New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a novel of great and towering ideas, indeed!
SF idea novels have a long and fantastic tradition in SF and I'll be honest: I love them all. It's a very specific and niche SF, but thank the heavens, Robinson made it big enough in people's estimations to be able to keep writing the fantastically deep stuff and let the world-building go wild.
Remember 2312? Remember the Mars trilogy? He dives deep into location and gives us a very broad view of a whole world or a whole time, drilling deep into how the society works while simultaneously having TON to say about ours.
Not only that, but in this novel, he manages to pull off something that I kinda feel like he always seems to have a bit of trouble with: the characters. There's even a solid economic plot here, threaded pretty expertly among really fascinating sub-plots all directly tied to this New York City of the future after all the waterlines have risen across the world.
The only time that this DOESN'T feel like a long love-letter to this NYC of the future that's not only breathing but fighting for it's life and culture like a character of its own, is with the extinction of subspecies subplot that takes us all over the place in a dirigible. With nuclear blasts that take out polar bears, floating balloon cities in Canada, or a naked butt over a treeline for an eager online audience. :)
Truly, this may not be a novel for everyone, but it *IS* a novel for all you lovers of the Idea Novel sub-genre, the kind of read that takes you to the heights and depths of an economic mystery and an engineered economic collapse.
Honestly, it actually feels like an updated and rather more comprehensive The Dervish House with the focus being on NYC rather than Hungary. But it it goes full-hog Economics-Punk and I laughed deliriously because I LOVE this kind of thing. It's about as far away as you can get from the regular old SF, treating you not only as someone smart, but someone willing to think for yourself and LIVE in this complicated world of Co-Op skyscrapers, derivatives experts, boat pilots, divers, and champions of law. :)
Above all, it's smart and dense and fascinating across the board.
Don't expect too much in the way of BIG plots other than the one, and settle in for a world-building ride with cool characters and one really, really big character that supercedes them all: NYC.
View all my reviews