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Forty Signs of Rain [Paperback]

Kim Stanley Robinson
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
Price: 10.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

7 Feb 2005

It's hot in Washington. No sign of rain. The world's climates are changing, catastrophe beckons, but no one in power is noticing. Yet. Tom Wolfe meets Michael Crichton in this highly topical, witty and entertaining science thriller.

When the Arctic ice pack was first measured in the 1950s, it averaged thirty feet thick in midwinter. By the end of the century it was down to fifteen. One August the ice broke. The next year the break-up started in July. The third year, it began in May.

That was last year.

It's an increasingly steamy summer in America's capital as environmental policy advisor Charlie Quibler cares for his young son, and deals with the frustrating politics of global warming. According to the President and his science advisor Dr S, the weather isn’t important! But Charlie must find a way to get a sceptical administration to act before it's too late – and his progeny find themselves living in Swamp World.

Just arrived in Washington to lobby the Senate for aid is an embassy from Khembalung, a sinking island nation in the Bay of Bengal. Charlie's wife Anna, director of bioinformatics at the National Science Foundation and well known for her hyperrational intensity, is entranced by the Khembalis. By contrast, her colleague, Frank Vanderwal, is equally cynical about the Buddhists and the NSF.

The profound effect the Khembali ambassador has on both Charlie and Frank could never have been predicted – unlike the abrupt, catastrophic climate change which is about to transform everything.

Forty Signs of Rain is an unforgettable tale of survival which captures a world where even the innocent pattern of rainfall resounds with the destiny of the biosphere.

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Forty Signs of Rain + Field Notes from a Catastrophe: A Frontline Report on Climate Change + Oryx And Crake
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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; New Ed edition (7 Feb 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007148887
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007148882
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 17.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 122,661 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kim Stanley Robinson has won the Hugo, Nebula and Locus awards. He is the author of over twenty previous books, including the bestselling Mars trilogy and the highly acclaimed FORTY SIGNS OF RAIN. He lives in Davis, California.

Product Description


‘The Brave New World of global warming … A narrative that is rich in closely observed characters and a wonderfully vivid sense of place … depicts a society sleep-walking towards the abyss … His great achievement here is to bring the practice of science alive and to place this in an all-too familiar world of greedy capitalists and unprincipled politicians. Robinson's critique of science is heartfelt … humans have gone from being the smartest animal on the savannah to being "experts at denial".’ P.D. Smith Guardian

‘A funny, convincing, intelligent book’ Kim Newman, Independent

'Kim Stanley Robinson is freed by his medium – fiction – to deliver [a] message with passion and restraint … A great book' New Scientist

Praise for the Mars Trilogy:

'The excitement of the science is thrillingly rendered … a very impressive work of the imagination … The Mars trilogy is one of the landmarks of sf in the 1990s. The time may well come when it is regarded as one of the landmarks of American literature' TLS

From the Back Cover

The world's climates are changing: catastrophe beckons.

It's hot in Washington. No sign of rain. While he cares for a boisterous toddler, Charlie Quibler works from home as environmental policy advisor to Senator Phil Chase, the author of a climate bill currently being debated. It’s a tough sell. According to the President and his science advisor Dr S, the weather isn’t important!

In her air-conditioned office at the National Science Foundation, Anna Quibler also has other things on her mind, such as the imminent departure of Frank Vanderwal, her best programme officer. What she doesn’t know is that Frank is scheming to hold back one very special grant application for his own private gain. Mostly she feels sorry for Frank. His private life consists of trying to crack the code of human behaviour.

Then Anna befriends the staff at a new embassy for the tiny island state of Khembalung, just arrived in Washington to lobby the Senate for help with their rising sea-level. The weather is very important to them. The Khembalung ambassador has a profound effect on both Charlie and Frank, which could not have been predicted. Unlike abrupt, catastrophic climate change, which could have been ...

And now there are signs of rain.

Tom Wolfe meets Michael Crichton in this highly topical, taut, witty and swift-paced science thriller.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars West Wing meets The Day After Tomorrow? 25 May 2004
By Russell
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
When you buy Robinson you expect beautiful description, genuine motivation and left wing ideology. Forty Signs of Rain does not disappoint - a story of big science and big politics in the face of ecological disaster; spiced up with cleverly observed moments of individual lives: dinner parties, childcare, meetings, coffee breaks. Robinson can really create those "yes, that's what it's like!" moments and then move on to surrealistic images of tigers roaming the backgardens of Washington.

Robinson continues to mature as a writer - he is more free with his brand of gentle humour, more relaxed and realistic with the romantic scenes. Above all, he disciplines his descriptions of nature and landscape - focusing on the telling detail rather than the pages and pages of description which occaisionally marred the Mars trilogy.

It's not packed with action. There are no laser guns, spaceships or aliens. It is thoughtful, intellectual, witty, moving, vivid, defiantly high brow and engagingly 'new age'.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Seems like the first third of a larger volume. 13 May 2005
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have read most of Kim Stanley Robinson's books since coming upon the Orange County books and enjoyed them greatly. I'm sorry to say that this was a disappointment. The quality of writing remains excellent, but as the characters and plot develop, you realise that you are 200 odd pages into the book, with ~100 remaining, and little has happened. I presume that this is the first in a series of books and the story will develop in "50 Degrees Below" out later this year. However, this would be like publishing the masterpiece "Red Mars" in thirds rather than one volume. Has this been a Publisher's decision rather than author?
A good first book in a series but standing alone is a little disappointing.
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3.0 out of 5 stars OK 23 Jun 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
While not as gripping as his 'Mars, trilogy I enjoyed this book and will read the two sequels. Worth a go.
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4.0 out of 5 stars It's wet 19 Sep 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
We, in England are struggling with floods but will we find solutions? It is an interesting storyline, a " what if" plot. But so real.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very good read 19 April 2012
By jpnldn
Speaking of the trilogy, not as good as some of his other work but a rewardable read nonetheless. Maintains his bang-on socio-economic analysis throughout and provides a bit of hope in today's dire state of cimactic affairs.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Disapointing 27 Sep 2010
Like all of his books, the science and the policy background for 'Forty Signs of Rain' are well researched and engaging. However this book and the remainder of the trilogy are let down by a cast of major characters who are at best annoying and are at times just unappealing. A disappointment.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars I hoped they'd drown
I liked his Mars tilogy I didn't like this. I won't be reading the next two in the trilogy. Maybe if you live in Washington DC this book speaks to you in some way. Read more
Published on 2 Aug 2010 by Mr. N. J. Keighley
1.0 out of 5 stars Simply boring
After painstakingly looking through my local library for a science fiction/fantasy/thriller to read on mundane journeys to and from work, I came across this book. Read more
Published on 21 Jan 2010 by patrick
4.0 out of 5 stars An ambitious work and a convincing vision of climate change
"Forty Signs of Rain" is the first novel in Kim Stanley Robinson's 'Science in the Capital' trilogy, exploring the potential impact of global warming as well as science's role in... Read more
Published on 22 April 2008 by The Wanderer
1.0 out of 5 stars Slow Slow Slow
I'm quite ticked off with this book. I've read the Mars trilogy and one of the reviews lead me to believe that this book would not be so heavy on description. Read more
Published on 10 Mar 2008 by A. Hallett
4.0 out of 5 stars important storytelling
i enjoyed this book. ksr's trademark descriptions of nature and the landscape serve to root this novel into our greater world. in fact that is something very special about him. Read more
Published on 31 Aug 2007 by S. Egan
2.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing after the 'Mars' trilogy
No, this is not as billed - most of the story is lost in the minutia of venture capital funding and the mechanics of scientific research. Read more
Published on 1 Jun 2004
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