The Ministry for the Future

A Novel

paperback, 576 pages

Published June 22, 2021 by Orbit.

ISBN:
9780316300148

View on OpenLibrary

4 stars (32 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

Important but not fully successful artistically

4 stars

Terrifyingly, largely nonfiction. After a very strong, almost shocking opening, it lacks a strong story arc that pulls you through the book, the kaleidoscopic storytelling feeling a bit artificial. But full of interesting, sometimes essential ideas and insights about climate breakdown, the wider socio-economic system and possible solutions. After only two years already somewhat dated, which makes it even more terrifying.

Un livre plutôt optimiste mais assez réaliste

4 stars

J’ai bien aimé.

Le changement climatique devient une évidence… alors qu’est-ce que le monde peut faire ?

Cela m’a semblé plutôt réaliste, avec la prise en compte qu’il ne faut pas que de la technologie mais des changements sociaux profonds pour s’en sortir.

Un livre peut-être trop optimiste, mais parfois cela fait du bien.

C’est une sorte de guide sur ce que nous pourrions faire pour nous en sortir.

Cet épisode longnow.org/seminars/02022/mar/02/climate-futures-beyond-02022/ du podcast "Long Now: Seminars About Long-term Thinking" avec Kim Stanley Robinson parle du livre.

Repackaged state power as a solution to the climate crisis.

4 stars

What would a worldwide, lasting revolution look like? What would be the obstacles and what tactics would be needed to overcome them? How are we going to survive climate change? These are the themes Kim Stanley Robinson tackles in his 570-page cli-fi novel THE MINISTRY FOR THE FUTURE.

The narrative is disjointed, with epistolary chapters placed throughout. If you roll with it, it works well. You get a well-researched, fairly well-rounded picture across class, power, and geography. The format makes for a clever way to introduce details that otherwise might not fit into a traditional narrative. I also appreciate the global perspective of this book. The U.S. is not at the center at all, and is critiqued heavily and fairly.

THE MINISTRY FOR THE FUTURE envisions a world that includes the Half-Earth concept as one of its solutions to combat climate change. Half of the planet would be reserved exclusively …

Ehe es besser wird, wird es schlimmer

3 stars

Kim Stanley Robinson beschreibt in The Ministry for the Future, wie die Menschheit mit dem Klimawandel umgeht. Das Buch ist eine Art fiktionale Dokumentation, die zwischen den sporadischen romanhaften Erzählungen der beiden Protagonisten aus Sitzungsprotokollen, Augenzeugenberichten namensloser Ich-Erzähler und Infodumps zu ökonomischen Konzepten und Glaziologie besteht.

Ehe es besser wird, wird es schlimmer. Und besser nur, wenn dafür harte politische Entscheidungen auf globaler Ebene getroffen werden. Schilderungen, wie die zustande kommen, nehmen großen Raum in dem Buch ein. Das trägt zu seinem immensen Realismus bei, was mir gefallen hat.

Dann allerdings gab es einen wirklich großartigen Schlusspunkt in der Erzählung, bei dem ich überzeugt war, dass nach dem Umblättern ein langer Anhang oder ähnliches beginnen würde. Allerdings geht die Geschichte danach noch sehr sehr lange weiter und wurde eher ermüdend und zäh.

A pain to get into but possibly worth it?

4 stars

So I am rating this 4 stars because I totally got into it by the midpoint and had characters I was rooting for and was following the climate currency thing with fascination, etc. But I can also totally see the flip side, which is people complaining that this is a bunch of tediously and tenuously connected at best. I think it's all down to if you buy into his characters enough to find it enjoyable or not. And that's anyone's guess.

(I will say that regardless the ideas in it are fascinating!)

Ziemlich viel Blockchain-Bullshit

3 stars

Auf der einen Seite beschreibt das Buch die beginnende Klimakatastrophe und Möglichkeiten dagegen entwas zu tun ganz gut, auf der anderen Seite sind die Lösungsvorschläge, die in dem Roman präsentiert werden fast alle technokratisch und auf eine andere Art und Weise auch wieder nicht akzeptabel. Z.B. wird die Kryptowährung "Carbon Coin" weltweit eingeführt und ständig die Vorteile einer Währung mit totaler Transparenz in der Blockchain betont. Antikapitalistische Perspektiven kommen kaum vor, außer das Beispiel Mondragón. Wirkliche antikapitalistische und antistaatliche Alternativen, wie Rojava oder die Zapitistas fehlen. Schlimmer noch: An einer Stelle wird sogar ein kurdischer Nationalstaat ausgerufen, was zeigt, dass der Autor keine Ahnung von der kurdischen Freiheitsbewegung hat. Ebenfalls schade ist, dass die "Children of Kali", die "grüne Terrororganisation", immer nur am Rande vorkommt und nicht weiter ausgeführt wird. Da hätte ich mir mehr von erhofft.

Too much blockchain and geoengineering

3 stars

I thought I would enjoy this book a lot more, and it ended up being a bit of a slog towards the end. A lot of the writing is very "stream of consciousness", and there's not much of a plot to speak of.

In terms of finding ideas for addressing climate change, there's too much focus on blockchain and geoengineering. Not really solarpunk.

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

2 stars

To me this felt a bit like a left-wing Ayn Rand book: it purports to take place in the real world, but people and the world in the book work just differently enough that it's practically impossible to gain insights about it about the real world - supposedly one of the book's goals.

Oh, and the author verbed "blockchain". Ugh.

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 …

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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