Kim Stanley Robinson
2312 Cover



Probably my most disappointing book of the year so far. Ponderous, boring, overwrought and just a plain drag to get through.

This is my first book by Kim Stanley Robinson and there are a few of his books I've had my eye on for a while. Sadly, this experience has put me right off. There are lots of interesting ideas in here, but to be honest the execution of them is awful.

I must preface this review by saying that I have seen a lot of five star reviews for this book, it's won awards too so I guess there is an audience for this, and an audience that loves it but for me I was thinking throughout 'how on earth did this get published'?

The book is long (over 500 pages) and I like a big tome of a book, but the problem here is every page is an absolute drag to get through. Robinson is clearly a very clever man and has imagined a solar system in the future where things work and happen and there is a plausible scientific description of how stuff happens, but this is like reading a science essay where a student is showing their working out. Think of when Luke Skywalker first turns on a lightsabre and how in awe he is as he watches the light blue blade. Robinson would write ten pages talking about the chemical composition of the handle and how it converts energy into light and go on and on and on, discussing how the 'hum' happens and instead of seeing something cool you've fallen to sleep.

The main reason I stuck with the book was because I heard it gets good at the end. It doesn't. It's more that the story starts to come together, but you are going to have to read 350 pages of internal philosophical navel gazing and lists of nonsense to get to the good stuff. Indeed, the plot feels like something tacked onto the end when he finally realises he needs a story.

The characters are boring, and in what is supposed to be a love story never once tugged at my heart strings, and anyone who knows me, knows I EASILY get emotional at cute romance stories. Nothing doing for me here. Even after spending 500 pages with these characters, in what is supposed to be an emotional ending I just groaned at more pages to read.

The only saving grace is that there are a couple of decent chapters in the book where their interpersonal dynamic is truly explored and they are GOOD chapters, but it's probably about 5% of the book.

There are tons of clever ideas in here, about how humans can live on different planets in the solar system, how 'spacers' organise and live in a post-government space, about the fate of Earth and the moral implications of interventions in 'poorer' countries (space as a white saviour allegory interested me but I am not sure if that was Robinson's point or not). I really liked the idea of the transhumanist people in the book, and how humans look different based on their planet, and the meshing of humans and artificial intelligence and how gender roles and body modification could change. In fact there are tons of good ideas in here like a city on Mercury running on tracks to always be in the 'shade' or asteroids being used as liveable habitats, transport and fully independent ecosystems. Or the moral implications of mining 'empty' planets, moons and asteroids, or the implications of crime and punishment or even sentience.

You can probably get the impression that I could go on with the ideas. But that's it's failing as a novel. There is so much in here and it is so poorly executed and realised I really didn't care.

Some will love this, but it really isn't for me.