The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
You know, the first time I saw the title and the cover, I thought this would be a far-future SF, not a near-future prediction. I'm happy to be wrong.
I'm even happier to have loved this novel from the first page to the last. Indeed, over the last 8 years of new novels, I've loved everything that KSR has written, being duly impressed about his improvement with characters and his truly fantastic grasp of science, politics, history, economics, and future speculation. Indeed, my only complaints have ever been about his characters who usually feel a bit more like vehicles for stories and especially IDEAS more than people, but for this book, it wasn't the case.
I was brought to tears several times.
However, I need to be very clear on this: KSR's strength is absolutely and utterly in ideas. I feel like I just read an accessible novel that outlines all of the biggest real-thought on climate change and possible solutions while having it all put through the meat-grinder of real-politics, real-people, and enormous ongoing tragedies.
The book starts out with millions dying of heat in India.
It picks up with angry people worldwide demanding change and butting heads, devolving into assassinations, new politics, massive setbacks, economic upheavals, MORE climate disasters hitting the affluent people, more chaos, new legislation, MORE political upheaval, more dead, and economic systems that are both familiar and much more complicated than most of us have ever really researched TODAY.
I mean, some of us have. Bitchains, UBIs, carbon monetary systems (not as in burning it, but drawing it out of the atmosphere), and the eventual re-greening of the Earth. And it's a lot more complicated and gloriously explored than anything I can get into with a simple review, but the BOOK does a fantastic job of outlining a gloriously chaotic near-future that would, in other times, be considered a bonafide classic.
The book, frankly, is rich, deserves immense respect, lots of thought, and public discourse.
Maybe most of us are burned out by the seeming impossibility of getting a New Green Deal, one where the new jobs come directly from creating a sustainable future.
But maybe what we really need are the ideas firmly planted in our heads, complete with plans, backup plans, backup-backup plans, and awareness of all the ways it could all go wrong (and will) so we're not blindsided when we lose four billion people (minimum) in the next 30 years.
This novel should be THAT talking point. For how tragic it is, it's FULL of great thought and, dare I say it, HOPE.
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