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The Ministry for the Future

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  4,170 ratings  ·  914 reviews
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, present and future. It soon became known as the Ministry for the Future, and this is its story.

From legendary science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson comes a vision of climate change unlike any ever imagined.

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Hardcover, 563 pages
Published October 6th 2020 by Orbit
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Lanny Fox Not explicitly climate action, but in the Overstory there is a lot of activism fighting deforestation and general environmental destruction.

Not explicitly climate action, but in the Overstory there is a lot of activism fighting deforestation and general environmental destruction.

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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  4,170 ratings  ·  914 reviews

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Jun 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I don’t know what happened that I didn’t 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.

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

It’s 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: don’t 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 Robinson’s 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. It’s also a para
Aug 17, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Tl;dr: I want to believe. But I find KSR’s 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
You know, the first time I saw the title and the cover, I thought this would be a far-future SF, not a near-future prediction. I'm happy to be wrong.

I'm even happier to have loved this novel from the first page to the last. Indeed, over the last 8 years of new novels, I've loved everything that KSR has written, being duly impressed about his improvement with characters and his truly fantastic grasp of science, politics, history, economics, and future speculation. Indeed, my only complaints have
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 don‘t 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 doesn‘t make this a readable novel for me.

Mary and Frank were not bad and I liked the Ant
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 aqu
Sep 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Synopsis: It’s 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 t
Feb 15, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If the earth becomes hot enough then, the oceans will boil. That doesn't actually happen in the book, so I don't need a spoiler tag. I still feel a vague urge to put one on it.

It's got a strong start, but I was weary of it long before the end.
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 du
Jan 08, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
This book follows the progress of the titular Ministry of the Future established as a United Nation body with a mission to "speak for the future". It's told from the viewpoint of several characters in and around the organization as it moves from its initial rather ineffectual roots to being the driving force against climate change across the globe.

So this is a terrible book, and I'll get into why in a bit.

I just want to point out the first chapter though, because it's powerful and brilliant. Wha
Jan 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
I've been thinking a lot recently about the need to construct a narrative of recovery from disaster, in order to have any hope for the future. My thoughts centred upon the pandemic and how normality as we knew it will never return, but perhaps we can move from emergency into rebuilding something different. The first step towards doing the latter is imagining it as a possibility and envisaging one day not being afraid to leave my home. I am thus attempting to avoid despair despite the truly disas ...more
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, t ...more
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 the ...more
Feb 18, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2021
So I can’t decide if I’m just not hip enough to have enjoyed this, or if perhaps I’m too hip to have enjoyed it. At any rate, I just really did NOT appreciate the experience. I’m sure if I had had the energy I could have deconstructed the whole thing, looking for patterns in the chapter rotation, symbols in the obscure and allusions in the dialogue, but honestly, the structure was so chaotic and messy that it just didn’t feel worth the effort. Far too much pontificating and not enough storytelli ...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 Robinson’s 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 law
Nov 06, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
Sometimes 2* and sometimes (fewer) 4*. Really much of the book could have become essays for the New Yorker or something. I really couldn’t 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
Jan 10, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lena by: Solarpunk BOM
Shelves: solarpunk, audio, clifi
“Easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism: the old saying had grown teeth and was taking on a literal, vicious accuracy.”

What we are doing is not working.

This book is filled with good ideas about how to make the wrenching change from nationalist capitalism to a global carbon aware civilization.

Everyone needs to read this book.

One of his ideas is YourLock, a non-profit Facebook with a Credit Union. Currently there is a web based non-profit Credit Union dedicated to
Dec 26, 2020 rated it liked it
This was my first-time reading Kim Stanley Robinson. I confess I was warned about his penchant for digressing from the narrative in order to insert a nonfiction element. "The Ministry for the Future" is no exception and features many such asides.

The story follows two characters: Frank May and Mary Murphy. Frank is a young American aid worker working in a part of India that experiences a severe, extended heat wave that eventually kills millions. Frank is one of the few survivors of this catastro
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 novel—its sprawling future history, its rigorous picture of institutional change, its structure of feeling, its cascading collisions of big ideas—but what resonates most deeply is that this is a book about and for practical, determined peop ...more
Dec 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Yup, I'm recommending this one as a, gee, that's pretty much a perfect book for end of 2020 (consumed, by this reader, during the waning days of the chaotic rule of the defeated, seemingly mad President, who denied climate change, rolled back environmental regulation, and withdrew the US from the Paris Agreement, ... and before the inauguration of the first President who has little choice but to make climate change one of (the transition's, and, come January, the) nation's highest priorities).

Dec 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
this is the most BORING book I've ever read; I fell asleep while reading some passages. I would have DNFed it if I had a choice. Where is the plot?! where are the characters?! If you want to write an essay on Global Warming, then write it as a FUCKING ESSAY. why are you insisting on doing it as a novel? who cares about your political message now? everyone will remember this book as a story with no plot and no character development! ...more
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 lifest
Dec 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: eco
If you look at pictures of American cities a hundred years ago, they don't look much like the cities we see today. But if you look at the General Motors Futurama exhibit from 1939, you'll see a vision for the cities we encounter today. In The Ministry for the Future, Kim Stanley Robinson attempts to create a futurama exhibit of the next century that will take humanity through climate change.

The story initially juxtaposes two characters, Mary and Frank, to nudge readers out of their climate compl
Feb 23, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Utopia and dystopia are not opposites. Generally, a dystopia is an imagined world in which there is great suffering or injustice. But when climate change is tending to make a world of environmental destruction a reality rather than an imagining, perhaps the real world is a dystopia. Kim Stanley Robinson’s latest science fiction novel is an anti-dystopia, dramatizing a speculative antidote to our dystopic reality.

The story opens in 2025 with the story of Frank May, a young American aid worker, wh
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 st
John Adkins
Sep 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: net-galley, earc, 2020
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. Robins ...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 bo ...more
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 whe ...more
Camelia Rose
Apr 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
The Ministry for the Future is a carefully imagined near-future hard sci-fi about climate change. The book starts in 2024 when a deadly heatwave kills 20 million people in India, ends sometime in 2050s. The story is centered around Mary, the head of the Ministry for the Future (an agency founded in 2025 by the UN to oversee the application of Paris Agreement), her colleagues, and Frank May, an aid worker and survivor of the Indian Heatwave.

The book, however, is not about the characters' lives.
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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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