Monday, 3 June 2019

Forty Signs of Rain by Kim Stanley Robinson - Book Report #267

It was fortunate that I listened to the audiobooks of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy.  It allowed me to understand his voice.  KSR takes his time to develop characters pretty much to the exclusion of a plot.  But you have to wade through it before he allows you to experience the actual reason you’re reading the book.

This was the case with Forty Signs of Rain.  I had to wade through a lot of diaper changes and descriptions of how the National Science Foundation funds research.

Thankfully, the author sprinkled some climate change information between chapters.

In the end, and I mean the very end, the environmental troubles begin to happen and this is where Mr. Robinson shines.  Wading through all the exposition brings the enormity of the problem to light.  As a species, we’ve never had to deal with our impact on the world but we are now at the end of this time of innocence.

Fiction can and must play a role in helping us imagine a new future.  This is where KSR’s towering intellect gives us a well thought out, realistic scenario to contemplate.  He takes his role as a person who can imagine possible human futures seriously.  If you read any of the non-fiction out there on the subject you can come away from it more confused than ever and probably feeling helpless too.

Fiction plays a most important role in that it can make sense of the complex and illustrate the situation along with showing us possible paths through challenging times.  For my part, I try to look at things in terms of “what’s next?”  The non-fiction world is usually pretty thin on solutions or alternatives because it steps into the world of speculation and those authors are uncomfortable with that kind of creative thinking.

This is why it is so very important to read both fiction and non-fiction.  Any time a book can make you stop an think then it made an impact and it was good that you read it.

Highly recommended.  Looking forward to reading book two in the trilogy.

Kim Stanley Robinson

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