Thursday, October 8, 2020

Review: The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson

The Ministry for the Future
The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson
Publication Date: October 6th, 2020
Hardcover. 576 pages

About The Ministry for the Future:

"PEstablished in 2025, the purpose of the new organization was simple: To advocate for the world's future generations and to protect all living creatures, present and future. It soon became known as the Ministry for the Future, and this is its story.
From legendary science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson comes a vision of climate change unlike any ever imagined.
Told entirely through fictional eye-witness accounts, The Ministry For The Future is a masterpiece of the imagination, the story of how climate change will affect us all over the decades to come.
Its setting is not a desolate, post-apocalyptic world, but a future that is almost upon us - and in which we might just overcome the extraordinary challenges we face.
 It is a novel both immediate and impactful, desperate and hopeful in equal measure, and it is one of the most powerful and original books on climate change ever written"

The Ministry for the Future is a stark look at a realistic and chillingly credible climate emergency situation. The story starts in 2025 when The Ministry for the Future is established to help the world combat climate change and when India experiences an extreme heat wave that kills twenty million people, which comes as a stark and tragic warning of how disastrous things have become in the world. This isn't technically a horror book, but with how eerily realistic and plausible it seems, it definitely gives me some pretty terrifying vibes about what life could be like if things took a turn for the worse in a dramatic way. 

One thing I really appreciated about this book was the international focus Robinson employs. Rather than have a US-centric story as many scenarios tend to follow, the base of operations is set up in Europe and there were constant inclusions from other countries and continents across the globe. In fact, it is India that ends up being one of the more dominant players and instigators for creating change and ends up being on par with the other big countries in terms of power and voice. Robinson successfully created a well-rounded look at how these environmental changes could affect all areas of the globe in varying drastic ways.  

The entire book is told in varying POV chapters from different people's experiences with the new restrictions and climate changes that occur. One of the more interesting ones follows a man who was an eyewitness to the Indian heat wave and subsequently suffers from extreme trauma as a result of his experiences. It was interesting to watch him attempt to re-adapt to life after this traumatic event, as well as everything he was involved with after the fact. There are quite a few other varying people we follow, and a few surprising one-off POVs as well (such as the sun and photons--yes, I said photons), which I thought added a nice creative literary flair. 

There were a lot of times in this book where I felt as though I were reading some nonfiction book or treatise, and I'm not sure if I loved it or not. Part of me loved it because it made it feel even more realistic and like an important warning for out future, but it also wasn't necessarily the most enjoyable from an entertainment standpoint at all times. Nonetheless, it was still near-constantly interesting and I found myself continuously stopping to look up certain facts or figure to find out if things were true or not (and turns out, a lot of it was!). Robinson is known for his well-researched and thought out stories and that is no exception in this book. 

 This book feels like a warning, but it's still a story that can be enjoyed and the different avenues of possible ways to safe/change things provide some really interesting content. It asks a lot of questions about what could happen and how we could fix things, as well provides insight into the different solutions and possibilities that could occur. Definitely a thought-provoking and worthwhile story that I do recommend for anyone interesting in the environment and international relations.

 Overall, it's four stars from me! 

*I received a copy of The Ministry for the Future in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the novel.*

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