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Forty Signs of Rain

(Science in the Capital #1)

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  3,329 ratings  ·  378 reviews
The bestselling author of the classic Mars trilogy and The Years of Rice and Salt returns with a riveting new trilogy of cutting-edge science, international politics, and the real-life ramifications of global warming as they are played out in our nation’s capital—and in the daily lives of those at the center of the action. Hauntingly realistic, here is a novel of the near ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 393 pages
Published July 26th 2005 by Bantam Spectra (first published January 5th 2004)
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3.54  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,329 ratings  ·  378 reviews

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Riku Sayuj

Glimpses Of An Ordinary Future

How would it be to live in the very near future? What will happen once we cross the rubicon, the point beyond which climate change overwhelms the Anthropocene and humans are no longer in charge of their surroundings?

We should expect high human drama under such extreme duress, right?


Daily life will carry on. That is what will happen.

So What’s New in The Very Near Future?

Extinction Rate in Oceans Now Faster Than on Land. Coral Reef Collapses Leading to Mass Ex
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“When the Arctic ice pack was first measured by nuclear submarines in the 1950’s, it averaged thirty feet thick in midwinter. By the end of the century it was down to fifteen. Then one August the ice broke up into large tabular bergs, drifting on the currents, colliding and separating, leaving broad lanes of water open to the continuous polar summer sunlight. The next year the breakup started in July, and at times more than half the surface of the Arctic Ocean was open water. The third year, the ...more
Aug 21, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
The first time I read this book I was not overly enamoured of it: I had read its sequel first then come back to it before waiting around for the "third" instalment to be published and after that read Antartica which seemed like it might be set before this one...which turned out to be i read the last one last but none of the others in the correct order!

Hence, having re-read Antarctica, I thought I would bash on through the 40, 50, 60 series and see how they looked as one long book.

The a
Robin Wiley
Have you ever seen the movie Day After Tomorrow where Global Warning almost ends the world and kills everyone in horrible ways? This is NOT THAT BOOK. For those of you that don't read KSR, his books are SO well researched and grounded in REAL science, they are called future history, not sci-fi.

The entire series takes place somewhere between tomorrow and 100 years from now. The north and south poles melt to the point that the ocean gets desalinated (less salt), and without the weight of the salt
May 30, 2008 rated it liked it
I thought I should finally try some Kim Stanley Robinson, as he’s kind of a classic at this point. This was…huh. I’m not really sure what this was. It was the first book in a trilogy, certainly—I’m not sure I’ve ever read such a long book that was almost entirely setup. Seriously, almost nothing happened until the very end—though that end is very dramatic. I wasn’t particularly wowed by the writing—DUDE PUNCTUATE YOUR DIALOGUE DO YOU SEE HOW ANNOYING THIS IS KTHX—or the characters, either; Frank ...more
Dec 21, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sf
I have to admit to feeling ambivalent about Kim Stanley Robinson's Forty Signs of Rain. This is another of my "picked up on a whim" books, in this case because I was in the mood to read a vaguely-SFish novel about what happens when global warming wreaks hardcore havoc on the planet. Sort of like The Day After Tomorrow, only in prose form, and presumably with a stronger story since it's after all written by a Hugo-award-winning author.

There are quite a few beefs raised about this book on its Amaz
Wilhelmina Jenkins
Apr 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
I gave this book 4 stars because there were so many things I loved about it. First, it is set in Washington, DC, my hometown, during an ecological catastrophe. All of the lower lying areas are completely flooded, and the descriptions of the flooding were beautifully written and accurate. Second, the scientists and their discussions about their work and funding decisions were right on the mark. I loved them. The politics of legislative decisions was great as well, and would make good reading for ...more
Jul 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
*mild spoilers*

Elmore Leonard once said “I try to leave out the parts that people skip.” Kim Stanley Robinson did not heed this advice, and I was able to skim long swathes of this odd book. As someone who lives in DC and works on climate change issues for the federal government, I was ready to love it. It turns out, however, that workmanlike descriptions of local color do little to leaven painstakingly detailed descriptions of bureaucratic tasks and conference calls. After a while I realized I o
Feb 07, 2009 rated it it was ok
Kim Stanley Robinson does not know how to edit. Likely he could have combined this three book series into one book without losing much content. Alternatively, he could have retained the length of the story and just ensured that something interesting happened more frequently than every 150 pages.

The information about rapid climate change is interesting. The the politics around trying to intervene in environmental disaster, and the methods explored to achieve this make for an intriguing premise.
Sep 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2012, fiction-sff
I've been interested in Kim Stanley Robinson for a while, since I muttered something to my sister about wanting books that dealt with limited resource management and she mentioned his Years of Rice and Salt. Then on a much later ecological sci-fi (which I feel a pull to write myself) hunt, I discovered some loglines that made him sound like my beloved Ursula K LeGuin; the description of his Three Californias trilogy, to be precise. Plus, he lives in Davis! *I* know people who live in Davis! So I ...more
There’s a new genre of fiction that is becoming ever more popular – climate fiction, or cli fi. Plots are focused on the environment and especially our planet’s climate. Climate fiction is benefitting from the fact that dystopian and apocalyptic novels are super hot right now – or maybe climate fiction is helping drive that popularity.

The Galesburg Public Library’s Food for Thought book discussion group found the water shortage dystopian novel Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis to not be scie
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
second read - 27 October 2010 - This is the first book of a tightly-coupled trilogy comprised of
Forty Signs of Rain (2004)
Fifty Degrees Below (2005)
Sixty Days and Counting (2007)

Because I have previously (and within recent years) read the trilogy, I came at it this time with some foreknowledge of the concepts and events exposed in later books, and so read it as more of a character study. I identify much more strongly with Frank Vanderwal than I did on the last read, not so much with his lifes
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
Tom Nixon
Jul 27, 2011 rated it it was ok
**This review covers all three books in the 'Science In The Capitol Trilogy- the other two are Fifty Degrees Below and Sixty Days and Counting**

Where to begin with this compact, neat little trilogy? These three books are strange because I both liked and disliked them all the same time, which isn't unusual for me, but in this case it can be put down to a simple divide: I like Kim Stanley Robinson's writing, science and technology. In this particular trilogy however, I don't like his politics. We
Sara J. (kefuwa)
Apr 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: KSR fans, climate change people
Recommended to Sara J. by: 'ave been eyeing this at my library for quite some time
"Weekdays always begin the same. The alarm goes off and you are startled out of dreams that you immediately forget. Predawn light in a dim room. Stagger into a hot shower and try to wake up all the way. Feel the scalding hot water on the back of your neck, ah, the best part of the day, already passing with the inexorable clock. Fragment of a dream, you were deep in some problem set now escaping you, just as you tried to escape it in the dream. Duck down the halls of memory—gone. Dreams don't wan ...more
Oct 18, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Richard by: HardSF Group
Apropos whilst reading a book on climate change, the New York Times just published a fairly in-depth article on investigations of sea level rise. The article, As Glaciers Melt, Science Seeks Data on Rising Seas , also has some interesting multimedia attachments. One fairly alarming tidbit I learned is that the ice piled on top of just Greenland would, if melted, raise sea levels by twenty feet.

The article also links to an excellent tutorial from the NGO CSIRO on Sea Level changes.

Book selecti
Dec 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book had intriguing characters- many of them scientists, so extra dear to my heart. it also had one of the best lines I've ever read: "An excess of reason is a form of insanity." Chew on that for awhile.
Mary Shafer
This was the longest book I ever read, during which I constantly kept wondering, "When does the action start?" Seriously. I'm a weather/storm freak, and I'll generally give a book a long lead before I require being seriously engaged, but by halfway through this one, I kept thinking, "When will things actually start happening?" Because up until that time, it seemed like one long navel gaze.

Well, the answer was, things started happening in basically the last tenth of the book. Yes, really. Now, I
Oct 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
A real pleasure to read: about the topics of science and decision-making I live my life about, with settings I recognize as places I like to be, and well-written with occasional lines of perfectly chosen words. I don't know how I missed this when it was new (2004), but a friend pointed out how much it touched on the things I like, and I am grateful.

You will laugh, but the thing I'm likely to recommend most is a chapter set entirely in an NSF grant-review meeting on bioinformatics. I've never see
Edited to add: After a few more days mulling it over I’m downgrading the rating because I realize I can’t recommend the book. We’ll see if that changes when I finish the series. Also noting that I read the vastly revised and condensed version in the Green Earth omnibus, not the original standalone.

I have such respect and admiration for KSR. Not just his singular, anti-capitalist imagination, but his ability to draw incredibly real characters that you feel drawn to even if they are so real they
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: future-sci-fi, 2017
This began as a political novel about activists and science workers concerned about climate change. It seemed very slow to take off because I was expecting an ecological post-apocalypse SF novel, not politics. Fortunately the last 100 pages turned in the direction I was hoping for. Having spent a lot of time in Washington both around the Mall and at the zoo I found the parts of the book that took place there especially interesting. I already have the second book in the trilogy on hold at the lib ...more
Petra Kuppers
May 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Read for a research project around climate change and speculative fiction. This feels very well researched, lots of different data points connected, and the ending, a vision of dystopic Washington D.C., feels well handled and realistic to me. Some interesting male gender stuff going on, and some intriguing views on gender, science and spirituality, too. Good read.
Leigh Coop
Apr 06, 2017 rated it liked it
I usually don't read this genre but was recommended it by fellow book club members. I thought it was going somewhere a lot fast than it did. You need to get to the very very last chapter before there is any action. I felt left hanging. Is this No. 1 of a series about global warming? Not bad writing. Just a little weak on a plot that moves along and goes somewhere.
Michael Pryor
Apr 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Measured, painstaking, scary.
Nov 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kim Stanley Robinson is best known for his award-winning Mars trilogy ( Red Mars , Green Mars , and Blue Mars ) as well as The Years of Rice and Salt . With the publication of his newest novel, Forty Signs of Rain , Kim Stanley Robinson begins another trilogy of epic proportion.

Set primarily in Washington, D.C., Forty Signs of Rain tells the tale of a young environmental policy analyst for a popular U.S. Senator, and his wife, a scientist with the National Science Foundation. The book detail
Diego González
Apr 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
After sleeping on the incredible Mars Trilogy for too long, I have tried my best to stay caught up with Kim Stanley Robinson. I am still lagging a bit but finally caught up to this wonderful book from 2004.

The way I see it, KSR basically laid out a psychic terrain in the Mars books, and has since then pursued the various topics introduced there in sundry ways. Though I have enjoyed aspects of books like Shaman and Galileo's Dream, I think what I have been missing is his excellent character writi
The writing is okay (quite readable but nothing special) and the idea is pretty good, but the core problem with this book is that nothing happens for the first 75%. You could compress the first 300 pages down to 50 and the book wouldn't lose anything in quality of story, because you'd still get to know the main characters as much as you need to. Instead, I now know them better than I know many of my cousins. Clearly, I should have spent my reading time on the phone with my cousins instead.

The fi
A few years back my friends and I started a book group. The book that really killed it was The Years of Rice and Salt. I won't revisit the horror except to say it was very bad. I tell you this because it was by the same author as this book. But this one sounded interesting so I gave it a shot.

It reminded me very much of Next by Michael Crichton. It was not quite as bad, but the lecturing tone was much the same. The major problem with this book (besides that the action doesn't start until about
Oct 19, 2009 rated it liked it
Kim Stanley Robinson has made quite the reputatation as a science-fiction writer with his Mars trilogy winning numerous awards and accolates (all of them deserved).

Now, he’s back with a new trilogy. And while it would be easy to classify it as science-fiction, that might be selling the book short. Forty Signs of Rain is more than a science-fiction story, it’s a cautionary tale of what could go wrong if we don’t start paying attention to the environment.

What I liked about this book is there are s
Lynne Premo
Aug 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
I went into reading this not quite sure what to expect, considering the author's experience in hard science fiction. Although this book had a few slow spots, I loved it. For one, the book had a sense of reality that really brought the story to life -- the precipitating events are not only realistic, but they are happening and have happened. Also, Robinson GETS D.C. The politics of it, the relations between agencies and politicians, the balancing act that everyone walks between what can be done a ...more
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global warming 2 9 Jan 25, 2016 12:05AM  

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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)
  • Fifty Degrees Below (Science in the Capital, #2)
  • Sixty Days and Counting (Science in the Capital, #3)
“An excess of reason is itself a form of madness” 15 likes
“The battle for control of science went on. Many administrations and Congresses hadn’t wanted technology or the environment assessed at all, as far as Anna could see. It might get in the way of business. They didn’t want to know. For Anna there could be no greater intellectual crime. It was incomprehensible to her: they didn’t want to know. And yet they did want to call the shots. To Anna this was clearly crazy. Even Joe’s logic was stronger. How could such people exist, what could they be thinking? On what basis did they build such an incoherent mix of desires, to want to stay ignorant and to be powerful as well? Were these two parts of the same insanity?” 3 likes
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