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Category: Books (Page 2 of 2)

Sixty Days and Counting

Kim Stanley Robinson is a man after my own heart, and the Science in the Capital-Series deals with one of the most important topics of our days, so it’s a bit of a pity that I cannot praise him without reservations. But while the writing here is competent it’s never compelling, and for a book it’s not enough to deal with an important topic (not in fiction anyway), yet I found it not particularly entertaining or inspiring.

Sixty Days and Counting is the closing book in a trilogy about man-made global warming, after Fourty Days of Rain and Fifty Degrees below. The main story is about humanities (that is US-American with the Russians and Chinese on the sidelines) attempt to mitigate the consequences of global warming by large-scale carbon sequestration projects and other terraforming stuff. And then there are a few subplots that do not seem strictly necessary, like about rogue Black Ops and wisdom-dispensing Bhuddist immigrants.

It might be that I missed some important parts though – the books violates quite gratitously what I’ll call for the moment “Eikes law of typesetting” which dicates that italics are strictly for emphasizing words, so don’t use them on whole chapters if you actually want somebody to read them – anybody who can read ten pages of 10 point italics has clearly better eyes than me.

The whole shebang from 40 to 60 is not bad, it’s just that it’s boring, which might as well be a matter of taste, so you might give it a try. As for me I rather watch An Inconvenient Truth on DVD to learn about the global warming thing. But I’m still going to try Robinsons Mars-Trilogy because – did I mention it? – as far as his politics and general Weltanschauung are concerned he seems to be pretty much a man after my own heart.

    My famous (well, sort of) friends

    I’m almost cured, and will resume work soon.  In the meantime I might as well do a bit of advertising for two friends who managed to get some of their stuff published:

    Jakob has a short story in an anthology published by the german Wurdack Verlag. And Nadja Sennewald – already an established writer – has a new book out, Alien Gender, an Analysis of depiction of gender in TV Science Ficion Series. If you read german and are interested in SciFi and gender politics this might be for you.

      Forty Signs of Rain

      Instead of dutifully working on Joomla module programming I spent the evening finishing Kim Stanley Robinsons Forty Signs of Rain, the first book in a trilogy on the consequences of (man-made) global warming.

      I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about “the politics” in the book, which I found a bit odd – if you buy a book from a socialist writer on anthropogenic climate change you would expect it to be rife with politics, wouldn’t you, and it didn’t bother me in the least. But I found the book rather verbose (for example I learned a lot more about breastfeeding than I ever cared to know) and yet, while the life of the characters is described in much and often unneccessary detail I had trouble to tell some of the male main characters apart – they are all so remarkably unremarkable and similar.

      But perhaps this is due to an artistic concept – I take it that Forty Signs of Rain is building the scenery and that things will get more lively in the sequels. The book introduces a number of characters who in some way are concerned with global warnings and what has been called the “war on science” – Charlie is a staff worker for an american senator, his wife Anna works for the National Science Foundation where she befriends the delegation from a small island nation that suffers from rising sea levels, and we learn about their private and professional lives, dinner partys, baby nursing, work conferences, grant comittees and lobbying work, until climate change ceases to be an academical question or the problem of tiny faraway nations when the coastal cities of Northern America are hit by a sudden flood.

      Forty Signs, which could have lost a hundred of its 400 pages without much damage to the story, is still a good read, but in the end not really satisfying. It doesn’t stand very well on its own, and final judgement will depend on the quality of the sequels – Fifty Degrees Below is already waiting on the bedside table while Sixty Days and Counting is not yet available here in Germany. I doubt that KSR will make any proselytes with the series – those who deny anthropogenic global warming will simply dismiss the books as “too political” – but everybody who has accepted the scientific consensus will probably to some extent enjoy the book, which has the main fault that it’s outlook on a troubled future is perhaps to close to reality to be entertaining.

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