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The Ministry for the Future

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  532 ratings  ·  168 reviews
From the visionary, New York Times bestselling author of New York 2140 comes a near-future novel that is a gripping exploration of climate change, technology, politics, and the human behaviors that drive these forces.

Established in 2025, the purpose of the new organization was simple: To advocate for the world's future generations and to protect all living creatures,
Hardcover, 576 pages
Published October 6th 2020 by Orbit (first published 2020)
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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Jun 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I dont know what happened that I didnt like his last two novels, New York 2140 and Red Moon, but this one is the KSR that I love: bold, intriguing, with surprising and daring ideas.

Its in the spirit of Science in the Capital trilogy, but much better and more audacious in its purpose.

Its year 2025. In January, a new organization is established with the purpose to ensure a safe climate for future generations. Less than two months later, a heat wave struck India and killed 20 million people.

Oct 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: KSR fans
For half of this, I thought I'd rate this around 2.5 stars but around the 56% mark, I felt like the story hit its stride (or I acquiesced to it). I began enjoying it more and couldn't put it down. By the book's end it had me feeling so hopeful that I felt that for me, this was more a 4-star event. So strong 3-star for the whole thing.

I expect infodumps but found an excess of them, even for KSR. There are two main characters, Frank a survivor of the opening heat wave that kills 20 million people
Nov 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is it. The final big KSR novel. I dreaded starting it, to be honest. Yet another climate book: dont we know that story? His two previous ones were letdowns: New York 2140 was okay, but ultimately transparent, and Red Moon even formulaic: Stan seemed to have run out of steam.

I think Robinsons decision to stop writing long novels liberated him. And so his final big one is both a synthesis and a departure, and most importantly: totally unapologetic KSR, and a feast as such. Its also a
Sep 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Synopsis: Its 2025, the founding year of the Ministry of the Future which is an agency established in Zürich, Switzerland, to ensure health and safety for the generations to come. A heat wave crawls over rural India just before the yearly monsoon, killing twenty million people, and everything changes.

The story follows Mary Murphy, head of the new ministry, and tells her troubles founding the ministry, bringing banks and governments to political agreements over climate issues, and her long way to
Aidan Craigwood
Tl;dr: I want to believe. But I find KSRs answers to the challenge of global warming vague and unconvincing, so much so that this attempt at a hopeful, needle-threading future has left me more worried about the next century than when I started reading it.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a sci-fi writer in possession of a utopian plotline must be in want of that quote about the end of the world being easier to imagine than the end of capitalism. I think KSR gets a good 5% of the way
Oct 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The inimitable Kim Stanley Robinson returns with The Ministry For the Future, a damning indictment and terrifyingly prescient exploration of the chaos wrought by climate change, both now and in the near future if we continue as a collective to live in ignorance. With increasing urgency, KSR depicts a startling but ultimately hopeful outlook of our next three decades on earth using his skill for acute observation whilst exploring in a gripping and engrossing manner the issues of climate change, ...more
Oleksandr Zholud
This is a fresh, 2020 cli-fi SF by Kim Stanley Robinson (KSR), which reads more like a manifesto than a fiction novel. I read is as a part of monthly reading for November 2020 at SFF Hot from Printers: New Releases group.

The story starts with a great human-made catastrophe: it is mid-2020s, a heat wave hits India and kills more people than 4 years of the WW1, as well and animals and damages the biosphere. Among a few survivors is a foreign volunteer Frank, who sustains a psychological trauma
Oct 23, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This might be about great big ideas, but without a decent narrative or memorable, well-developed characters I simply dont care. If I want to read essays about possible solutions for climate change, I do that. And if I want to dive into blockchain or speculate about economics and virtual currencies, I talk to my colleagues at work. Throwing in the odd chapter with minuscule plot and barely there characters doesnt make this a readable novel for me.

Mary and Frank were not bad and I liked the
Peter Baran
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy is a core piece of my science fiction development. Slow burn Utopianism, set generationally (despite some significantly long lifespans) he managed to balance the speculative aspect of science with the corresponding political and social changes. He juggles a broad canvas over the books, and despite terrorism, disasters and war, ends with a terraformed Mars which felt broadly plausible from where we were in the early nineties (and it was a lot of fun getting ...more
Eliot Peper
Oct 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Ministry for the Future follows the scientists, diplomats, and activists working across decades and continents to forge a future you might actually want to live in from the shattered remains of a civilization on the brink. I love so many things about this novelits sprawling future history, its rigorous picture of institutional change, its structure of feeling, its cascading collisions of big ideasbut what resonates most deeply is that this is a book about and for practical, determined people ...more
Sometimes 2* and sometimes (fewer) 4*. Really much of the book could have become essays for the New Yorker or something. I really couldnt follow details about the carbon bitcoin but I understood the concept. More interesting to me was the creation of the natural corridors for wild animals- and the Half the Earth policy.

There is a thin plot woven throughout. It could have been so much more. Still I appreciated the odd friendships between Mary and Frank, Mary and Art. Some of the other vignettes
Oct 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A short guide on how to enjoy reading The Ministry for the Future:

1. Be aware that it occupies a peculiar spot between fiction and non-fiction. The book features individuals, it even drives home a powerful point about individual engagement, but it is not focused on personal stories. While some chapters do go on at length about personal trauma, others are literally meeting minutes. Reams of fictional near-future history. Details on geoengineering techniques. The infamous infodump. If it is an
Sarah Connor
Jul 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a big book. It's not often I read a book and come away with a list of things I want to look up and find out more about, but this book did that for me. It's moving and painful and hopeful and inspiring, and I found it utterly absorbing.

What's it about? It's about everything, but primarily global warming. The horrors we are unleashing are laid out clearly. This is a call to stop and think and change. Kim Stanley Robinson places global warming firmly in the context of our neoliberal
John Adkins
Sep 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: earc, 2020, net-galley
The master of Cli-Fi or climate fiction returns with another story of scientists and politicians working to save our planet from years (centuries) of environmental neglect. The titular ministry is an international group rising out of the Paris Accords that takes a big picture approach to trying to save the planet, and is failing. That is, failing until a disastrous heat wave in India kills millions and the world is reluctantly energized to finally do something - though it may be too late. ...more
This was a marvelous book. While it may not appeal to everyone due to less emphasis on character- or plot-driven material, it will appeal to hard science fiction readers who enjoy novels of ideas (and ideas and ideas...). The book alternates between two main characters and short chapters told from the point of view of scientists, politicians, economists, farmers, refugees, military personnel, and less tangible narrators like photons and the sun. This is a near-future, literary science fiction ...more
Manuel Antão
Nov 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2020
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Horizon Shift': "The Ministry for the Future" by Kim Stanley Robinson

Is it fair to take Robinsons point generally as an objection that 'setting up institutions or laws to protect the needs of future generations might not make any difference anyway'? Or would you go even further, to argue that 'there's no point doing anything about this'? If we assume the first of those two options, we could have a conversation about when and where laws
Oct 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The future history novel is a very specific type of science fiction: relying on a narrative rather than a plot. Its desperately unfashionable and since Wells and Stapledon novelists have made their histories implicit and revealed through action and plot rather than attempting to write a history of the future. Kim Stanley Robinsons work, especially his Mars series, might be seen as tiptoing into this arena. Now with The Ministry of the Future hes dived straight in. The ecological and political ...more
Sep 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature!

The Ministry for the Future is a stark look at a realistic and chillingly credible climate emergency situation. The story starts in 2025 when The Ministry for the Future is established to help the world combat climate change and when India experiences an extreme heat wave that kills twenty million people, which comes as a stark and tragic warning of how disastrous things have become in the world. This isn't technically a horror book, but with how
Juliano Dutra
Oct 24, 2020 rated it liked it
Ordinarily, i would give 2 stars for the quality book's narrative and plot. The third star is for the importance of the theme, especially in the current times of negation of global warming. But I found that the extrapolation - consequences - of climate change is vague and simplistic. As I mentioned, the thematic of the book is fundamental nowadays, but for those who are already concerned and looking for good sources on the subject, it ends up being a pile of infodumps - even more than you could ...more
Kim Stanley Robinson's angry optimism at its best.

Maybe KSR's masterpiece, even more so than the Mars trilogy, 2312 and Aurora?

It's really a huge book of ideas. Every couple of pages he'll drop, in a single sentence, ideas that would fill entire SF novels. KSR is respected but I still think he's vastly underrated by modern SF fans. On the one hand, he refuses to flatter the hard sf fantasists who think human space travel is necessary/inevitable, and on the other hand he's not writing character
Sep 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Kim Stanley Robinson is a super talented writer and full of ideas. That being said, I had a hard time with this title as it drags on for large sections and doesnt seem to have any real narrative other than climate change and effects of that on humanity short and long term. Excellent writer, but gets bogged down too much for me. ...more
Nov 11, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: reviewed
I hate to say it, but everyone should read this book. I give it one star because I really hated it. Nevertheless, I think everyone should read this book.

No, it is not about time travel, which is what I was hoping for. It's about climate change. I almost didn't make it through. It's really depressing. I was going to stop at about 30%, but then completed it by skipping LOTS of paragraphs. Eventually, it gets somewhat hopeful, but I don't see that happening IRL. Even at the end, though, there's
Salam Tims
Nov 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Kim Stanley Robinson (KSR to sci-fi readers) is a master novelist with a penchant for realistic (no space opera, faster-than-light starships, or galactic empire) science fiction dealing with humanity's prospects over the next few centuries. Much of his work deals with the space exploration and settlement. His Mars trilogyRED MARS, GREEN MARS, and BLUE MARSis an epic imagining of how humans might claim, fight over, and humanize a new world. I loved the Mars books and consider his novel 2312 to be ...more
Revolutions no longer include guillotines

KSR is one of the best science fiction authors alive. His newest book offers something in rare supply these days, a hopeful future. How can we adapt to meet the challenges of climate change, growing nationalism, and the very real grasp of the kleptocratic billionaire ruling class? Everyday people. The sands are shifting and we will have to make sacrifices but his newest book shows how power might break away from traditional structures and how we may forge
Dan Trefethen
In a review of New York 2140 I said that Robinson reminded me of Victor Hugo, the famous public intellectual of France who sought to influence public policy with his novels, and inserted chapters into the books that stepped outside the action and spoke directly to the reader.

Stan Robinson goes back to that method here, in a long book with short chapters (106 chapters in 576 pages). He jumps back and forth between following a plot line involving the head of the titular Ministry and providing
This book is about being a bystander to the greatest revolution in human history.

Let me back up. This book is about Mary Murphy, the head of the titular Ministry for the Future. The books premise is that, in the near-future, the MftF is created out of an inspired interpretation of the Paris Agreement, with the mandate of advocating on behalf of the future generations of humanity. Which means coming up with a solution for climate change to safeguard the lives of generations yet unborn. This is a
Roger Whitson
Nov 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'd read about Robinson's new novel and was nervous to begin reading. The summer had been particularly bad: a pandemic, wildfires, a crazy American election. And indeed the first chapter was harrowing and horrifying, a nightmare of deadly heatwaves that are sure to impact us soon. I'm anxious for what the future may bring. But Robinson's novel is also so full of hope, and in such a time as these, his voice is so urgently calling to us to "keep going," keep moving forward - even or especially ...more
Nov 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Its a topic that Kim has addressed before, but I dont think that it has ever been more relevant. After showing a world devastated by climate change in his ...and Counting trilogy, not to mention a submerged New York in New York 2140, Ministry for the Future is another tale suggesting a near future world under stress and approaching environmental catastrophe.

From the publisher: Established in 2025, the purpose of the new organisation was simple: To advocate for the world's future generations and
Barnaby Haszard
Oct 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Let's see if I can do this. The effects of escalating carbon emissions will lead to human catastrophes of extraordinary scale - heat waves, inundations - and when the representatives of affected countries turn up angry to international symposiums and throw their numbers of dead on the table, the world will take notice - but it won't take action until there is mass financial disobedience, the simple refusal to pay trillions of imaginary dollars owed, at which time the entire financial system will ...more
Nov 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Review of Kim Stanley Robinsons Ministry for the Future....

Possibly the most important book ever written.. 106 chapters each one part of a novel and yet recognizably something else.

I think what Stan Robinson has done is write a new type of literature. A predictive prototype for what could happen over the next 20 years. What he describes is a result of our present trajectory and a wide set of plausible fictional actions.

Its science fiction. An account of scenarios about our probabilistic future
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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

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