The bestselling author of the classic Mars trilogy and The Years of Rice and Salt returns with a riveting new trilogy of cutting-edge science, international politics, and the real-life ramifications of global warming as they are played out in our nation's capital-and in the daily lives of those at the center of the action. Hauntingly realistic, here is a novel of the near future that is inspired by scientific facts already making headlines.When the Arctic ice pack was first measured in the 1950s, it averaged thirty feet thick in midwinter. By the end of the century it was down to fifteen. One August the ice broke. The next year the breakup started in July. The third year it began in May. That was last year.
In this cerebral near-future novel, the first in a trilogy, Robinson (The Years of Rice and Salt) explores the events leading up to a worldwide catastrophe brought on by global warming. Each of his various viewpoint characters holds a small piece of the puzzle and can see calamity coming, but is helpless before the indifference of the politicians and capitalists who run America. Anna Quibler, a National Science Foundation official in Washington, D.C., sifts through dozens of funding proposals each day, while her husband, Charlie, handles life as a stay-at-home dad and telecommutes to his job as an environmental adviser to a liberal senator. Another scientist, Frank Vanderwal, finds his sterile worldview turned upside down after attending a lecture on Buddhist attitudes toward science given by the ambassador from Khembalung, a nation virtually inundated by the rising Indian Ocean. Robinson's tale lacks the drama and excitement of such other novels dealing with global climate change as Bruce Sterling's Heavy Weather and John Barnes's Mother of Storms, but his portrayal of how actual scientists would deal with this disaster-in-the-making is utterly convincing. Robinson clearly cares deeply about our planet's future, and he makes the reader care as well. Agent, Ralph Vicinanza. (June 8) FYI: Robinson's Mars trilogy (Red Mars, etc.) received one Nebula and two Hugo awards. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
Showing 1-2 of the 2 most recent reviews
1 . Excellent Look at our Potential Future
Posted August 14, 2010 by Jim Bonner , BaltimoreGreat read along with riveting action. The author has an intimate sense of Washington DC - the physical geography of the city and surrounding area & the political landscape. Having been to Rock Creek Park and along many of the streets mentioned in the story. Familiarity breeds a sort of mundane view of Bethesda, Silver Springs & Chevy Chase but it makes the storms all the more sinister. Who knew climate change could be so frightening.
On occasion Mr. Robinson gets pedantic but I am forgiving that way as it creates the opportunity to learn as well as be entertained.
P.S. The previous reviewer must have read a completely different book! This book has nothing to do with being a medical thriller -- it is, however, a thrilling story of what-could-be in our own future.
2 . Nothing thrilling about this!
Posted August 05, 2010 by William Penn , WichitaI bought this book thinking it was a medical thriller but instead found that it was mostly boring medical writing with little thriller to it. I was disappointed that it turned out to be a textbook explaining a log of technical terms and conditions and would not recommend this to anyone wanting to read a medical thriller.
December 31, 2003
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from Forty Signs of Rain by Kim Stanley Robinson
The Earth is bathed in a flood of sunlight. A fierce inundation of photons -- on average, 342 joules per second per square meter. 4185 joules (one calorie) will raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius. If all this energy were captured by the Earth's atmosphere, its temperature would rise by ten degrees Celsius in one day.
Luckily much of it radiates back to space. How much depends on albedo and the chemical composition of the atmosphere, both of which vary over time.
A good portion of Earth's albedo, or reflectivity, is created by its polar ice caps. If polar ice and snow were to shrink significantly, more solar energy would stay on Earth. Sunlight would penetrate oceans previously covered by ice, and warm the water. This would add heat and melt more ice, in a positive feedback loop.
The Arctic Ocean ice pack reflects back out to space a few percent of the total annual solar energy budget. When the Arctic ice pack was first measured by nuclear submarines in the 1950's, it averaged thirty feet thick in midwinter. By the end of the century it was down to fifteen. Then one August the ice broke up into large tabular bergs, drifting on the currents, colliding and separating, leaving broad lanes of water open to the continuous polar summer sunlight. The next year the breakup started in July, and at times more than half the surface of the Arctic Ocean was open water. The third year, the breakup began in May.
That was last year.
WEEKDAYS ALWAYS begin the same. The alarm goes off and you are startled out of dreams that you immediately forget. Predawn light in a dim room. Stagger into a hot shower and try to wake up all the way. Feel the scalding hot water on the back of your neck, ah, the best part of the day, already passing with the inexorable clock. Fragment of a dream, you were deep in some problem set now escaping you, just as you tried to escape it in the dream. Duck down the halls of memory -- gone. Dreams don't want to be remembered.
Evaluate the night's sleep. Anna Quibler decided the previous night had not been so good. She was exhausted already. Joe had cried twice, and though it was Charlie who had gotten up to reassure him, as part of their behavioral conditioning plan which was intended to convey to Joe that he would never again get Mom to visit him at night, Anna had of course woken up too, and vaguely heard Charlie's reassurances: "Hey. Joe. What's up. Go back to sleep, buddy, it's the middle of the night here. Nothing gets to happen until morning, so you might as well. This is pointless this wailing, why do you do this, good night damn it."
A brusque bedside manner at best, but that was part of the plan. After that she had tossed and turned for long minutes, trying heroically not to think of work. In years past she had recited in her head Edgar Allan Poe's poem "The Raven," which she had memorized in high school and which had a nice soporific effect, but then one night she had thought to herself, "Quoth the raven, 'Livermore,' " because of work troubles she was having with some people out at Lawrence Livermore. After that the poem was ruined as a sleep aid because the moment she even thought of "The Raven" she thought about work. In general Anna's thoughts had a tropism toward work issues.