Sean Gill's Reviews > 2312

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson
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Jul 10, 2012

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Read from July 02 to 10, 2012

This book reads almost as if it was a sequel to Robinson's famous Mars Trilogy, which is some of the best science fiction ever, however I read in a review that the history of Earth and Mars in this book are different. In fact, the book spends no time actually set in Mars, except for the epilogue, although the reason why Mars seems distant is eventually explained. Instead, we are treated to glimpses of life three hundred years in the future in space colonies on Mercury, Titan, and Venus, all of which were explored somewhat in Blue Mars, plus an Earth devoid of ice caps and animals, and asteroids turned into transport ships/floating zoos and aquariums. Robinson has a marvelous imagination for exploring the question of what it might be like to be a spacer, a human several generations removed from being born or living on Earth, but yet still drawn to its history nonetheless, in a way that is different then the way you or I might look fondly at Britain or Germany or China as our mother countries. Spacers are in some ways more advanced and cooperative than the stubborn nation-states on Earth, even if their space colonies don't always get along with each other either. And Spacers, who must even return to Earth every so often for its restorative, if oppressive gravity, feel drawn to help Earth solve its problems.

I found the characters and the central mystery somewhat less intriguing than the scenes tangential this story but dealing with the questions above much more directly. In this way, the book is not as successful as the Mars Triology, which used a similar style in having chapters that switch between multiple points of view, tall tales, and pure "scientific" explanations. The difference was that in the Mars Triology, the story of colonizing and remaking Mars as a second Earth had a strong narrative thrust, strong enough to survive the side plots and side stories. And the characters in Mars were much more compelling. You feel like you really got to know them, like many of them. It was also much harder to keep track of the time in this book. I originally thought everything happened in 2312 but transporting between planets on the asteroids, more or less in their own orbits around the sun, must have taken months.

So, an enjoyable read, but you have to force yourself to stick with it. Some of the best written scenes were in the last third of the book.
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