Al Steiner is by far one of the best writers here on SOL or anywhere for that matter. I realize that's a bold statement based solely on my opinion. But I can honestly and truly say that "Greenies" is by far an excellently written book that deserves to be read by as many people as it can be.
My reasons for the last statement is simply because of our present political climate in the United States. At the risk of segueing from this story I think it's totally relevant and pertinent to my urging anyone and everyone to read this story.
You see, Greenies is a sci-fi much the way Avatar (the movie) is. The parallel doesn't end there. Albeit a sci-fi "Greenies" takes the position that PEOPLE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE! But the commitment has to be there.
Vision, ideology, dreams, hopes, all exist but they can be dashed as quickly as they form WITHOUT action.
"Greenies" premise is that ACTION is what will set the people of Mars...FREE! Did I mention this was/is a sci-fi?
Let me give you very brief rundown:
First of all "Greenies" is set in Al's "Perfect World Universe". It's actually the prequel. If you haven't read a "Perfect World" reading this first won't affect it because it is written as a standalone story.
"Greenies" takes place on the planet Mars. Mars was established as an outpost that flourished into a fully functional planet. It was also a corporate planet. Meaning that all the jobs on Mars were controlled by very big corporations on Earth. Although all the inhabitants of Mars originated from Earth time, distance, philosophies, (and human nature of course) ended up pretty much establishing not only class differences but race difference. Although Mars Humans were HUMAN they were treated much the same way African Americans were treated during slavery (and now actually...)
Enter our heroine Laura Whiting who has just been elected Governor of Mars. Like every politician she knew how to play the game. And like every political arena NOW she was supposedly controlled by big corporations. Somehow, she didn't get that memo.
She starts her inaugural day by telling every citizen of Mars the changes she means to initiate and put into effect immediately. This caused such an uproar that an immediate recall was asked for. However it didn't turn out to be the case. Instead of being ousted she was revered and become the leader of the Mars revolution to be free of corporate puppeteers.
Although some of this story could be construed as predictable, the interplay with every character was written so well it demands your attention. Quite frankly I found it riveting. Which is the only reason I hated it because once I started I couldn't stop. Again, my own failing and opinion. But, I guarantee as it is a completed work you will find yourself enjoying this awesome story and thinking about how much it resembles what is going on in our own world...TODAY!
I'm marking this day, August 20, 2012 because WE the People of the United States are totally under the corporate regime that runs Washington DC and although I have nothing against preset POTUS Obama, I'm telling you if shit don't change NOW, we're fucked!
So, enjoy this little fantasy and try not to let it remind you of how fucked up our present world is. This is a GREAT STORY! Enjoy!
Reviewed: 2007-03-05 - (Review Updated: 2007-03-05)
Al Steiner is one of my favorite authors on SOL. There is no question
that he can write a competent, nearly commercial quality novel. So it is
with regret that I give Greenies a lukewarm review.
Greenies is a military thriller and political polemic. As a
thriller it succeeds impressively. Steiner uses Tom Clancy's formula. He
creates a cast of characters and follows them through the war of martian
independence. The story quickly builds dramatic tension and maintains it
until the last page. On my stayed-up-too-late-reading meter,
Greenies regularly scored 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. Steiner paces the
story very well, and his action scenes, and there are many, are first
rate and vividly described.
Steiner's Mars is fleshed out in fascinating detail. The engineering of
the cities, the societies withering away from corruption, and the
warfare based on advanced technologies of the 22nd Century combine to
create a vivid world. The novel political and economic system he invents
for the new martian society is fascinating, if implausible.
But Steiner also suffers from the same fault as Tom Clancy. Steiner's
characters are caricatures. They are either sympathetic or icons of evil
and foolishness. The good guys never have bad impulses. The bad guys are
inveterate and irredeemable. This one-dimensional morality is a major
defect. We never get to know the characters below the surface. That is
especially a shame with Laura Whiting, the farseeing and selfless
governor of Mars.
Steiner describes Greenies as the epic novel that has taken seven
years to complete, which seems to account for its biggest flaw. The
Martians at the beginning of the story are very different from the way
they are at the end. It's apparent that Steiner's vision of the Martians
evolved with the writing of A Perfect World, a follow-on story
that takes place decades after the action in Greenies. Steiner
apparently wrote A Perfect World when Greenies was about
half done. Unfortunately, Steiner failed to go back to the already
written portions of Greenies to make the Martians and their
culture consistent with the way it is at the end of the story. It is a
glaring failure because the Martians speak conventionally in the first
half of the story but, inexplicably, they adopt a peculiar ghetto argot
in the second half. Their sexual mores undergo a wholesale change in the
The seven year writing period also allows significant continuity
problems to creep in. A major character, Jeff Creek, is referred to as
Jeff Waters for several chapters. It also seems to me that the
directions the troops move as the battles progressed are inconsistent,
although I concede that I might have just lost track of the action. I
decided it wasn't worth it to go back and see if the confusion was
caused by Mr. Steiner or be my inattention.
As often plagues amateur writing, the story is not sufficiently edited.
That's too bad because there are some talented and hard working
volunteer editors in the SOL community. Greenies has repetitive and
obvious errors of spelling and capitalization. I can almost understand
the instances when 'duel' is used in place of 'dual' but I'm still
trying to figure out why 'serious' and 'series' are so often
interchanged. I'm glad that these basic grammar and spelling flaws do
not trouble Steiner's other stories.
There is no sex except for a some fleeting encounters that occur toward
the end of the story that stem from the casually promiscuous nature of
the martian society that suddenly develops in the last half of the
Finally, let me say that the coarse vernacular of the Martians which
surfaces in the last part of the story (and which appears throughout
A Perfect World) is does not make the story better. I'm sure that
the author will defend it as the natural consequence of populating Mars
with people from the poverty-ridden sections of the western hemisphere
but I don't buy the premise. Relatively few of the impoverished of this
hemisphere are found in American inner-cities. But even if they were,
would they still maintain these speech affectations? Modern day
Australians don't talk like 19th Century British convicts that settled
there. But the worst thing about the coarse language is that it calls
attention to itself and detracts from the story telling.
Every once in a while, a story is posted on this site that is so great and keeps the reader so engrossed in its chapters, that one begins to see it as a great work of literature.
That story is Greenies and it is written by Al Steiner.
Set as a political story in disguise as a sci-fi military action story, Greenies is the story of how a revolution is fomented, achieved and most importantly, how it is fought, upheld and kept. It is set up in the same universe as "A Perfect World" and continues the tradition of excellent writing that that story started.
And talk about strong writing. Al Steiner's clear gift in writing is his attention to detail. Almost all (or perhaps all?) his settings are vividly described and can be clearly imagined. Scenes of crackhead brawls, loading of cargo trains, commando assaults, spaceship maneuvering, and more are succinctly visualized thanks to the magic of his words.
Al Steiner's other gift is understanding the psychology of human nature. He has developed great characters that have motivations and fears that can be found amongst the readers. In other words, he has created wholly-believable characters that readers can relate to.
Finally, Al Steiner has created a political work that could be topic for debate. His political ideas (or aspirations?) are theories that can be applied to real life circumstances. Or can they? Are there faults in this 'Martian' Ideology that will limit it to the pages of Science Fiction?
And it is these thought-provoking questions (or as the Martians would say "Thiz deep-shizzem thinking") that makes this story a great piece of work.
In my opinion, a brilliant story is a story that you continue to think about - what would happen next? why did he make that decision? - so well told, that the reader becomes engrossed in the details and feels part of that world.
"Greenies" is one such story - an incredibly well told story, well thought out, accurate (as much as a sci-fi story needs to be) and is as much a philosophical debate on how life should be lived as it is a story about a revolution.
It is no wonder that the story has been in the top 20 (I think constantly in position 1/2) since the beginning.
There are some free stuff that people would happily pay for, either as a token of appreciation or to keep it free - Greenies falls in to that very small category.