The Ministry for the Future: A Novel
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The Ministry for the Future: A Novel Audible Audiobook – Unabridged

4.3 out of 5 stars 2,782 ratings

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Product details

Listening Length 20 hours and 42 minutes
Author Kim Stanley Robinson
Narrator Jennifer Fitzgerald, Fajer Al-Kaisi, Ramon de Ocampo, Gary Bennett, Raphael Corkhill, Barrie Kreinik, Natasha Soudek, Nikki Massoud, Joniece Abbott Pratt, Inés del Castillo, Vikas Adam
Whispersync for Voice Ready Release Date October 06, 2020
Publisher Orbit
Program Type Audiobook
Version Unabridged
Language English
Best Sellers Rank #1,002 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals)
#9 in Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#22 in Hard Science Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#45 in Hard Science Fiction (Books)

Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5
2,782 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on October 22, 2020
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147 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on November 14, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on October 31, 2020
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4.0 out of 5 stars A provocative scenario for how climate change might be fought from 2025-2053
By Autonomeus on October 31, 2020
KSR's latest is a thought-provoking scenario that sketches how the current political inertia might be disrupted, and the planet's climate stabilized.

It's well worth reading, however I can't give it five stars because I find it to be lacking as a novel. The excitement takes place off camera, as it were, while the focus is on the institutional actors, including ministry staff and bankers, who meet mainly in Zurich and San Francisco. It would have been possible to use the same scenario as the basis for a much more dynamic story, it seems to me, given the range of radical actions that are essential to the outcome.

*** *** ***
The book begins with a massive heat wave in India that kills 20 million. This triggers a series of actions that accelerate global human society's response to catastrophic climate change. The central character is Mary Murphy, formerly foreign minister of Ireland, who is the head of a new U.N. "Subsidiary Body" to the Conference of the Parties to the Paris Climate Agreement, popularly known as the "Ministry for the Future" because its mandate is to speed implementation, charged with "defending all living creatures present and future who cannot speak for themselves, by promoting their legal standing and physical protection."

While this U.N. agency, headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, works through the institutions, primarily the central banks of the world, which KSR describes as the de facto world government, others engage in radical direct action. The "War for the Earth" begins on Crash Day (in the 2030s), when sixty passenger jets crash in a matter of hours, mainly private and business jets. Container ships begin to sink in large numbers. A manifesto is issued calling for an end to fossil-fuel burning transport. Following word that cattle have been infected, the beef industry is rapidly phased out. So the wave of uncoordinated actions includes carrots and sticks all aiming to reduce carbon emissions as rapidly as possible.

Stan Robinson puts forward a scathing critique of mainstream economics, and utilizes a variety of recent technological developments and policies in his scenario, including blockchain encryption of data, A.I., drone swarms, permaculture, Modern Monetary Theory (post-Keynesian economics), "carbon coins" issued to compensate for carbon reduction, Half Earth (the goal of preserving one half of the planet for species other than humans), of course photovoltaic solar energy, and others. None of these are described in detail, and the book can serve as a compendium guiding further research by the reader.

*** *** ***
I share KSR's values and worldview, at least for the most part, and I admire the vision of this novel, an optimistic scenario overall despite tragedy along the way.

The use of short passages from the point of view of unnamed minor characters and anthropomorphized characters like photons and "history" is good, lending the proceedings some similarity with John Brunner's great dystopian environmental novel "The Sheep Look Up" (1972 -- see my review), which used the experimental technique of John Dos Passos's "U.S.A. Trilogy."

I seriously doubt that this scenario will come to pass, but it is worth imagining the possibility and working toward its realization. The more likely scenarios are all nightmares.
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46 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on November 23, 2020
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Top reviews from other countries

Tufnell Paul
2.0 out of 5 stars Brave, But Unsuccessful, Attempt at Projecting a Non-Dystopian Resolution of the Climate Crisis
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 8, 2020
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20 people found this helpful
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book, Though a Bit Preachy in Places
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 7, 2020
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7 people found this helpful
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4.0 out of 5 stars cludgy
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 26, 2021
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5 people found this helpful
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Kindle Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting novel about ways of solving the problem of climate change but far too positive.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 12, 2021
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4 people found this helpful
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Paul Heskett
5.0 out of 5 stars Read and heed this timely warning
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 3, 2020
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5 people found this helpful
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