2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
It's literary SF ...,
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This review is from: 2312 (Hardcover)Kim Stanley Robinson excels at literary SF, but it's a sub-genre that people seem to either love or hate - hence the U-shaped distribution of stars awarded by previous Amazon reviewers.
For Robinson, this is a return to the big, roomy, contemplative style of his Mars trilogy. No-one is better at dropping characters into the middle of huge, striking landscapes, and he has plenty of scope for that here, during a tour of the Solar System three centuries from now: on Mercury, Venus, Titan and Mars, among other locations. He also deploys his usual minute observation of the detail of everyday life: the little noises, flickering expressions and awkward pauses that punctuate human interaction. And he expects the reader to do a little work: he spreads external references throughout the text, and if you have to go searching for explanations for coined terms like "goldsworthy" "abramovic" and "ballardian", then that just broadens the experience. Stirred into the mix this time are extended contemplations of gender and consciousness, and of how we seem just to get on with the business of living despite the ever-present knowledge of death.
I'm at a loss to understand how some reviewers feel that there is no character development in this novel. The subtle building of the relationship between the two main characters (one maddeningly mercurial, the other infuriatingly saturnine) is the central driver of the story. If you contrive to miss that fundamental feature, then it's perhaps unsurprising if you also think (as some reviewers seem to) that the plot is rather sparse.
There are occasional infelicities. Coriolis force doesn't work quite the way Robinson describes; there are some odd spelling mistakes; and the "forced rewilding" of Earth in one episode is simply too implausible to sit easily in the narrative, although it does provide us with one of the most striking images in science fiction (ever), beautifully handled by Robinson.
Five stars, then, because the journey is so enjoyable that you scarcely notice the odd little bump in the road.
(Robinson has said that he "plagiarizes himself", and he does so doubly here. The terraformed Mars of this novel is not the terraformed Mars of his trilogy and short story collection, despite resemblance; the Terminator city of this novel is not the Terminator city of his short story "Mercurial", despite resemblance. So this novel seems to be a stand-alone offering. But there is scope, indeed there are hooks available, for a sequel. I, for one, would love to read such a thing.)