Tuesday, July 17, 2018

New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson

A story of a reasonably near future after the sea level has risen. The lower part of New York is covered by sea water, but the more sturdy buildings are still in use. The more poorly constructed structures have mostly been destroyed or are at least in danger of falling down. In spite of all this, the city lives a pretty normal life as a sort of modern-day Venice. There are new technologies: sprayable diamond coatings so on, which help to waterproof buildings and even underwater parts are now been taken into use with these. Life as such largely goes on and the severe financial crises the rise of the water level brought have largely passed. Day trading goes on, the financial institutions work as usual and are greedy as usual, people live their lives, meet at nightclubs, date, fall in love and so on.

The book follows the lives of several people, who at first don’t seem to have anything to do with each other. Slowly there are connections as they meet and even befriend each other. The book starts when two computer nerds decide to do something, as they believe the financial system is unfair and creates too much money basically from nowhere, with great risks, which eventually will fall on the public - as they have always fallen in the previous financial crises. About as soon as they try to do something they disappear. Among the other main protagonists are a day trader, a police chief, and a videoblogger/TV-persona (pretty much the same thing at this time). Eventually, things lead to an attempted, more or less socialistic, peaceful revolution.

A pretty good book with a nice environmental plot. As could be imagined, the book was sometimes slightly preaching. Also, the cardinal fault the author has had in some of his other books was evident here, also. There were too many descriptions even about some fairly trivial points. For example several pages of description of how futures and financial derivatives and day trading involving the value of partially submerged coast areas really glazed my eyes. Also, the author apparently doesn’t know much about diving and needs stops to equalize pressure changes. The plot was enjoyable and satisfying (not very believable though – like those choices would ever be accepted in the US). The characters all were well drawn and interesting. A surprisingly socialistic book to come from the USA.

As a whole book had many more positives than negatives and most likely it is one of my top choices in the Hugo voting.

624 pp.

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