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The Ministry for the Future: A Novel

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  166 ratings  ·  67 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.

Told enti
Kindle Edition, 480 pages
Published October 6th 2020 by Orbit (first published 2020)
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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  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aidan Craigwood
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
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
Eliot Peper
Oct 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
John Adkins
Sep 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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. Robins ...more
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 doesn’t 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.
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
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. It’s 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 Robinson’s work, especially his Mars series, might be seen as tiptoing into this arena. Now with The Ministry of the Future he’s dived straight in. The ecological and politic ...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
Oct 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the perfect book that KSR could have delivered in this moment.
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 book’s 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
Jun 13, 2020 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
PW Starred: " Bestseller Robinson (Forty Signs of Rain) again tackles climate change head-on in this gutsy, humane view of a near-future Earth careening toward collapse. Mary Murphy, head of the Ministry for the Future, a UN watchdog agency created as a result of the Paris Agreement, takes to heart the ministry’s mission “to advocate for the world’s future generations.” Mary spends her days promoting relief for the afflicted and wrestling with the financial powers-that-be to change the carbon ba ...more
Kim Stanley Robinson is a big name in sci-fi, best known for the Mars trilogy and 2312. His work tends to focus on ecological sustainability with a utopian rather than dystopian slant – less common in modern fiction. However, despite being a sci-fi fan, before picking up ‘The Ministry for the Future’ I’d never read any of his work. I’ll be interested to hear from other reviewers how this compares – the idea is fascinating, but the execution doesn’t have me completely sold.

‘The Ministry for the F
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
Paul Sparks
I would like to say that I found this book deeply insightful and full of hopeful revelation into climate changes, I think I may have Pandemic fatigue as I am tired of reading and hearing of what is causing damage and likely to end the species, some may find thus book timely I found it laborious, I will try and read it again in a few years but now is the not the time
Aug 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi-fantasy
This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 4.25 of 5

I don't know of any other author currently writing science fiction on environmental themes and yet our environment (cause and effect of global warming) is such a current hot topic.

It is the year 2025. A new worldwide agency, called The Ministry for the Future, has been created to look after world issues and ensure that there is a future for humanity. About this same time there is a massive heat wave in India and millions
Mark taylor
Oct 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I got Ministry For The Future By Kim Stanley Robinson for a fair and honest review from net galley

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.

Told entirely through fictional eye-witness accounts, this book is the story of how climate change will affect us all over the decades to come.

Its setting
S.J. Higbee
Oct 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I initially struggled with this near future, cli-fi novel – I’m all too aware of what we’re not doing and where it’s likely to lead. So at times, the first quarter of this hefty tome made for harrowing reading – especially the terrible heatwave in India. Fortunately, Stanley Robinson isn’t interested in depicting apocalyptic outcomes – he’s far more interested in exploring ways Humanity can find ways out of the crisis we’ve boxed ourselves into. And this book, discussing our broken global fiscal ...more
Oct 06, 2020 marked it as dnf
Shelves: edelweiss, sci-fi, arc
Full disclosure: I received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.

The Ministry for the Future explores the future of climate change in the coming decades, extrapolating from current global action (or inaction) on the goals of the Paris Agreement and projections on how climate change will play out globally. It begins with a dramatic heat wave in India that is accompanied by high humidity, killing 20 million people over a period of weeks. A newly formed internati
Mark Phillips
Oct 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A masterpiece. I rarely give 5🌟. This novel deserved it. It is a manifesto for action on climate change and destruction of the environment.

Structured using the schematic laid down by Dos Passos in his realist trilogy U.S.A (1930-1936) and introduced into speculative fiction by John Brunner in his novel Stand on Zanzibar (1968)

This story is centred on the head of The Ministry of the Future an organisation set up to monitor and implement the Paris Agreement (2016). The style mixes the central nar
Oct 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kim Stanley Robbinson is one of the most loved contemporary sci-fi writers. I may not always like what he writes, but I respect him. He has unique ideas and researches thoroughly (infodumps galore). Where he usually fails is the plot and sections that drag on. This book is no exception to that. There are some amazing chapters (the opening description of the events in India). But, there were chapters I skimmed over and couldn't wait to get done with.

I have mixed feelings about this novel. This i
Oct 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Almost certainly my favourite KSR novel yet, and in my opinion his best from a literary standpoint.

Ministry For The Future takes the form of a sort of blueprint of a possible twenty-first century - one that feels very much like something David Graeber might have dreamed up, to the point that several passages strongly made me wonder if KSR was reading Debt in the writing of it. I went into it expecting something very milquetoast and naive from the premise (a UN agency to prevent global warming _
Stuart Dredge
Sep 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There have been some tough moments recently: thinking about the world in its current state, the leaders we have, and the likelihood that even now with all the knowledge we have, we're sleepwalking into irreversible climate destruction. Very often, it's hard to see any way we can rescue the situation.

This book offers... hope, or at least the opportunity to suspend your disbelief in the awfulness of the humans in power, and think about the potential for good humans to turn things round. In this ca
Mark Parnell
Oct 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are Sci Fi authors that allow us to imagine what the future may look like and then there are those truly special authors that are literally writing the future. For me William Gibson and Kim Stanley Robinson fall into the latter category. Want a realistic look at what colonizing Mars will be like, read Robinsons Mars trilogy. Global warming and the affect on coastal cities, read New York 2140. Which brings us to The Ministry of the Future, want to know what the battle for the future of this ...more
Sep 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is KSR’s roadmap to how we might avoid total climate disaster in the coming decades. I say avoid, yet many hundreds of thousands of people die during the course of the book. Grimly, this is the optimistic view. The pessimistic one is much worse. The book engages with politics, global finance, geo engineering, technology, sociology and constructive terrorism to offer a path to a twenty second century Earth that is in much better shape than she is at the moment. There is a framing narrative a ...more
Oct 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
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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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