The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson


Rate: 4/5


Medium: Audiobook


Overview (No Spoilers):

A Ministry for the Future caught my attention after I saw the title listed on both Eliot Peper and former President Obama’s top reads of 2020. Despite this genre being one I typically prefer, I struggled to become totally engrossed in the story that was constantly jumping from perspectives and topics. That said, I can’t help but marvel at the amount of research Robinson would have had to embark upon to provide the depth and foundation behind the ideas he poured into this novel. He eloquently delves into topics such as climate change, finance, psychology, glaciology, engineering, politics, to name a few, at levels of detail that credibly achieves his characters coming off like the experts they’re supposed to emulate. Needless to say, the material is dense and does make the reader quite uneasy, however that is the point. Robinson envisions drastic measures that it might potentially take to reverse the damage that we’ve done to environment through the use of politics and terrorism to force changes in sectors that will be difficult to break out of existing norms, e.g., airplane travel or barge shipping. I found almost every chapter to be thought provoking on a level that doesn’t usually happen science fiction.

I struggled to connect on a deeper level with the story itself, due in part with the overall flow seeming jagged, with the various perspectives and jumps in topic initially seeming disjointed. By the end of the novel we begin to observe the threads of connection and it becomes easier to make the many transitions. With becoming acclimated, appreciation emerges for both the eloquence of the construction and the effort that must have gone into every chapter, character, and subject. Especially as a researcher, the undertaking Robinson must have known was ahead of him as he was formulating a plan of this novel would have been daunting, if not hard to fathom in scope. Overall, A Ministry for the Future more than lived up to the high recommendations with its sprawling and incredibly detailed subject matter that will require a reader’s avid attention for every interaction, especially with the future of the world hanging in the balance.


Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):

  • The future that Robinson envisions for drones, especially with regard to terroism is highly terrifying.
  • India seeding the atmosphere to delay the effects of global warming was the exact same concept as Eliot Peper’s latest book, Veil. Peper’s novel also opens up with a heat wave that kills millions. That said, Robinson’s depiction of the heat wave was nightmare inducing.

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