By Kim Stanley Robinson
Orbit, 2012. 561 pgs. Science Fiction.
2312 is a science fiction epic set just before the year 2312, when all the people who could afford it have left earth and populated each planet in the solar system. Mars is a snobby upper-class planet, Mercury an artistic haven, and Venus a large work camp. Humanity travels space on beautiful asteroids hollowed out and terraformed to resemble anything at all. The plot, such as it is, centers around a small group of ‘spacers’ trying to fix earth’s environmental and political issues in the hope that it will stop holding back the human race. It is a sublimely beautiful and entirely strange work of science fiction that envisions a future where art and science are seamlessly intertwined.
2312 is a difficult read, technically classified as ‘hard sci-fi’, so it is terribly important to evaluate how much time and effort you are willing to put into the book before picking it up. Not only is the book difficult, but it is also incredibly, almost unjustifiably, weird. Yet, for all of its faults, I finished this slow, strange, beautiful book in under a week, while I’ve left many a perfectly good, normal book unfinished or un-started. What held on to my imagination here was the complete originality of the world: you’ve never read science fiction like this before.
I’ve had a hard time figuring out who to recommend this book to, and I’ve decided I’d only do it if someone came up to me and said: “I’m sick of everything I’ve ever read or thought about, I want something new”. If that statement fits your reading state of mind, you might want to give Kim Stanley Robinson a try.