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Sixty Days to Nowhere,
This review is from: Sixty Days and Counting (Paperback)
Robinson's books have always had strong ecological themes, and this, the final volume of his look at the global warming crisis, is no exception. Unlike so many other books that try and delve in this area, Robinson provides not only a look at what we might expect to happen to our world if our current production and consumption habits don't change, but what we can reasonably do about it.
This is, in fact, the strong point of this work, as Robinson envisions both a group of dedicated scientists who actively try to handle a myriad of different types of technological fixes and a newly elected President who gives far more than lip service to their plans. Many of the things Robinson describes here are both good science and show a good grasp of what is possible in the world of politics when the voting population can actually see and feel the detrimental effects (most of this was detailed in the prior two books). The economic costs of massive programs of this nature (such as pumping huge quantities of seawater into basins and back to the top of the eastern Antarctic) are not ignored, either, though I did feel that expecting a massive shift of dollars from military defense to ecological programs was expecting a little too much.
Unfortunately, the novel that above is wrapped in isn't much of a novel. We are presented with the continuing story of Frank in search of his briefly met mysterious love while still trying to live a feral life inside the city confines, and Charlie and his concerns about his youngest son. The whole incident of the potential election-rigging that formed a prime part of the last book is still here, but muted and almost buried under a somewhat far-fetched attempt to find and root out the super-black intelligence agency responsible for the plan. Now there may be little doubt that there may be intelligence-gathering agencies that have too much unsupervised power, and that current laws do not do enough to safeguard individual's liberties and rights, but Robinson's depiction crosses the line into James Bondian fantasy. Robinson also lets his own political biases show far too much, at one point making an unqualified statement that the people in the current administration are criminals.
The trouble with all of this is there is very little action, and almost no suspense. Frank and Charlie's stories just don't have much emotional grabbing power, so that in the end I felt I was reading more of a treatise (even if a good, well reasoned, and scientifically sound one) than a novel. The other plot threads that were started in the first two books are given conclusions, but almost in a back-handed manner, and with far too much of `everything ends well'. What would have helped this book considerably would have been a look at the world and the political maneuvering from the eyes of Phil Chase, the new President, but we are only given short glimpses of this. By the end of the book, everything just kind of sputters out, leaving me quite disappointed. I expect much better from this author.
--- Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)