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Search tags: Kim-Stanley-Robinson
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url 2017-03-15 03:26
New York 2140 Offers a Fascinating Tour of a Drowned Manhattan
New York 2140 - Kim Stanley Robinson

I am not fucking around: this is a great Kim Stanley Robinson novel. It's got everything I like about him: a bunch of hugely nerdy digressions, some legit science, a little light-hearted didacticism, and words words words. This man can write. Ok, sure, the plot is loose, but who even needs a plot when you've got a world like this, like ours but in extremis


My latest at B&N SciFi. 

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review 2017-02-13 15:00
2312 Review
2312 - Kim Stanley Robinson

There were many things I loved about 2312. It was filled with imagination and a foretelling of life from the most basic level to the grandest. It had the potential to sweep the reader up and carry them off into a world that was richly detailed in all the right places, and yet left the perfect amount to the imagination. Below are some of my favorite things.


Post-Binary Gender. I loved the idea of a society at ease with post-binary gender. How do things change when toxic displays of masculinity and ridiculous femininity are no longer present? When we’re no longer held back by even the simplest expectation that only ‘girls’ can have the babies? Imagine being able to experience being a parent from both sides of the equation. But even better? Imagine being able to be with large groups of people that don’t judge someone because of their gender or lack thereof. For some of us that would be like heaven. I hope that people that fall into that group one day get a chance to experience it.


Turning asteroids into terrariums.  The idea fascinates me. There is estimated to be between 1.1 and 1.9 million asteroids in the asteroid belt alone that are over a half mile in diameter. It might be a long time before we have the capability to terraform asteroids, but imagine what we can do once we can. Kim Stanley Robinson focuses on the ability to save animals from extinction by breeding them in asteroids. Notice I said “in”. He makes a very good point in 2312 that it would be much easier to hollow out an asteroid and create a protected space than it would be to try to protect people or animals on the outside of one.


While I absolutely love the idea of saving endangered species (and yes, being able to experiment with evolution on different ones), my first thought wasn’t about animals. It was about me. I would love to have my own asteroid that I could go to when I needed to get away from people. Wouldn’t you? Even if it was only a half mile in diameter, I would be fine with that. A half mile with no people besides myself is perfectly fine.


Terraforming the planets. This one just made me do a happy dance because I love Robinson’s visions. A massive city on Mercury that moves on tracks around the center of the planet so that it’s never directly in the sunlight? While it’s one of those things that really only seems like it would be done just to say you can do it, it sounds so cool!! Or putting the much-needed nitrogen into Mars’ atmosphere by freezing chunks of it on Titan, and booting it to Mars? And his speculation about ways to make Venus livable? I absolutely love this man’s mind.


There’s even a huge thread running throughout the book that talks about the evolution of artificial intelligence. That is pretty much a staple of science fiction classics, but the way Robinson puts the pieces in place in 2312 keeps it interesting.  After all, there are good and bad humans, so why not the same for artificial intelligence? Even just the possible development of pseudo-emotions is something to set your mind to chewing on.


At the end of 2312 Robinson brings everything together with a timely reminder. That though we may not see the change our actions are making now, decades from now, we will. There will be stumbles, trips, and falls. There will be times when things look hopeless, but as long as we keep pushing forward, things will change. We will enter a new age.


In my opinion, if Kim Stanley Robinson would just learn to throttle back on his output per book, there would be no disputing him as the best science fiction writer alive today. Unfortunately, his tendency to try to do a little too much in each book leads to an unfortunate case of bloat which can put the casual reader off.  2312 was a book full of fascinating ideas and breathtaking visualization. But it was easy to lose sight of that. Especially about halfway through the book where things slow to an ungainly crawl. His imagination is wonderful, but I don’t think the man is capable of writing a book with consistent, good pacing.

Source: www.scifiandscary.com/2312-review
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review 2016-09-13 10:13
Green Earth - Kim Stanley Robinson

Interesting rather than entertaining (if that distinction can be made). The story contains a lot of speculation about what can be done about climate change, it's a bit like reading an idiots guide interspersed with the odd news report about a catastrophe happening somewhere in the world. I missed the urgency and the human factor of the crisis that a little first hand action would have given. In fact, I felt that the whole thing was romanticised - a scientist getting in touch with his inner caveman, candles and quality time with the family during power outages and parties on the frozen river. I didn't feel the danger to me and my loved ones at all. Maybe a reread in the future would change my mind but for now I like the book but didn't find it anything special.

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text 2016-09-03 08:06
Reading progress update: I've read 51%.
Green Earth - Kim Stanley Robinson

Slow going, and this is just the abridged version of the trilogy. It's interesting, yes, but reads more like a long-winded essay on sudden climate change than the ecological thriller I believed it to be. I already know that I will have to read it again at some point in the future to fully appreciate it now I know what to expect. At the moment I am a little disappointed however. Maybe it will pick up, after all, I am only half way through.

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review 2016-08-19 17:43
Aurora, Kim Stanley Robinson
Aurora - Kim Stanley Robinson

You can't beat The Second Law of Thermodynamics.




Okay, it's really tempting to leave the above as the complete review but...

KSR has been something of a hit-or-miss author in my experience but this isn't so much hitting the nail on the head as firing a six inch nail from a nail gun through a tiny, flimsy piece of fibre board. Yep, KSR doesn't so much nail the target as destroy it. It's not subtle - KSR rarely is - he seems to have adopted Orwell's maxim about making one's meaning unmistakable in one's writing and made it his own to the extent that here it's literally made with a punch to the face. (That is if the word "literal" can be used to describe a fictional event.)


Anyway, KSR is yammering on about the same old same old environmental issues in typical strident fashion but using a story setting that is a significant departure from any of his previous efforts and taking a probably unique look at the old, old themes of the interstellar generation ship and AI, whilst working in a few philosophical questions about human nature, consciousness, decision making, language and metaphor and providing a fascinating, if occasionally repetitive narrative. It's a book whose assumptions and conclusions are going to piss off much of the typical SF fan-base, however.

Most of KSR's typical faults are dialled down here and this stands as one of his best works, though it lacks the sublime visionary heights sometimes attained in e.g. Galileo's Dream or the great adventure sequences of Antarctica.


Anyway, everybody should read this book and try not to shit in our nest, or at least use re-usable nappies, while we're doing it, because we've only got one...nest that is...and it needs to last us a long time.

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