Another absolutely brilliant work from Kim Stanley Robinson. While his books tend to be classified as hard science fiction, I always find them to be more like explorations of our relatively near future. And what I love is that he doesn’t just describe an obvious dystopian future, given where we seem to be headed, but unravels a story which follows a path toward recovery, toward an alternative future in which humans ultimately do the right thing.
This is a big book, organized as a series of relatively short chapters voiced by a disparate crew of characters. Some we hear from only once, others weave through the book, leading the story forward. These voices include climate refugees, glaciologists, economists, carbon, herd animals, and code. Two of the recurring characters who propel the story forward are Mary Murphy, head of the titular Ministry of the Future, established to guarantee and honor the rights of the earth and future generations – generations of humans, of animals, of landscapes, the biosphere – and Frank May, an aid worker who survives a devastating heat wave in India while everyone, everyone around him dies. Their personal stories are deeply compelling. As are all of the stories we hear.
This book is smart, and there are huge swaths of it that I cannot claim to really understand, especially those involving economics. But this does not lessen my enjoyment of the book, I just let the words drop in and percolate.
This is Kim Stanley Robinsons’ most recent book and I really, really enjoyed it. It is thought provoking, engaging, riveting, hopeful. Seems every time I read a book of his, I am ready for another.