In the 1990s, science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson wrote the Mars trilogy—a chronicle of humanity's attempts to turn Mars into a colony, and then a terraformed world, and eventually the beating heart of systemic-wide utopia.
Humanity first walks on Mars in 2020, sets sails for the red planet in 2026 with a crew of one hundred, and over the course of the next two centuries witnesses waves of industrialization, sabotage, and revolution as Mars becomes its own society and struggles over what to do with its independence.
Through it all, and despite the decline of Earth thanks to various environmental and political disasters, military conflicts with Terran forces, and political tensions sparked by waves of migration from Earth, the series is truly hopeful and optimistic not just about humanity’s future but the role Mars might play in it. It may come as a surprise to some, then, that Robinson recently seemed to rebuke all this and declare Mars irrelevant in the year 2022.
“Mars is irrelevant to us now. We should of course concentrate on maintaining the habitability of the Earth. My Mars trilogy is a good novel but not a plan for this moment. If we were to create a sustainable civilisation here on Earth, with all Earth’s creatures prospering, then and only then would Mars become even the slightest bit interesting to us,” Robinson says in an interview with Farsight. “It would be a kind of reward for our success—we could think of it in the way my novel thinks of it, as an interesting place worth exploring more. But until we have solved our problems here, Mars is just a distraction for a few escapists, and so worse than useless.”