A review by kinddog2073
The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson

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


I really enjoyed this book. I was extremely sceptical once the crypto stuff comes in, but I looked it up when it started to get heavily explained around the middle of the book, and KSR has talked openly about seriously regretting every including it, and believes that crypto is a scam: https://twitter.com/brittwray/status/1533248759622078465

I've tried other KSR books in the past, New York 2140 when it came out, and the first of the Mars series. I ran out of time from the library on NY2140, and didn't feel like renewing it, and the Mars series I tried reading on ebook and it never captured me there. I am very glad I picked this up from the library, completely on a whim while browsing the stacks. I needed a straight forward, spec-fic/sci-fi book, and probably specifically an optimistic one. If the cover of the book didn't have a review saying it was an optimistic outlook on humanity's ability to deal with climate crisis, I wouldn't have bothered, as I'm not too invested in disaster fiction, especially not one that might tempt me to despair from real life.

However, this book is optimistic. And it is also optimistic without necessarily being 100% utopian. It's a utopian vision KSR lays out, there is no doubt about that, but the critical thing that stands out here, and what makes it possible for me to easily recommend it to a lot of people who enjoy this kind of thing otherwise, is that KSR's vision of the future continues to include the other massive problems of our society. He doesn't lump every single massive issue in our global socio-economic culture into being solved by making big changes to alleviate climate crisis. His vision does not even include an alleviation of all negative aspects of climate change. It is also, I think, reasonably sceptical about geoengineering, while still having some interesting "hope" that some of these could ameliorate our condition, without ever making the mistake that those kinds of solutions will save us. There is no saving us in this book. It's all about politics, and the decisions that we make. "No such thing as fate" kind of thing.