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Forty Signs of Rain (Science in the Capitol #1)

3.51 of 5 stars 3.51  ·  rating details  ·  2,015 ratings  ·  232 reviews
The bestselling author of the classic Mars trilogy and The Years of Rice and Salt returns with a riveting new trilogy of cutting-edge science, international politics, and the real-life ramifications of global warming as they are played out in our nation’s capital—and in the daily lives of those at the center of the action. Hauntingly realistic, here is a novel of the near ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 432 pages
Published August 1st 2005 by Bantam Dell (first published 2004)
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Riku Sayuj

Glimpses Of An Ordinary Future

How would it be to live in the very near future? What will happen once we cross the rubicon, the point beyond which climate change overwhelms the Anthropocene and humans are no longer in charge of their surroundings?

We should expect high human drama under such extreme duress, right?

Wrong.

Daily life will carry on. That is what will happen.

So What’s New in The Very Near Future?

Extinction Rate in Oceans Now Faster Than on Land. Coral Reef Collapses Leading to Mass Ext
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Robert
The first time I read this book I was not overly enamoured of it: I had read its sequel first then come back to it before waiting around for the "third" instalment to be published and after that read Antartica which seemed like it might be set before this one...which turned out to be true...so i read the last one last but none of the others in the correct order!

Hence, having re-read Antarctica, I thought I would bash on through the 40, 50, 60 series and see how they looked as one long book.

The a
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Trin
I thought I should finally try some Kim Stanley Robinson, as he’s kind of a classic at this point. This was…huh. I’m not really sure what this was. It was the first book in a trilogy, certainly—I’m not sure I’ve ever read such a long book that was almost entirely setup. Seriously, almost nothing happened until the very end—though that end is very dramatic. I wasn’t particularly wowed by the writing—DUDE PUNCTUATE YOUR DIALOGUE DO YOU SEE HOW ANNOYING THIS IS KTHX—or the characters, either; Frank ...more
Robin Wiley
Have you ever seen the movie Day After Tomorrow where Global Warning almost ends the world and kills everyone in horrible ways? This is NOT THAT BOOK. For those of you that don't read KSR, his books are SO well researched and grounded in REAL science, they are called future history, not sci-fi.

The entire series takes place somewhere between tomorrow and 100 years from now. The north and south poles melt to the point that the ocean gets desalinated (less salt), and without the weight of the salt
...more
Wilhelmina
I gave this book 4 stars because there were so many things I loved about it. First, it is set in Washington, DC, my hometown, during an ecological catastrophe. All of the lower lying areas are completely flooded, and the descriptions of the flooding were beautifully written and accurate. Second, the scientists and their discussions about their work and funding decisions were right on the mark. I loved them. The politics of legislative decisions was great as well, and would make good reading for ...more
Lobeck
Kim Stanley Robinson does not know how to edit. Likely he could have combined this three book series into one book without losing much content. Alternatively, he could have retained the length of the story and just ensured that something interesting happened more frequently than every 150 pages.

The information about rapid climate change is interesting. The the politics around trying to intervene in environmental disaster, and the methods explored to achieve this make for an intriguing premise.
beatricks
I've been interested in Kim Stanley Robinson for a while, since I muttered something to my sister about wanting books that dealt with limited resource management and she mentioned his Years of Rice and Salt. Then on a much later ecological sci-fi (which I feel a pull to write myself) hunt, I discovered some loglines that made him sound like my beloved Ursula K LeGuin; the description of his Three Californias trilogy, to be precise. Plus, he lives in Davis! *I* know people who live in Davis! So I ...more
Erica
*mild spoilers*

Elmore Leonard once said “I try to leave out the parts that people skip.” Kim Stanley Robinson did not heed this advice, and I was able to skim long swathes of this odd book. As someone who lives in DC and works on climate change issues for the federal government, I was ready to love it. It turns out, however, that workmanlike descriptions of local color do little to leaven painstakingly detailed descriptions of bureaucratic tasks and conference calls. After a while I realized I o
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Angela
Dec 21, 2008 Angela rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: sf
I have to admit to feeling ambivalent about Kim Stanley Robinson's Forty Signs of Rain. This is another of my "picked up on a whim" books, in this case because I was in the mood to read a vaguely-SFish novel about what happens when global warming wreaks hardcore havoc on the planet. Sort of like The Day After Tomorrow, only in prose form, and presumably with a stronger story since it's after all written by a Hugo-award-winning author.

There are quite a few beefs raised about this book on its Amaz
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Tom Nixon
**This review covers all three books in the 'Science In The Capitol Trilogy- the other two are Fifty Degrees Below and Sixty Days and Counting**

Where to begin with this compact, neat little trilogy? These three books are strange because I both liked and disliked them all the same time, which isn't unusual for me, but in this case it can be put down to a simple divide: I like Kim Stanley Robinson's writing, science and technology. In this particular trilogy however, I don't like his politics. We
...more
Daniorte
Las primeras críticas que lei del libro es que era "Aburrido". Sinceramente me parece una critica demasiado fácil ya que si no sabes de que va el autor es normal que te puedas aburrir ya que promete lluvia pero se queda en las señales. Por otro lado si te gusta el autor, no te aburrirás. Stanley Robinson es un autor que le encanta desarrollar la psicología de los personajes. Le gusta recrearse en los actos cotidianos y de la ordinaria situación de una mujer con el sacaleches te hace tres paginas ...more
Lynne Premo
I went into reading this not quite sure what to expect, considering the author's experience in hard science fiction. Although this book had a few slow spots, I loved it. For one, the book had a sense of reality that really brought the story to life -- the precipitating events are not only realistic, but they are happening and have happened. Also, Robinson GETS D.C. The politics of it, the relations between agencies and politicians, the balancing act that everyone walks between what can be done a ...more
Michael
Kim Stanley Robinson has made quite the reputatation as a science-fiction writer with his Mars trilogy winning numerous awards and accolates (all of them deserved).

Now, he’s back with a new trilogy. And while it would be easy to classify it as science-fiction, that might be selling the book short. Forty Signs of Rain is more than a science-fiction story, it’s a cautionary tale of what could go wrong if we don’t start paying attention to the environment.

What I liked about this book is there are s
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Bradley
Kim Stanley Robinson is best known for his award-winning Mars trilogy ( Red Mars , Green Mars , and Blue Mars ) as well as The Years of Rice and Salt . With the publication of his newest novel, Forty Signs of Rain , Kim Stanley Robinson begins another trilogy of epic proportion.

Set primarily in Washington, D.C., Forty Signs of Rain tells the tale of a young environmental policy analyst for a popular U.S. Senator, and his wife, a scientist with the National Science Foundation. The book details man
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Schnaucl
A few years back my friends and I started a book group. The book that really killed it was The Years of Rice and Salt. I won't revisit the horror except to say it was very bad. I tell you this because it was by the same author as this book. But this one sounded interesting so I gave it a shot.

It reminded me very much of Next by Michael Crichton. It was not quite as bad, but the lecturing tone was much the same. The major problem with this book (besides that the action doesn't start until about
...more
Richard
Apropos whilst reading a book on climate change, the New York Times just published a fairly in-depth article on investigations of sea level rise. The article, As Glaciers Melt, Science Seeks Data on Rising Seas , also has some interesting multimedia attachments. One fairly alarming tidbit I learned is that the ice piled on top of just Greenland would, if melted, raise sea levels by twenty feet.

The article also links to an excellent tutorial from the NGO CSIRO on Sea Level changes.


Book selection
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Kim
I have a weak spot for Kim Stanley Robinson, as he can generally be relied upon to write about the awakening of "neutral"/"objective" scientists as political beings, and this is the most straightforward version of that story so far.

Because it is both speculative fiction and science fiction, there are some interesting history lessons contained in this trilogy, often regarding the intersection of science and party politics: e.g. the anti-Goldwater science lobby in 1964 and the subsequent anti-scie
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Ethan Casey
I discovered the novelist Kim Stanley Robinson a year or so ago through his magnificent Mars trilogy and have become a big fan of his signature blend of speculative science, politics, and character-driven narrative. Forty Signs of Rain is the first in a different and earthbound trilogy about the science, politics, and real-life impacts of global warming. Published the year before Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, it's remarkably prescient and realistic in its portrayal of a similar flood ...more
Kate
Hmmm. Forty Signs of Rain is at once fascinating in it's climate change prescience and also irritating because of the way it's written.

There isn't actually much *story*. There is instead a lot of explanation of science via the characters with a little bit of mysticism thrown in. None of the characters really make me empathise with them, and in particular I can't stand Frank Vanderwhal whose constant internal monologue is irritating and downright objectionable when it comes to his thoughts on the
...more
Carlos
Jan 25, 2009 Carlos is currently reading it
I don't know what's happened to the old Kim Stanley Robinson. I'm finding this book difficult to read. So far I've endured countless pages detailing ad nauseam the procedure a woman follows to pump her breasts and freeze her milk so her husband can feed their child while she's at work. The first time was interesting reading but I found myself skimming over when the damn breast pump featured in another scene. Another description of breast pumping and I will scream.
Robert Lee
I am amending my rating to four stars from the original three. As a part of a larger whole it would be four starts, but on it's own maybe three to three and a half. It is the first book in the Science in the Capitol Trilogy and it is really a laying down of characters and groundwork for the next two books to come.

Some may be turned off by this as this is this is pretty much 300 plus pages of character introduction and people just talking about what they do. But if you stick through about 80 to
...more
Alias Pending
SHORT REVIEW: painfully boring.

SECOND SHORT SIGN OF REVIEW: I Cannot, Will not, and Shall Never believe that KSR wrote this book.

Third short etc., etc; To say this story was phoned in is to forget about the invention of the telegraph, the pre-Edison telegraph. At one point in reading this, I said, self, this book reads like a lifeless interoffice memo. Only to turn the page to find the next chapter was, in fact, written as an interoffice memo. Lazy.

Fourth... Seriously, an intern wrote this and K
...more
Alexandra
While I'm not very literate regarding the sci-fi genre, I've read Robinson's, "The Mars Trilogy" and thus, likely had too high an expectation for the beginning of this series. The first thing I noticed was just how different this book was written. It is almost as if it were ghost written because it seemed to lack the natural flow that Mars had. Also, it took me some time to get into the story. It was an easy read but around page 320 I found myself thinking, "Finally! Three hundred pages of set-u ...more
Rob
...After my first read of this trilogy I didn't think this was Robinson's best work. After this reread of Forty Signs of Rain I'm still of that opinion. The novel deals with a challenge humanity is facing and at the moment refusing to address in any meaningful way. In that sense I appreciate this work. On the other hand I can't really share Robinson's optimism that the various parts of government in Washington can be made to disengage from the financial interests of those who wish to downplay th ...more
Tommi
This book had intriguing characters- many of them scientists, so extra dear to my heart. it also had one of the best lines I've ever read: "An excess of reason is a form of insanity." Chew on that for awhile.
Alex Rogers
Enjoyable read. Liked the science, the never ending flow of big ideas. Empathise with the sense of helplessness felt by the characters against the sheer malign blindness of big business and politics towards global warming. 10 years later and we in Australia are facing the same difficulties his characters were in 2004! Also cool to have rock climbing scenes clearly written by a rock climber instead of the usual fakery.

Didn't rate the book higher as I felt it was a bit of a "quickie" novel - I ne
...more
Kent Frazier
Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars hooked me on Kim Stanley Robinson. The depth of information that is in his books is truly amazing. And although the Mars trilogy may play out at some far distant future, the Global Warming trilogy (40 Signs of Rain, 50 degrees Below Zero, and 60 Days and Counting) is prescient in having predicted our current times (40 Signs of Rain (2004) ~ Hurricane Sandy (2012), 50 Degrees Below Zero (2005) ~ The Polar Vortex (2014)). One can only hope that his optimistic 60 Day ...more
Kathleen Brugger
I felt like I was missing half the book. And not at the beginning or end...it was as if things were left out all through the book. Last fall I heard Mr. Robinson speak about utopian ideals and felt he was quite eloquent about the future and climate change, and I sought this book out because I thought it would be as powerful. But it wasn't. It was a disconnected story about scientists, none of whom you got to know well enough to care about. There's not much on climate change, either. I'm not much ...more
Ann
This is very interesting. A different type of science fiction...
Lesli
First, KSR has this ability to make me hate his writing style so much that I want to chuck his books out my window. He's long winded in the science and the internal dialogue and short winded in the relationships and people interactions. Then, he will go for stretches where you get long winded dialog or minute detail of a person's life and nearly none of the science. It's like riding with Mario Andretti in rush hour traffic -- speed stop speed LEFT speed RIGHT speed stop RIGHT speed LEFT speed RI ...more
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1858
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
More about Kim Stanley Robinson...
Red Mars (Mars Trilogy, #1) Green Mars (Mars Trilogy, #2) Blue Mars (Mars Trilogy, #3) 2312 The Years of Rice and Salt

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“An excess of reason is itself a form of madness” 5 likes
“Yeah, hey you know carbon sinks are so crucial, scrubbing CO2 out of the air may eventually turn out to be our only option, so maybe we should reverse those two clauses. Make carbon sinks come first and the climate-neutral power plants second in that paragraph.” “You think?” “Yes. Definitely. Carbon sinks could be the only way that our kids, and about a thousand years’ worth of kids actually, can save themselves from living in Swamp World. From living their whole lives on Venus.” 0 likes
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