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2312 Hardcover – May 22, 2012
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The year is 2312. Scientific and technological advances have opened gateways to an extraordinary future. Earth is no longer humanity's only home; new habitats have been created throughout the solar system on moons, planets, and in between. But in this year, 2312, a sequence of events will force humanity to confront its past, its present, and its future.
The first event takes place on Mercury, on the city of Terminator, itself a miracle of engineering on an unprecedented scale. It is an unexpected death, but one that might have been foreseen. For Swan Er Hong, it is an event that will change her life. Swan was once a woman who designed worlds. Now she will be led into a plot to destroy them.
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By the halfway point I was only continuing because "there's got to be SOMETHING interesting here". By 80% I was only reading to finish the damn thing.
Audio narration is even worse. Listening to the various "lists X" crammed in between chapters is maddening. What's the only thing worse than being stuck in traffic? Being stuck in traffic listening to someone recite a long list of mental illnesses.
There were a number of pearls scattered throughout this novel: terraforming ~ orbital mechanics ~post-humanism ~ quantum computing. The list is actually quite long. And each topic would be a great discussion topic in a futurist forum. Or a 21st century ethics seminar.
But, that's about all I found worthwhile. Robinson has a tendency to splatter concepts yet he never really delves into the subject....a George Lucas architecture. The compulsion never becomes the obsession, sotospeak. Character development was weak and what did develop wasn't all that palatable. I didn't find one character that I related to all that well, and that's unusual for me in a sci-fi novel.
This novel won the 2012 Nebula Award. I can't imagine why.
This is "hard" science fiction, that is, it is SF based on the best of actual, known science. It's not "Buck Rogers," though there is conflict, economic and political, including terrorism and some cold-war type standoffs between the settled planets, moons and asteroids of the solar system.
There is also a lot of slow, but fascinating descriptions of how these planetary bodies might be terraformed, or made habitable for humans; about the effect of global warming on our own planet (think New York turned into a 24th Century Venice, with skyscrapers rising from its flooded streets); and political and economic critiques of a capitalist economy.
There is also a hint of romance between two of the main characters, and settings that are charming. That may sound strange, but underneath their domed cities, space dwellers have created attractive parks, plazas and terraced, tile-roofed towns. There are a number of expository excerpts that break up the actual storyline. Some are greater scientific details and others are excerpts by historians in a future some decades or more after the events of 2312, analyzing that year. These can be both fascinating and annoying.
I'm not the fastest of readers, and reading on a Kindle, I kept pausing to consult my pop-up dictionary for unfamiliar words. So it took me a month to finish reading 2312. But having read the author's earlier novels, I expected a long, thoughtful and ultimately satisfying read, and I got what I expected.
I am a sucker for solid and imaginative world-building, and KSR does an excellent job here- and not just with 1 world, but with many; many ways in which humans expend into the greater Solar System and both adapt themselves and adapt the Solar system to fit well.
The plot? well, it's often amorphous, and is definitely secondary to the world-building... though it does spring organically from that. Similarly with the characters- they are interesting, and decently drawn, and fairly true to themselves, but that's not the focus of the book.
There's certainly some utopia/dystopia elements, with Earth being both necessary and a dystopic developmental sink (mainly due to archaic politics). Sadly, this is happening now, has been happening for centuries, and does not look likely to stop. The other settlements are more in the utopic line (with the exception of Venus), but the variety is breathtaking, and they do offer a hope that we can make it as a species if we can finally throw off more of the archaic forms.
It's a huge book, and parts read more quickly and easily than others. I know I'm going to re-read it in a couple of years.
Most recent customer reviews
Hard to get sucked in, because each chapter requires a different mind set
The qube chapters are inreresting and fun to decipher