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Fifty Degrees Below Mass Market Paperback – January 30, 2007

67 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Earth continues its relentless plunge toward environmental collapse in Robinson's well-done if intensely didactic follow-up to Forty Signs of Rain (2004). As a result of global warming, the Gulf Stream has stalled, and when winter comes, impossibly frigid temperatures hit the Eastern Seaboard and Western Europe. As people starve, multinational corporations explore ways of making a profit from the disaster. When Antarctica's ice shelves collapse, low-lying island nations quite literally slip beneath the rising waters. In Washington, D.C., clear-sighted scientists must overcome government inertia and stupidity to put into effect policies that may begin to salvage the situation. An enormous fleet of ships is dispatched to the North Atlantic to dump millions of tons of salt into the ocean in the hope of restarting the Gulf Stream. This ecological disaster tale is guaranteed to anger political and economic conservatives of every stripe, but it provides perhaps the most realistic portrayal ever created of the environmental changes that are already occurring on our planet. It should be required reading for anyone concerned about our world's future.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–Picking up where Forty Signs of Rain (Bantam, 2004) leaves off, this second book in a planned trilogy finds Earth about to experience the most intense winter on record. Governments worldwide blithely go about their routines in spite of the monumental recent flooding in Washington, DC, and other areas around the globe. When the record-setting cold sets in, people begin freezing to death and starving due to crop failures. Large corporations and world governments use the crisis to attempt to rig elections and plan other agendas to tighten their hold on the public. Meanwhile scientists, especially those at the National Science Foundation, frantically search for a way to shift the weather patterns. The answer seems to be to jump-start the Gulf Stream to get it flowing again; the world watches as millions of tons of salt pour from ships into the ocean in this attempt. While the major plot of ecological chaos plays out, the subplots show how the effects of the weather changes, ecological turmoil, and governmental and big business assaults affect the various characters as they try to survive. This well-researched and expertly written novel about a future that might be coming true all too soon will hopefully serve as a wake-up call about Earths current serious situation.–Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 603 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra (January 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553585819
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553585810
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.6 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #497,746 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kim Stanley Robinson is a winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards. He is the author of eleven previous books, including the bestselling Mars trilogy and the critically acclaimed Fifty Degrees Below, Forty Signs of Rain, The Years of Rice and Salt, and Antarctica--for which he was sent to the Antarctic by the U.S. National Science Foundation as part of their Antarctic Artists and Writers' Program. He lives in Davis, California.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Mike Garrison on December 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is the second book in a trilogy, or perhaps the second part of a three book novel. (More on that later.) It works better for me than the first installment (Forty Signs Of Rain) because it is a lot more focused.

Where the first book followed a bunch of mostly-separated stories about a bunch of mostly-separated characters, this one concentrates on a single character, Frank Vanderwal. Some of the other characters from the first book are also covered in a secondary way, but Frank is the center of the story. (Leo is completely absent. Charlie and Anna are sometimes used as viewpoint characters, but quite sparingly.)

Some of the author's longtime fascination with Tibet shows up in a secondary storyline, but the major plot thread details Frank's attempt to live homeless in the middle of Washington DC as a "modern forest primate". This is complicated by a severe winter that is brought on by global climate change. It is contrasted by an examination of what happens when the zoo animals that were released during the flood of the previous book end up "going feral" and trying to survive in the now-wrecked Washington city parks.

Frank is also the focus of domestic surveillance operations, and Robinson presents an image (which is quite possibly true) of a society where domestic high tech spying is rampant and extends even to people who live "off grid" as much as possible. (The headlines in US papers this week are about the NSA performing illegal domestic spying, so perhaps this was a timely subject for fiction!)

He also discusses the idea of letting science replace politics as a method for keeping society running. Those familiar with Robinson's other works will recognize this idea.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By David G. Phillips on December 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The second book in a trilogy on catastrophic global climate change. '50 Degrees' starts off where '40 Signs ' left off, Washington D.C. and much of the eastern seaboard has emerged from the deluge and clean-up ensues. This book, like its predecessor, is a book about bureaucracy and governmental infighting. Despite the writing on the wall the government and the NSF have a difficult time gaining any sort of traction on changing the status quo and leading the nation into reversing climate change and establishing some sort of carbon sequestration.

The character Frank plays the main protagonist in this book, he emerges from the deluge homeless and decides to go feral much like the Washington DC zoo animals had done during the rain storm. He lives in a tree house and tries to survive in the park even though temperatures are changing drastically after the thermohaline stall of the Gulf Stream. Much as the book suggests, temperatures reach 50 degrees below and many cities are woefully unprepared for it.

Much like the first book, this one spends the first 2/3rds taking us through the bureaucratic infighting between DoD and DoE versus the NSF and EPA amongst others. The last third involves the response to temperature change and the mini ice-age that looks imminent after the West Antarctic ice-shelf begins to separate. Along with this, Robinson tangentially discusses a secret governmental conspiracy to steal elections (a la Diebold) & warantless spying on Americans. This book is sure to make conservatives cringe and could be the anti 'State of Fear' Michael Chricton screed.

It's a fine book & Robinson is a very talented writer, I just wish he would focus less on the Tibetan obsession and stick to the weather. A good book, I plan on reading the final novel, but I think it could have been much better featuring more of the weather / governmental conspiracy angle.
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm giving this only three stars, not for the writing, but for the serial nature of the two books so far in this trilogy.

Like the first book, this one has a lot to offer. Rapid climate change continues apace, and Robinson's scientists and politicians grapple with the effects as they work as involved professionals on the problem. Imagining Minnesotan winter temperatures in Washington DC is a powerful way to bring home how climate change could day-to-day life. The characters are touching and human, and their relationships with each other are as important as their relationship with the weather.

But for Pete's sake... the two books published so far aren't novels, they're the first two-thirds of a novel. They're not long enough nor dense enough to be satisfying as individual stories. The Mars trilogy, another trilogy by Robinson which followed a set of characters for three books, covered centuries of events in over two thousand pages; the first two books of this trilogy, by contrast, have the same page count as the last book of the Mars trilogy and span events over roughly a year, and even at that they seem a little padded with a lot of lunches and phone calls and searches for parking spaces. Worst of all, this book ends with another big 'To Be Continued...' placard.

It's praising with faint condemnation when a reader's principal frustration with book is that there isn't more of it, but still, be aware that whatever appetites were aroused by _Forty Signs of Rain_ won't be satisfied here. I remain optimistic about the end of the story, but I sure wish I didn't have to wait another year to read it.
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