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The First Hundred
Frank ChalmersHead of the American contingent. Frank is cynical and ruthlessly pragmatic. His first act in the book is engineering a riot and the death of his old friend, John Boone, but there's more to him than that.
- Be All My Sins Remembered: He is actually angered by the fact that Maya falls in love with him some time after the night in Nicosia, because in his opinion he doesn't deserve it.
- Beneath the Mask: He is very, very rarely open about his true feelings, and behind the mask he has a lot of anger and contempt for people, even the ones he feels the most affection for.
- Cunning Linguist: Learning new languages comes easily to him. (Granted, Michel thinks his French is awful.)
- I Did What I Had to Do: In regards to John Boone.
- It's All My Fault / My God, What Have I Done?: Not a sudden realization, but a gradual one - After Nicosia he slowly comes to realize that he screwed everything up for everyone, and that he is the only one who knows it.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: When we see his second POV section, he's a much more complicated person than the villain he seems to be in the prologue.
- Manipulative Bastard: He's not as charismatic as Boone, but the first chapter makes it clear that he's been playing various groups (particularly the Arabs) like a fiddle.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Based on a combination of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon
- The Resenter: He grows to despise Boone for walking on Mars first, and then being in a relationship with Maya.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Maya speculates this when she finds a biography that describes his early career as a young, idealistic public servant working for a program that was shut down by a corrupt politician. Cross between this and Maddened Into Misanthropy.
John BooneFamous for being the first person to set foot on the Red Planet. John Boone has an effortless charisma and charm that quickly makes him the de facto leader of the American contigent, and perhaps the First Hundred in gneral.
- The Ace: First Man on Mars. He's also really charismatic, likable, and friendly.
- Berserk Button: Religion, specifically Christianity. He views it as a political construct based on the history of the Bible's writing and gets very heated after an Easter service is conducted aboard the Ares, to the surprise of everyone who's used to easy-going friendly John.
- Bold Explorer: He's so eager to be part of Mars exploration that he charms his way into the First Hundred expedition despite being over the lifetime acceptable exposure to radiation.
- The Charmer: One of his defining characteristics.
- Functional Addict: He's addicted to the fictional drug omegendorph, but it doesn't seem to impair him too much.
- The Leader: Type IV, Charismatic. He can easily get others to follow him and defuses tensions and arguments through his charm.
- Magnetic Hero: Given enough time, John Boone can get along with anyone, provided they don't have a corporate agenda or are named Frank Chalmers. He can even get Ann, who admits she sympathizes with the Reds who tried to assassinate him, to like and trust him. Coyote says it's because John was so good at being convinced of other people's point of view (while putting his own spin on it) rather than the other way around.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Based on John F. Kennedy.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Although he never seems stupid, per se, people around him see him as much more simple than he actually is.
- Odd Couple: With Chalmers, but it eventually falls apart.
- Shrouded in Myth: After his death. One of the inter-chapter sections transitions from Boone's biography to stories of him, Paul Bunyan, and Big Man. Political groups later invoke his name to back up their position.
Maya ToitovnaThe leader of the Russian contingent. A complex individual who takes a great interest in the power dynamics of the First Hundred.
- Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: She catches some heat from the other First Hundred for killing Phyllis Boyle, because that person was "one of them" in spite of everything. Maya, for her part, resents the resentment.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: She hates American attitudes towards sex, viewing them as Puritanical and insulting.
- Determinator: She drives the First Hundred in their escape from the metanats in 2061. Later, multiple people credit her with their survival.
- The Fog of Ages: In Blue Mars she experiences jamais vu (the opposite of deja vu) and presque vu (i.e. "it's on the tip of my tongue).
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Nadia, described as being like sisters—they don't get along and aren't much alike and yet are intimate.
- I Did What I Had to Do: She kills Phyllis without remorse, even though she was one of the First Hundred.
- Important Haircut: She shaves her head on her 130th birthday out of disgust for her age and appearance.
- Manipulative Bastard: She considers sexual and romantic relationships as a means to an end, both in her early career as a cosmonaut and with John and Frank. Subverted, though, in that she also gets heavily emotionally involved in several of them, even while using them as a means of influence (thus sometimes leading to a very chaotic power situation...)
- Masochism Tango: All of her romantic relationships, more or less. Blatantly lampshaded by Nadia and Arkady.
- Too Much Alike: With Frank, both of them being manipulators with a constant eye on the power dynamics of the colonists.
- Tsundere: With the justification that she has Bipolar Personality Disorder.
Nadezhda "Nadia" ChernyshevskiA Russian engineer who is responsible for the design and construction of the first settlement. She's largely apolitical and is more interested in the challenge of building on Mars than revolution or terraforming.
- The Chains of Commanding: As the President of the council she finds herself unable to participate in construction projects for fear it will create conflicts of interest, and she barely has time to anyway because of the demands on her time. Which is bad because she builds things to relax from all the stresses of the job.
- Cincinnatus: She's pushed into politics against her will because she's the most moderate and trustworthy figure. Later, she becomes the first President of Mars.
- Closer to Earth: (Or perhaps we should say Mars.) In her relationships with people like Maya, but also with the lively revolutionary Arkady, she's usually the more stable person.
- The Engineer: Before going to Mars, she built nuclear reactors in Siberia. She's instrumental in design and construction of the Mars habitats. Later she applies this mindset to the design and construction of new government.
- Heroic Safe Mode: After finding Arkady's incinerated corpse in the first revolution, she's relieved at the necessity of frantic engineering and repairs because it allows her to not think about the horror going on.
- Ms Fixit: Everyone calls her when they need to fix something or figure out a solution to some problem in construction or design.
- The Leader: The levelheaded type. Come the constitutional conventions in Blue Mars, she soon falls into the role of leader primarily because she immediately concerns herself with productive activities rather than posturing and ideology, and others begin to imitate.
- Odd Friendship: With Maya. She considers it a sisterly relationship in that they're not much alike, don't like each other too much, and yet are very close.
- Only Sane Man: While everyone else is running around with radical viewpoints, Nadia focuses on the job at hand and is rather exasperated at all the petty power struggles.
- Opposites Attract: She's very sensible, exasperated with melodrama, and levelheaded, and she falls in love with the wildly revolutionary Arkady.
Arkady BogdanovAnother Russian engineer. Arkady is a visionary or a revolutionary who sees Mars colonization as a way to reinvent human society.
- Batman Gambit: He banked on using Phobos to set up the revolution. It was a safe bet that he would be the leader of the group that was left there, because nobody else wanted to stay on Phobos.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: From the start he wanted to create a new society and encouraged revolution. He dies horribly shortly after the 2061 rebellion begins, and that attempt is brutally crushed by the transnat-controlled UN.
- Crazy-Prepared: He and his team secretly turned Phobos into a rocket in case it was ever used as a weapons platform. He's right, and Nadia brings it down in 2061.
- Fiery Redhead: The way his hair matches his vigorous personality is sometimes lampshaded by other characters.
- First Love: He and Nadia become lovers soon after they land on Mars. (Given their ages they're probably not each other's first first love, but they are in terms of the story.)
- Hot-Blooded: Arkady is very intense in expressing his opinions and advocating his ideas, with a quick temper and bombastic charisma.
- Meaningful Name: He's a descendent of Alexander Bogdanov, a Russian science fiction author and revolutionary. His first name is possibly taken from Arkady Strugatsky, another Russian sci-fi writer.
- Rebel Leader: He becomes this near the end of Red Mars. He dies and that revolution fails horrifically, but... "Bogdanovists", their views, and even their architecture are one of the most significant factions throughout the series.
- Unwinnable Training Simulation: He takes an inordinate amount of glee in creating these on the Ares.
Saxifrage "Sax" RussellA physicist who wants to terraform Mars from the get-go. He's not that interested in politics and his main motivation is pure scientific curiosity, but as the situation on Mars heats up his neutrality backfires on him.
- All Love Is Unrequited: Understated, but he's always trying to get Ann Clayborne to like what he's doing, without success. In Blue Mars, both of them realize that they have this towards each other.
- Bed Trick: He lets Phyllis seduce him under his assumed identity of Stephen Lindholm (even though her personality disgusts him). He's not proud of himself.
- Constantly Curious: His reason for being a scientist is very simple: he wants to know. When Michel probes this by asking "what will you do with your knowledge?" Sax answers "find out more."
- Crazy-Prepared: Once the second revolution breaks out in Green Mars, it turns out he had spent the preceding years preparing for a number of large-scale contingencies, including making possible the open-air evacuation of an entire city by having raised the oxygen levels in the atmosphere and making tens of thousands of carbon dioxide filter masks, and taking down Deimos because it might be used as a weapons platform like Phobos.
- For Science!: He's accused of irresponsibly wanting to terraform Mars without considering the consequences, especially by Ann. After his misadventures in Green Mars, he decides they have a point.
- Mad Scientist: He gets nicknamed this during the second revolution.
- Meaningful Name: He is named after a flower, saxifrage, and the name means "rock-breaker"; this is fitting, since he is the character most eager to destroy Mars's native rocky terrain and create one that can support plant life, and because he is the primary ideological opponent of the geologist, Ann Clayborne, who has the opposite desire. The name Russel is probably a homage to Bertrand Russel, a philosopher who prized logical scientific thought.
- No Social Skills: Soft-spoken and single-minded about science.
- Not as You Know Them: In-universe after his mental torture and stroke in Green Mars. He's still passionate about science, but his personality changes due to the brain damage and the experience in general; he's much more radical and prone to action, and starts sympathizing more with Reds.
- Phrase Catcher: "Sax must love this" about the chaotic areological effects of 2061—aquifers bursting, nuclear explosions, etc—because they're probably adding heat and oxygen to the system. (He doesn't.)
- Speech Impediment: A tendency to stutter and some lingering aphasia.
- Took a Level in Badass: He starts as an apolitical biologist who wants to terraform Mars basically just to see if it can be done. After being abducted and tortured by the Secret Police in Green Mars, he becomes a primary leader in the second revolution and is called "General Sax."
Ann ClayborneAnn is a geologist/areologist who advocates for keeping Mars as free of human alteration as possible. She finds the planet beautiful as it is now and is disgusted by the idea of terraforming it. This viewpoint is the genesis of "the Reds," one of the political factions that come about.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Her stepfather abused her, but she doesn't elaborate beyond "abuse is abuse." Others speculate that this is why she's so obsessed with rocks and the idea of Mars as a lifeless planet.
- Demoted Memories: Forces herself to forget things while traveling on her own, finding it too painful.
- Driven to Suicide: At the end of Red Mars she tries to freeze herself to death, thinking that her son is dead and she's to blame for Frank's death. Her husband Simon stops her.
- Death Seeker: After Simon dies of cancer in Green Mars she's just waiting for something to kill her. She nearly gets her wish in a landslide, but what she thinks is a useless gesture of hiding to placate her dead friends turns out to actually work, and she's pissed. She also refuses the gerentological treatment and is given to it while comatose by Sax and a few others.
- Foil: To Sax.
- The Fundamentalist: Often accused of this because of her staunch anti-terraforming stance. At one point she does tell John Boone that she wouldn't mourn his death if it meant no terraforming.
- Insistent Terminology: With geological/areological terms. Don't call the fines "dust."
- It's All My Fault: She blames herself for Frank's death. She got distracted while driving, the car got stuck, and he was swept away in a flood trying to free it.
- Meaningful Name: She is in love with earth and rocks more than anything else, and her name "clay born" reflects it. Part of a trio of rock-themed names with her husband and son, Simon and Peter.
- Sugar and Ice Personality: She's usually depressed or fractious, but she really loves geology (or areology, as it is on Mars). "Depressed" as in actual clinical depression.
Hiroko AiThe leader of the farmers. Nobody seems able to figure her out, but her belief in terraforming goes beyond scientific into a religious movement around the concept of viriditas, or green strength.
- Cult Colony: She creates one called "Zygote" in Red Mars, where the First Hundred take refuge once the transnats turn on them. After that one is compromised, she builds a new one and names it Gamete.
- Inscrutable Oriental: Part of the "the Japanese are the closest thing to aliens" attitude expressed by other characters. Apart from her devotees, nobody understands what the hell is going on in her mind.
- Mars Mother: Although she's not described with the physical characteristics, she is fertile (in the sense that she has a lot of genetic offspring, see below) and is the leader of the farm team. She also creates a religion around the worship of Mars itself and one person in Red Mars repeats a rumor that she's constantly pregnant.
- Mad Scientist: Most of the others acknowledge her brilliance but consider her to be insane for her prophetical habits. It's certainly hard to have a conversation with her in which the words "areophany" or "viriditas" don't appear.
- Meaningful Name: "Ai" means "love." Her movement is all about mutual love and respect for other people and the planet.
- Never Found the Body: Her compound is attacked in Green Mars, but nobody finds her body and many refuse to believe she died. Sax seems to be saved by her while lost in a blizzard, but he thinks later that it was probably a hallucination.
- Stalker with a Test Tube: She collects DNA from various people, including John Boone, and artificially reproduces with it.
- What the Hell, Hero?: She gets chewed out by the others for several things, like vanishing to a hidden colony when the rest of the First Hundred wanted her help with the deteriorating situation, or secretly creating dozens of children from their DNA without asking permission.
Michel DuvalThe psychologist assigned to interact with and monitor the crew of the Ares, which quickly proves to be an overwhelming task.
- All Love Is Unrequited: Towards Maya in the Underhill years, but she eventually reciprocates.
- Big Damn Heroes: In helping Nadia's group escape Cairo in 2061.
- The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes: Keenly aware of it. In fact, he references the fact that most therapists are in therapy, but his is back on Earth and can't effectively help him.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: He develops his own Myers–Briggs-like metric based on this.
- Genre Savvy: He knows why he's going nuts in Underhill and, later, uses what he learned about Maya in therapy to navigate their relationship.
- Sanity Slippage: After landing on Mars. He loses huge chunks of time from his memory and considers himself to be losing his mind until Hiroko and the farm team spirit him away to Zygote.
- You Can't Go Home Again: He longs to return to his hometown of Provence. When he gets there, it's so changed that he feels even worse.
Vladimir "Vlad" TaneevA member of the Russian contingent who was recognized for brilliance in both medicine and economics. He continues to be very innovative in both areas after settling on Mars, and his work is a major catalyst for change on both Mars and Earth as the story progresses.
- Polyamory: with Marina and Ursula. Probably. None of the other characters are ever really sure.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: He gives one to Antar for wanting to bring traditional capitalism to Mars.
Phyllis BoyleAn American biologist. When the transnats start taking control of the U.N. and Mars, she allies herself with them, putting her at odds with the rest of the First Hundred.
- Category Traitor: Considered such by the other First Hundred but for quite justified reasons. Still, they're rather shocked when Maya kills her.
- Distaff Counterpart: To Vlad. He's a biologist; she's a biologist. He designs a new economic system to replace capitalism; she is a capitalist. He is part of a threesome (maybe) with Marina and Ursula; she is part of a threesome (maybe) with Edvard and George. They're like funhouse mirror reflections of each other. Unfortunately, they barely, if ever, interact throughout the series.
- Deader Than Dead: She survives the destruction of the elevator and Clarke being shot to Jupiter. So when Maya's group rescues Sax, Maya kills her with a bomb.
- Face–Heel Turn: She's one of only four members of the First Hundred who joins the metanats during the revolution of 2061, even while they're trying to kill all the First Hundred.
- The Fundamentalist: Although it's not a major part of the conflict between her and the other characters, she's a devout Christian, and her bits are broadcast on Christian television.
- Only in It for the Money: She sees Mars as a gold mine and allies herself with the metanats.
- Smug Snake: Frank calls her a "tin god" who thinks that she's taken control of Mars and put herself above the rest of the First Hundred. Sax later has similar, unflattering views of her and flat-out calls her dumb in his internal monologue.
Desmond "Coyote" HawkinsCoyote is Hiroko's ex-boyfriend whom she secretly brings on the voyage to Mars. He becomes more prominent in Green Mars, helping to run the underground communities hiding from the metanats.
- Big Damn Heroes: With Michel in helping Nadia's group to escape Cairo while the transnats are hunting them.
- Crazy-Prepared: He has hidden caches of supplies all over Mars. And once he learns where the metanats set up their prison city, the first thing he did was to devise a way to sabotage it in case they ever needed to stage a jailbreak.
- Do Not Call Me "Paul": At one point on his road trip with Nirgal, he gets cynical and demands that Nirgal call him Desmond. A while later, his mood picks up and he basically says "Desmond? Who's Desmond?" Notably, Sax always refers to him as Desmond.
- First Love: The fact that he was Hiroko's college boyfriend has a lot to do with why he's there.
- Parental Substitute: He acts as a surrogate father to Nirgal since the children have been given a collective upbringing regardless of which ones are their parents. Later, they learn that Coyote is Nirgal's actual father.
- Rebel Leader: He's involved with the Red revolutionaries and "hidden" colonists and meets with John to talk about all the sabotage that's going on.
- Reverse Psychology: He brags about convincing Nirgal to leave Zygote and attend the university at Sabashii, which greatly broadens Nirgal's horizons. When Nirgal tries to remind him that Coyote said to stay away from Sabashii because it would ruin him, Coyote just says that's exactly how he convinced him.
- Shrouded in Myth: "The Coyote" becomes one of the figures in the interstital folktales. It's also used as a catch-all term for mysterious individuals, according to one in-universe history book.
- Sole Survivor: He may be the only one who escaped Hiroko's last refuge in Green Mars.
- Spanner in the Works: He was smuggled aboard the Ares by Hiroko. He aligns himself most with the radical Reds, who are by far the most unpredictable (and trouble-causing) of the various rebel factions.
- Walking the Earth: Even after the rebellions are done and there's no reason to hide, he never settles down. Nirgal even finds him sleeping on a park bench once.
Peter ClayborneThe natural-born son of Ann Clayborne and Simon Frazier. He's one of the first children born on Mars. He later joins the Mars First movement and holds Green philosophies, putting him at odds with his mother.
- Ace Pilot: He takes to rocketry and piloting and does a lot of work for the rebels with it. He attributes this to his jump from the orbital elevator.
- Big Brother Mentor: Towards the other descendants in Zygote.
- Meaningful Name: Of course Anne would give her child a name that means "rock".
- No One Could Survive That!: The odds of him surviving the jump from the elevator are astronomically against him; his mother assumes he's dead for a long time. But a shuttle piloted by rebels somehow manages to find him during the (admittedly very long) fall. Thoroughly lampshaded.
- Thrown Out the Airlock: Well actually he jumped, on purpose, as a last ditch attempt to survive because the thing he was in was going to crash out of orbit.
KaseiGenetic son of Hiroko and John Boone, and natural father of Jackie. He becomes a revolutionary for the Reds.
- Always Second Best: Despite being being a first-gen ectogene, he's stuck in the shadow of his own daughter. Might be why he founds one of the most wildly radical factions on Mars.
- Leeroy Jenkins: Blows up the dam at Burroughs, which works for his goals, but if not for Sax's crazy-preparedness would have resulted in massive deaths. Soon after he decides to bring down the elevator even though the odds of it working the same way are terrible and dies in the battle.
- Rebel Leader: Of the Kakazenote , a radical Red faction.
- Meaningful Name: It's the Japanese name for Mars.
- Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Kasei is even more radical about keeping Mars "red" than Ann and will commit any act of sabotage for that goal, no matter how harmful.
NirgalHiroko and Coyote's son. Although he's generally a Green and a charismatic figure among the natives and a founder of Free Mars, he's not as concerned with politics as he is making sure everyone can have a good life.
- Call to Agriculture: Becomes an "ecopoet", essentially establishing and shepherding ecosystems on a small scale, after finding himself dissatisfied with Free Mars in the third book.
- Constantly Curious: One of his defining traits. He's curious about people as much as natural and scientific phenomena.
- Fish out of Water: On Earth in a big way. He was born and raised in Mars's low gravity. When he tries running on Earth, he's gasping like a fish before long, and then he gets severely ill and has to return home.
- Innocent Inaccurate: His bone marrow is a match for Simon's, but he doesn't fully comprehend why Simon dies in spite of the treatments.
- Magnetic Hero: His curiosity and openness makes him naturally charismatic and many of the natives gravitate to him as a leader.
- Masochism Tango: With Jackie—he loves her, she sees him as one of "hers" but has no compunctions about using people. He can't stop the tango even though he's aware of exactly how it goes.
- Meaningful Name: "Nirgal" is the Babylonian name for Mars.
- Missing Mom: After Hiroko vanishes, Nirgal chases every credible-sounding rumor of her whether it's on Earth or Mars. He never finds her.
- Nice Guy: Nearly everyone he meets likes him because he's a good listener who is readily sympathetic, having a genuine desire to learn about their views.
- Now What?: In Blue Mars. His life's work was the rebellion and helping devise the society they wanted. It all happens and he's left at a loose end since he doesn't want to get involved in the ensuing political struggles.
Jackie BooneDaughter of Kasei and another descendant named Esther. She is John Boone's granddaughter and uses his last name, which is significant because most of Zygote's children don't use last names at all.
- I Love You Because I Can't Control You: She has a huge, unrequited crush on Peter. He has zero interest in her. (Partly because he had an affair with her mother.)
- It's All About Me: Jackie will adopt or shift to any position that allows her to gain the most power, even if it's one she had opposed previously.
- Manipulative Bastard: Even better at using seduction/relationships to get what she wants than Maya, and even more cynical and power-hungry than Frank.
- Older Than They Look: She starts getting the longevity treatment as soon as she reaches adulthood, giving her a permanently youthful look.
- Too Much Alike: Non-romantic version. She and Maya hate each other. Everyone around them is quick to say (out of earshot) that it's because they're basically the same.
- Walking the Earth: She joins an expedition to interstellar space in Blue Mars following Zo's death.
Zoya "Zo" BooneJackie's daughter. She appears in Blue Mars. Although she travels the solar system to run political errands for her mother, the two of them don't get along.
- Icarus Allusion: She enjoys recreational gliding and gets into a friendly competition with another flyer. When that flyer goes too far and plummets, Zo tries to save her and they both drown.
- Jerkass: She's very dismissive and insulting towards just about everyone who doesn't share her opinions. Even when Ann sits down and explains to her exactly why she is interested in geology/areology, Zo dismisses it.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Despite the above, she goes out of her way to save someone's life on Mercury and again when a fellow glider falls. The second results in her own death.
- Really Gets Around: She and many others in her generation have a lot of casual sex.
- Too Dumb to Live: She riles up the Mirandan preservationists while standing at the edge of a cliff. (Low-G and Ann save her.)
Arthur "Art" RandolphAn official from Praxis introduced in Green Mars. His boss, William Fort, sends him to Mars to help society on a more honest path.
- Ambiguously Brown: Usually described as dark or swarthy.
- Constantly Curious: One of the things that makes him a good diplomat; he has an honest and eager curiosity, and he doesn't mind asking blunt questions.
- The Heart: He has a knack for diplomacy and mediation; in fact he was considering changing his career towards that before Fort sent him to Mars. Much of his time on the planet is trying to reconcile the various underground groups so they can put together a cohesive government and resistance.
- Honest Corporate Executive: He's an agent for the only ethical metanat in the series.
- Odd Friendship: He and Nirgal form a rapid affinity, but the fact that they're both intensely curious people makes it not so odd.
- Second Love: To Nadia.
- The World Is Just Awesome: After being vaguely creeped out by the sights during his first days on Mars, he gets an epiphany when the window catches him unexpectedly and he realizes the beauty and splendor through the view down Olympus Mons.
Zeyk and Nazik TuqaTwo Bedouin settlers who emigrate to Mars early on. Both become important political figures in the Arab factions.
- Happily Married: Very much, and they have no problem trolling Frank after he goes on a rant about Arab misogyny.
- Only Sane Man: Zeyk is often the First Hundred's go-to guy with the Arabs because he acts as a levelheaded and world-weary elder.
- Photographic Memory: Zeyk has this, which becomes important when The Fog of Ages sets in for other characters.