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Fifty Degrees Below (Science in the Capital, #2)
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Fifty Degrees Below

(Science in the Capital #2)

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  2,502 ratings  ·  192 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)
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Scott Shjefte Many are as there are many subplots detailed and short philosophical debates interspersed in the stories - many of these may be skimmed over with not …moreMany are as there are many subplots detailed and short philosophical debates interspersed in the stories - many of these may be skimmed over with not much lost to the main story...(less)

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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), and 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
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
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
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...
Disappointing, at least to me. Some things worked -- continued exploration of the ways climate change could go wrong, characters I still was intrigued by, a couple of nice presentations of weather disasters in interesting detail. But somehow it walked away from the the things I liked best about the first one. Really not as focused on how scientists really work, on how science policy is really made, and much less of a sense of Washington DC as a place. Too much of a focus on surveillance and susp ...more
May 29, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: climate
Kim Stanley Robinson Fifty Degrees Below, (Science in the Capital Book 2) My third KSR book and it will be my last for a good long while I think. KSR is a interesting writer he writes long ass 600 page brick novels about climate change and women. His observations are good his interests and knowledge are wide and deep but after reading three of his books I’m struck by two things I find as part of all his books. The best part of his work is his laser focus on climate change and how well he imagine ...more
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
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 Nunyabidness
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
Jul 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
Returning to the Science in the Capital trilogy after almost ten years, I'm struck even more by how dated these titles feel. Both in their relentless optimism for the perseverance of science against the rampant anti-intellectualism that rots at the core of the American psyche, as well as in some of the more regressive portrayals of the narrator characters to non-white, non-middle class, non-western cultures. It's a shame, because the science is so interesting, and the grander science fiction is ...more
Jun 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Jack Atherton
Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
Normally, I love this author. I can’t quite put my finger on why this book was so hard to get through. It was kind of like a slice of life book but without enough characters? And the main character it focuses on, I just often didn’t like as a person? And, some of the major plot arcs are just unbelievable.

I decided to just read the plot of the third book on the author’s website rather than finish the trilogy. Oh well! Whenever you read someone’s complete works, there’s bound to be some you don’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
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
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.
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
As with so many SF trilogies, the first volume (Forty Days of Rain) was good but this sequel didn't measure up. I appreciate the details on how a warming climate could stall the Gulf Stream and create a mini Ice Age but most of the book was taken up with Frank's decision to live in a tree house in a DC park, no matter how arctics the weather turned. And he just isn't that engaging a character, anyway.
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.
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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)

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