Aaaahhhhh….. what a fine, fine book! Omg! This might be the best book I’ve read so far this year (but it’s only February so … ). I started this book maybe a week ago and was hooked almost immediately. It’s complex and dense in many ways and although I read quite a ways in there came a point where I knew I was missing something. There was some complexity I had missed. Then I was a little more than 100 pages from the end (77 – 80%?) and I realized that I wasn’t going to really understand the ending if I kept going like this. So I started over.
The Ministry for the Future
by Kim Stanley Robinson
Read by a cast
Rating – A+ / climate fiction / futurist
This time I was very satisfied. I found where I’d gotten confused and missed something (there was more than one place!) and just kept going with my head nicely straightened out. This time I was taking brief chapter notes and that helped me stay focused. There are long stretches of information and meditative type narrative broken by the more plot oriented stories of the characters. There are two basic characters, Frank and Mary, whose individual stories intertwine.
But the rest of the novel is mostly comprised of the monologues of various anonymous characters who tell us about their thoughts and lives. These are mostly short chapters and 106 chapters altogether. Most characters only appear one time but there are a few who reappear. The monographs of some characters are like stories, others are more meditative. And some characters are unlikely – they include a microbe and a phonton and a mammal, etc. They are beautifully done, very nicely arranged and the author uses them for a variety of functions.
Overall and very generally the book is about how our world today could get thrust and twisted and pushed and pulled and forged and fashioned into a new world of a peace and prosperity for all, top to bottom, with the earth and all its living parts participating. In other words, how we could become utopia. This is one author’s very intelligently imagined detailing of what that struggle might look like.
The revolution works via serious enforcement of the Paris Agreement and all that would entail. This enforcement starts after several serious climate disasters. The Ministry for the Future is instrumental in developing the program which affects all people all over the world. The head of this ministry is Mary, from Ireland. She has a committee which comes up with ideas and presents them to the various countries.
It gets a bit fantastical in some of the middle section chapters and some parts at the end are dragged out.
I’ve read in the reviews that there’s a lot of hard science in this book as well as real economics along with some nicely researched social and historical material.
I want to mention that the audible version is fabulous with a large cast for the many little chapters and points-of-view.