I don’t know of any other author currently writing science fiction on environmental themes and yet our environment (cause and effect of global warming) is such a current hot topic.
It is the year 2025. A new worldwide agency, called The Ministry for the Future, has been created to look after world issues and ensure that there is a future for humanity. About this same time there is a massive heat wave in India and millions die (with decomposing bodies further polluting land or what little water had been available). It appears that the Ministry for the Future is an organization in name only but with little power of ability to actually make a difference for the future.
The head of the Ministry, Mary Murphy, spends most of her time trying to convince corporations of their responsibility to the earth, but it’s a slow process. When Mary is kidnapped by a survivor of the Indian heat wave, and taunted and blamed for lack of efficiency, Mary plots to start a black ops style splinter group that can unofficially take more direct action instead of business meetings and phone calls. She soon discovers that such a group already exists. Now, if she can just find a way to work with them….
This book is written from the perspective of multiple ‘eye-witness’ accounts which could be just a little bit jarring for those of us who are used to a more traditional narrative form, but Robinson hooks us right at the start with the gripping accounts of the heat wave.
Some of the ideas presented to restore the planet’s health seem ambitious and even preposterous. Many times I realized I was smiling as I read, assuming that this was Robinson’s personal belief and because the plans are pretty extreme, the best way for him to present the ideas is through a fictional narrative.
As with many Kim Stanley Robinson novels, there is a pretty large cast of characters but the story here mostly follows Mary Murphy. The book is titled, after all, for the organization which she works for. It also follows Frank May, the heat wave survivor. Remember these two characters and you’re in good shape.
I greatly appreciate (in fact I look for) environmentally based science fiction and no one does it better than Robinson. He’s prescient … which makes this book a bit frightening. The reality … the science … is that global warming is a fact and the future will likely look very much like Robinson presents it here. And as Robinson points out, there are still some options on how to correct it.
“…the only catastrophe that can’t be undone is extinction”
Looking for a good book? Read Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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The Ministry for the Future
author: Kim Stanley Robinson
publisher: Orbit Books
hardcover, 576 pages