John vs. Frank

Plot structure Terraforming John vs. Frank Plot grids Core passages Culture and religion Alvin Toffler's plea



= one of the basic conflicts underlying the plot of RED MARS and its central theme, the colonization of Mars; contrast established at the very beginning of the novel; closely connected with decision to start plot mediis in rebus (climax)


- When does the conflict between Frank and John begin, and in which steps/stages does it develop?

- Is there any fundamental and irreconcilable disagreement between them concerning the colonization process?

- What is/are the reason(s) underlying the antagonism between Frank and John, which culminates in Frank being responsible for John's death?

- What are Frank's motives for his decision to have John killed?


- two alternative motivations are possible:

1. private reasons: - jealousy ( love; Maya); - envy ( leadership; rivalry; John's prestige as FMM)

2. pragmatic reasons: - alternative concept of the colonization of Mars


- allies and seemingly close friends since the early 21st century

- spent 6 weeks together on space station

- Frank arranges for John to be the first man on Mars; apparently for egoistic reasons: he wants to have him out of his way for the second and more important human Mars mission, the start of colonization

- unexpectedly for Frank, John joins the Ares mission; Frank is appointed leader of the American contingent, but due to his prestige as FMM John's presence presents a challenge to Frank's leadership

- this rivalry is further increased by their triangular love relationship with Maya, the leader of the Russian contingent


chapter 1

- meeting at Nicosia; John's speech on colonizing Mars; John's death; Frank's point of view

- John's basic thesis: "fundamentally different beings"; "to make something new" (15); indigenous Martian culture (21)

- sarcastic comments on John's naive and idealistic notion of a Martian utopia: a. "All lies[...]." (15); b. "more like themselves than ever" (15); c. "His vision of Mars was a lens that distorted everything he saw, a kind of religion" (15); d. three remarks on passages from John's speech (16)

- Frank encourages Arabs' belief that John supports American/Western domination and wants to exclude Arabs and Islam (21-23) >>>>>>assassination of John

- Frank:"Now we'll see what I can do with this planet." (37)

chapter 2

- Frank and John as seen from Maya's point of view (Ares; love triangle)

- "sowing discord" (72) = dominant character trait of John

- John vs Frank on independence from Earth (80)

- Frank: "The urge to excel and the urge to lead aren't the same. Sometimes I think they may be opposites." (87)

chapter 5

- Frank's condescension at John's naivety concerning politics (330-331)

- John's speech at Olympus Mons: a. "transformation of a planet into a world and then a home" (443); b. "the necessity of creation, the imperative ti invent a new social order that is purely Martian" (443-444); c. "we can choose and cut and clip together from what's the best in that [cultural] gene pool" (444); "the genome of our social organization" (444); d. "it's democracy versus capitalism at this point" (445)

chapter 6

- preface: reactions concerning John's death; characterization of John (451-452)

- Maya on Frank's attitude towards colonizing Mars: "You yourself have no opinion. Whatever is easiest to manage. Whatever leaves you in control in the end." (468)

-Frank seemingly adopts John's position of a "new Martian society" (536) formed by "completely new beings" (537) >>> but: "all that crap" (538)

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