In science fiction the main character often serves partially as the audience in that much of the “science” has to be explained to him or her. Lilith is a perfect example of this because we come to understand the Oankali and the changes they’ve brought. Basically, the fictional world is explained to the protagonist at the same time as the audience. Red Mars does not seem to do this. Frank Chalmers, the protagonist of Part 1, does not seem to serve as an audience stand-in. Nothing really need to be explained to him; he knows exactly what is going on. However, Chalmers does fall within the typical science fiction trope of being an outsider. He’s reserved and quite, not revealing much about his true intentions. Typically, the outsider trope goes hand-in-hand with the audience stand-in. Lilith is an outsider about the aliens and has to have the situation explained to her.
However, what really makes Frank Chalmers different as a protagonist (at least for this section) is that he is not a good person. Having a villainous protagonist is certainly doable, but the science fiction genre is not as conducive to this idea as other genres. This is because often in science fiction, the “hero” has to solve some kind of problem related to the work’s resident “science”. I’m curious to see how this plays out. Undoubtedly, this killing will come back to haunt him. However, for a split-second Chalmers seems to regret his actions.
“He felt hollow; and suddenly it seemed to him that everything good had gone away.”
So in this quick moment, Chalmers seems to have some sense of remorse for John’s death. It’s very interesting to start off the novel this way. What makes this even more disturbing is how premeditated this event is. Chalmers throws rocks at windows, spreads rumors, and scrawls “Jew” all in an attempt to rid himself of John Boone. Will Chalmers pull a Macbeth and gradually kill all those who oppose him? I’m curious to find out. This murder is a good hook for the reader; we now want to know what plans Chalmers has since John is out of the way and what events led up to Chalmers’ decision to kill John. At this stage in the novel, I have no reason to root for Chalmers but I’m curious to see what his next move is. Perhaps the goal isn’t to root for Chalmers but to see how he falls from grace.