414 internautes sur 459 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
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Two separate reviews in one, here: one for people that have read Kim Stanley Robinson (KSR) before, and one for those who have not.
Review 1: For those that have read and enjoyed KSR in the past (e.g. veterans of the massive Red Mars, Blue Mars, Green Mars trilogy), the message is simple. Get your hands on this book, kick back, and enjoy. KSR is at his terraforming best here; the Solar System a fabulous playground for the relentless expansion of Earth's most potent primate species. If you liked what KSR did with Mars, you'll find what he does with the rest of the Solar System breathtaking. And, you'll get, almost as an afterthought, a plot involving the elements of murder mystery, romance, political intrigue, and thriller all in one. 2312, in several senses, outdoes the Mars Trilogy, and builds on it. There is not a trace of succinctness in the entire book. But, fan, you already knew that about KSR.
Review 2: Never read KSR? KSR is a must read, if you think of yourself as a sci-fi buff. Not doing so would be like claiming to be a fan of English literature, but not having read Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (or if length is a criteria, George Eliot's Mill on the Floss). And if you're going to read KSR, 2312 is a wonderful place to start.
KSR writes hard sci-fi. Virtually nothing included in this deeply imaginative exploration of what mankind's expansion throughout our solar system might look like by 2312, is without scientific foundation. KSR is a modern day polymath, with a knowledge base that is spectacularly broad, and not lacking in depth. What you'll be treated to in 2312 is page after page (after page, after page, after page) of KSR's informed and spectacularly innovative vision of where the marriage of technology and the human genome is headed. And if such speculation fascinates you, stop right here and order the book: if anyone does it better than KSR, I haven't yet encountered them.
Plot? Ah. You're one of those: you want a STORY along with the spectacularly high-tech scaffolding. Hmm. Well, there IS a story here. And a good one. One that could have been related in about one third of the 576 pages in this book. There is a romance, and a mystery, and an AI thriller that triggers recall of Asimov's I Robot. KSR is an excellent writer, and his opening scene of going for a walk on Mercury as the terrifying, searing light of the oh-so-close Sun creeps over the horizon is flat out astounding. But plot is not his predominant strength, providing in this book just enough cohesion to graft KSR's stunningly visionary prognostications together. I liked the plot. Enjoyed it thoroughly. But if plot is your most-prized quality for choosing a sci-fi novel, on the stellar scale, think white dwarf rather than supernova here: it sheds light, but won't vaporize you with its intensity.
Overall? KSR fan: do it. You won't regret it. KSR on steroids. New KSR reader: great place to start, and if you're a sci-fi reader, you most definitely owe yourself a KSR novel at least once in life.
199 internautes sur 219 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
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"Worldbuilding" has been a popular buzz word in the modern era of science fiction, and Kim Stanley Robinson has always scored points for his detailed construction of alien environments. In 2312, he turns his attention to asteroid building: asteroids are captured, hollowed out, fitted with propulsion systems, made into terraria that double as transport vehicles, and populated with animals like arks designed by futuristic Noahs. He also gives Mercury a city that travels on rails to avoid sunlight and imagines an Earth that has seen better days (particularly Florida, which is mostly underwater). Yet worldbuilding alone does not a successful novel make.
2312 gets off to a promising start as a terrarium designer and cutting edge artist named Swan Er Hong, rocked by the unexpected death of her elderly mentor Alex, discovers that Alex left her a message to be delivered to Wang Wei. Accompanied by Saturn's liason, Wahrum, Swan travels to Io where she learns that Alex had a plan to revivify a moribund Earth. Alex was also worried that the quantum computers (qubes) that run everything appeared to be going rogue. Another of Alex's friends, Inspector Genette, enlists Swan's help as he tries to complete the investigation he started with Alex. On a visit to Earth, Swan arranges for a kid named Kiran to escape his dreary life (the reader knows, of course, that Kiran will eventually reappear and play a crucial role in the story) before she returns to Mercury, where either a natural disaster or (more likely) a devastating attack briefly energizes the novel.
The energy, unfortunately, fizzles out, reigniting in spurts from time to time but never sustaining. When the plot moves along -- when things happen -- 2312 is an imaginative and entertaining novel. When, for long stretches, nothing happens, 2312 is a mediocre novel. Most of the text in the initial three-quarters of the book does little to advance the plot. It's a long slog through a deep bog to get to the final quarter where the story finally comes into focus.
Throughout his career, Robinson has demonstrated a tendency to explain his many thoughts -- ranging from physics and geology to economics and politics -- at length, resulting in novels that are needlessly wordy. That's the primary fault that weakens 2312. I often had the impression that Robinson was worried that his plot would get in the way of his ideas so he relegated plot development to the last few chapters. I also had the impression that Robinson was more interested in showing off his considerable knowledge than in telling a tight, compelling story. Knowledge, like worldbuilding, is valuable, but tedious discussions of seemingly random ideas that do little to advance the plot reflect a sort of self-indulgence that detracts from the novel.
Robinson doesn't write with literary flair; sometimes, in fact, his prose reads like a dry textbook. Explanatory sections of the novel entitled "excerpts" are a thinly disguised excuse for the sort of expository pontification that kills a fictional narrative. Fortunately, most of them are mercifully short. Robinson also throws in a few meaningless lists (e.g., names of craters ... who cares?). Breaking up the narrative with these frequent digressions seriously disrupts the story's flow.
Swan is the only character with any personality at all. Robinson takes a stab at human emotion by putting Wahrum and Swan together, but the effort isn't convincing, and the sex scenes (complicated by extra parts) are more silly than passionate. Robinson is clearly more comfortable with ideas than people.
For all the worldbuilding, Robinson is at his best when he focuses on Earth as it exists three hundred years from now. His vision is bleak but credibly grounded in environmental, political, and economic trends. Even here, however, his writing sometimes devolves into a scolding lecture. Some of his chapters would make excellent essays or editorials; as fiction, they are too disconnected from plot or characterization to be riveting.
Alex's creative plan for a revolution and an imaginative means of launching an interstellar attack give the novel its best moments. A shorter, tighter novel that focused on those elements would have been a great read. As it stands, 2312 leaves the reader drowning in ideas and fails to deliver a truly engrossing story. I would give it 3 1/2 stars if I could.
51 internautes sur 65 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
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Format: Format Kindle
This is an awful book. It’s funny: Kim Stanley Robinson uses the word “autistic” as a mild pejorative in the opening pages, but that might be the single best description of this book’s aesthetic. The author consistently ignores the things that make a novel worth reading — excitement, interesting characterization, original ideas — and instead hangs little essays filled with thoughts (by turns implausible and banal) about terraforming, economics, gender and governance onto a novel-like framework.
As others have noted, nearly all the action occurs outside the narrative, and is simply mentioned off-handedly as having occurred. This might be for the best, since the plot makes absolutely no sense: a seemingly low-stakes real estate dispute on Venus somehow accidentally gives rise to a multi-step mass-murder plot hatched by a new class of artificial beings? But it’s not clear that there’s any intentionality behind this–perhaps it’s just a screwup. Certainly the villain (if there’s a villain?) is barely named and never confronted, seemingly because the author is tired and wants to wrap things up. Then the perpetrators–a new race of beings, maybe, who are somehow detected, surveilled and rounded up from across the solar system in a massive police action that is mentioned but not even slightly described–are shipped into exile by the inspector who was working the case, who gets to declare judgment and sentence because…?
I would like to to bag on the characters, particularly the endless, hammer-it-into-your-head repetition of Wahram’s froggy eyes as his defining trait. But the truth is that I did find that Wahram and Swan eventually emerged as distinct entities. This was particularly true of Swan, whose pervasive neuroticism was both off-putting and fairly believable. This showed the way to the most promising potential theme in the book, I thought: the cultural claustrophobia and exhaustion faced by humanity as it finishes developing the solar system’s resources and realizes that what they’ve built is a prison. Alas, Robinson flirts with this idea briefly and and then abandons it. Instead he sprints toward ridiculous nostalgia, implying mystical spiritual renewal through communion with (wholly manipulated!) nature, along the way spewing a lot of bulls*** about “our horizontal brothers.”
Still, though Wahram and Swan were decently developed, the idea of romantic chemistry between them seemed absurd, and the larger treatment of relationships in the context of massively extended lifespans felt superficial.
Absent a source of excitement (plot) or emotion (compelling character mechanics), we’re left with KSR’s thoughts about the evolution of human civilization.
His musings on speciation and blurring of gender are fine, but never really deployed in a way that made me squirm, which felt like a missed opportunity. It’s all reasonable enough, but kind of boring. When Wahram and Swan finally have their weird and unnecessarily graphic hermaphroditic sex, my reaction was less about alarm over the plumbing that KSR was so anxious to explicate and more a basic dismay at having to read about a boring nebbish (Wahram) sleeping with a sure-to-be-trouble headcase (Swan). Ick.
There is a LOT of time spent talking about terraforming. And there’s a place for that kind of hard sci-fi stuff. But KSR seems to expect to be allowed to waste my time with technical minutiae the way Clarke does in, say, Rendezvous with Rama. Sadly, he doesn’t have the chops. Randall Munroe has helpfully demonstrated the impossibility of one of KSR’s schemes — making Venus rotate faster through planetary bombardment — but there’s plenty more fishiness throughout the book when it comes to masses, energy levels, speeds, distances, problems related to acceleration and docking, venting waste heat and the quantity of astronomical objects in the solar system. I haven’t done the math, but it seems pretty obvious that the author hasn’t, either. He sure pretends like he has, though.
His soft-science ideas are worse. The Mondragon, a cybernetic economy run by AIs that perfectly allocate resources, is laughably utopian — particularly when he introduces a sudden real shock into the economy by destroying the city of Terminator, but never discusses how the system responds. The ideas about governance are incredibly vague. There are plenty of allusions to human civilization’s balkanization. But the only form of government that seems to exist outside of Earth consists of tiny, tiny oligarchies — say, a dozen people on Venus, and maybe a few dozen more throughout the rest of the system. Through robotic, exposition-filled meetings and the occasional conference call these groups are somehow able to organize resources sufficient to terraform planets or stage immensely complex logistical operations (the “reanimation” of Earth). This is all the more ludicrous when one considers how implausibly dependent on human labor much of this hi-tech future activity seems to be. Seriously: Wahram, that tedious milquetoast, would be among the humans with the most governing power in history if he could do what he’s described as doing. It makes absolutely zero sense.
So yeah, it’s just a complete mess. The thing is long and boring, and the ideas on offer are either bland or half-baked. Terrible.