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Sixty Days and Counting Hardcover – February 27, 2007

3.8 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Inside-the-Beltway policy wonks and government scientists strive to save the world from environmental collapse in the well-written third installment (after 2005's Fifty Degrees Below) of this hyperrealistic, near-future SF series. The Gulf Stream—slowed by global warming—has been restarted and nuclear-powered naval ships stand by to generate electricity for frigid coastal cities. Phil Chase, an ecologically minded Democrat from California in the Al Gore mold, has won the presidency, due in part to the efforts of NSA scientist Frank Vanderwal and his spook girlfriend, Caroline Barr, who helped foil a right-wing attempt to fix the election. But only time will tell if the world has both the scientific know-how and the political will to reverse the ongoing rush toward an ecological precipice. Combining surprisingly interesting discussions of environmental science with Robinson's trademark tramps through nature and an exciting espionage subplot, this novel should appeal to both the author's regular SF audience and anyone concerned with the ecological health of our planet (Mar.)
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Praise for Forty Signs of Rain: 'The Brave New World of global warming ! A narrative that is rich in closely observed characters and a wonderfully vivid sense of place ! depicts a society sleep-walking towards the abyss ! His great achievement here is to bring the practice of science alive and to place this in an all-too familiar world of greedy capitalists and unprincipled politicians. Robinson's critique of science is heartfelt ! humans have gone from being the smartest animal on the savannah to being "experts at denial".' P.D. Smith, Guardian 'A funny, convincing, intelligent book' Kim Newman, Independent 'Kim Stanley Robinson is freed by his medium -- fiction -- to deliver [a] message with passion and restraint ! A great book' New Scientist Praise for Kim Stanley Robinson 'The excitement of the science is thrillingly rendered ! a very impressive work of the imagination !' TLS 'Unusually well written !three dimensional characters ! the scale is awesome.' Shaun Usher, Daily Mail More on the Mars books: 'To make Mars real and make it interesting. That's the double challenge which Kim Robinson has here so squarely and successfully faced! scientific reality leads straight into a conflict plot! a running commentary on human desire, frustration and fulfilment.' Tom Shippey Guardian 'A beautiful book -- to be lived in.' Ian Watson Daily Telegraph 'A complex combination of science fiction and fact, political and social commentary which, together with strong characterisation and a brilliantly conceived plot, blend into a book that reads like a heavily dramatised version of past events, flowing smoothly from start to finish and building up to a climactic conclusion. Probably the most outstanding aspect of Robinson's novel, however, is his stunning visualisation of the beauty of this hostile planet. By the end you can't help feeling you understand the place, that it has some meaning beyond that of just another location for a story ! I'm looking forward to reading the next two volumes almost as eagerly as I'm anticipating the reality of such an outrageous venture.' Alex Hardy Time Out On Antarctica 'A tour de force of adventure writing, memorably told ! He describes Antarctica like a great travel writer, but he does so in the aid of the story ! It is hard to put the book down. It is important, it is relevant, it gives us a huge new continent to imagine; and it is fun.' Mail on Sunday 'The most momentous science fiction novel of the year! Robinson has turned his gaze on a landscape almost as hostile and unspoiled as Mars and describes it gloriously well.' Daily Telegraph 'A fascinating richness ! with the unobtrusive lightness that allowed him to finesse so many of the difficult grandeurs of epic in the Mars books, he steals in Antarctica towards the tricky inward experiences of those archaic Brits, "conquering the world with bad boy scout equipment".' Independent --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra; First Edition edition (February 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553803131
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553803136
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #417,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For Kim Stanley Robinson fans, like me, who have read ten of his novels, Sixty Days and Counting is a big disappointment. For Robinson himself, the book may be worse than that -- perhaps heralding a career crisis.

Robinson has two main problems. First, he has no new things to say. Second, for what he DOES want to say, the novel is not the best vehicle -- and so Sixty Days is awkward and ineffective.

But first, the good. Robinson is a great writer who combines powerful expressive skills with a passionate and insightful understanding of politics and philosophy. Moreover, he is a meticulous researcher who presents science by lifting the reader up, instead of dumbing the science down.

In addition, Sixty Days presents a detailed and compelling portrait of how a real President should behave, at a time when people are craving such a model. In fact, much of Sixty Days is simply political advice to a future Democratic Presidential administration. It is good advice, and that is perhaps the best that the book has to offer. You normally expect a Robinson book to offer loads of "Gee Whiz!" science, but because climate change has become so much more prominent in the public discussion than it was when this series began, most of what would have been fascinating science is now old hat.

Except for the politics, and without the science, Sixty Days is quite empty. The book might best be seen as a victory lap, or perhaps a "greatest hits" compendium from all his prior work. The first clue that Robinson was more interested in re-hashing prior work than introducing something new came when he started gratuitously recycling major character names like "Frank" and "Spencer" from the Mars series. But it turns out that nearly everything is recycled.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I agree with other reviewers that this is among Robinson's weakest and was quite a disappointment. Plot is weak. I am a big fan, thinking the three California's is his best work and the Mars trilogy is outstanding. But Robinson seems to be paying less attention to the things that placed him on my pedestal -- thoughtful review of possible futures, interesting characters, good hard science, understanding of alternative styles of leadership. I liked the first volume in this trilogy quite a lot -- Frank was not exactly a likable character, but he is an interesting loon, not unlike other academics I have known (I am an academic Economist myself). The second volume was not as good, and this volume was pretty terrible. All of Frank's eccentricities from the first volume (but one -- his like for the outdoors and primitive lifestyle) have disappeared or been trivialized. For example, an injury affects his brain function. He does nothing interesting as a consequence of his injury, then an operation fixes it. This is not the stuff that makes Robinson great.

Instead of crafting this like a literary exercise, objectively pondering the possibilities and lyrically leading the reader onward, this feels like an angry blue-stater releasing his frustrations through abstract wish-fulfillment. I am a very angry blue-stater, but the idea that everything would be better if only the right man were president does nothing to assuage my anger.

Finally, as an economist, I have to say it bothered me that Robinson wrote so extensively and ignorantly about the subject of economics. OK, you may think I am an apologist for capitalism, offended by his epiphany for socialism. No, that would be confusing MBAs with economists.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Robinson's books have always had strong ecological themes, and this, the final volume of his look at the global warming crisis, is no exception. Unlike so many other books that try and delve in this area, Robinson provides not only a look at what we might expect to happen to our world if our current production and consumption habits don't change, but what we can reasonably do about it.

This is, in fact, the strong point of this work, as Robinson envisions both a group of dedicated scientists who actively try to handle a myriad of different types of technological fixes and a newly elected President who gives far more than lip service to their plans. Many of the things Robinson describes here are both good science and show a good grasp of what is possible in the world of politics when the voting population can actually see and feel the detrimental effects (most of this was detailed in the prior two books). The economic costs of massive programs of this nature (such as pumping huge quantities of seawater into basins and back to the top of the eastern Antarctic) are not ignored, either, though I did feel that expecting a massive shift of dollars from military defense to ecological programs was expecting a little too much.

Unfortunately, the novel that above is wrapped in isn't much of a novel. We are presented with the continuing story of Frank in search of his briefly met mysterious love while still trying to live a feral life inside the city confines, and Charlie and his concerns about his youngest son. The whole incident of the potential election-rigging that formed a prime part of the last book is still here, but muted and almost buried under a somewhat far-fetched attempt to find and root out the super-black intelligence agency responsible for the plan.
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