Ministry for the Future

576 pages

English language

Published Dec. 13, 2020 by Orbit.

ISBN:
978-0-316-30013-1
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4 stars (26 reviews)

Established 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 …

6 editions

just because bill gates and obama like it that doesn't mean its bad, i fucking promise

4 stars

This book is brave (derogatory) in that it is relentlessly unashamed to date itself. Then again, how else do you write about the ongoing end of the world as we know it? look up some CWs about the opening, it's not for the faint of heart, maybe the most harrowing section of literature I have ever read?

Gets a lot right, but with some painful blind spots

3 stars

Content warning Spoilers for the whole book; references to disturbing content

Strong ideas, weak execution

3 stars

There are a lot of ideas in this novel that do bear thinking about but the narrative, heavily reliant on a series of vignettes from the future, feels disjointed to the point that it keeps stumbling over itself. I do like the eventual optimism of the novel, but did find it a bit too reliant on hand-waving and buzzwords for me to really buy into it.

As a novel, The Ministry for the Future felt a lot like an exercise in wasted potential.

A view of a future that could happen

5 stars

This isn’t a dystopian story, nor is it a utopian story. It is a reality-based guess of what could happen. In this possible reality, the world struggles to put a cost on the effect that climate damage will have on new generations. The world’s governments are forced to deal with citizen uprisings to address those costs. With a combination of capitalism (including…ugh…a blockchain currency) and climate activism, the levels of carbon in the atmosphere crest and decrease. But that is just the start of untangling the human population’s Gordian knot; it is not (yet?) the utopian future.

This was a 10%-per-day book for me: each day I’d read 10% plus the remainder of the chapter. The book is written in a dense style with a constantly shifting viewpoint, and it takes a while to digest the author’s meaning.

Important but not fully successful artistically

4 stars

Terrifyingly, largely nonfiction. After a very strong, almost shocking opening, it lacks a strong story arc that pulls you through the book, the kaleidoscopic storytelling feeling a bit artificial. But full of interesting, sometimes essential ideas and insights about climate breakdown, the wider socio-economic system and possible solutions. After only two years already somewhat dated, which makes it even more terrifying.

Un livre plutôt optimiste mais assez réaliste

4 stars

J’ai bien aimé.

Le changement climatique devient une évidence… alors qu’est-ce que le monde peut faire ?

Cela m’a semblé plutôt réaliste, avec la prise en compte qu’il ne faut pas que de la technologie mais des changements sociaux profonds pour s’en sortir.

Un livre peut-être trop optimiste, mais parfois cela fait du bien.

C’est une sorte de guide sur ce que nous pourrions faire pour nous en sortir.

Cet épisode longnow.org/seminars/02022/mar/02/climate-futures-beyond-02022/ du podcast "Long Now: Seminars About Long-term Thinking" avec Kim Stanley Robinson parle du livre.

Review of 'Ministry for the Future' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

Ambitious and well-informed, but politically and emotionally implausible in key respects. That, of course would hardly be a criticism in much speculative sci-fi (hell, it defines the genre!) but good world-building invites us to embrace certain implausible (or outright ridiculous) foundations, by drawing us into a compelling story or novel vision, hopefully both. Here, alas, the vision far exceeds the power of the underlying stories to draw the reader in, and so the limits of character development and political-institutional simplicities become increasingly grating. Still, things could be (marginally) worse: he could have written Neal Stephenson's Termination Shock instead! :/

Review of 'Ministry for the Future' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

I became enthusiastic fan of #KimStanleyRobinson's (#KSR) work after reading the #RedMars Trilogy. The way he weaves ideologies and predictions into his space operas is delightful. KSR's tropes of nonsexual nudity in hot tubs and saunas, raucous parties with bands, and zeppelins bring me joy every time he repeats them.

#TheMinistryfortheFuture is a space opera in our earth ship. KSR's ideas in this sprawling text are an interesting companion to @Doctorow's #Walkaway: #Collapse, the power of finance, collective power, the regressive force of greed, the trauma of climate change, and the inevitability of violence in social change.

The various interconnecting plotlines of The Ministry of the Future have given me another way to think about collapse and avoid the doom inherent in understanding the road ahead.

KSR trying to answer "how to write about/actually respond to climate change"

4 stars

So his answers for both, basically: maximalism. The point he's sort of making is that making the planet safely inhabitable is going to take every tactic and every ideology not necessarily working together but working on some piece of the thing. No one actor gets to be the hero (though I do enjoy that KSR's favorite kind of protagonist remains the middle-aged competent lady technocrat–guy's got a type) and while he's sort of indicating that capitalism as we know it has to die, he's not saying that happens through inevitable worker uprising. Some of it's coercion of central banks and some of it's straight-up guerrilla terrorism. Geoengineering happens at varying scales for better and for worse. Massive economic collapses occur. Millions die. And the point I think from KSR is that's the outcome in his most optimistic take. In general with KSR I don't know if I ever fully agree, …

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