Under the celebration of the 25th anniversary of SF&F editions Spectra at Suvudu.com, Kim Stanley Robinson has reminesced over the birth of his 1992 novel Red Mars in a short online interview:
"When I first saw the photos from the Viking missions to Mars, I was hiking a lot in California’s Sierra Nevada, and one stereo-optic photo pair, of Martian cliffs, struck me (in 3-D!) as both very familiar and very strange. It occurred to me that Mars would be a great place to backpack, and I began to read more about it, and think about what that idea might mean. The first result was the story “Exploring Fossil Canyon,” and the second was the middle part of my novel Icehenge. By then the idea of telling the story of the terraforming of Mars was firmly in my mind, but I had my Three Californias Trilogy to finish, and in general did not feel ready to take on such a big project. The title Green Mars seemed very clear to me, however; too clear, given how far away I was from starting, and how many busy science fiction writer colleagues I had. So in 1984 I wrote the climbing story “Green Mars” to lay claim to the title.
By 1989 I was ready to start my Mars terraforming novel. I wrote a couple hundred pages and found my characters had barely gotten to Mars, so in conversation with my wonderful agents Patrick Delahunt and Ralph Vicinanza, I discovered I had a trilogy on my hands. At that point Ralph took over, and made the deal for the trilogy with Bantam Spectra. For this I owe immense thanks to Ralph, as always, and also to Lou Aronica, most of all; and to Jennifer Hershey, who skillfully edited all three of the Mars novels; and to Irwyn Applebaum and Nita Taublib, who were strong advocates and supporters of my work throughout my years at Spectra.
I wrote most of Red Mars in Washington DC, while caring for our infant boy David; I described the process in the poem “Two Years,” published in The Martians. The novel was finished in late 1991, after we had moved back to Davis, California. The writing of this novel was a breakthrough for me in several ways, and a special experience. I remember after sending the book in, I had a month or so to wait while Lou and Jennifer read the long manuscript, and I spent that time tiling a sun porch in our new house. At that point no one had read the book but me. There was a lot of Mars left to go, but I remember the feeling of happiness at that time very distinctly."
Interesting how everything in Robinson's career during the 1980s, from "Exploring Fossil Canyon" to Icehenge to "Green Mars", seemed to have led to the Mars novel/trilogy!