Top positive review
Fascinating, but long, future history, taking place in the year 2312
Reviewed in the United States on December 31, 2013
This is the 4th novel I've read by Kim Stanley Robinson, the first three being part of his Mars Trilogy (Red Mars, Green Mars and Blue Mars). I was a voracious science fiction reader as a kid, but gave it up when actual science fiction seemed to be replaced by dragons and fantasy. Then a rave review in the Washington Post and a free e-book offer convinced me to read Red Mars a couple of years ago, and I was hooked.
This is "hard" science fiction, that is, it is SF based on the best of actual, known science. It's not "Buck Rogers," though there is conflict, economic and political, including terrorism and some cold-war type standoffs between the settled planets, moons and asteroids of the solar system.
There is also a lot of slow, but fascinating descriptions of how these planetary bodies might be terraformed, or made habitable for humans; about the effect of global warming on our own planet (think New York turned into a 24th Century Venice, with skyscrapers rising from its flooded streets); and political and economic critiques of a capitalist economy.
There is also a hint of romance between two of the main characters, and settings that are charming. That may sound strange, but underneath their domed cities, space dwellers have created attractive parks, plazas and terraced, tile-roofed towns. There are a number of expository excerpts that break up the actual storyline. Some are greater scientific details and others are excerpts by historians in a future some decades or more after the events of 2312, analyzing that year. These can be both fascinating and annoying.
I'm not the fastest of readers, and reading on a Kindle, I kept pausing to consult my pop-up dictionary for unfamiliar words. So it took me a month to finish reading 2312. But having read the author's earlier novels, I expected a long, thoughtful and ultimately satisfying read, and I got what I expected.