Reviews

The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson

linwin's review against another edition

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2.0

Mixed feelings about this book. Some parts of it were great, while others felt unnecessary and tedious.

Personally, I would have skipped pretty much everything about the ministry and the character of Mary, even though I realise that is the title of the book and the main protagonist of the story.

The chapters describing the changes taking place in different areas of the world and the "testimonials" from the perspective of different characters affected personally by it all were wonderful and captivating. I wish the whole book was made out of only these. Maybe expanding on the experiences of several of the characters instead of Mary and Frank (although Frank was interesting until he only became a plot device for Mary) would have made in a better read for me.

I also found it hard to make myself believe in the fact that all of these changes could be connected so directly to the ministry and that they where such a driving force behind them (like basically inventing the new internet!) while still feeling quite incompetent for those tasks (Mary didn't even know who the defence minister/presidents of the country where she's lived for 14 years were. I mean what?).

It's a really interesting thought piece on environmental challenges and possible ways to solve them and in a way reminded me alot of some of the non fiction books from my poli-sci classes at uni. It's definitely full of interesting ideas that I would love to sit at a seminar to discuss, but I'm not sure it worked as fiction in this particular way.

abarnhart's review against another edition

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challenging dark emotional hopeful informative inspiring reflective slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

6_am_hotdog's review against another edition

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challenging hopeful informative medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

3.0

Maximilian Robespierre once said in defense of the Terror, "Citizens, do you want a revolution without a revolution?" There's an inherent understanding amoung all revolutionaries that drastic change requires drastic action - actions that are not always pretty. Any form of drastic change has a sharp backlash that implementing it always comes with an understood heavy hand to supress that backlash. 

Robinson answers Robespierre's question with an emphatic "yes." The wholesale changes and obvious changes he predicts the world will need to stace off a climate crisis are met with resistance, but instead of this resistance being a significant conflict that needs to be overcome, he posits that the overwhelming threat of the world will inevitably force bad actors to change. He acknowledges that there will be acts of violence but these acts are all brushed aside with "and everyone gets on board." Most idealistic of all is his position that central banks would willingly restructure their activities away from capitalist free market policies to interventionist socialistic control without any external influence from the political wings of their governments. 

I fully enjoyed and appreciated Robinson's commitment to a grounded expectation of the impacts of climate change on the lives of people - the mass deaths, the massive refugee crisis, the compounding disasters. But the political development described is fantastical and devoid of any form of power politics. It is an idealistic hope for the international order and international liberalism to solve a looming problem that liberalism has repeatedly proven incapable of solving. In that regard, it is completely unsurprising that Obama would be a supporter of this book. It agrees that the climate crisis cannot be solved within the realms of capitalism, but is too afraid to acknowledge the brutal steps that would be required to end it. 

dolaya's review against another edition

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challenging dark slow-paced

3.5

superdaintycate's review against another edition

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challenging emotional inspiring medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.0

I love this book, and it's structure is really challenging. I wish it was closer to other Kim Stanley Robinson style because I want this book to be accessible to everyone so I could use it to radicalize every person I know toward environmentalism. Kim's vision of how this might go down haunts me daily now.

maddie46's review against another edition

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challenging dark inspiring reflective tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

3.75

schnapsidee's review against another edition

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dark hopeful informative inspiring slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

3.75

If you don't have climate anxiety yet, the first part of this book will give it to you.

It's a tough read, but it needs to be to make clear what what's at stake. This is fiction but it is not unrealistic and the author is doing important work by making the consequences of inaction both clear and personal. 

The next part are spoilers for the ending without being too detailed. I don't think they will lessen your enjoyment of the story, but skip them, if you want to go on blind. 

Instead of just filling his readers with dread, Robinson takes the second half of the book to show us how to do better. He shows us a possible way into a solarpunky, post capitalist utopia without being naive about it or making it seem easy. The way to this possible utopia is filled with murder and revenge on the people that have most of the blame for the climate crisis but also with smart policy decisions, beautiful interactions between people and hopeful messaging. 

Ultimately the author builds a beautiful utopia where we don't just save humanity and the biosphere, but also a world where community and individuals are more important than profit. A post capitalist world without a phobia of technology and economic growth.


I removed a couple of stars because a lot of the character interactions feels somewhat forced and just not that deep. I think it might have been a better book as an anthology of short stories instead of trying to shoe horn in a continuous character development subplot. 



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acoldbreeze's review against another edition

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Library hold expired

birte's review against another edition

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challenging hopeful informative reflective slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

pddkny's review against another edition

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challenging dark hopeful slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

3.75