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Fifty Degrees Below (Science in the Capital, #2)
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Fifty Degrees Below (Science in the Capital #2)

3.67  ·  Rating Details ·  2,063 Ratings  ·  151 Reviews
After years of denial and non-action, a near-future Earth faces a crossroad when it is threatened with the dire implications of global warming, an environmental crisis that ironically could unleash a devastating Ice Age on the planet.
Paperback, 640 pages
Published January 30th 2007 by Spectra (first published 2005)
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Natasha Hurley-Walker
Jul 05, 2012 Natasha Hurley-Walker rated it it was ok
Arrrrgh, I really wanted to like this a lot more than I did! The problem is, I can't stand Frank! The last book was evenly split between three point-of-view characters: Anna, workaholic scientist; Charlie, her husband and environmental adviser to a senator, and Frank, a narcissistic professor who enjoys poverty tourism. In this book, we get ONE scene from Anna's point-of-view, two or three from Charlie's (all of which are him worrying about his son, Joe, because Robinson is so intent on making s ...more
Mar 28, 2014 Rob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
...I think Fifty Degrees Below is a better novel than Forty Signs of Rain. It's his most political novel up to that point and probably also the one that is most likely to polarize readers. The tighter focus on a single character will not be appreciated by all readers but does give us the most detailed look into the mind of a type character that Robinson portrays in a number of his novels: the scientist engaged with society, working not just to expand the sum of human knowledge but to put this kn ...more
Sara J.
Jun 27, 2015 Sara J. rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of KSR, climate change people in general
Recommended to Sara by: Have been eyeing this since I saw it at my local library...
Great stuff. This continues on from where 40 Signs of Rain left off and I really, really enjoyed it. Frank lives in a tree house! How could you *not* like that? Let me get my thoughts straight on this first before I write something more...

Okay, have went through my thoughts. Or rather ignored them since I finished the book. Let's just say that as a testament to how much of a KSR fan I am that I have already bought the 3rd book in this series! I have read about 2 thirds of about 3-4 trilogies th
Emma (Waffle Writer)
Don't let my low rating get you down, or make you stray from reading this book. Goodreads marks 2 stars as "It was Okay" for a reason. This book, it was okay. I enjoyed the last few chapters alot, and if the entire novel had been like that, the book would have raised up to a 4 star, possibly. But anyway, this is an adult sci-fi novel, good for an under-the-covers read at night when the liht is dim, and you are trying to stay awake. Or fall asleep. Either one.
I started this last year. Over 6 mont
Jun 04, 2012 Michael rated it really liked it
Second in a series about climate change. Like the first one, this was long and not especially exciting to read. Not much happens. The Gulf stream conveyor shuts down. It gets incredibly cold in W. Europe and the eastern US. Scientist geo-engineer a fix. That's pretty much it.

While I wouldn't characterize this book as exciting, I did enjoy it because--at this point--I am pretty invested in the characters. The main character, Frank, is a scientist who decides to try and live as paleolithic man onc
Lynne Premo
Aug 04, 2013 Lynne Premo rated it really liked it
Shit just got real in the second book in Robinson's climate change trilogy. With DC recovering from the floods experienced at the end of Forty Signs, the climactic situation only devolves further. However, at the same time, the political situation improves somewhat (not surprisingly, the Republicans opt to fellate their petrochemical johns while the world is drowning and burning and freezing around them), with NSF stepping forward in the vacuum of action to do something. Unlike a lot of 2/3 nove ...more
Jan 03, 2016 Renee rated it really liked it
This book was particularly timely given this weekend's giant blizzard :) I liked it, and later this year, i'll have to finish the 3rd book in the series. Now - if only we could find some way to get a political candidate like the one described in this book...
Sep 05, 2009 Thermalsatsuma rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010
Frank takes to the woods
Palaeolithic lifestyle
Now comes the big freeze
Aug 25, 2010 Carol rated it really liked it
My very favorite KSR book of all time!
Sep 25, 2016 Grrlscientist rated it it was ok
Fifty Degrees Below (Bantam Books, NYC: 2005) is the second novel in Kim Stanley Robinson’s global warming trilogy (the first is Forty Signs of Rain). In this book, the novel shifts its attention from Anna and Charlie Quibler and their quirky sons onto NSF scientists/bureaucrats Frank Vanderwal and Diane Chang.

The first book in this trilogy, Forty Signs of Rain, developed slowly, which seemed to reflect the author’s perception of America’s slow reaction to impending global climate change. Howeve
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 23, 2015 Meran rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in global warming
Book II of III

Set in Washington DC, immediately after the events of Book I, the writing has greatly improved. At least, so far, the first chapter of 10. Maybe the author has his his stride for the series? Maybe it's just that I'm not being treated to How To Raise a Baby my Mr. Mom. THAT was really overdone in the first book. If all this happens, temp fluctuations like the author says, it's going to be a rough, but interesting ride. Weather talk will be all the rage!

The flood waters have receded,
Andy Janes
Mar 08, 2017 Andy Janes rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction, 2017
Meh. Maybe slightly more interesting than the last one, but still doesn't know what it is. I really don't understand why there is a spy plot going on in the midst of climate drama, science, and politics. It just doesn't fit.
Denise Barney
Sep 25, 2015 Denise Barney rated it really liked it
I finished this book last night at the airport, typed a review on my Nook, and lost it all. /sigh.

Kim Stanley Robinson is a masterful writer. I found myself engrossed in the story, staying up way too late to read just one more chapter, despite the fact that this story is, in many ways, very frustrating. (Second books--or second films--in a trilogy often are.)

"Fifty Degrees Below" is the second in the series of "Science in the Capital." The flood waters have receded from Washington, D.C., but rem
Alex Telander
Nov 02, 2007 Alex Telander rated it liked it
FIFTY DEGREES BELOW BY KIM STANLEY ROBINSON: Kim Stanley Robinson returns with the second in his trilogy on the current state of global warming and its possible ramifications. Robinson does a great job in making his world seem very much like our own, but his sequence of events are a lot more “down to earth” than The Day After Tomorrow.

Forty Signs of Rain ended with a flash flood drowning most of Washington DC and leaving the main characters to fend for themselves, having to travel around by boat
Nov 04, 2013 Tim rated it it was ok
I'm still surprised and disappointed both in the book and my low rating. I loved Robinson's Mar's trilogy, and had high hopes for this modern book on climate change and the challenges to our civilization it poses.

Instead, it is a wandering, aimless reflection jumping between science and how scientists are misunderstood (just give them their collective head and they would save us from our greed and stupidity), as well as the potential of bureaucracies and money and funding and programs - again if
Jun 23, 2009 Joe rated it liked it
This is a science fiction novel. The main storyline involves a scientist working for DARPA, studying and fighting climate change, but as with most of Kim Stanley Robinson's book, the heart of the matter is not the action of the story, but the reactions of the characters. It's also the middle book of a trilogy, although I didn't realize that when I started reading it (and I didn't feel as though I missed much by skipping the first one).

I picked up this book early on a Sunday when I had a little b
Oct 31, 2010 Richard rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Richard by: HardSF Group
I have a lot of respect for Kim Stanley Robinson the massive information dumps he produces. But affection? Not so much. I think his Mars trilogy was the first I read, and I note that I gave it four stars. At the time, I’m certain that I was overawed by his encyclopedic approach.

Where this is both a big win and a big loss is in the science. The action is centered at the top of the National Science Foundation and their efforts to get a grip on how the climate is changing and what mitigation strate
Heather Pearson
Nov 30, 2012 Heather Pearson rated it did not like it
Global warming has become a reality. Washington DC experience severe flooding, the Atlantic Gulf Stream has stalled and the Antarctic ice sheet is breaking up. These are the calamities that Kim Stanley Robinson has unveiled in his 2006 novel Fifty Degrees Below. In light of Hurricane Sandy a few weeks back, this story line doesn't seem too far fetched at all.

Scientist Frank Vanderwal is working with the NSF (National Science Foundation) to brainstorm and implement workable solutions the the glob
Mar 06, 2008 Steve rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
The problem with Important books is often that they're not very Good. And Fifty Degrees Below tries very, very hard to be Important.

In the wake of the devastating flood that ended Forty Signs of Rain, global warming has stalled the Gulf Stream and ironically brought about global cooling: a winter that makes Washington D.C. feel like International Falls, Minnesota. Meanwhile, the Administration denies that anything is wrong and works to subvert science and the electorate.

Forty Signs of Rain too
Dec 18, 2012 Macha rated it really liked it
2nd in a trilogy. ".... that must suffer a sea change". excellent, though like his father i kinda miss the not-yet-2 year old Joe of the first book, an amazingly sharp character. Frank comes to the fore here, a complex, flawed character in the throes of changing himself utterly, looking to the past for paradigms that might prepare him for living in the immediate future of a new Ice Age. meanwhile the almost-mythical Khembalis are suffering (and driving) extreme change as their environment change ...more
Nov 13, 2016 Jennifer rated it it was ok
Feminist fans of KSR, read this novel at your own risk. I was fairly disgusted with Frank's character and I will admit that I skipped most of the chapters about him in Rock Creek Park, much preferring to read about Charlie, Anna and Joe.

Perhaps Frank, the main character of this novel (unlike the previous in the trilogy) was designed to be unlikeable. But this character type has really not aged well, 10 years from publication. If Frank's weirdly hyper-sexual and casually sexist character is supp
Jun 23, 2008 Christopher rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alan Zendell
Nov 18, 2011 Alan Zendell rated it really liked it
If not for the quirky behavior of some of the characters which struck me as distracting from an otherwise compelling story, I'd have rated this a 5-star book that ought to be read by everyone. It's science fiction, but it contains a lot of horrifying science fact. And horrifying is definitely the right description, more so than anything I've seen classified as "Horror".

The 2004 film "The Day After Tomorrow" projected an apocalyptic view of the consequences of global warming. it was great theater
Scott Shepard
Aug 03, 2015 Scott Shepard rated it it was ok
I’ve liked Robinson’s novels before, particularly the Mars trilogy and The Years of Rice and Salt. So I was a little disappointed at how flat this novel fell.

This novel can be best described as: political and environmental science fiction. It is the second book in a trilogy about climate change on earth and the politics and science surrounding an escalating series of climate disasters. I have not read the first book in the series, and perhaps that lead to some of my confusion as the book referen
Ian Robinson
Dec 14, 2014 Ian Robinson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
KSR's prose is very dry - as one might expect from someone who wants to make more a discussion of the science of the issues, than artificially contrived drama's and action. The story, like others by the writer, cover a group of connected but disparate people, all scientists, while dealing with a major event in human future history. in this case, it is the rapid climate change brought about by human pollution. The second in the "Science In The Capital" series, we follow on from "Forty Signs of Ra ...more
Sep 16, 2013 Luke rated it liked it
On my second read through Fifty Degrees Below, I remembered why I never finished the series.

As with all Kim Stanley Robinson, the ideas in the book are great and represent a good, well-researched, hard sic fi look at a not-so-speculative world. Unfortunately, the characters are a bit harder to get into and the plot is a bit of a trudge.

Ultimately, the Science in the Capital series means to take on a pressing problem and the social realities that underpin it, cause it, and suffer from it, and tur
Jul 15, 2012 Erica rated it it was ok
Elmore Leonard once said "Never start a book with weather." Hard to avoid, I suppose, when writing about abrupt climate change. And maybe it's the one time you could set this maxim on its head in a compelling way. I think the point of this maxim, though, is to get to the action and consequences of your topic sooner rather than later. Much like the first book in this trilogy, however, KSR heads in the opposite direction: there is lots of talk about the science behind the weather, lots of lunchtim ...more
Aug 22, 2008 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the sequel to Forty Signs of Rain, a story I felt didn't need a sequel. I liked it (a lot) but it wasn't as moving as the previous. It is a tale of times much like our own; it may, in fact, be 2004. The world is in deep shit, because the Gulf Stream has stopped due to large influxes of fresh water in the northern Atlantic. Without the Gulf Stream for warmth, Northern Europe is going to feel a lot more like Northern Canada, and in January, the coldest winter in ten thousand years hits the ...more
Dec 30, 2007 Anja rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
This was definetly not just another sequel, it picked up right where Forty Signs of Rain left off. And this book is amazing! My favorite character is Frank Vanderrwal, in the first book he was a pretty small character but he liked to rock climb and go on adventures- I felt an affinetly with him. Now he is the main character in this book. He takes his adventure seeking and sociobiologist mind set to a new level.

Frank is a sociobiologist and scientist who works at NSF (National Science Fondatio
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Kim Stanley Robinson is an American science fiction writer, probably best known for his award-winning Mars trilogy.

His work delves into ecological and sociological themes regularly, and many of his novels appear to be the direct result of his own scientific fascinations, such as the 15 years of research and lifelong fascination with Mars which culminated in his most famous work. He has, due to his
More about Kim Stanley Robinson...

Other Books in the Series

Science in the Capital (3 books)
  • Forty Signs of Rain (Science in the Capital #1)
  • Sixty Days and Counting (Science in the Capital, #3)

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“It is easy to live multiple lives! What is hard is to be a whole person” 10 likes
“All the discussion in the meeting that day had centered on the impacts to humans. That would be the usual way of most such discussions; but whole biomes, whole ecologies would be altered, perhaps devastated. That was what they were saying, really, when they talked about the impact on humans: they would lose the support of the domesticated part of nature. Everything would become an exotic; everything would have to go feral.” 1 likes
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