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2312 Hardcover – May 22, 2012
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"A magnificent achievement...hugely imaginative and beautifully written."―Booklist (Starred Review) on 2312
"2312 paints an absolutely credible and astonishingly beautiful picture of the centuries to come, of the sort of schism and war, the art and love, the industry and ethics that might emerge from humanity going to space without conquering it and without solving all its problems."―Boingboing
"Robinson's extraordinary completeness of vision results in a magnificently realized, meticulously detailed future in which social and biological changes keep pace with technological developments."―Publishers Weekly
"Intellectually engaged and intensely humane in a way SF rarely is, exuberantly speculative in a way only the best SF can be, this is the work of a writer at or approaching the top of his game."―Iain M. Banks
"2312 is a monumental tour-de-force that re-imagines the solar system in ways no one has envisioned before. Whether comparing the compositions of Beethoven to those of skylarks and warblers, or describing a life-threatening sunrise on Mercury, Robinson fills 2312 with joy and exuberance, danger and fear, and the steadily mounting suspense of a mystery that spans the planets. This is the finest novel yet from the author who gave us the Mars Trilogy and GALILEO'S DREAM. An amazing accomplishment."―Robert Crais
"Inherently epic stuff... expect interplanetary strife, conspiracies, more big ideas than most SF authors pack into a trilogy... [yet] this is ultimately in so many respects a book about Earth... a wise and wondrous novel"―SFX
"Complex and sometimes bewildering, 500 pages crammed full of strange but decent characters whose actions play out against a vastly constructed utopian background."―Guardian
"A feast for the imagination and intellect - shockingly clever"―Sun (UK)
"A brilliant, plausible account of how humans might colonize planets, moons and asteroids, 2312 is also about the future of art and family."―NPR Books
"This is a grand tour of an intensely imagined interplanetary future of modified human beings, terraformed planets, experiments in economics and sociology and hundreds of other delights. All of it is in Robinson's eloquent, enthusiastic and inimitable prose"―Morning Star (UK)
About the Author
Kim Stanley Robinson is a New York Times bestseller and winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards. He is the author of more than twenty books, including the bestselling Mars trilogy and the critically acclaimed Forty Signs of Rain, The Years of Rice and Salt and 2312. In 2008, he was named a "Hero of the Environment" by Time magazine, and he works with the Sierra Nevada Research Institute. He lives in Davis, California.
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Initially I didn't realize that I had already read this book. When I remembered, I thought it would be worth a second read. Now I'm not so sure. I did finish reading it the second time, but I kind of wish I hadn't.
The story takes place in the year 2312 when humanity is busily populating the solar system while Earth itself sinks ever further into the swamp of pollution and overpopulation that we are experiencing today. There are three or four main characters, depending on how you look at it. Actually, you could say there are 0 main characters because the author seems to feel character development is overrated.
The book is heavy on science and technologies that can be used in various ways to allow humans to freely and expediently travel the solar system. Some of these are quite innovative, or seemed so to me. Okay, that's pretty much it on the good side, but that is actually quite a lot. Enough to make it worth reading once, but not twice.
As I already mentioned, character development is not the author's strong point. The dialog is especially terrible. There is no way any of it sounds like real people. And all of the characters sound identical. And the narrator, too, not surprisingly. One really annoying aspect of this--and it could just be me--is the use of the word "so." It starts many, many sentences and sometimes weasels itself in mid-sentence as if discontent at being always in the lead. Of course, the narrator's voice would not want to miss out on this delightful little word.
Why do humans have to spend one in every seven years back on Earth itself? No simulation will do, it's got to be Earth. The author says that no one knows why this is, but that falls flat to me.
A big deal is made of how oppressive 1 G is to "spacers." They have to wear a body brace to deal with it during their Earth sabbaticals. But their interplanetary travel takes place on terraria that are maintained at 1 G and this doesn't seem to bother anyone.
In this future, human sexuality has broadened to the point of ridiculousness. It seems that heterosexuality doesn't even exist anymore. Most people seem to have both sets of functional reproductive organs. That's a bit hard to believe. Can human anatomy be redesigned to accommodate this physiology. I think the author is trying to present a more sexually open world but he should probably look into his biological facts as closely as he does his physical ones.
There's also a really major flaw concerning ecology that I don't want to discuss due to spoilers.
I would recommend this book if you're interested in technology but not if you're interested in characters or social issues.
1) Gorgeous world building....
The description of the world's, their cultures, their creation are all gorgeous and a real spark for the imagination. I can see these places in my mind's eye, and would love to travel to them.
2)...but terrible characters
I'm 150+ pages in, and I could give a rip about any of the characters. Swan comes across as psychotic, fickle, and aimless. Her companions are uninteresting; bland and without internal motivation. I honestly am hoping someone falls in a volcano on Io at this point just to spice things up.
3) Needed: Editing
I love a good existential thought piece moment in sci-fi (God Emperor of Dune, anyone?) But this is just painful. Why do we have to take a half dozen pages to describe a concert? A chapter on lawn bowling? The 'lists' sections are hit or miss: some fill in context for the world building, but most are just headache inducing lists of mental illnesses, biomes, existential...stuff.
I appreciate the trick of not describing a character in detail, but it wasn't until 100+ pages in was the main character described, which was jarring to what I'd constructed in my mind. Swan came across as a petulant 20 year old, so I was shocked when I learned she was 134..
And the vocabulary. Dear God, it's almost purple prose. I consider myself a smart reader, but I had to give up on Googling some of the words. And if I read "goldsworthies" or "balkanization" one more time...
4) Plot? Conflict? *Jingles keys*
The plot is completely lost, if there even is one. It's completely unclear if there's any conflict or dilemma to solve, and if it is, the characters seem wholly unconcerned with solving it. Swan seems content to have feral mental episodes each time her companions say the equivalent of "if I told you, I'd have to kill you." We take a time out to smuggle out a street rat/would-be-kidnapper, apparently on a lark before resuming an aimless trip around the Solar System...and the whole time I'm wondering if I accidentally picked up the second book in a trilogy because I'm lost and starting to hate the characters and at this point just reading it for the space descriptions.
*Sigh* I think this is a 'leave this in the airport terminal and see if someone else likes it' read...
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.
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