A book's setting is as unique as its characters, and often becomes a character of its own. In Red Rising, Pierce Brown puts a new spin on Mars and makes it more than the red planet we crave to understand. With such a unique and interesting location, we thought we'd ask Pierce what readers can expect to see and how the setting affects the book's characters. So without further ado, take it away, Pierce!
Mars is the planet of rage, of passionate fury. Since the gods of Greece and Rome, the red planet has been associated with the deadlier aspect of humanity’s carnal nature. Authors like Edgar Rice Burroughs, Isaac Asimov and Kim Stanley Robinson (among dozens of others) have set stories there, inspired by its craggy gulches and barren wastelands. But my Mars is a bit different from theirs.
The Mars of Red Rising is not barren, not lifeless. It has been carved by man. Terraformed to harbor beautiful green valleys, snow-capped peaks, and cities of shining gold. Mars could have been a paradise, a new planet on which to build the grandest civilization humanity has ever seen. Instead, for Darrow, the main character of Red Rising, it is his home and after his young wife dies, it becomes his own personal hell.
Born in a subterranean mine, Darrow has mined the soil of the red planet for his entire life, never seeing the stars or the grass of the surface. He and his people, the Reds, believe the world still barren. They are told by their overseers that they are the pioneers who make ready the planet for the weaker Colors on a dying Earth; one day, one day Mars will be habitable. Until then, sacrifice, obedience, prosperity.
Obviously, this is a lie. Humanity has already come to Mars.
Mars is ruled by Gold — the class of humans who created a Color hierarchy to order and maximize the efficiency of mankind. Reds are enslaved beneath the surface. And other Colors live in the many cities that span Mars’ surface.
I could have chosen Earth for this story. Could have chosen Mercury or Europa or any of the other terrestrial worlds, but I chose Mars for a reason. It, more than any other planet, reflects the passionate rage that fill Darrow and his people.
Yet, Mars is not rage alone. In ancient times, Mars was known to have a counterpart in Venus, the goddess of love and prosperity. In many ways, the passionate fury of Mars and passionate love of Venus are opposite sides of the same coin. Darrow’s rage once he discovers the lie his people have been fed is tempered only by the love he feels for his wife, Eo, and her vision of a future where the Red people are no longer enslaved.
His struggle in Red Rising is to let Eo’s vision guide him, to let her love focus the rage he feels. To wield that rage without sacrificing the values that make him the hero he is.
Love, not hate, is the thing that will enable him to live for more.
Red Rising is available now, so be sure to grab a copy so you can enter this exciting new sci-fi world! And for more sci-fi authors, books and buzz, visit our Everything Science Fiction Page!