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  • 2312
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Showing 1-10 of 346 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 517 reviews
on April 19, 2017
I am reading the nebula award winning novels in chronological order. This is the winner for 2013.

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.

What's good.
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.

The rest.
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.
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on February 10, 2017
This book reminds me of movies that devote screen time to spaceships taking off and landing. They add nothing to the plot, but look pretty and fill time. This book is 95% of the equivalent spaceships taking off. A small faction of the many (oh so many) words in this book have anything to do with the plot.

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.
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on April 30, 2015
The Mysteries of Udolpho is a sprawling 700 page monster of a book written at the end of the 18th century and the plot is roughly the same as Scooby Doo. 2312 seems to have taken up the style (but not the plot) from this ancient monstrosity. In other words, it's way longer than the plot warrants, it fails to develop it's main characters - or perhaps the characters are just too bizarre to grasp. That may actually be the point of the future characters. The story is very slow moving through out, and it has the feel of showing off what the author knows. This means that characters in the story tend to be tropes for "showing off" instead of being people.

After about half the book, that begins to change, but it never entirely goes away.

The cool: Kim really messes around with gender and science - and from what I can tell he is well informed on the philosophy and scientific theory of both. His knowledge of history and art are both impressive as well. There are some areas where I think his physics maybe a bit wonky, but it doesn't really hurt the story. The asides between the chapters eventually coalesce into something interesting which surprised me.
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on May 5, 2016
While 2312 lacks the epic scope of the entire Mars Trilogy, Robinson does manage to put a system wide adventure into the sizable book.

2312 includes a dose of Robinson's signature political and environmental thinking as he describes mankind's future three hundred years in the future. He does so as plausibly as ever which makes me sad that I'm unlikely to live to see 2312 (The year, not the book. I saw the book and read it, hence the review).

I think Robinson's greatest strength is painting that plausible picture of the future that is, despite dangers and upheavels, optimistic. Rational political and economic systems, citizen scientists, and societies which value all human contributions to society. I want to live there.

But seriously, Mr. Robinson, can we be friends?
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on October 22, 2015
Interesting world - though hard to envision that we could make such incredible leaps in technology only 300 years from where we are now - that is unfortunately filled with unlikable, frankly stupid characters. Also the long passages about walking and music and more walking are beyond tedious. I finished the book, but only out of stubbornness.

Cannot recommend to anyone.
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on March 22, 2014
Reader, I liked it a lot.

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.
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on December 31, 2013
This is the 4th novel I've read by Kim Stanley Robinson, the first three being part of his Mars Trilogy (Red Mars, Green Mars and Blue Mars). I was a voracious science fiction reader as a kid, but gave it up when actual science fiction seemed to be replaced by dragons and fantasy. Then a rave review in the Washington Post and a free e-book offer convinced me to read Red Mars a couple of years ago, and I was hooked.

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.
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on January 28, 2013
I like KSR's stuff; The Mars Trilogy was fascinating, as was "Years of Rice and Salt." 2312 feels a bit like the last few chapters of Blue Mars stretched out into a sprawling, picaresque novel. The technological concepts - a Mercurial city on rails racing the sun, social changes from genetic engineering, nearly limitless habitats made by hollowing asteroids, vast terraforming projects - are all fabulous and intricately detailed.

However. The story? Almost feels like an afterthought. We follow our heroine, Swan, across the solar system on a number of missions and jaunts and things happen - disasters occur, characters are introduced - but I never felt like I connected with either her nor basically anyone else. A 135-year-old heroine comes off as a petulant teenager at best most of the time, and the all-important "love story" feels a bit forced (their relationship seems to mostly be based on a shared love of whistling and the occasional shared catastrophe). The resolution to the disaster plots is summary and somewhat anticlimactic, and we never really get a good explanation of motivations (some theories are put forth, but they all left me wanting). Even when the main characters are in danger, they never feel like they're in any real peril. Sure, you know they'll make it through (or the book would just end), but the dramatic tension feels lacking.

If this had been anyone other than Kim Stanley Robinson, I probably would've abandoned the book halfway through. Luckily, KSR is so excellent at the world-building aspect of his novels that I was able to read it for that alone.
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on March 21, 2013
Kim Stanley Robinson has written some outstanding novels. Among those I would count the Three Californias trilogy and the sweeping, beautiful Mars trilogy. Sadly, I cannot include 2312 as among the outstanding.

He does well in describing settings. He does well on the technological aspects. The terraforming of asteroids, hollowing them out and making them into terrariums and even transport vessels, is an intriguing concept. He describes the rigors of making Venus habitable and shows a rather devastated Earth quite effectively.

The tale starts on Mercury in the traveling city of Terminus where we meet the main POV character, Swan. As some others have said, this character is very irritating. I liked her romantic foil, Wahlrum, and the chief inspector was well fleshed out.

The main plot is that there are rogue quantum AIs who are trying to destroy all humans that are off the Earth, some of them are making synthetic humans. It is a workable plot but, somehow, it was predictable.

I found it somewhat bizarre that in this future society most of the off worlders anyhow are forms of hermaphrodites. Robinson has often included genetic manipulation in his stories so I guess this development is not surprising. That he then describes a complicated sexual act between Swan and Wahlrum, well I just didn't see the point.

Robinson's books always have an agenda. I generally don't agree with his politics, however that doesn't usually detract from the story.

And what was up with those lists?

I found the ending to be weak, but it was his story to tell.

This book is okay. Here's hoping Robinson's next book goes back to his previous solid storytelling.
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on September 29, 2013
I think my headline says most of it, but a couple of thoughts.

Robinson gives us whole chapters dictating the scientific laws of the 2312 world through how-to manuals. It's insane and flies in the face of conventional how-to-write workshops, but delicious, in the end tickling your mind! When you finally understand who is narrating those chapters, your mouth drops open.

I think Robinson succeeds because he fuels the imagination with negative space instead of robbing the reader of an imaginary journey. It's the art of grabbing enough to draw, while hiding details so the reader can fill them in with their own opinions, hopes, views and beliefs about the world unfolding before them.

Kim Stanley Robinson makes a powerful argument in 2312 that we generally build tools that we are incapable of handling, make a mess of it, then respond appropriately. This makes sense to me, as generally I think human beings don't consider consequence until after the fact.

I highly recommend 2312.
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