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The year is 2312. Scientific and technological advances have opened gateways to an extraordinary future. Earth is no longer humanity's only home; new habitats have been created throughout the solar system on moons, planets, and in between. But in this year, 2312, a sequence of events will force humanity to confront its past, its present, and its future.

The first event takes place on Mercury, on the city of Terminator, itself a miracle of engineering on an unprecedented scale. It is an unexpected death, but one that might have been foreseen. For Swan Er Hong, it is an event that will change her life. Swan was once a woman who designed worlds. Now she will be led into a plot to destroy them.

561 pages, Hardcover

First published May 22, 2012

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About the author

Kim Stanley Robinson

224 books6,470 followers
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 fascination with Mars, become a member of the Mars Society.

Robinson's work has been labeled by reviewers as "literary science fiction".

Excerpted from Wikipedia.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,563 reviews
1 review2 followers
July 1, 2013
So I'm not actually done, but I couldn't make it through.

I've tried to read Kim Stanley Robinson in the past, and I've managed to plow through. His world building is great, but something about the novels fail to grab me.

This one though, ugh. I made it about 60% through before I could identify the problems. I don't care about the main protagonist AT ALL. She's a 140-something hermaphrodite of Chinese descent that grew up on Mercury (cool, right?), but at her age, she's completely self-absorbed, asks stupid questions, and selfishly makes HUGE decisions based upon input from an integrated AI in her brain: one day, she simply decided to start a revolution on Earth after seeing poor old people working in post-Saharan Africa's farms. Because they're poor. And that's no good. And they MUST be unhappy. The only remotely interesting storyline in the book, Kiran, who has been transplanted to Venus to assist in terraforming, has any traction. Unfortunately, the character (by the time I stopped reading), had only a few "chapters" to speak of.

Some of the science is neat, but these characters jet around the solar system like no one's business, blasting past planets and YEARS in the plot; a reference was made to an event that took place a year ago, when, in fact, the event had only happened a few pages earlier.

Added to this, the book frequently devolved into these mindless interludes of technobabble that do little to further the story.

Two stars for interesting ideas.
Profile Image for Dan.
Author 5 books462 followers
April 14, 2016
I read maybe one sci-fi book a year. My barrier to entry is generally the writing itself. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I find that most contemporary sci-fi books - as with most "genre" books - tend to be poorly written, sacrificing craft in favor of the fascinating worlds, etc that they present. So, it's always a pleasant surprise when I encounter a work of sci-fi that's also really well written because I am a bit of a futurist at heart and love to delve into these worlds. (It's not for nothing that Star Trek: The Next Generation was my favorite show as a kid.) I'm happy to say 2312 is such a work. Kim Stanley Robinson is perhaps most famous for his Mars trilogy, and from what I gather this book is typical of his earlier style. I haven't read the Mars trilogy, so I can't speak from personal experience. However, after 2312 I'm definitely intrigued.

It's difficult to summarize this book because it's really more a history of a possible future than a traditional novel. Sure, there's a main character and a central conflict, but so much of the book deals with the meta factors of life in space cohabiting with technology that it does the book a disservice to say it's simply the story of Swan Er Hong. Swan is Mercurial - in both the sense that she's prone to sudden mood shifts and that she's from the planet Mercury (there are a lot of little puns like that throughout) - and when we first meet her she's mourning the recent death of her grandmother. The plot picks up from there with Swan getting tangled up in a type of solar system manhunt/mystery. But, 2312 isn't a mystery, not really anyway. For one thing, the action scenes are few and far between and when they do arrive they're over before you even notice. No, the focus here is most definitely on exploring the time and place. Curiously enough, the strongest narrative voice here speaks from an even more distant future so that while reading one gets the dizzying sense of looking back on a time that for one reading today hasn't yet occurred. An interesting technique, but I could see how some might consider it gimmicky.

The greatest weakness here is also the novel's greatest strength. While the world building is fascinating it can at times drag on. It's worth enduring, however, as some of the most beautiful passages depict things never seen by human eyes: sunsets that last for 16 "days" on the moons of Saturn; clear aquarium "terrariums" floating in the nothingness of space; etc. Again, from what I gather, this is typical of Robinson's work, so if you're okay with that you shouldn't have any reservations about diving in. If this is the only sci-fi book I read this year, I'm glad it was such an enjoyable experience.

If you liked this, make sure to follow me on Goodreads for more reviews!
Profile Image for Nnedi.
Author 79 books15.4k followers
August 13, 2016
i'll be brief: a ton of info dumping, but what a world and what ideas and what atmosphere ...just wow. i LOVED this novel. i do with there had been a more focused plot, but whatever, that's a different novel that i can write myself, haha. but this i really enjoyed. i could just settle into it and be there and say wow and oh and ah and wtf? and noooooo, etc. this is the type of science fiction i can sink my teeth into and i wish i had found works like this when i was a teen or in my 20s. but better late than never. my only true gripe (that which i wish were different in the novel) is i didn't like that africa was...such a damn stereotype. read it and find out what i mean.
November 14, 2021
Now, this is quite the space travelogue to enjoy! I only wish it was longer since I totally didn't want the book to end.

Saint George, a social terrarium in which the men think they are living in a Mormon polygamy, while the women consider it a lesbian world with a small percentage of male lesbians. (c)
“So you have a sequence of thoughts that wander from one thought to the next in a more or less continuous flow, free associating from one topic to the next, across all the possible thoughts you could have?”
“I’m not sure it’s quite like that. I think it’s more a matter of stimulus and response, with my thoughts responding to the stimuli of my incoming information. Now, for instance, I think about you and your questions, about the green of my dress as compared to the green of this grass, about what I will eat for dinner, as I am a bit hungry—” (c)
If you had sex with a machine, was that interesting, or just a complicated form of self-satisfaction? Would a qube register your responses to it one way or another? Would it too be having sex? (c)
“This is my wife Joyce; this is Robin. This is my husband Dana.”
Dana nodded once, in a way that reminded Swan of Wahram, and said, “Wahram is funny. I seem to recall that I was the wife when it came to us.”
“Oh no,” Wahram said. “I was the wife, I assure you.” (c)
To express the scene musically Wahram thought one might play Satie and Wagner together, a pin of sadness pricking the magniloquent thunderheads: this little lost ship. (c)
Maybe it had always been true that colors burst in her head, that her sense of spaciousness was sharp to the point of pain or joy, her sense of significance likewise. (c)
Profile Image for Chad Peterman.
Author 3 books9 followers
September 9, 2012
I tried to read this book. I really tried. But after fighting to get halfway through this book without even being able to figure out what the plot was, I gave up.

I had read a lot of positive reviews for this book, so I decided to give it a read. Now I wonder if these reviewers read the same book I tried to read. The plot, at least up to the point where I gave up, hadn't progressed (in fact, I don't even know what the plot was). And I really wasn't invested in the characters.

Now this book did have some interesting premises in it, like the way the city of Terminator moved along tracks on the surface of Mercury, propelled by the thermal expansion of the tracks. Then there are the terraria; hollowed out asteroids used as miniature biospheres that replicate various habitats on Earth.

Speaking of Earth, apparently the home planet wasn't liked too much by the various colonies in the solar system, but no reason was given why. It was probably revealed later on, but like I said, after getting halfway through the book and not knowing what was going on, I just had to put it down.

Again, I really hate not finishing a boo, especially one that I tried so hard to get through, but it just didn't grab my attention. The plot was a mystery, the characters were one dimensional, and despite some interesting ideas in the book, I just couldn't get into it. I love a good sci-fi book, but this one just wasn't for me.

Profile Image for Alexandra.
784 reviews95 followers
December 31, 2022
This book just made me happy. Wonderfully, giddily happy. That's the TL;DR version: if you like nearish future sf and you would consider yourself small-l liberal and enjoy a bit of adventure and politicking, oh this is awesome.


There's the gender aspects. Robinson goes beyond gender-bending and into gender-thwarting. I first really realised something was going on when a new character was introduced and for the entire interaction, there were no pronouns used. And it's a gender-neutral name. So... no clue as to whether biologically or otherwise male or female, and it didn't matter in the slightest; and nor did it matter for the many other characters for whom this was also true. The gender aspect is one where Robinson's sly use of language and meta-references comes in: there's a comment somewhere (I wish I had bookmarked it!) where the difficulty in determining sex or gender is remarked on, and the fact that humanity could now be called "ursuline" - because of the notorious difficulty in sexing bears, is the commenter's note. But I see what you did there, Robinson, and since le Guin is one of my favourite authors, I quite literally laughed and crowed aloud. This society has what ours would regard as the "normal" genders (with "outrageous" (p431) macho and fem behaviours as something of an art form), as well androgyns, wombmen, hermaphrodites, gynandromorphs, eunuchs, and the gender-indeterminate. There are people who have fathered and mothered children at different times, people who never disclose their gender to anyone, and... really the broadest range of sexual and gender identity that I can imagine (actually, broader than I had previously imagined). So, that aspect is a lot of fun - and it's presented as normal and as a full expression of humanity.

The political aspect comprehensively wooed and won me. It's common enough - perhaps not so much today, but still sometimes - in science fiction and fantasy to have a monarchy, or an authoritarian regime of some flavour to work within/against, or at any rate a government that can be seen as leaning to the right. And the characters often either agree with it or are actively rebelling against it. Robinson's solar system is far more complex and interesting. For a start the Earth isn't given a single governing body; it actually has more countries here, 300 years in the future, than it does today. The other planets and moons often have one controlling authority, but they are disparate in their aims and desires. In fact much of the inner solar system is held together as part of the Mondragon (based on the idea of a Basque town, see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondrago...). A non-profit, cooperative-based, economic model aiming at mutual support. Yes please. This is contrasted with Earth, and again I will admit to laughing out loud at this description: "late capitalism writhed in its internal decision concerning whether to destroy Earth's biosphere or change its rules. Many argued for the destruction of the biosphere, as being the lesser of two evil" (p125). I laughed, and then I wept. Also this: "confining capitalism to the margin was the great Martian achievement, like defeating the mob or any other protection racket" (p127). A system where, overall, I feel encouraged by the politics and economic aims? Not utopian but aiming high and nobly? That makes me pretty happy.

These aspects combined make this an optimistic novel about the future, which also makes me happy. Don't get me wrong: this isn't a glorious love-in where nothing bad happens, where there's sunshine and rainbows and cookies for all. Life on Earth is hard - climate change has had a serous impact, especially if you lived anywhere near the coast (or where the coast used to be...); life on Mercury and the moons involves great difficulties; there is crime and anger and wanton destruction of life. But those things exist today, too. What makes this optimistic is the attitude taken by both Robinson and many of his characters that there is something that even insignificant people can do about it all. Maybe it won't make a change immediately, and that will be annoying, but long term changes can be worked towards - they're worth working towards, and enduring the setbacks, because people and institutions can change.

Of course, all of these things are well and good. The story is happy-making too. It's told largely though the lens of Swan Er Hong, resident of Mercury and restless spirit. Several other characters become important over time, and Robinson cleverly uses chapter titles to indicate which character will dominate ("Swan and Wang" = Swan is most important, Wang will loom large too).

Speaking of chapters, there are sets of Extracts and sets of Lists scattered at different points throughout, too. Extracts are a form of info-dump, with sections of texts literally like they are extracts from news reports, histories, or scientific papers. This is a neat trick and one that felt immersive - because it could easily be Swan or another character skimming books or websites - rather than throwing the reader out by being too info-heavy. And the Lists often feel whimsical, but they certainly add depth; my favourite, in a melancholy way, is a list of words beginning with boredom and escalating to death wish; it captures quite nicely the sentiments of at least one character at the time. (There's also a wonderful list of women honoured by having a crater named after them, from Annie Oakley to Emily Dickinson by way of Sappho and Xantippe.)

But back to the story: it's a curious one really. For much of the novel, it feels like the story is happening around the characters, but they're not often directly involved - at least, not in the big events: destruction of a city? Not there at the time. These big things have a big impact on our protagonists, but - much like we normal mortals experience events - those events act on them, rather than (mostly) being caused by them. For this reason Swan, for all she has important connections and is moderately famous, feels remarkably like a normal person. The narrative itself is basically a whodunit that gets bigger than expected: Swan's grandparent has died and left a somewhat unexpected inheritance, and then soon after her home, the city of Terminator on Mercury, is destroyed, leaving Swan determined to help find the culprit. This leads her all over the solar system (up to and including the moons of Saturn have been comprehensively colonised), interacting with people of all shapes and sizes (literally; being a tall or a small is more of a division in this society than gender). There's intrigue, and dismay, and maybe-love, and some wild ideas for how people in three centuries might get their kicks, from tampering with one's physiology to some rather extreme sports. Swan and friends do end up having an influence on events, but the manner and the outcome are far from predictable.

Swan herself, as I said, is a fairly normal-seeming person. She gets cranky and has wild ideas and is frequently hard to please; she is contrary and independent and determined and wants the best for the universe (mostly), so who can't people just agree with her when she's clearly right, dammit? The supporting cast - Wahrum and Wang and Genette and others - are varied, from police to scientists to politicians, with a variety of sexual orientations (when it's even specified), and a plethora of priorities and ambitions of their own. The society as a whole is gloriously well realised and complex, but familiar as human nonetheless.

In sum, then, this is a realistic (non-utopian), largely optimistic, enthusiastic look 300 years into the future, with complex and occasionally frustrating characters who may well remind you of people you know. This is what I would like science fiction to be like a lot more frequently.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,099 followers
October 21, 2015
This was a slightly more difficult book than is usual, but no less satisfying for having read it.

I remember the Mars Trilogy with great fondness but I also remember it being stuffed full of invention and depth that most tales have no more than a gloss. This novel is very much like his previous novels in this regard. I am at once in awe and fully satisfied with the tale as I am also annoyed at how long it took to have the human aspect developed.

If anyone had told me during the first 300 pages that it was a love story, I would have scoffed at them and punched them in the sternum. In fact it was a love story, even if it was an alchemical love story of politics, intrigue, personality types (oh yes, a great deal is said about this, and I loved the exploration of opposites between routine and novelty), and even, the most unlikely of love stories I'd have ever read between Swan and Wahram.

It works best if you overlay your own preconceptions with with the planets they're from, of course, and if you don't, it becomes messy. I have to say I love the novels that make me work to enjoy them, because if they pull it off, they are a wonder to behold and a novel that sits in my memory long after the book has been put down.

Hell, that's the way I categorize my top 100 books of all time. I think this one is going to have a spot there. Despite this, I didn't like the lists and the quantum walks as much as I feel I should have, especially when I knew the trick. I still enjoyed the living hell out of this novel, though. :)

Edit 10/21/15

Nope, it didn't make my top 100, but I still think of the novel fondly, even if it was somewhat a mess at times. His handling of quantum computers is fucking great. :)
Profile Image for Adrian.
570 reviews210 followers
April 23, 2019
Many moons ago I read KSR's Mars Trilogy, and really enjoyed his amazing world and character building, so was looking forward to getting to grips with this 500 + page monster, especially following recommendations from people.

And ?? Well I certainly wasn't disappointed, his world building is as stupendous as ever. This was a great story that spanned the whole solar system, with some really interesting characters and some fabulous technology just dropped in along the way. All this made the 550 pages just fly by.
His writing to me is reminiscent of the great Arthur C Clarke, it is so normal it just drags you in the pages fly by. His characters are similarly also not out of the ordinary, but regular people with issues and problems who struggle as we all do in this life.

This book tells the epic story of all the human (?) colonies around the solar system, their interactions , their problems and their differences and similarities. This story is enhanced by some fabulous central characters that you want to know more about.

I love the technological "advances" (some that other authors have used) that are treated as normal but are also so well explained, without being too techie, that means you now have a full understanding of how these inventions/objects can affect the whole solar system.

So if I think all of this is so wonderful, why have I only given it 4 stars ( a very solid 4 stars for such a "tome") ?? Well the answer is because it is just so normal, there is nothing wrong with it being normal, it was very enjoyable book, but it never completely enthralled me. A number of people have said it was boring, in fact some DNF-ed, I personally don't think it was at all boring, enjoyable but not enthralling.

Must get back to the Mars trilogy one day
Profile Image for Graham Crawford.
443 reviews42 followers
March 17, 2013
This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. It has an extremely interesting structure that verges on the allegorical. There's an alchemical marriage of Mercury and Saturn, The dynamic of old and emerging structures embedded in the present, three prose styles,- all very clever. A duet of Swan and Frog.

The lovers spin like Pluto and Charon, around the two plot Lagrange points of an endless walk beneath the surface of Mercury, and waiting to be rescued in the blackness of space- two personal moments that are stretched out like long breathes in the whirl impersonal/planetary action.

Robinson even recognises his own weaknesses and future proofs his sketchier ideas in stream of consciousness hyperlinks (missing their tops and tails), suggesting an unreliable narrator, and urging the reader to assemble the cut up into the future of our choice.

The sex is smart and gender theory aware. The political, economic, and environmental modelling is aggressively radical.

and the prose is funny and at times heart breakingly beautiful.

I will always remember the description of ancient wolf howls chasing the dawn across a continent - a primeval sunwalking that mirrors the opening of the novel.
Profile Image for BG Josh.
82 reviews2 followers
December 29, 2015
So at 65% I finally just kicked this pig and stopped reading. This book is objectively terrible. The story is foolish and non existent, no one involved is sympathetic or even slightly interesting. The main character actually gets her way by threatening to scream, at one point. I was constantly reminded of the twilight books.

The world is goodish, unless you have ever read any other trans humanist books.

The only people I can recommend this book to are extreme liberals. Unwashed hippies, reeking of patchouli. This book postulates a world where conservatism, libertarianism, anarchy and capitalism are evil and never work. Except for some reason they do because old rich people demand they do. And in come our heroes of the nanny state liberal totalitarians to save the day. No mater what people want. If that sounds like heaven, read this book.

If you touch this book to "wizards first rule" they negate each other in a massive release of energy.

You are a good person and you deserve good things. Don't read this book. You're welcome.

Read "accelerando", "blindsight", "the algebraist" or any of the culture novels.

Now to go shower.

OTH, the author has read a science book, or two. So there's that.

edit 12/29/2015

After numerous comments I decided to clarify this review a little.

2312 is a poorly written book. The prose, the characters and the plot are terrible. And the main character does get her way by threatening to scream. If you have some argument that any of these are actually good, I would love to hear it. That would look like a breakdown of the thing (prose,character or plot) and an argument why that is actually good.

The science and some of the science fiction ideas are ok. But, they are crappier versions of stuff done elsewhere. So I already agree, those things are fine. An argument along these lines would be to argue why in spite of the stuff above one or more of these aspects make the book worth it.

All that said, I think the author put on giant ham shaped mittens and wrote a book that is a love letter to the execrable side of liberalism with a giant straw man of his fantasy imaginings of conservatism. It is the opposite, in some sense, of "wizards first rule" a book that also has terrible nonsense politics. But also differs in being adequately written and having interesting characters and plot. And to all the people who have posted that they enjoyed this because of the jackass liberalism, I agree. I told you to read it if you like jackass liberalism.

ps- I kept struggling to name Robinson's political persuasion because there is nothing wrong with liberalism. I agree with the progressive aspects of liberalism and I understand the regressive and hate/fear based aspects of liberalism. And when compared to conservatives the problematic parts of liberalism are minute. I am not even vaguely conservative and this novel bothers me because it takes something that should be good into the realm of nonsense.
Profile Image for Barry Cunningham.
Author 1 book185 followers
April 12, 2018
This is yet another brilliant book by Kim Stanley Robinson. Some remarkable future concepts and very scary scenarios. A superb plot and wonderful characters make this a fabulous read. Bring me more!!
Profile Image for Kara Babcock.
1,949 reviews1,295 followers
June 5, 2013
For the past three years, I’ve paid for the privilege of voting in the Hugo Awards. I do this not because I love voting in the Hugo Awards (though that’s cool) but because, for the past few years, they have made available a voter packet containing digital copies of most of the nominated works. All I need do is purchase a supporting membership at the year’s WorldCon, which is always cheaper than if I were to buy the various novels and anthologies in which these works might be found. (Also, all the digital copies are DRM-free, a philosophy I support.)

This year I’ve actually managed to read two of the Hugo-nominated novels—though 2312 is not one of them. I’ve read fairly little of Kim Stanley Robinson’s work, but what I have read hasn’t impressed me. He’s a good enough writer to deserve the reputation and fandom he has, but he’s not really my kind of writer. Nevertheless, I settled into 2312 (albeit a password-protected, PDF version of 2312) and tried to keep an open mind.

As the title suggests, 2312 is set in the opening decades of the twenty-fourth century, specifically in the years leading up to 2312. Humanity has spread across the solar system. Mars has been partially terraformed, and Venus isn’t far behind. A city flees the sunrise on Mercury, moving around the planet on a system of rails. Various colonies and outposts exist on asteroids, moons of Jupiter and Saturn, and even as far out as Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. Never before has the solar system been so teeming with human life and industry.

But it’s still a fragile time. On Earth, the ecological problems we’re beginning to see now have come to a head. While this has motivated much of the advances in spaceflight and terraforming technology, it’s also created a kind of backlash. The people who live off-Earth are “spacers”, obvious from how they move in Earth’s relatively-heavy gravity. Far from providing a united government to deal with its extraterrestrial children, Earth is more fractured than ever, with over 400 countries vying for resources that grow ever more precious each day. Robinson creates a sense that this is a planet in steep environmental decline—not exactly a catastrophe as much as a long, debilitating illness—and no one has really gotten their act together to try to stop it.

In the rest of the system, humanity flourishes politically, psychologically, technologically. But that sense of fragility remains, as the protagonist Swan er Hong reflects upon one of her many visits to Earth. She remarks that the inhabitants of Earth have no idea how precious it is: the only place where humans can walk on the surface, under a sky, without a suit. Robinson does an amazing job letting us see Earth through her eyes, and with that sight, reawakening a love for our planet and a sense of responsibility.

Humans have begun to adapt to their non-terrestrial homes. Those who live among asteroids are “smalls”, adults of child-like proportions, such as Inspector Jean Genette. At the other end of the scale are those who have become so accustomed to the lighter gravity that their mass would be an issue on Earth, such as Wahram. Advances in medical technology allow people to transcend our binary ideas of gender, leading to all sorts of combinations. Longevity treatments also allow people to live in excess of two hundred years. Finally, quantum computing has become a reality, albeit one still in its infancy. With so-called “strong AI” in quantum boxes (even ones that can fit in someone’s head!), humanity should be on a trajectory towards a golden age.

Except, something fishy is afoot.

With the death of Swan er Hong’s grandmother Alex, she becomes inducted into a loose conspiracy investigating the qubes (quantum computer cubes). Swan’s new associates, including Wahram and Genette, were working with Alex to determine whether some qubes might have self-awareness and an agenda of their own. They are not just paranoid—suspicious incidents have been cropping up for the past few years that seem to point to this conclusion. Their investigations continue, in secrecy, and as Swan becomes drawn deeper into the fold, her experiences during her travels begin to change her, perhaps for the better.

That’s a loose plot summary, but the plot to 2312 is as incidental as it can be. It’s really just an excuse for Robinson to tour the solar system, from Mercury all the way to Pluto. And I can see why: he has done an impressive job building this twenty-fourth century civilization, and he does nearly as impressive a job at telling us about it. Sure, there’s some clunky exposition—but I actually rather liked the “extract” chapters that interrupt the various character-driven chapters. It’s neat to see how Robinson depicts the confluence of different technological breakthroughs and social revolutions and describes the changes that these wrought.

It’s not science fiction’s job or purpose to predict the future, but one thing science fiction can do is offer us possible futures. To me, 2312 is a very believable picture of what the future could be like. If we developed better AI, if we had the right pressures and luck to develop slightly better space travel, if we started spreading into the solar system. Right now, even crewed expeditions to Mars remain mostly a pipe dream. But the way Robinson explains it makes it all seem not just possible but likely. His gentle, uncomplicated explanations combining physics and politics and psychology somehow leave you with the impression that this could all happen in three hundred years.

Robinson provides us with an impressive scope in his setting. It’s almost to the point of giving us too much, of overloading us with the variables involved to the point where the book has become a cacophonous calculation. Great science fiction often relies on simplicity, or at the very least a reductive type of complexity that allows the book to assume a still beautiful and coherent nature. 2312 is a complex, interwoven exploration of how humanity would change after three hundred years of crisis and colonization. Whereas other writers might focus on one or two “Big Ideas” in order to put them under the microscope and examine their consequences, Robinson remains with a bigger-picture approach.

This holistic view works well, because it avoids any kind of tunnel vision that can mar otherwise interesting stories. It’s all well and good to write a book about cloning. But there is never just one technological breakthrough; it’s never just cloning but cloning and AI, or cloning and brain augmentation, or cloning and instant soufflé making. However, this holistic view can also quickly become decoherent, much like the superposition in a quantum computer. It’s hard for the reader to become invested in the characters.

This was my problem with 2312 as a story. Swan is not a very likable protagonist, in my opinion; she is somewhat inscrutable and unknowable. We don’t get a very good sense of her life: despite being over a century old, everyone still refers to her as a “girl”, and despite being the revered designer of several spacefaring terraria, people still seem to look down on her as immature. Though she changes as the story progresses, I never quite feel comfortable around her.

Similarly, the plot moves in fits and jerks, and sometimes it moves without seeming to move at all. There is an extensive section where Swan and Wahram are trapped beneath the surface of Mercury, forced to make a lengthy walk along service tunnels in order to reach safety. It is arguably a moment of intense character development for them, but all the while my inner critic was just screaming, “Get back to the killer quantum computers already!”

The trouble with 2312 is that it draws from two somewhat divergent approaches to pacing. On one hand, it reminds me of Samuel R. Delany’s bigger-picture work, like Triton (a book which, incidentally, deals with a lot of the same themes and issues but to better effect). On the other hand, the underlying mystery and conflicts are more suggestive of a thriller, in the vein of Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon . I desperately love both approaches, but I’m not as fond of slamming them together in the way Robinson has done here.

There’s no doubt in my mind that 2312 is deserving of an award like the Hugo. I’m not at all surprised it won the Nebula. It has the kind of gravitas I expect from an award-winner. Indeed, when I look at the other nominees in this category, I wonder which of them will be the biggest challenger. The rest don’t immediately signal how they approach the big ideas that drive the best science fiction—which is not to say that they are devoid of such reflection. With 2312, despite my complaints about its plot and story, it’s obvious that this is a measured, thoughtful work about humanity’s future. Robinson asks—at times playfully, at times plaintively—who do we want to be?

Creative Commons BY-NC License
445 reviews7 followers
February 21, 2013
I was afraid for a long time that all the literary crap in this book was covering up what was really an overdone, boring plot.

It turned out not to be true - the plot is cool - but the plot only inhabits about 100 pages of this monster 6 or 7 hundred pager of a capital-N Novel.

Really, Kim Stanley Robinson, did we need random-ish, unfathomable "lists" between each chapter? Actually, I can answer that for you. No.

And really, Kim Stanley Robinson, did you have to format your very cool, forgivably info-dump-y world building as apparently arbitrary segments of fake quotations? Nope. Nope, you did not.

And really, Kim Stanley Robinson, I know you want to make us feel like we have really experienced living throughout the solar system, but at some point, I CANNOT TAKE ANY MORE DESCRIPTION. Could you have moderated this somewhat and still been effective? Yes. Absolutely, yes.

If 2312 had been half its length, I probably would have given it four stars - at least. There is COOL SHIT in there. But as it is, I think it's a 2.5, rounded up to a 3 due to potential.

Plus, there's the part where despite all the gender bending and play with sexuality, all this stuff that could have contributed to something very progressive and different... it still managed to turn into a pretty darn conventional hetero romance. In a pretty weird and somewhat forced way, actually. Really, Kim Stanley Robinson, is that where you thought your story was going? Or is that what you thought was progressive? Or what?

Also, I really didn't understand the end of the Earth plot at all.

But that's just a side note, a frustration, a distraction. The real point is, somebody get that guy an editor.
Profile Image for Gabi.
698 reviews123 followers
April 25, 2020
Leaning towards 3.5 stars.

I'm in two minds about this novel that takes place in the same universe as his Mars trilogy.

I really liked the typical holistic KSR approach where he presents his idea of a possible future on a variety of scientific and social fields. As always I stopped from time to time to research some of the topics he mentioned, which among other things lead to me listening to Beethoven’s symphonies as accompanying soundtrack (and Holst’s planets – not mentioned in the book, but quite appropriate) and fetching my Goldsworthy coffee-table book. I really appreciate it when an author makes me do that. Every time I read KSR I end up having learned something new. His research and extensive common knowledge paired with his ability of intelligent and (for laymen) comprehensible writing make the infodumping much more enjoyable than jarring (as is often the case for me with certain other SF authors).

I also liked the writing structure, which reminded me in part of the one in John Brunner’s „Stand on Zanzibar“. The narration chapters are interspersed with short ones with lists and fragmented notes that give a glimpse of social, technical or scientific topics related to the following ongoing of the story. It gives the appropriate feeling of an information overload from a computerized mind.

Last but not least I admired the choice of the two interacting main characters. KSR confronted a resident of Mercury with one from Saturn. He gave both those characters the properties usually attributed to the planets. On one side the effervescent, multitalented, bustling and emotionally rather instable Swan, on the other side Wahram with all the gravitas, calm, wisdom and stolidity of Saturn. The interaction of those two resulted in my favourite scenes in the book and into a lot of discussions on view of life, choices in gender and self improvement and the universe in general.

But the author unfortunately lost me on the plot. The start hinted at a crime thriller kind of story which would have worked wonderfully. In glimpses it came through, but way too sparse and without suspense. More often than was helpful for the attention of the reader the narration meandered into side plots and even more ideas. For example there was a rather long passage about the re-animation of Earth with animals bred in spacebound terraria: a topic worth exploring in a novel of its own, but here it felt just thrown in, broke the pace and was plain annoying. The further I got into the novel the more I was missing the golden thread. And in the end this just lead to an average rating.

I will always admire KSR’s intelligent imagination of the future and his broad love and understanding for all kind of topics. But I also need a plot to carry me along. Hopefully the next of his books I will read does better on that level.
Profile Image for Anthony.
Author 4 books1,893 followers
April 25, 2020
Kim Stanley Robinson fearlessly packs this future-history novel with so many ideas that it at times bursts a bit at the seams, but at its best it remains grounded in a wonderful exploration of what it means to be human, with all of that exploration’s inherent contradictions and mysteries on full display. A sort of companion piece to his epic Mars Trilogy, 2312 is in many ways more intimate, but still with a comparable sweep, and with his characteristically profound intellect informing all of his extrapolations of what our distant future of space exploration and colonization might look like. I will forever be in awe of his imagination and his deep and abiding regard for the immensity of the universe, and I am very impressed, as always, by his terrific craftsmanship.
Profile Image for Trudi.
615 reviews1,454 followers
April 12, 2017

Abandoning this one at about the 50% mark. I gave it the ol' college try, but turns out this really ain't for me. Densely written, huge passages of world-building (and terraforming), but not enough of a propulsive plot or engaging characters to keep me turning the pages.
Profile Image for Kayıp Rıhtım.
365 reviews256 followers
November 6, 2016
2312’ye hoş geldiniz. Çevre felaketleri sonucu kaosa sürüklenen insanoğlu, güneş sistemine yayılmıştır artık. İnsanlar dünyalaştırma teknolojisinin imkânlarını zorlayarak en ölümcül koşullarda bile kendilerine yeni yuvalar edinebilmiştir. Asteroitler minik dünyalara dönüştürülerek çok amaçlı şekilde kullanılmaktadır; artık aynı anda yerleşim yeri, tarım alanı, eğlence merkezi, doğal yaşamı koruma alanları ve gezegenlerarası seyahat araçları olarak hizmet etmektedirler. Sağlık alanındaki gelişmeler sayesinde ortalama ömür iki yüzyılı aşmıştır. İmkânlar dâhilinde gezegenlere olduğu kadar insan beynine ve bedenine de müdahalelerde bulunulabilmektedir. Hatta yeni insan türleri oluşmuştur.

İnsanlar, inanılmaz işlem gücüne sahip kuantum bilgisayarları yanlarında bile taşıyabilmektedir. Hatta ve hatta beyinlerine de eklenebilmektedir. Tüm bu yeni olanakların sonucu güneş sistemine saçılan insan toplulukları irili ufaklı özerkliklere ayrılmıştır. Sayısız gurup arasındaki ekonomik ve politik çekişmeler, balkanlaşma olarak tanımlanan belirsizlikler ve gerilimlerle dolu düzeni getirmiştir.

Aynı anda umut ve felaket olasılığını taşıyan sistemin daha stabil olması için uğraşan bir topluluğun lideri olan Alex adlı bir kadının ölümü, küçük bir endişe dalgası yaratır. Alex’in ortak çalışmalar yürüttüğü Satürn’ün Titan uydusundan Diplomat Fitz Wahram ve Gezegenlerarası Polis Teşkilatı’ndan Jean Genette, vakit kaybetmeden merhumenin torunu Swan Er Hong ile temasa geçerler.

Özellikle Mars Üçlemesi’yle tanınan yazar Kim Stanley Robinson, küresel kapsamdaki doğal felaketlerin zorlamasıyla güneş sistemine saçılan insanoğlunun olası 2312 senesine belgeselimsi bir bakış attırıyor. Kitap bu sayede pek çok konuya değiniyor. Uzay seyahatinden, dünyalaştırmadan, yapay zekâdan, insanın iki kenarı da kesin bıçak gibi olan kendini ve etrafını şekillendirebilme becerisinden, bitmek bilmeyen anlam ve yuva arayışından, küçük çıkarların yarattığı büyük ahmaklıklardan yeri geldiğince bahsediliyor. Ve alttan alta da Dünya sevgisi aşılanıyor.

Kim Stanley Robinson, pek çok olasılığın iç içe geçtiği bir kitaba imza atarken, yoğun bilgi birikimiyle de gayet ikna edici bir çağ tasvir ediyor. Üstelik şaşırtıcı şekilde içerdiği bilimsel altyapının yoğunluğu anlatımı ağırlaştırmıyor. Hikâyenin odak noktası olan Swan, ana olaylara ilgisizmiş gibi davranmasına rağmen hikâyeyle alakalı hiçbir şeyden kopulmuyor. Ana hikâyenin küçük gizemi haddinden fazla abartılarak içi boş beklentilere kapılmamıza sebep olunmuyor. Sadece anlattığı olası çağa odaklanmamızı sağlayarak bizi etkilemeyi başarıyor.

Yazar Kim Stanley Robinson, okurun beklentisiyle oynamadan, doğrudan ve dürüst şekilde hikâyesini aktarıyor. Nasıl tarif etmeli? Kendi yarattığı olay örgüsünü uç noktalarda dramatikleştirmiyor. Zorlama ters köşeler, nereden çıktığı belirsiz sürprizler ve okuru fazladan eğlendireyim diye gereksiz maceralara dalmıyor. Olayları ve karakterlerini, varolunan zamanın temel meselelerine odaklatıyor.

Oldukça katmanlı bir kitap olduğu için layığı ile inceleyemediğimin farkındayım. Temas ettiği her konu hakkında uzun uzun konuşulup tartışılabilir. Ama gerisingeri tartışılmaya gerek olmayacak tek bir şey var. Swan Er Hong’un farkına vardırdığı gibi zihinlerimiz pek çok şeye odaklanmaya çalışmaktan bulanıklaşıyor. Biricik Dünyamızla olan bağımızın ne kadar muazzam boyutlarda olduğuysa unutuluyor. O, nereye gidersek gidelim, farkında olmadan rahatlık ve huzurunu kopyalamaya çalıştığımız tek yuvamız ne de olsa.

- Cemalettin SİPAHİOĞLU

İncelemenin tamamı için:
Profile Image for Evi.
101 reviews8 followers
February 18, 2019
This was my second book by Kim Stanley Robinson, and I have to say that I like his books. He’s got a very unique writing style.

Most of all: I love his world building, it is fascinating. He’s got amazing visions of the future. I always liked astronomy, when I was younger, I enjoyed reading about planets, stars and the whole world we know so little about... 2312 reminded me that I used to inquire into these things, and I’m greatful for this. I was fascinated by the chapters where planets and moons histories were being told - it was really interesting. And I was even more fascinated when I read about the different terraforming techniques, diverse asteroids, planets, moons, the cities and people in the space. Truly amazing!
The main story and the characters didn’t impress me as much as the world building. Swan and her companions weren’t so interesting initially, but to the end of the book I realised that I do care about her, Wahram and the others.

All in all, I liked reading this book. If you like sci-fi books, give a chance to 2312. It’s not an easy book, but Kim Stanley Robinson created an amazing vision of what the future could hold for us.
Profile Image for Gerhard.
1,076 reviews549 followers
June 15, 2012
There is an astonishing setpiece in this book where Swan visits New York, which climate change and rising sea levels has turned into a kind of new Venice. Fresh from space, Swan's intoxication with the beauty of Earth and the wonder of New York's transformation is ravishing.

So much SF these days focuses on the negative aspects of science and technology; KSR is quite old-fashioned in that he thinks we have enough of a technological base at the moment to get us through to a new level.

What has happened to NY is a disaster; but KSR chooses to look at it almost as an evolutionary step. It happened, and so we deal with it. Life, in all its infinite probabilities, goes on.

This is by no means an easy read: the slight, and quite prosaic, plot of a system-wide conspiracy by quantum computers to change the course of human evolution is peppered with vast chunks of info-dumping -- a technique that KSR has turned into an art form. The characters are complicated and humane, even the aliens. The writing is exquisite, and the intellectual joie de vivre is dazzling.(Thank heavens I read this on a Kindle with a built-in dictionary, as there are many scientific words and terms I had to look up.)

Note: I was intrigued at how similar 2312 starts off to Blue Remembered Earth by Alastair Reynolds. It is almost as if the two authors were given the same writing assignment and told to riff on it; KSR's take quickly veers of on its own trajectory. 2312 also reminded me of Paul McAuley's Quiet War trilogy.
Profile Image for Tamara.
261 reviews77 followers
June 10, 2012

I may be overdosing on this particular susgenre, since I read Blue Remembered Earth recently, and The Quiet War not long before that. They essentially tell the same story, but whats disturbing is that they essentially come to the same conclusion. All of this seems to come down to the Richard Florida version of the future. The 24th century for hipsters.

They're liberal-geek amusement parks. A guided tour of one half of the western culture war. The roller coaster of exciting new urbanism. The merry go round of climate change. Ferris wheel of non heteronormativity. That cute little train that goes around the park* of multiculturalism.

It's all very adorable and convenient, if you like that sort of thing, and I do like that sort of thing. I am so the target audience of these books it's not even funny. I read them, I enjoy them, i'll read more of them. I can read fanciful descriptions of space habitats, anarchist economic systems and new-fangled family arrangements until the cows come home. And I like amusement parks too. But after a while, i'd like to see the rest of whats out there too.

Basically, this now entirely failing to be in any way interesting or awe inspiring or thought provoking. It's just a kind of geek trivia porn. I read this stuff the way I read history articles on Cracked.com. I don't find it at all convincing, which, fair enough - SF is about the present, not about the future, ok. But it doesn't work for the present either. Its too neat and colorful in a tourist brochure sort of way. These futures don't feel in the slightest foreign or disorienting or futuristic. Lots of sex without gender. Lots of colonization without colonialism. Superficial multiracialism while actual religeon, culture and ideology become cheerfully contained esoterica, human variety for the sake of decoration. This isn't the future, its just the internet. Would someone please write something challenging?

*But only if it's got rails. If it's actually a tractor pulling wagons on car wheels, it can go fuck itself.
Profile Image for Dawn F.
502 reviews68 followers
April 20, 2020
*edit: bugger that, I’m upping it from 4 to 5 stars because I can’t give such a confident book anything less.

I continue to be in awe of this vast universe Robinson has created. The posibilities are as endless as space itself, and I’ll eagerly pick up any book written about the people who populate this world where humans have expanded to other planets, terraforming and working and living their now medically prolonged lives.

The plot is somewhat simple and has been done before, the threat of artificial intelligence planning an attack on humans, and seems minor compared to what the book really is - an exploration of humanity, of life, of kinship, travelling, survival under extreme conditions, the joys of gliding in suits that can make you fly or whistling a whole classical concert in tandem, philosophying unprejudiced over gender and sex and body augmentations. Robinson does does go off on a tangent here and there when he rants about something he is passionate about, before weaving his way back to the story, which make the plot meander here and there, but that exact passion is what makes him fascinating because it is clear he knows a lot of interesting things and really wants to share, and luckily he writes assuredly and trusts his readers to follow.
Profile Image for Tom Burke.
37 reviews1 follower
June 26, 2012
I hate to rate this so low. The book was pretty ambitious and quite detailed. The story follows Swan, a 130 year old woman living on Mercury who finds herself in the middle of a terrorist plot.

The world as imagined by Robinson is quite amazing. Humans now inhabit most of the planets and thousands of asteroids. Swan is expert at designing worlds and it is quite compelling to read about hollowed out asteroids with completely fabricated eco-systems inside them.

My problem is probably not with the book at all. I love SF but when it becomes so tedious that I feel the need to stop and reach for a dictionary or google to explore some idea or notion, I get bored. 2312 is dense with science and descriptions and words that are unique to Robinson. When I read I am not always ready to learn a completely new language and enter into other worlds with rules I am unfamiliar with.

It sounds lazy and maybe it is. I recognize Robinson's talent and I am jealous of those who can keep up. But for 20 minutes before bed time or catching a chapter on the front porch, it does not lend itself to the serious study demanded.
Profile Image for Liviu.
2,283 reviews641 followers
June 16, 2012
2312 is actually quite interesting about 100 pages in, I just wish the author's style would me more on my taste; this way it is like reading a very dry proof but of a very interesting result so while I derive little emotional pleasure, it's intellectually satisfying; let's hope that continues as otherwise as fiction I would have no reason to continue with 2312 and i really wish to finish it.

I finished 2312 and overall I wouldn't call it disappointing as I did not expect that much from it, but I wish the author would write better prose as the book is full of interesting ideas; that however is not enough as the novel is utterly lifeless and it reads like a play on an empty stage where characters rush along and try to engage the spectators in an imagination game (see, now I am traveling to Earth, now I am on Mercury, now we are in a spaceship...) while a constant flow of information rolls in the background...

In other words, the book has no "external reality" and the main characters read like paper constructs than actual living human beings

Here is a little more coherent take on the above as done on FBC:

There are a lot of detailed and raving reviews out there about 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson and I can appreciate them intellectually, but for me the "writing magic" that makes a book more than a collection of words without special meaning beyond the dictionary one, mostly lacks here.

I wouldn't call the novel disappointing as I did not expect that much from it considering my past experience with the author's style, but I wish the author would write better prose as the book is full of interesting ideas. That however is not enough as the novel is utterly lifeless and it reads like a play on an empty stage where characters rush along and try to engage the spectators in an imagination game: see, now I am traveling to Earth, now I am on Mercury, now we are in a spaceship, while a constant flow of information rolls in the background... In other words 2312 reminded me strongly of the TV play adaptions where characters talk and talk and describe action happening to them, though we actually have to imagine it, rather then see it...That's fine if the actors are great, but here as mentioned we have just a string of words...

So overall, 2312 has no "external reality" and the main characters read like paper constructs than actual living human beings and the book is most liekly the last I will ever attempt from the author as if one of the most interesting subjects possible for me (solar system space opera) and the book reads lifeless, there is no point in wasting time again.
Profile Image for Jemppu.
501 reviews92 followers
September 13, 2022
I'm lost between 3 and 4 stars. Going up for a scholarly rating, over storyline.

As usual, KSR shines best with a well honed ability to tie together vast amounts of accumulated trivia into compellingly displayed assortments. Relying on facts and fact based speculations to deliver the wonder of their world(s) - surprisingly effectively.

In usual KSR fashion the book touched on several compelling topics. Here though, it felt the plot itself got distractedly jumbled towards the end.

What I didn't expect was finding myself quite 'moved' intellectually by the narrator addressing supposed future reader towards the end - part, which also brought up further fractal thoughts in me as a reader (some of evolutionary linguistic nature, some on the cycle of human history itself...). Showcasing the typical experience of reading KSR: increased fascination on the presented subjects, on a quite free association platform; not trying to get you invested in ready opinions or emotional ties (especially true here, with the interlaced 'Lists' chapters).

An analytically satisfying read.

Reading updates.
Profile Image for Ric.
391 reviews39 followers
November 21, 2013
'Encyclopedic' is the word that comes to mind with 2312. Robinson set out for a broad brush look at our race 300 years ahead, and this is precisely what we get. The tale takes us to many locations in the future solar system --- Mercury and the city on the Terminator, Venus with its solar shield, Saturn and its multiple terraria, Earth and its old world colonialism. The only venue missing is Mars, but then, Robinson has written a boatload on Mars.

There is an SF mystery that ties the story together, but this a tiny thread within the fabric of the whole narrative. The author will expound on almost every subject, including a dispassionate treatise on the nature of evil, how love and relationships may evolve in the future and detailed economics of space colonies. A prolonged sequence of two characters walking through the tunnels that gird Mercury left me wondering where the story was going. But Robinson, unhurriedly, takes us on a tour of the places he wants us to see and the subjects he wants us to pay attention to.

This is the type of book that takes a while to get through, not a page-turner by any means, but still a rewarding read. The aspect of it that struck me most was the author's originality and thoughtfulness. There are no throw away scenes or concepts. The SF elements are quite good and just as gosh-wow as something one might find in an Alastair Reynolds book. If there's anything that detracts from the reading experience, it is that Robinson tackles any subject with a clinical detachment, as if he puts each on a slab of glass and examines microscopically. If you can adopt to the style, this can be worth your time. An outstanding effort. 4 stars.

[This was my first full novel by [author:Kim Stanley Robinson|1858] though I've been aware of his work since the early Ace paperbacks, and through his Nebula winning Mars books. I will try and read more of his work, albeit at a slow pace of maybe 1 or 2 a year.]
Profile Image for Wealhtheow.
2,446 reviews547 followers
July 10, 2015
This book is huge in breadth and depth, covering everything from falling in love, the destruction of cities, the precise techniques required to recreate terran microbiomes, artificial intelligences integrating with human society...Sometimes I grew frustrated because the book spent fifty pages recounting two characters whistling to each other, and only a paragraph to enact and then dismiss a plan to provide affordable housing for all people on Earth. I wasn't always on board with the focus or the pacing of this book, but was, against my will at times, always fascinated by whatever was on the page.

Despite engrossing me, neither the plot nor the characters were all that well developed. Swan and Wahram get more development near the end, but Kirin remains just a pawn pinballing between information brokers, and the plots are wrapped up very quickly and mostly off-page. I loved the excerpts from histories, anthropologies, and technical manuals from various times (past, present, and very far future); I was dubious at first due to the unexpected style of them but rapidly found them the most enjoyable part of all. It is, overall, a sprawling and pragmatic book, and yet strangely hopeful about our present and future, as organisms and as part of a larger universe.
Profile Image for TheBookSmugglers.
669 reviews2,004 followers
April 14, 2013
Originally reviewed on The Book Smugglers

In the year 2312, the solar system is a very different place. Humans have terraformed and colonized every inhabitable planet, moon and asteroid in the system; humanity has created thriving populations on the Jovian moons, hollowed out large space rocks and reconstituted them as terraria full of endangered animals and exotic life, and has even created a home on the impossibly hostile surface of Mercury. It is here, on Mercury's "Terminator" - a city that glides on tracks across the planet's scorched surface, always in the shade, running away from dawn - that artist Swan Er Hong lives and calls home.*

Swan is happy, if a bit unstable, and wholeheartedly devoted to pursuing the next great thrill - be that ingesting alien biological specimens from Enceladus, "sunwalking" on Mercury's surface, or modifying her body (genetically and mechanically). When her close friend Alex dies suddenly and unexpectedly - way before her time at just over a century old - Swan is devastated. She's not alone in her grief, and finds a number of Alex's other friends, including a persistent Titan named Wahram, all who contact Swan with the same strange request: is there anything that Alex specifically left behind for me?

It turns out that the brilliant, gregarious, and ever-so-paranoid Alex was hiding dangerous knowledge that may have led to her untimely death. Soon, Swan finds herself embroiled in Alex's secretive project and makes a discovery that could change the balance of power in the solar system - and humanity's future - forever.

Nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, Clarke, and Tiptree awards, 2312 has a considerable amount of buzz (and hype) going for it. I had never read anything by Kim Stanley Robinson prior to picking up this novel, so was especially eager to see just how the book stacks up to the competition. And, ultimately...I'm not sure how to organize and convey my feelings for this book (hence, this obscenely late review). At nearly 600 pages - all pretty dense material - 2312 is an impressive and imaginative exploration of the future of humanity and our solar system. It's also a lengthy, oddly whimsical book in its structure that trades plotting or character development for a thorough examination of setting, to mixed effect. But more on that in a bit.

First, the fantastic. There is a reason that 2312 is up for so many awards - these are all thanks to Robinson's breathtakingly imaginative scope for the novel. In 2312, Robinson has created a solar system in which humans have managed to spread and ingratiate themselves, even in the most frightfully hostile environments. Facing the dramatic effects of climate change on Earth, leading to millions of deaths worldwide, humanity has looked to the stars for more places to colonize, live and thrive. These humans have built space elevators, developed techniques to terraform the surfaces of Mars, Venus, and suitable moons, just as they've found ways to protect themselves from deadly radiation and extreme temperatures. The asteroids are up for grabs in a fascinating type of outer space homesteading, and people create homes on the most unlikely locations. The Mercurians, for example, take great pride in their impossible city, forever gliding along the planet's surface between day and night.

But beyond the (awesome, fascinating, science fiction but certainly grounded in science) space colonization and mechanics aspect of the novel, 2312 also excels in its portrayal of the shifts that come along with exploration and colonization. Humanity itself is changing, in Robinson's vision of the future. Those on Earth and Mars - the only two planets that are entirely self-sufficient in space, though newly terraformed Venus is quickly growing in power - form their own societies and fracture apart from the hedonistic "spacers," who have taken to modifying their bodies in new and transformative ways. Swan, like many of her fellow spacers, has installed an Artificial Intelligence unit, called a qube, in her head (her name is Pauline, in case you were wondering). Also like many of her cohorts across the moons, asteroids and planets, Swan is a gynandromorph, a female by birth and identification, but who has modified her body to also have male reproductive organs; as such, Swan has both fathered and mothered children in her life. Wahram, on the other hand, is a self-described androgyn, who identifies as male but has given birth to a child over the course of his long life. These are just two examples of sexuality and fluid gender roles in the universe of 2312 - Robinson has created a future in which orientation, identification, and sexuality are every bit as varied and wonderful as his worldbuilding and setting.

Undeniably, 2312 is a fascinating read, as a sincere exploration of what the future of space colonization might look like 300 years in the future. That said, as an actual work of fiction, and as a story? This is not a particularly effective book. 2312 is more of a survey of the future, with a very, very loose mystery plot (the death of Alex and the mystery of who is behind the well-timed "accidents" that have catastrophic results on certain human outposts). Instead of answering those questions, 2312 takes many detours, explaining and exploring the downfall of Earth or the different outposts humans have created and how they have created them. Really, the plot exists so that our main characters can travel the system and we readers can see just how these different and varied locations have been created and what kinds of people live there. This isn't necessarily a bad thing (at least, not at first), though it makes for a much longer, slower read. From a character perspective, we get a good understanding of Swan and Wahram - our flawed heroes and eventual lovers (it's a very strange, slow-moving kind of love story) - but I'm not entirely sure I buy into these characters as defined individuals. That is, for me at least, even though Swan and her cohorts all have personality quirks and we are told their traits and histories, they never felt cohesive, multilayered or fully real. These are characters that say exactly what they are thinking and react in a linear way without introspection or struggle - they are constructs that are there to tell a larger story about the future, rather than living and breathing entities in their own right.

2312 is a fascinating book. It explores humanity and gender and sexuality and evolution in smart, interesting and earnest ways. This is a book that is, in my opinion, worthy of all of the nominations it has received because it is such a huge undertaking of a book, and I appreciate Robinson's impressive effort to tell the story of a very different kind of future - even though I have conflicted feelings because it doesn't quite deliver in the plotting or character categories of appeal. Let's put it this way: deserving of the nominations, but perhaps not of the award. Still, a fascinating, insightful read, and one that I absolutely recommend.

*A Terminator, if you do not know, is that ever-moving twilight zone; a line that separates the day side and night side as a planet or moon rotates. On hostile Mercury, 700K in the sunlight and 94K in the shade, the Terminator zone is the only possible solution for life on the iron planet. (Check out this picture of the Terminator - in color! - from Messenger's third and final flyby of the planet in 2011.)
Profile Image for Denis.
Author 1 book20 followers
April 9, 2017
Kim Stanley Robinson expertly writes ambitious modern (long) novels. Most will associate him with his epic hugo winning Red, Green and Blue Mars series. This work recalled much of that series with examples of terraforming several planets and moons, including our own. Stylistically and thematically, it was reminiscent of sixties 'new wave' novels such as, PKD's 'Electric Sheep' and Brunner's 'Zanzibar' as it had within it a series of vignettes set as 'Lists' and recipe-book-form articles to describe how one goes about terraforming those various planets and moons, among other such things. Much info-dumping which was very educational and is one reason why I love the genre.

Well worth the time investment.
Profile Image for Yaprak.
Author 23 books122 followers
February 3, 2017
Upuzun yorumun --> https://yaprakonur.wordpress.com/2017...

2312 benim çok çok beğendiğim bir kitap oldu ama bunun sebebi anlattığı hikaye değil; yarattığı evrenin bütünlüğü, değindiği konular ve yaptığı göndermelerdi. Okuması zor, herkesin kolay kolay beğenemeyeceği klasik eser yapısında bir kitap. Ufkunu geliştirmek isteyen, bilim ve bilimkurguyla arası iyi kişilere kesinlikle öneririm.
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