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2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson
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2312 (edition 2012)

by Kim Stanley Robinson

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1,034758,169 (3.44)78
Member:cshalizi
Title:2312
Authors:Kim Stanley Robinson
Info:Orbit (2012), Kindle Edition, 568 pages
Collections:Your library, To read, Electronic book
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Tags:science fiction

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2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

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» See also 78 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 75 (next | show all)
So the only reason I actually finished this novel was because I'm reading through the Hugo nominees, and I felt surely there must be something, or some ending, to redeem this novel. Unfortunately, there wasn't.

The novel does have good world-building. The descriptions of the Solar System and life in 2312 are brimming with details on everything from art to medicine to terraforming technology to politics. There's so much detail that it doesn't fit in the story, and instead populates lists and extracts from future texts that sit between chapters of narratives.

Unfortunately, the novel is very long and the plot very lackluster. Most of the scenes (and lists and extracts) are devoted to world-building. The plot about AIs had no depth or complexity to it, and was resolved in a similarly uncompelling manner. The scenes with Swan and Warham were at least some of the better ones of the book, with Swan being an interesting character -- once we stopped seeing her mostly through the eyes of others who simply thought she was strange. Unfortunately, these were only a handful of the chapters, and not enough to carry the rest of the book. ( )
  teknognome | Nov 14, 2016 |
The world building in this novel is good. It is highly detailed, imaginative, and futuristically strange.

The charters are also well constructed. These are not like people of today who just happen to be living in the future with a bunch of high-tech gizmos. They have different attitudes, beliefs, tastes, and concerns. Many are physically different in strange and interesting ways. They are not us. They are our descendants, about as different from us as we are from Homo erectus—in some ways, more so.

As science fiction, this book succeeds where many fail. It presents a fictional future that really seems futuristic. I can’t honestly say I enjoyed the book much, though.

The reason little to do with the futuristic setting, although I could not quite understand how any of the grand projects it mentions were being funded. But economics aside, it is the plot—or lack thereof that bothered me the most.

This 561 page tome shows us lovely and, I assume, scientifically reasonable views from various locations in space, sometimes in exhausting detail. It describes various interesting methods of terraforming and of creating habitable environments in space, but what it does mostly is document the existential wanderings of the main character, Swan Er Hong.

She (for lack of a better pronoun) is certainly an interesting character. We get to know her quite well, or as well as anyone can, but she’s not likeable. In fact, she should come with a warning label that says something like ‘Caution! Approach at Your Own Risk.’ Even in this strange world of the future, she’s a nut job, and her erratic behavior and self-absorbed musings become annoying in short order.

I appreciate the skill of a writer who can create a fictional character that can evoke an emotion in a reader, but I don’t think annoyance is the emotion one should probably be shooting for. That’s really the only one I personally felt for Swan, and her romance with a man (again, gender designation is only an approximation) she describes as looking like a toad is, at best, hard to imagine. I could believe that someone might find her interesting, maybe even fascinating, but I couldn’t understand how anyone could consider a long-term romantic relationship with her. It would take a special kind of masochist to do that, and toad-man wasn’t presented as such.

There was an effort at a plot stemming from a power play on Venus and even a bit of mystery about almost sentient androids, but it felt like these were tacked on almost as an afterthought in order to justify the lengthy account of Swan’s dysfunctional emotional journey.

Despite the excellent description of a believable future that this book provides, it’s not an enjoyable story. I can’t recommend it.
( )
  DLMorrese | Oct 14, 2016 |
As I've come to expect from this author, this is a well-written, thought-provoking novel of a more or less optimistic and even realistic human future. The two main characters - Swan and Wahram - are deliberate studies in opposites, reflecting in many ways the myths associated with their home worlds, Mercury and Saturn (one of its moons, to be precise) respectively. They are unusual individuals, to say the least, but very human for all of that, and as opposites are awkwardly attracted to each other. The awkward courtship of this pair is part of what builds their basic humanity, for all that they are each departures from what we would consider normal for human beings. These are two out of a cast of characters drawn from an array of variations on a theme in humanity.

The story is basically a mystery, the unraveling of a dangerous plot to manipulate the politics of the solar system. How the danger is identified and ultimately dealt with spins the tale of Swan and Wahram and their friends. Along the way they must question what exactly it means to be human, and unravel the secret of one of the simplest and yet most unusual futuristic weapons I've ever encounter.

It helped that I've read (more than once) Robinson's Mars trilogy; this book is clearly set slighting in the future of that universe. There's even a very clear reference to a character from Red Mars, the son of one of the First Hundred who found himself marooned in orbit after the fall of a space elevator. While the experience of reading 2312 was enhanced by being familiar with this version of the future, I would in no way consider the trilogy required reading for this new book. (Although I highly recommend reading the Mars trilogy all the same.)

Regarding the lists and excerpts that trouble so many reviewers, I found them to add an enormous amount of background material to the story without slowing the tale with a lot of lengthy exposition. I can see where some readers might be troubled by this material, seeing it as breaking up the story unnecessarily. That did not happen for me. I read the lists and excerpts as they occurred, and then simply moved on with the story without pondering them closely, or trying to fit them directly into the narrative. It all seemed to fold into the story quite naturally, that way, and added a lot of color and flavor to the tale. It worked well for me. Your mileage may vary. It is, in the end, a book best suited to bold readers, something that could be said of many works by this author. If you are already a fan of Robinson, read this book. If you are not familiar with his work, this is as good a place to start as any.
( )
  Thomas_Watson | Sep 13, 2016 |
Adored this.

I loved Swan, she was petulant and selfish and not in the slightest perfect. I can see why a lot of people don't.

I wish we'd got to know Alex more, perhaps there's another book out there for that. Alex and Mquaret's story, and the genesis of Terminator, would be a fun read. On the other hand, I like being dropped into a fully developed universe that feels like it really exists, fully formed. I enjoyed the asides, the lists etc, but again, I can see why a lot of people don't. I prefer it to the conceit of "Blah character sits in a coffee shop and thinks about random things like the political makeup of the entire solar system, until his thoughts are suddenly jerked back to the present by someone shooting at him". It's exposition, it has to be done, may as well put a flag on it (and then do it with some style).

And I think I mostly love the idea of the reanimation as a totally subversive and illegal act. Brilliant, and beautiful.

Now I think I need to go back and re-read the Mars trilogy, and then go hunt down everything else KSR has written, I forgot how much I flat out enjoy his writing.

( )
  krazykiwi | Aug 22, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 75 (next | show all)
In his vibrant, often moving new novel, "2312," Robinson's extrapolation is hard-wired to a truly affecting personal love story.
 
Kim Stanley Robinson's 17th novel is complex and sometimes bewildering, 500 pages crammed full of strange but decent characters whose actions play out against a vastly constructed utopian background.
added by karenb | editThe Guardian, M John Harrison (Jun 14, 2012)
 
... [Robinson's] boldest trip into all of the marvelous SF genres—ethnography, future shock, screed against capitalism, road to earth—and all of the ways to thrill and be thrilled. It's a future history that's so secure and comprehensive that it reads as an account of the past—a trick of craft that belongs almost exclusively to the supreme SF task force of Le Guin and Margaret Atwood.
added by karenb | editSlate, Choire Sicha (Jun 1, 2012)
 
(Starred review) In a spectacularly depicted future of interplanetary colonization, humanity has spread across the entire solar system, from miniature biomes in hollowed-out asteroids to a moving city racing the fatal rays of the sun on Mercury.
added by karenb | editPublishers Weekly (Mar 5, 2012)
 
A small, clever novel obscured rather than enlightened by philosophy, synthesis, analysis and travelogue.
added by karenb | editKirkus Reviews (Mar 1, 2012)
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kim Stanley Robinsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Benshoff, KirkCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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"The year is 2312. Scientific and technological advances have opened gateways to an extraordinary future. Earth is no longer humanity's only home; new habitats have been created throughout the solar system on moons, planets, and in between. But in this year, 2312, a sequence of events will force humanity to confront its past, its present, and its future. The first event takes place on Mercury, on the city of Terminator, itself a miracle of engineering on an unprecedented scale. It is an unexpected death, but one that might have been foreseen. For Swan Er Hong, it is an event that will change her life. Swan was once a woman who designed worlds. Now she will be led into a plot to destroy them"--… (more)

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Orbit Books

2 editions of this book were published by Orbit Books.

Editions: 0316098124, 0316098116

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