The Ministry for the Future

The Ministry for the Future

Book - 2020 | First edition
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"From legendary science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson comes a vision of climate change unlike any ever imagined. Kim Stanley Robinson is one of contemporary science fiction's most acclaimed writers, and with this new novel, he once again turns his eye to themes of climate change, technology, politics, and the human behaviors that drive these forces. But his setting is not a desolate, post-apocalyptic world--rather, he imagines a more hopeful future, one where humanity has managed to overcome our challenges and thrive. It is a novel both immediate and impactful, perfect for his many fans and for readers who crave powerful and thought-provoking sci-fi stories"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York, NY : Orbit, 2020
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2020
ISBN: 9780316300131
Branch Call Number: SCI ROBIN-K
Characteristics: 563 pages ; 25 cm


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Feb 20, 2021

This ambitious book paints a possible near future over several decades about the effects of climate change on our world, examining it from political, sociological, environmental, and technological contexts. There are even humorous, but instructive cameo narratives by a carbon atom and a photon. Among the different perspectives runs the single thread of the UN’s Ministry for the Future, charged with solving the global climate crisis. Five stars for the intelligence and readability of Robinson’s exploration of this topic from multiple perspectives, but the momentum of the story bogs down in the final 100 pages.

Dec 29, 2020

Kim Stanley Robinson has again woven a compelling story of great depth and consequence. The premise is simple and should be of serious interest to everyone: anthropogenic climate change and our apparent collective inability to effectively deal with it using the existing political-economic structures. He appears to have done a great deal of research into the many diverse aspects of this existential problem. He skillfully uses this knowledge, along with his formidable story-telling skills, to both inform and entertain, by employing a diverse and engaging cast of characters to bring the issues into a relatable human context. Along the way his characters struggle with many serious challenges that are extremely relevant, and their discussions and actions help us to better understand the issues. While it is ultimately an optimistic scenario, it is also realistic in depicting the innumerable hardships along the way and the price that many will have to pay.

Dec 13, 2020

NYR Books review by Bill McKibben

Dec 12, 2020

This is a weird one. It opens with a horrifying, lengthy bravura chapter written in a close first-person p.o.v. describing living through a killer heatwave in India. It's some of the most gut wrenching writing I've read in ages. But in the second chapter Robinson switches to distant third-person p.o.v. and stays with it throughout the rest of the book.
To make things worse, the reader expects the narrator of the first chapter to be the primary character, but he's relegated to secondary-character status for the rest of the book in favor of a different and less interesting character (though this is partially the result of the distant third-person p.o.v.).
As well, though it's billed as a novel, it alternates narrative (fiction) chapters with factual chapters describing in some detail various ways of combating climate change, and also short (some as little as about a hundred words) chapters consisting of philosophical ramblings and miscellaneous comments, a number of which serve no apparent purpose.
As a result, it's neither fish nor fowl, and I ended up wishing Robinson had written two books instead of this single volume: an actual sci-fi novel on the political aspects of fighting climate change, and a nonfiction book on the various ways to do that.
Still, the nonfiction material on ways to combat global warming is well worth reading. Despite it's obvious and irritating warts, I'd recommend "Ministry for the Future": It's the most thought provoking book I've read in ages.

Nov 10, 2020

Thank you, Kim Stanley Robinson, for writing this book. It explains so much about where we find ourselves now, how we got here and how we might manage to get out of this mess and achieve something better in the process. This book enlightens my mind and makes me want to put the book aside and get up out of my chair and start changing the world. I learned about projects that are already underway and things that can be undertaken. It won’t be easy and it won’t be quick and it isn’t a good idea to hope someone else will do it. So let's get started. P.S. Not a light read.

Nov 05, 2020

Imagine spending a week in an off the grid cabin. Nothing outside but the outhouse, a hand pump well, and miles and miles of "nature." Now imagine that you are stranded, and you are with Sheldon Cooper in one of his most manic phases. That is how I experienced this book.
Robinson was preaching to the choir for much of the book (who doesn't hate the top 1% and wish they'd just die and give the planet a chance?) But by page 200, it became a challenge to me to be able to say I read the whole thing. I had to prove I have the stamina (to not kill Sheldon with my bare hands. I mean finish the book).
The "facts" may be an accurate prediction of how bad this will become, but they are tedious and just slow the book down. The personal rants inserted as short chapters was probably cathartic, but I have my own rants to deal with. And skipping all over two decades without giving any hint to when something was happening got really annoying.
IF the 563 pages had been edited down to 400, this would have been brilliant.

Oct 22, 2020

Not bad, a bit verbose, lot of stuff not necessary, etc... but the science, the administration, the ideas are sound and engaging, thoughtful, even. One flaw was when the oil companies used carbon currency to keep oil used for fuel in the ground... but let it be used for plastics...


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