Tuesday, November 19, 2013


I just finished reading 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson.
I really enjoyed reading The Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson, but I'm afraid that I didn't really enjoy this novel much at all really.
First of all, the things I liked. There were some glorious descriptions of the solar system, natural events, processes, objects and history of formation and so on. This was clearly well researched, and obviously something that Robinson is interested in and knows a lot about. I enjoyed all the arguments and results of the various terraforming techniques across the planets, particularly Venus. There was a beautiful section where the characters are actually surfing a ring of ice crystals around Saturn. That was awesome.
Other than that, not a lot actually happens. I would characterize it as a little bit of intrigue as some of the independent AIs become more involved, self aware and self motivated, but not provably so. Pfft. I suppose it was all relatively realistic and believable, but really, not very exciting. It was 25% through before the city on Mercury was nearly bombed (derailed), and I was thinking "finally!" but then the next 10% was a description of two of the characters walking down a tunnel dealing with radiation poisoning. And then the pace slows down.
There are 14 small chapters called Lists(N) which iterate over a bunch of related concepts or words related to the chapter. Really? You want me to read these? For what?
There are 18 chapters called Extracts(N) which contain a series of completely disconnected paragraphs taken from either news or books of the period, each of which related to the topic, trying to further the readers understanding with a bit of flavour and detail. I found these very jarring to read, and had to force myself to make a sound like an old TV channel change between each paragraph so that I wouldn't be tricked into trying to connect them. It would have been better to find a way to write some of the more interesting ones of these into the story somehow.
There were 3 chapters called Quantum Walk(N), which were essentially stream of consciousness style, but from a primitive AI intelligence. Annoying, but at least they gave you an insight into the level of intelligence involved.
Overall, really, I was just waiting for it to be over.

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