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Forty Signs of Rain (Robinson, Kim Stanley) Hardcover – 1 May 2004

3.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra Books (May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553803115
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553803112
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 2.9 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,718,245 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

'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

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

From the Inside Flap

The bestselling author of the classic Mars trilogy and The Years of Rice and Salt returns with a riveting new trilogy of cutting-edge science, international politics, and the real-life ramifications of global warming as they are played out in our nation's capital--and in the daily lives of those at the center of the action. Hauntingly realistic, here is a novel of the near future that is inspired by scientific facts already making headlines.
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 breakup started in July. The third year it began in May. That was last year.
It's an increasingly steamy summer in the nation's capital as Senate environmental staffer Charlie Quibler cares for his young son and deals with the frustrating politics of global warming. Charlie must find a way to get a skeptical administration to act before it's too late--and his progeny find themselves living in Swamp World. But the political climate poses almost as great a challenge as the environmental crisis when it comes to putting the public good ahead of private gain.
While Charlie struggles to play politics, his wife, Anna, takes a more rational approach to the looming crisis in her work at the National Science Foundation. There a proposal has come in for a revolutionary process that could solve the problem of global warming--if it can be recognized in time. But when a race to control the budding technology begins, the stakes only get higher. As these everyday heroes fight to align the awesome forces of nature with the extraordinary march of modern science, they are unaware that fate is about to put an unusual twist on their work--one that will place them at the heart of an unavoidable storm.
With style, wit, and rare insight into our past, present, and possible future, this captivating novel propels us into a world on the verge of unprecedented change--in a time quite like our own. Here is Kim Stanley Robinson at his visionary best, offering a gripping cautionary tale of progress--and its price--as only he can tell it.

"From the Hardcover edition. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Paperback
"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 twenty-first century politics. One summer in the near future, an embassy of Buddhists arrives in Washington DC, seeking representation from the National Science Foundation. They are lobbying for assistance from the US government; their nation, an island in the Bay of Bengal, is slowly succumbing to rising sea levels as a result of global warming. However, as Charlie Quibler - advisor to pro-environment Senator Phil Chase - knows well, tackling global warming is low on the government's agenda. But evidence of the impending catastrophe is rapidly mounting: very soon either policy must change, or else the climate will.

The book eschews a conventional plot, instead following the lives of several characters over the course of one summer, all of whom have an interest in the issue of climate change. In some ways it has the feel of a political thriller, as the main characters struggle against the restrictive bureaucracies of the NSF and the US administration, and it is clear that Robinson has researched this aspect of his subject well. Likewise his treatment of the various weather events - impacting as they do on American soil and Western lifestyles - is believable throughout, and the novel's climax is unsettling even as it is compelling.

Unfortunately the novel is let down in places by its pacing, which can feel almost glacial at times. While it begins strongly, it is not until the last 150 pages of the book that Robinson really begins to address the question of what global warming really means for us all.
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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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Format: Paperback
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. very few science-fiction authors have faced up to the fact that our science paradigms of progress are currently unsustainable. by giving us fictions of highly technologised futures without addressing how those technologies have been shaped by our current environmental situation we are really being provided with stories that may prove dangerous to our species.

this book squarely takes that on and faces the questions that no one seems to want to admit exist. robinson also provides some of his own ideas about how science itself can take responsibility for the paradigm shift needed to face where we find capitalism has taken us. admittedly some of this can sound a little preachy and there are a few pages which sound like a manifesto but really, it's exhilirating that someone is even thinking of this and has the guts to attempt to share their thoughts on it.

another aspect of the novel is that it doesn't get lost in epic disaster scenes. the effects of the weather changes are very realistic and the focus remains on the individuals within them. this helps prevent the reader falling into "oh disaster flick" mode. the day after tomorrow is a good film but the main emotional involvement falls into standard american adventure movie narratives. in this book we are kept in a world that could be very familiar to us and this helps keep the underlying implications real. this is really helped by a bunch of characters i found i really liked. the portrayal of "momdad" charlie is particularly resonant.
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