New York in the early 2140s, some 125 years in the future, is in some ways the same as it always has been - the crowds and the crime and Central Park and the street urchins and the folks trying to make a fast buck (legally or illegally), the immensely rich few bumping up against great masses of much poorer people, and the illegal immigrants and the squatters and the undocumented and the refugees, but much is changed, too.
For one thing, the sea level is now 50 feet higher. The ultra-rich have fled to the highest points of the island, where the world's most expensive real estate has been built, while everything below 30th St. is permanently at least partially under water. The people, however, have refused to leave, and have turned lower Manhattan into "Super Venice." They have turned skyscrapers into co-ops, with sky tunnels linking them, and all the former streets are now canals full of vaporettos, gondolas, water taxis, and private boats ranging in size from the tiniest zodiac or kayak to deluxe speedboats and salvage tugs.
This novel is the story told by selected inhabitants of one of those co-ops - the one in the old Met Life building - from the super to the hackers living in tents on the farm level to the hot-shot young financier. From the police detective to the undocumented teenagers living in a zodiac in the boathouse, and the immigration lawyer and the animal rights activist/video star/pilot of the airship Assisted Migration, as well.
It's told in about as many narrative styles as there are narrators, from the theatrical to the police procedural. (In many ways the narration reminded me of that of his Mars series, of which I am a fan.) Normally I take a deep breath at a novel with as many narrators as this one attempts, but Robinson's a good writer (he's won the Hugo, the Nebula, and the World Fantasy Award), and in my opinion he pulls it off.
It's not a flawless novel, but I couldn't stop reading it.
P.S. I wanted to put my emoticon at "giddy," but alas, that was not an option.