There are several plots here, the most intriguing of which follows an investigation into two missing computer scientists, and there are memorable characters as well. Make no mistake, though: The main character is the transformed New York, and Robinson gets it more right than wrong. The novel deftly conveys its unnerving strangeness through interludes and asides…It is refreshing to see a futurism that acknowledges the innate resilience of the city and, by inference, of humanity itself…These streets will still make you feel brand new, Robinson suggests, even in a future when they're soaking wet.
As the sea levels rose, every street became a canal. Every skyscraper an island. For the residents of one apartment building in Madison Square, however, New York in the year 2140 is far from a drowned city.
There is the market trader, who finds opportunities where others find trouble. There is the detective, whose work will never disappear along with the lawyers, of course.
There is the internet star, beloved by millions for her airship adventures, and the building's manager, quietly respected for his attention to detail. Then there are two boys who don't live there, but have no other home and who are more important to its future than anyone might imagine.
Lastly there are the coders, temporary residents on the roof, whose disappearance triggers a sequence of events that threatens the existence of all and even the long-hidden foundations on which the city rests.
Unlike J.G. Ballard’s The Drowned World, which was also set on a mid-22nd-century Earth devastated by global warming but focused on the effects of that cataclysm on the human psyche, Robinson’s latest near-future novel examines the political and economic implications of dramatically higher ocean levels, specifically their effects on New York City. The writing, ironically, is dry; several sections are exposition-heavy. They not only explain why 2140 Lower Manhattan is submerged but contain dense analyses of how investments in real estate could be evaluated via a “kind of specialized Case-Shiller index for intertidal assets.” Such sections illustrate the comprehensive thought Robinson (2312) has given to his imagined future, but they slow down the various interesting narrative threads, which concern a diverse cast of characters, including a reality-TV star who travels above the U.S. aboard an airship; the superintendent of the old MetLife building, which now contains a boathouse; and an NYPD inspector called in to investigate the disappearance of two coders. Readers open to an optimistic projection of how humans could handle an increasingly plausible environmental catastrophe will find the info dumps worth wading through. Agent: Chris Schelling, Selectric Artists. (Mar.)
"New York may be underwater, but it's better than ever."The New Yorker
"Relevant and essential."Bloomberg Businessweek
"Science fiction is threaded everywhere through culture nowadays, and it would take an act of critical myopia to miss the fact that Robinson is one of the world's finest working novelists, in any genre. New York 2140 is a towering novel about a genuinely grave threat to civilisation."Guardian
"Kim Stanley Robinson envisions a future that's closer than we like to think."NPR Books
"An exploration of human resilience in the face of extreme pressure...starkly beautiful and fundamentally optimistic visions of technological and social change in the face of some of the worst devastation we might bring upon ourselves." The Conversation
"As much a critique of contemporary capitalism, social mores and timeless human foibles, this energetic, multi-layered narrative is also a model of visionary worldbuilding."RT Book Reviews (Top Pick!)
"The thriller Robinson unspools in that flooded city is gripping on its own merits. But it's the radical imagination of the book that makes it so hard to put down."Business Insider
"Massively enjoyable"The Washington Post
"Robinson has established himself as the great humanist of speculative fiction."Village Voice
"A thoroughly enjoyable exercise in worldbuilding, written with a cleareyed love for the city's past, present, and future."Kirkus
"The tale is one of adventure, intrigue, relationships, and market forces.... The individual threads weave together into a complex story well worth the read."
"In this both heartening and dismaying vision of a peri-apocalyptic world, human greed (of course) is the villain, to which the only counteragent is the tenacity and resolve of the human spirit."Financial Times
"New York 2140 truly is a document of hope as much as dread."Los Angeles Review of Books
"A rousing tribute to the human spirit."
San Francisco Chronicle on Aurora
"The thrilling creation of plausible future technology and the grandness of imagination...magnificent."Sunday Times on Aurora
"[Robinson is] a rare contemporary writer to earn a reputation on par with earlier masters such as Isaac Asimov or Arthur C. Clarke."
Chicago Tribune on Aurora
"If Interstellar left you wanting more, then this novel might just fill that longing."io9 on Aurora
"Aurora may well be Robinson's best novel...breaks us out of our well-ingrained, supremely well-rehearsed habits of apocalypse - and lets us see the option of a different future than permanent, hopeless standoff."Los Angeles Review of Books on Aurora
"Humanity's first trip to another star is incredibly ambitious, impeccably planned and executed on a grand scale in Aurora."SPACE.com on Aurora
"[A] heart-warming, provocative tale."Scientific American on Aurora
"This ambitious hard SF epic shows Robinson at the top of his game... [A] poignant story, which admirably stretches the limits of human imagination."Publishers Weekly on Aurora
"This is hard SF the way it's meant to be written: technical, scientific, with big ideas and a fully realized society. Robinson is an acknowledged SF master-his Mars trilogy and his stand-alone novel 2312 (2012) were multiple award winners and nominees-and this latest novel is sure to be a big hit with devoted fans of old-school science fiction."Booklist on Aurora
In the 22nd century a series of climate disasters and ocean level risings have left New York City partially underwater. In Manhattan, the old Met Life building is one of the skyscrapers-turned-islands that houses residents determined to stay in the city. Robinson focuses on those residents to tell a story of real estate, finance, climate change, treasure hunting, and kidnapping. Two missing computer programmers bring an unusual mix of the Met residents together, including a financial trader, the building super, a tenants' rights advocate, a police inspector, and two intrepid orphans. Robinson (Aurora; "Mars" trilogy) writes dense sf that often has an ecological bent. His large cast of characters provide appealing windows into his near-future world, but the cityscape itself is the most interesting protagonist, with New York ringed by superskyscrapers housing the rich as well as the lower regions of canals, collapsing buildings, and encroaching tides. The only frustration in this ambitious and impressive work is that the author relies too heavily on information dumps to fill in the details of climate change, explain the financial world, and liberally sprinkle fascinating nuggets of New York history. VERDICT Robinson's many admirers and sf readers who enjoy ecofiction will want this. [See Prepub Alert, 10/6/16.]—MM
The Big Apple persists, despite climactic disasters that have flooded the lower floors of New York City's buildings and turned the metropolis into a so-called "SuperVenice."Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City meets George Turner's Drowning Towers in this series of interconnected narratives concerning the residents of the Met Life tower, a historic skyscraper converted into a co-op. The head of the co-op board and the building's super fend off an offer to purchase the building from a shadowy corporation so determined to buy that they're willing to sabotage the building's infrastructure. Two coders living in an inflatable structure on the building's farm floor are held prisoner in an underwater container after one of them hacks the financial system. A tough cop investigates the coders' disappearance and links it to a wide-ranging conspiracy. An ambitious trader tries altruism and civic improvement to impress a woman. A pair of "water rats" (homeless boys with a boat) search for sunken gold in the Bronx. And a media star famous for her "assisted migrations" tries to transport polar bears in her dirigible from the warming Arctic to cooler Antarctica. This offers parallels to Robinson's previous novel, Aurora, which also featured an ecosystem in distress (in that case, a generational spaceship). Of course, this being Robinson, there are plenty of infodumps, mostly on climate, finance, and history, with some trenchant commentary on both gentrification and the perils inherent in ignoring human damage to the environment. But he also lightens the mood with a heavy dose of witty epigrams, including two delightfully relevant quotes from the children's classic The Pushcart War. And exploring this vastly changed cityscape, where familiar streets are replaced by skybridges and subways by vaporettos, is great fun. A post-disaster fairy tale that's light on plot and heavy on improbable coincidences but a thoroughly enjoyable exercise in worldbuilding, written with a cleareyed love for the city's past, present, and future.
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