Daniel Bryan's Reviews > 2312

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson
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's review
Jun 06, 12

really liked it
Read from May 26 to June 06, 2012

does "fan service" have a non-pejorative synonym?

You're never quite sure that KSR is intentionally not seeking the reader's consent before passing years of time in his books - or if he even cares to communicate it

the result is constant bipolarity. you're pulled between an immersion in an overwhelmingly materialistic world, a sense of alienation spawned not by social injustice but by the nature of consciousness, intimacy with the characters, self-hatred, etc.

much of 2312 is a coda to the Mars Trilogy, and its themes are all extensions of its. the 'world building' is slightly weaker - perhaps because it moves into the just-far-enough-for-fantasy threshold of time that other science fiction authors are more comfortable with - but Kim's characterisation and expression of materialism, a sense of being a part of history, and conscious attempts to embrace the pathology at the heart of adult human consciousness is as strong as in the best parts of Green Mars

its two protagonists are basically a Maya and a Sax. It lacks a Nadia, tragically

"the big stars seemed to lie at difference distances from them. space popped as she saw that, became an extension outward rather than a backdrop hanging a few kilometres away. they were not in a black bag, but in an infinite extension. a little reckoning in a great room"

when i started reading this book, i was thrown into a sustained period of ennui lasting a fortnight. i consider this a strong positive

on Wahram's experience of the 'pseudoiterative':

"Habits begint o form at the very first repetition. After that there is a tropism toward reptition, for the patterns involved are defenses, bulwarks against time and despair.
Wahram was very aware of this, having lived the process many times; so he paid attention to what he did when he traveled, on the lookout for those first repetitions that would create the pattern of that particular moment in his life. So often the first time one did things they were contingent, accidental, and not necessarily good things on which to base a set of habits. There was some searching to be done, in other words, some testing of different possibilities. That was the interregnum, in fact, the naked moment before the next exfoliation of habits, the time when one wandered doing things randomly. The time without skin, the raw data, the being-in-the-world.
They came a bit too often for his taste. Most of the terraria offering passenger transport around the solar system were extremely fast, but even so, trips often took weaks. This was simply too much time to be banging around aimlessly; doing that one could easily slide into a funk or some other kind of mental hiberation. In the settlements around Saturn this sort of thing had sometimes been developed into entire sciences and art forms. But any such hebephrenia was dangerous for Wahram, as he had found out long before by painful experience. Too often in his past, meaninglessness had gnawed at the edges of things. He needed order, and a project; he needed habits. In the nakedness of the moments of exfoliation, the intensity of experience had in it a touch of terror - terror that no new meaning would blossom to replace the old ones now lost.

Of course there was no such thing as a true repetition of anything; ever since the pro-Socratics that had been clear, Heraclitus and his un-twice-steppable riverand so on. His habits were not truly iterative, but pseudoiterative. The pattern of the day might be the same, in other words, but the individual events fulfilling the pattern were always a little bit different. Thus there was both pattern and surprise, and this was Wahram's desired state: to live in a pseudoiterative. But then also to live in a *good* pseudoiterative, an interesting one, the pattern constructed as a little work of art. No matter the brevity of a trip, the dullness of the terrarium or the people in it, it was important to invent a pattern and a project and pursue it with all his will and imagination. It came to this: shipboard life was still life. All days had to be seized."


I think KSR's work stands in the most favourable light if you view his mythological tone, the Passing Of Characters Through Historically Significant Events And Areas While On Tedious Errands, his long dictating exposition, as tropisms rather than something to be taken at face value as a narrative

it is easy to forget amongst the extension kepler belt errata and the unprompted awkward 'extracts' from unspecific ~ even more future ~ historical texts that KSR has established himself to anyone's eyes as capable of masterful prose and rhetoric

it's all a game and i love it
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