Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Fifty Degrees Below (Science in the Capital, #2)” as Want to Read:
Fifty Degrees Below (Science in the Capital, #2)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Fifty Degrees Below

(Science in the Capital #2)

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  2,324 ratings  ·  173 reviews
After years of denial and non-action, a near-future Earth faces a crossroad when it is threatened with the dire implications of global warming, an environmental crisis that ironically could unleash a devastating Ice Age on the planet.
Paperback, 640 pages
Published January 30th 2007 by Spectra (first published 2005)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,324 ratings  ·  173 reviews

Sort order
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
Even when the subject is boring to death, KSR’s writing is beautiful. However, this volume was hard to digest. I thought the introduction was made in the first part and here the focus will be more on climate change. Well, no. This came also in background and forefront is daily life of Frank, one of the scientists, familiar to us from previous part.

I always watch with fascination documentaries about wild life and most of all, I have an immense respect for the people who dedicate their lives study
Natasha Hurley-Walker
Jul 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
Arrrrgh, I really wanted to like this a lot more than I did! The problem is, I can't stand Frank! The last book was evenly split between three point-of-view characters: Anna, workaholic scientist; Charlie, her husband and environmental adviser to a senator, and Frank, a narcissistic professor who enjoys poverty tourism. In this book, we get ONE scene from Anna's point-of-view, two or three from Charlie's (all of which are him worrying about his son, Joe, because Robinson is so intent on making s ...more
second read - 11 November 2010 - This is the second book of a tightly-coupled trilogy comprised of
Forty Signs of Rain (2004)
Fifty Degrees Below (2005)
Sixty Days and Counting (2007)

On this re-read of the trilogy, I again noticed the shift of character focus between the first book and the second - Frank Vanderwal's is now the primary perspective. I am identifying less with Frank than I remembered; he seems to have given over some personal control to random impulses, especially after his concuss
Gumble's Yard
Apr 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2007
Trilogy by author most famous for the "Mars" trilogy about a group of scientists that terraform Mars - the obvious premise of this set is that the earth itself needs terraforming in response to climate change/global warming and that scientists need to take more of an active involvement politically both with the electorate and with those who have previously controlled their purse strings and that the research bodies need to actively set the research agenda (a new Manhattan project or race for the ...more
Mar 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
...I think Fifty Degrees Below is a better novel than Forty Signs of Rain. It's his most political novel up to that point and probably also the one that is most likely to polarize readers. The tighter focus on a single character will not be appreciated by all readers but does give us the most detailed look into the mind of a type character that Robinson portrays in a number of his novels: the scientist engaged with society, working not just to expand the sum of human knowledge but to put this kn ...more
Sara J. (kefuwa)
Jun 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of KSR, climate change people in general
Recommended to Sara J. by: Have been eyeing this since I saw it at my local library...
Great stuff. This continues on from where 40 Signs of Rain left off and I really, really enjoyed it. Frank lives in a tree house! How could you *not* like that? Let me get my thoughts straight on this first before I write something more...

Okay, have went through my thoughts. Or rather ignored them since I finished the book. Let's just say that as a testament to how much of a KSR fan I am that I have already bought the 3rd book in this series! I have read about 2 thirds of about 3-4 trilogies th
Jan 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was particularly timely given this weekend's giant blizzard :) I liked it, and later this year, i'll have to finish the 3rd book in the series. Now - if only we could find some way to get a political candidate like the one described in this book...
Mark Schlatter
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, re-read
I'll be honest --- it's tough for me to be objective about this book. There's a great deal of Liberal Scientist living-off-the-grid-and-saving-the-world porn here, and I like almost all of it. (As I've mentioned before, Frank Vanderwal is one of my favorite fictional characters.) But here's a bit of critical reflection.

1) Between my first read and now, I've delved more into Buddhism and climate change, and I appreciate even more Robinson's takes on both. I think his Buddhism is a little light on
May 28, 2014 rated it it was ok
Don't let my low rating get you down, or make you stray from reading this book. Goodreads marks 2 stars as "It was Okay" for a reason. This book, it was okay. I enjoyed the last few chapters alot, and if the entire novel had been like that, the book would have raised up to a 4 star, possibly. But anyway, this is an adult sci-fi novel, good for an under-the-covers read at night when the liht is dim, and you are trying to stay awake. Or fall asleep. Either one.
I started this last year. Over 6 mont
Jun 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Second in a series about climate change. Like the first one, this was long and not especially exciting to read. Not much happens. The Gulf stream conveyor shuts down. It gets incredibly cold in W. Europe and the eastern US. Scientist geo-engineer a fix. That's pretty much it.

While I wouldn't characterize this book as exciting, I did enjoy it because--at this point--I am pretty invested in the characters. The main character, Frank, is a scientist who decides to try and live as paleolithic man onc
Lynne Premo
Aug 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shit just got real in the second book in Robinson's climate change trilogy. With DC recovering from the floods experienced at the end of Forty Signs, the climactic situation only devolves further. However, at the same time, the political situation improves somewhat (not surprisingly, the Republicans opt to fellate their petrochemical johns while the world is drowning and burning and freezing around them), with NSF stepping forward in the vacuum of action to do something. Unlike a lot of 2/3 nove ...more
Sep 05, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010
Frank takes to the woods
Palaeolithic lifestyle
Now comes the big freeze
Aug 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My very favorite KSR book of all time!
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Part two of Robinson's trilogy on "science in the capital." Parts two often struggle to be interesting. They have to be complete books, with their own internal beginning middle and end, but they also have to carry the middle of the trilogy. The climate issues began with rain and flooding. In this book, they progress to supercold super weird winter. Necessarily, the effects focus mostly on Washington, D.C., since that's where the characters live. They do go on one trip to the exiled Tibetans' isl ...more
Mar 06, 2018 rated it did not like it
What the hell, KSR.

I enjoyed the first book despite Frank, a loathsome, misogynistic, racist asshole. What do you give me for book two? ENTIRELY FRANK POV.

I loathed this book. I actually hate-read it, where I gritted my teeth and forced myself through periodically saying COME ON! and UGGGH! to myself. It's superficially like The Martian: 20% it's so cool what humanity and science can do if we put our minds to it! and 80% instead of Matt Damon you get Gaston, if he were obsessed with Ralph Waldo
Aug 09, 2017 rated it liked it
This is the second the the Science in the Capital trilogy. The main story is about efforts to recover from the effects of climate change. Unfortunately much of the book is taken up with long philosophical discussions among the players (or inside individual character's heads) about everything from the politics of tackling climate change to existential thoughts tied to Buddhism. There are just enough moments of excitement to keep me going but not enough to be really engaging. In addition, for the ...more
Diego González
Jan 22, 2018 rated it liked it
After a strong start, I think this series starts to lag a bit here. The saving grace is still the characters, but the story starts to get in the way. I mean, I get it, it has point. And this point is a very necessary thing today: how are we going to react to likely near-term climate change and what would it take to get to a better place? The ideas KSR lays out are, as one can expect, evidence-based and well described for the lay person. I still found Frank (arguably the main character now) engag ...more
John Holcomb
Dec 15, 2017 rated it liked it
hmm, i never listen to books at a faster setting. This is the first time i had to. At 25% over-speed, it looses the slow gnawing frustration due to prolonged and almost unrelenting lack of action, at 50% over-speed, it begins to produce some feelings of excitement, and at 75% over-speed, it becomes exciting.

I guess the protagonist is science and progress, not any of the well developed characters. The only character that seems to have any serious struggle, is a pre-linguistic toddler, and not to
Rachel Jerdin
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very Intense!

I really enjoyed the first book, but it was the background needed to pull off this one. It all reminds me of today, the politics, the denial of climate change, the denial of science. But, since the weather was changing drastically, and many people were dying, they gave much more money to a science organization of the Federal government. They invested that in science groups looking for solutions. Really well written. I was lost in the story. If someone tried to talk to me, I wouldn't
Michelle Best
Sep 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
At first I was annoyed that this book was concentrating so much on one character and not enough on the science or climate change details, but after the first third I was engrossed in Frank's story and ready to sell up and go live in the wild. This series hasn't been what I wanted, in terms of not being disastery enough, but it is excellent from a drama and character development point of view. Starting the third one now
Jun 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Chilling (pun intended) depiction of rapid climate change in Washington DC. Despite having been written a decade or so ago, seems to capture the present moment extremely well. Broken politics, paranoia about out-of-control surveillance, extreme weather events - the only difference is that KSR may have been too optimistic about possibilities for collective action.
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
This book does not have the traditional sci-fi action you might expect. It is more personal; exploring characters' thoughts and dailey routines. We do have some politics, and urgent matters the characters rush to fix. I'm this book time passes at the speed of life, not like a roller coaster action film.
Sep 25, 2016 rated it it was ok
Fifty Degrees Below (Bantam Books, NYC: 2005) is the second novel in Kim Stanley Robinson’s global warming trilogy (the first is Forty Signs of Rain). In this book, the novel shifts its attention from Anna and Charlie Quibler and their quirky sons onto NSF scientists/bureaucrats Frank Vanderwal and Diane Chang.

The first book in this trilogy, Forty Signs of Rain, developed slowly, which seemed to reflect the author’s perception of America’s slow reaction to impending global climate change. Howeve
Jul 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
La primera mitad se me hizo tan insufriblemente lenta y densa que me aburrí del libro y lo aparqué durante meses. Luego parece que mejora algo, pero no me extraña que KSR pudiera condensar los tres tomos en uno, le sobra paja por todos lados. En cualquier caso, me leeré la tercera parte, algún día...
David Anthony Sam
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This hybrid novel is part science fact, part science fiction, part politics and part political thriller, part romance novel and part ecological tract. And the description of the political machinations and corruption is strikingly prescient for 2017.
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
Overall plot arc is a bit lacking and characters other than the main few characters are towards the caraciatural or stereotypical type. Still an interesting "clifi" read, esp. if you are interested in political and power dynamics aspects of clifi from an American perspective.
Oct 22, 2018 rated it liked it
A little slow in the middle, but I'm enjoying this hard science fiction series. Written 15 years ago, but oh so relevant with the recent climate change report. What the east coast has to look forward to if the Gulf Stream shuts down.
Apr 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Science intensive thriller, left hanging for next book, I guess.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Karen Fasimpaur
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great read that brings together science, politics, and spirituality, wrapping it all in a story of what it means to be human.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Gardens of the Sun (The Quiet War #2)
  • Mother of Storms
  • Coyote Frontier (Coyote Trilogy, #3)
  • The Flooded Earth: Our Future in a World Without Ice Caps
  • Slow Apocalypse
  • The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Second Annual Collection
  • Getting to Know You
  • Otherness
  • The Squidder
  • The Children of the Company (The Company, #6)
  • The Weather of the Future: Heat Waves, Extreme Storms, and Other Scenes from a Climate-Changed Planet
  • The Best Military Science Fiction of the 20th Century
  • Criptonomicón III: El código Aretusa
  • Humans (Neanderthal Parallax, #2)
  • Learning the World: A Scientific Romance
  • The Landmark History of the American People, 2 Volumes
  • War Stories: New Military Science Fiction
  • Moonfall
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

Other books in the series

Science in the Capital (3 books)
  • Forty Signs of Rain (Science in the Capital #1)
  • Sixty Days and Counting (Science in the Capital, #3)
“It is easy to live multiple lives! What is hard is to be a whole person” 12 likes
“All the discussion in the meeting that day had centered on the impacts to humans. That would be the usual way of most such discussions; but whole biomes, whole ecologies would be altered, perhaps devastated. That was what they were saying, really, when they talked about the impact on humans: they would lose the support of the domesticated part of nature. Everything would become an exotic; everything would have to go feral.” 1 likes
More quotes…