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2312 Paperback – June 25, 2013
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Winner of the 2013 Nebula Award for Best Novel
The year is 2312. Scientific advances have opened gateways to an extraordinary future. Earth is no longer our only home; new habitats have been created throughout the solar system, on moons, planets and in between. But in 2312, a sequence of events will force humanity to confront our past, present and future.
The first event takes place on Mercury, in the city of Terminator, itself a miracle of engineering on an unprecedented scale. For Swan Er Hong, it will change her life. Once a designer of worlds, now Swan will be led into a plot to destroy them.
2312 is a bold vision of humanity's future and a compelling portrait of those individuals who will shape its events.
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- Publisher : Orbit; 0 edition (June 25, 2013)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 592 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1841499986
- ISBN-13 : 978-1841499987
- Item Weight : 14.3 ounces
- Dimensions : 6.14 x 1.5 x 7.8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,048,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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Initially I didn't realize that I had already read this book. When I remembered, I thought it would be worth a second read. Now I'm not so sure. I did finish reading it the second time, but I kind of wish I hadn't.
The story takes place in the year 2312 when humanity is busily populating the solar system while Earth itself sinks ever further into the swamp of pollution and overpopulation that we are experiencing today. There are three or four main characters, depending on how you look at it. Actually, you could say there are 0 main characters because the author seems to feel character development is overrated.
The book is heavy on science and technologies that can be used in various ways to allow humans to freely and expediently travel the solar system. Some of these are quite innovative, or seemed so to me. Okay, that's pretty much it on the good side, but that is actually quite a lot. Enough to make it worth reading once, but not twice.
As I already mentioned, character development is not the author's strong point. The dialog is especially terrible. There is no way any of it sounds like real people. And all of the characters sound identical. And the narrator, too, not surprisingly. One really annoying aspect of this--and it could just be me--is the use of the word "so." It starts many, many sentences and sometimes weasels itself in mid-sentence as if discontent at being always in the lead. Of course, the narrator's voice would not want to miss out on this delightful little word.
Why do humans have to spend one in every seven years back on Earth itself? No simulation will do, it's got to be Earth. The author says that no one knows why this is, but that falls flat to me.
A big deal is made of how oppressive 1 G is to "spacers." They have to wear a body brace to deal with it during their Earth sabbaticals. But their interplanetary travel takes place on terraria that are maintained at 1 G and this doesn't seem to bother anyone.
In this future, human sexuality has broadened to the point of ridiculousness. It seems that heterosexuality doesn't even exist anymore. Most people seem to have both sets of functional reproductive organs. That's a bit hard to believe. Can human anatomy be redesigned to accommodate this physiology. I think the author is trying to present a more sexually open world but he should probably look into his biological facts as closely as he does his physical ones.
There's also a really major flaw concerning ecology that I don't want to discuss due to spoilers.
I would recommend this book if you're interested in technology but not if you're interested in characters or social issues.
1) Gorgeous world building....
The description of the world's, their cultures, their creation are all gorgeous and a real spark for the imagination. I can see these places in my mind's eye, and would love to travel to them.
2)...but terrible characters
I'm 150+ pages in, and I could give a rip about any of the characters. Swan comes across as psychotic, fickle, and aimless. Her companions are uninteresting; bland and without internal motivation. I honestly am hoping someone falls in a volcano on Io at this point just to spice things up.
3) Needed: Editing
I love a good existential thought piece moment in sci-fi (God Emperor of Dune, anyone?) But this is just painful. Why do we have to take a half dozen pages to describe a concert? A chapter on lawn bowling? The 'lists' sections are hit or miss: some fill in context for the world building, but most are just headache inducing lists of mental illnesses, biomes, existential...stuff.
I appreciate the trick of not describing a character in detail, but it wasn't until 100+ pages in was the main character described, which was jarring to what I'd constructed in my mind. Swan came across as a petulant 20 year old, so I was shocked when I learned she was 134..
And the vocabulary. Dear God, it's almost purple prose. I consider myself a smart reader, but I had to give up on Googling some of the words. And if I read "goldsworthies" or "balkanization" one more time...
4) Plot? Conflict? *Jingles keys*
The plot is completely lost, if there even is one. It's completely unclear if there's any conflict or dilemma to solve, and if it is, the characters seem wholly unconcerned with solving it. Swan seems content to have feral mental episodes each time her companions say the equivalent of "if I told you, I'd have to kill you." We take a time out to smuggle out a street rat/would-be-kidnapper, apparently on a lark before resuming an aimless trip around the Solar System...and the whole time I'm wondering if I accidentally picked up the second book in a trilogy because I'm lost and starting to hate the characters and at this point just reading it for the space descriptions.
*Sigh* I think this is a 'leave this in the airport terminal and see if someone else likes it' read...
I found the beginning a chore to read, but it had some interesting plot, thoughts about post-CRISPR human evolution, and some interesting possibilities for human terraforming and expansion into the solar system.
By the middle it felt like each succeeding sentence had been chosen by a random number generator -- dissonant, disjointed, random, no flow, no plot, no action, no character development. Likewise, the future history of tech development seemed oddly uninformed as if it were written in the late 90s.
Time is my most precious resource. At the halfway point I couldn't justify wasting any more of it on this book. If you do read this, try a printed or audible version -- I can't imagine the Kindle version I read even being nominated for a Nebula award, much less winning. I'd like to believe I just got a bad e-copy because I know Kim Stanley Robinson can do much better.
Top reviews from other countries
The world building is as ever excellent. We jump forward three centuries; the Solar System is colonised and ‘humans’ are not just humans anymore – a vast array of genetic modifications means there are dozens of types of people. All are represented – spacers, smalls, mixed sex, the list goes on. Our lead is Swan, a middle-aged artist, adventurer and well, all sorts. Her home is Terminator, a city on Mercury that moves with the sun to avoid burning up. Here KSR takes us on an evocative tour of the planet, and later we get the same treatment for asteroids turned into farms, spacecraft, zoos, and tourist attractions, we tour the moons and rings of Saturn, the skies of Venus and a climate change devasted Earth. Swan is slowly pulled into the world of politics, following in her grandmother’s footsteps as an unofficial representative of one of the main power blocks in the Solar System.
There are some oddities. The book is littered with chapters called ‘extracts’ which appear to be, well, random extracts from some text or other, and ‘lists’ which are, lists of stuff. I am not entirely sure of the purpose of these sections and I could have done without them. There is also a long chapter where Swan and another character as stuck in a long tunnel – perhaps there is some deeper meaning to it, but it passed me by.
Overall, this is worth a read for the world-building if nothing else – it is absolutely superb. The surfing on Saturn, the sailing on an ocean terrarium (terraformed asteroids), the trips around the ‘drowned’ planet Earth, which is always central to people – the homeland as it were.
If you're looking for a strong plot and a pacy style, this isn't the right book for you. For an exploration of the world of "2312", there's more of interest here. Coming to this after just finishing Aurora, and being a huge fan of the Mars trilogy, it's clear that the book has some links between both. 2312 seems to exist in a slightly alternative version of the Mars trilogy universe, and echoes some of the themes explored more fully in Aurora. It was these links and the exploration of the world that helped save the story for me.
This is a great crossover book for those that like mainstream science fiction but think that they may wish to visit the "Dark Side" and enter the strange realms of Hard Sci-fi. In that, at least, Mr Robinson has done a good job.
But, there's virtually no plot, no story, no arc of problems overcome. The protagonists are not attractive; being selfish, irritating and barely even character sketches. At least, Red Mars had some memorable people. I was disappointed.
If you're a big fan of sci fi and you want to experience Kim Stanley Robinson's possible future and revel in the level of detail and complexity, definitely read this book. If you're looking for a great, compelling story, I don't think this book is for you.