30 May 2018

Hugos 2018: New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson

Trade paperback, 613 pages
Published 2018 (originally 2017)

Acquired April 2018
Read May 2018
New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson

I haven't read a Kim Stanley Robinson novel since college, when I heroically worked my way through the "Color Mars" trilogy over a summer. New York 2140 is quite long, but also quite enjoyable. In some ways it made me think of reading a late Dickens novel, like Our Mutual Friend. There's no central character in New York 2140 and (mostly) no central plot line, just a cluster of eight characters from all different walks of life. Many, but not all, live in the Met Life Tower, and their lives sort of criss-cross one another at various points. The book is three things mainly: a piece of "cli-fi" (climate fiction, the sea level has had two dramatic rises in the next 120 years), an sf extrapolation of the global finance industry (Robinson's future has seen two more 2008-esque financial crashes, and a fourth is due), and a love letter to the city of New York (the book is filled with ruminations on the history and culture of the city). In all three areas, it's quite captivating. And I don't even like cities very much!

As I remember the Mars books being, it is long and slow, but I was never not enjoying it. This is one of those sf novels that's more about world and ideas than plot, and I was okay with that. Like, it's long... but I don't actually know what I would cut! I came to like this diverse cast of characters, and there was an awesomely audacious plot swerve about 400 pages in, even if it ultimately resolved a little too utopianly for my tastes. I'm glad I was forced to finally read more Robinson, and I ought to track more of his work down if it's anything like this.

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