thank you for your post. It helped me realize how much I want to re-read the original trilogy.
I'm not yet ready with an answer to your speculations,
Both first books take at least half way through to get at all interesting. Every one of his books that I've read so far is 500 pages too long.
From a new interview:
And here it is:
Currently reading Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson; it's been on the radar for a long time and have finally gotten around to starting it.