Jun 212013

23122312, by Kim Stanley Robinson

Synopsis: A guided tour of our solar system after extensive terraforming and space-settling.

A note – this review is over a week late because I wasn’t able to finish the book in time. I still haven’t quite finished it, so please keep in mind the “book review” part is based on incomplete information. However the book club meeting we had about it is threatening to fade from my memory, so I’m getting this done now.

Brief Book Review: If 2312 was to be summed up in a single word, it would be “leisurely”. My parents are of an age where they travel abroad twice a year for weeks at a time, taking guided tours of historically or culturally important areas. This book feels exactly like that, in book form, in the future. The descriptions are gorgeous, every aspect of any given location – from the physical to the political – is worked with loving care. There is a plot and characters in this book as well, but they mainly function as a way of getting you from one place to another so you can take in the sights and wonders. The whole thing is very relaxing and rather enjoyable. The lack of urgency is sometimes very conspicuous – it can be a little jolting to go from interplanetary terrorist intrigue on one page to a Victorian Tea Party discussing sentience a few pages later, especially as the tea party is given a higher word count. But the book lulls you into its rhythm. This certainly isn’t a bad read, but ultimately there’s nothing here that will stick with me when I’m done. It is a much higher caliber of popcorn, but I can only recommend it as popcorn reading, to be enjoyed in delightful lulls between other books. So ultimately – Not Recommended.

Book Club Review: There is a fair bit to like about this book when it comes to a book club meeting. Robinson has a style that will appeal to a particular type of reader, and repel another, while being fairly neutral to most. If you happen to have both kinds of reader in your book club, this can make for some great debate. He also has a habit of incorporating rather rarefied concepts in this book without explaining them, which can be a boon for readers who like to google new ideas they encounter and are willing to give brief summaries to others. The only major downside to this book is that its length combined with its sedate pacing makes it hard to get it finished on time. There are books that demand one’s attention/comments which would likely be better served by discussion. If you have other good options, go with those first. But in the end our discussion was pretty good, so a Mild Recommendation.

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