Kim Stanley Robinson transports us 300 years into the future to 2312, where humanity’s future lies in the balance when some of its greatest triumphs— terra-formed habitats—are undermined by tragedy.
Technological breakthroughs have opened gateways to an extraordinary future. Earth is no longer humanity's only home—new habitats have been created on moons, other planets and in between. The solar system has been greatly altered: Mars is transformed, Venus has been cooled to the point where the atmosphere has solidified, and half of Titan’s atmosphere has been exported. None of the techniques can be applied to Earth, however, because some of the methods aren’t suitable for an inhabited world. And, because the Earthicans have become mere pawns of the capitalist system, they’re seen only as poor rabble who may be a threat to the free off-worlders.
But a chain of events forces mankind to confront its past, its present, and its future. The first, an unexpected death that will change Swan Er Hong’s life, occurs on Mercury, in the city of Terminator, a miracle of engineering on an unmatched scale. Swan once designed worlds only she could imagine. Is it possible that now she must destroy them?
Hardcover Book : 576 pages
Publisher: Hachette Book Group Usa ( May 22, 2012 )
Item #: 13-568095
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 inches
Product Weight: 22.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
Kim Stanley Robinson's practical science knowledge and political understanding are top notch. The outposts, towns and cities of the new solar system reflect the technology we REALISTICALLY have available. There's no magical green laser weapons, no FTL/folded space travel, no gravity grids that other writers and movies so casually use and abuse. The physics are soundly applied and thoroughly explained to complete believability. The human interaction is sometimes heartwarming, sometimes awkward...just like "real life". However, that could be a problem, couldn't it?
We generally don't want TOO much "real life". That's what we are trying to escape. We want magical technology that maybe the characters take for granted as normal. We want mystery, danger and adventure beyond our everyday experience. As a reader, we want things revealed to us (that maybe even the characters don't know?) so that we feel in control of the story and plot, rather than mostly unknowing and unaware; like real life.
I've purposely not discussed the plot or characters; this is for you to discover. I'm a little bit in Bob N.'s camp, in that it's a little bit slow, and you keep looking at the book mark position to see when something is gonna burst. Sometimes a critical event (a kidnapping) is glossed over, and then other times random details are expounded upon for whole, albeit short, chapters. Perhaps setting the stage for a "universe" series? Most the characters seem interesting, yet we rarely get to really know them.
I think what happened is Robinson's attempt to take a slice of life as it would be in 2312, including the exciting AND mundane. It *is* a grand solar system, worthy of details and explanations? However, minute details should not get in the way of a great story, and it may be what happened here. Having said that, I do recommend it for the applied, PRACTICAL science. Nice job!
Reviewer: Steve K
The ideas embodied in this book are bold and thoughtful, but the writing is, alas, wordy and tedious, the characters are, almost without exception, dull and uninspiring, and the plot is drawn-out and plodding. Reading this entire tome requires great fortitude and determination and, if you are reading late at night, a strong cup of coffee to keep you awake. There are books that you read and cannot put down -- this is one that makes you want to put it down soon after you begin and each time you try to continue. The author obviously has a good command of the English language, paints a plausible picture of the world as it could be in 2312, and has an excellent grasp of science and terminology. But the characters and story never come alive, never draw you into the world she is trying to create, and never make you really care! The relationship between the two lead characters lacks passion and any sense of frisson. The mystery which they and the other chief characters are trying to solve (and thereby save the population of an entire world, along with perhaps the independence and safety of the human race), often seems secondary to the internal musings of the main character and her struggle to deal with the death of a loved one. Making matters worse, the author often rambles on and on when succinct phrases and paragraphs would suffice. In this regard especially, a good editor could have pared this novel down to about 350 pages and made it concise and readable. While making a noble effort to expound on worthy ideas and ideals -- and to make us aware of the planet our children might inherit in 300 years if we don't change our ways -- the author fails to capture our imagination and convince us to invest ourselves in her characters: too much wind and noise; not enough visceral feeling.
Reviewer: Bob N