Monday, February 18, 2019

Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong and What You Really Need to Know
Emily Oster, 2013, 2016

Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy
Angela Garbes, 2018

So, as you can probably guess, I have a good reason for letting this blog go semi-dark. We’ll see how much content I post going forward, especially once the new little one is due in June.

In the meantime, I didn’t mean to completely stop posting, I just fell out of the habit.

I’ve (naturally) been reading up on my current state, and here are the two books I liked the most so far.

Expecting Better is a great book that risks being dated rather quickly. It’s by a journalist who took it upon herself to understand as much of the current research around getting and being pregnant as she could. Interspersed with anecdotes from her own pregnancy, she provides grounded recommendations. More than that, the book shares rational advice based on the actual science that supports (or doesn’t support) commonly held recommendations. The whole idea is to give the reader all the information so you don’t have to trust a voice of authority blindly, but instead make your own risk assessments and behavior choices based on actual statistics.

I say that this book could be dated quickly because it is so grounded in the latest research. As time marches on, that body of research will only continue to grow and change. However, there is a new update that is either coming out or out already for 2019, so maybe it will keep up for a while.

I was hoping that Like a Mother would be similar, just more current and with a slightly different focus, but it didn’t have quite as much science as I was hoping. Now, it still had plenty of science, but it also relied more on personal stories. On the other hand, it also provides support for anyone who senses they might need to be their own advocate in order to be taken seriously by medical professionals (see: studies on the dismissal of women’s pain, etc.) I did still like this book a lot. The author’s perspective on healthcare as a mother of color is extremely important, and the book provided a lot of fascinating factoids about unexamined areas for up-and-coming research.

Both books are empowering for the reader, but in different ways. Expecting Better gives you the information to make your own choices, and Like a Mother reassures you that although pregnancy is scary, it’s also powerful in ways science is only beginning to understand. (Seriously, there’s a whole closing section on microchimeric cells created during the process.)