- 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 2.2 x 17.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 436,623 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Forty Signs of Rain Paperback – 7 Feb 2005
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‘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
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 and 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. See all Product description
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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'.
A good first book in a series but standing alone is a little disappointing.
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. In addition, a great deal of space is afforded to the fortunes of one Leo Mulhouse, a scientist working at a biotech startup in California - although the technical details of his work are impenetrable to the average reader, and his role in the longer term seems to be largely inconsequential.
"Forty Signs of Rain" is an ambitious work, dealing with what is arguably the biggest issue of modern times but on a largely human rather than a technical-scientific level. More measured and less sensational than, for example, "The Day After Tomorrow", this is a convincing depiction of how climate change could manifest itself, as well as of how it will surely affect our lives. To write a work of fiction on such a topic - the very scale of which lies almost beyond human comprehension - is no mean task, but Robinson has met the challenge well and set firm foundations for this series. I thoroughly look forward to reading the second book in the trilogy, "Fifty Degrees Below".
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