The Ministry for the Future

A Novel

The Ministry for the Future (paperback, 2021, Orbit)

paperback, 576 pages

Published June 22, 2021 by Orbit.


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3 stars (11 reviews)

Established in 2025, the purpose of the new organization was simple: To advocate for the world's future generations and to protect all living creatures, present and future. It soon became known as the Ministry for the Future, and this is its story.

From legendary science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson comes a vision of climate change unlike any ever imagined.

Told entirely through fictional eye-witness accounts, The Ministry For The Future is a masterpiece of the imagination, the story of how climate change will affect us all over the decades to come.

Its setting is not a desolate, post-apocalyptic world, but a future that is almost upon us - and in which we might just overcome the extraordinary challenges we face.

It is a novel both immediate and impactful, desperate and hopeful in equal measure, and it is one of the most powerful and original books on climate change ever …

5 editions

A book worth starting

3 stars

The first 1/3 landed really well, but it started falling apart quickly after that. First KSR I've read, and I had "hard scifi" expectations for characterization, but there was still some corny stuff.

But despite the awkward anonymous first person chapters and uncomfortable Switzerland fetishization I think it succeeds at its primary goal: envisioning a collaborative utopian approach to realistic climate change impacts.

Review of 'Ministry for the Future' on 'GoodReads'

3 stars

In principle I should have really enjoyed this, but it was just a good book, not a great one.KSR has done exactly what he set out to do, and does not deviate from his usual 'apply the technology & investigate deep character driven reactions'. Here he asks the question that ultimately is _the_important one of our times: how exactly do we get ourselves out of this climate mess?I really can't fault any of this. The characters are interesting, the fact that we get to hear from many of the usually sidelined voices is great, there's a bunch of technology, humanity prevails albeit with a lot of sacrifice. What's not to like in a well written KSR story that follows this standard template?After a lot of thinking on that I seriously cannot say. 'Nothing is wrong with that' is really the correct answer, but I just don't find myself enjoying this …

the world's least compelling theory of change

1 star

ok even as somebody who would be predisposed to liking this book (as a student of bureacracies, etc) this was a trash fire

  • no understanding of politics LMAO
  • several weird fake mystical chapters about geology
  • despite being 500 pages the fucking plot barely moves nad the both a murder and a romance are tacked on at the end. The murder, of course, is russian.
  • basically fucking red mars but for climate change, the heads of the worlds governments basically don't change from 2020-2050ish

also, goddamn blockchain is used as a solution for money laundering, lmao.

Numb optimism

3 stars

Suitably KSR, this is dry, procedural, deep, a montage of near future heroic and tragic efforts between a few human threads of lived-experience-if-not-plot. I was anticipating optimism, technological and human spirit, and that's all here but not as much as struggling with the absolute and relative violences and deaths of current delay on climate response, of terrorism and surveillance and refugee camps and wealth. And plenty of meetings. A lot of thinking about the scale of actions necessary, and great essays on where exactly we are stuck.

KSR trying to answer "how to write about/actually respond to climate change"

4 stars

So his answers for both, basically: maximalism. The point he's sort of making is that making the planet safely inhabitable is going to take every tactic and every ideology not necessarily working together but working on some piece of the thing. No one actor gets to be the hero (though I do enjoy that KSR's favorite kind of protagonist remains the middle-aged competent lady technocrat–guy's got a type) and while he's sort of indicating that capitalism as we know it has to die, he's not saying that happens through inevitable worker uprising. Some of it's coercion of central banks and some of it's straight-up guerrilla terrorism. Geoengineering happens at varying scales for better and for worse. Massive economic collapses occur. Millions die. And the point I think from KSR is that's the outcome in his most optimistic take. In general with KSR I don't know if I ever fully agree, …

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