I'm not sure how to quantify this series now that I'm done with it. I really enjoyed it, for myself, but I'm not sure if I'd recommend it to anyone whI'm not sure how to quantify this series now that I'm done with it. I really enjoyed it, for myself, but I'm not sure if I'd recommend it to anyone who's not as obsessively interested in catastrophic climate change as I am. It's hard to say. Certainly the first was the slowest, but I found the pace pleasant nevertheless.
Mostly these books aren't even about the change itself, but more how his characters cope with it, (which is a whole hell of a lot more responsibly than we are doing in real life) and how they face the challenges that come from a truly broken system. It almost feels like he's proposing a course of action, and then sort of hypothesizing the outcomes in a narrative structure. A thought experiment in book form.
The over-arcing plot is simple: We burn too much carbon, and face the outcomes of doing so.
We follow several characters throughout the series, though there are two main focuses whose stories are most central. The first is Frank- A scientist for the NSF whose out of work life is often the central point of the story from which all other threads extend. He is almost obsessively active and fit, spending huge amounts of time exploring and experiencing the world outside of his office confines, making friends with misfits, living in trees, playing Frisbee, reading Thoreau, and ending up with a brain injury which causes an excruciatingly frustrating (for the reader) brain injury that causes him to be unable to be decisive in any context. We follow his erratic and peculiar romantic pursuits, quasi-spiritual growth, and most importantly, his direct experiences with the environmental changes that occur all around him. We also follow Charlie, an advisory and policy man for Phil Chase, a senator who would be president. His wife, his children, and his more conventional life, as well as his friendship with Frank. How he and his family deals with the changes of climate disaster is/ are quite different than Frank, and it's interesting to see the contrast to their situations.
The whole story, from the first book to the last, is as scientifically accurate as can be reasonably asked of any author. He's stringent, even exhaustive, and at times well past the point of irritatingly thorough. He tends to, especially in the first book, spend pages of intricate detail on characters or side plots that have little, if any, impact on the story as a whole.
I picked up this book because I am someone who is deeply interested in climate science. It's both terrifying and fascinating, but limited almost exclusively to the realm of nonfiction. Finding this was a true delight, especially being by such a well regarded author. I absolutely look forward to reading his other books, as he is a wonderful storyteller, and an eloquent writer.
As I often feel deeply pessimistic, verging on apathetic, about our climate situation, it was refreshing to have characters to attach to who were so motivated. They never stopped trying, and would make enormous changes to their world with little to no political infighting or bickering. Climate denial wasn't even addressed as an issue, and the ability of civilization to come together and carry out massive geoengineering projects successfully was uplifting, even if I don't really believe we can ever behave that well as a species in real life. Imploding emotionally or intellectually when faced with the magnitude of the problems we face is pretty understandable, and it's almost like science fan-fic to have the whole planet just focus all together and go "Yeah, lets try that!" when things start to get dire, rather than sticking our heads in the sand.
All in all I really enjoyed the series, even if I did occasionally want to punch some of the characters. To me that just means I was emotionally invested enough to care. Really spectacular quality of writing, sometimes verging on prose. 4 stars.
3 and a half. Pretty slow, but I actually really enjoyed it nevertheless. This is the First KSR book I've ever read, and I am suitably impressed by hi3 and a half. Pretty slow, but I actually really enjoyed it nevertheless. This is the First KSR book I've ever read, and I am suitably impressed by his style and ability to really pull you into a character, or a story. Meticulous is a word I'd use to describe him. In character development, general descriptive tone, accuracy about the topic- all meticulous. I wasn't sure at first I was going to read the whole thing, but then I looked down and realized I was 4/5th through it. I am now reading the next one, it's definitely got it's claws in me. Looking forward to the next one, which I just got....more