New York 2140 (Kim Stanley Robinson)

25 January 2023

New York 2140

As the sea level rose, every street became a canal, every skyscraper an island. For the residents of one apartment building in Madison Square, however, New York in the year 2140 is far from a drowned city.

Average Rating:

Ross Hetherington (31 January 2024 21:57)

I liked this book, but that I took so long to finish it in audiobook form (about a year!) doesn't speak well of it. I was completely on board with the politics, I would say, and I liked the way in which many of the characters either didn't fit into obvious archtypes, or else started off in them and broke out of them.

Sean Aaron (8 February 2023 11:59)

I enjoyed the essays and the setting of a post-climate change disaster world, but one in which people were trying to do things better. Could be the sentimentalist in me, but I really enjoyed it and found it a quick read in spite of its length.

Sinclair Manson (29 January 2023 20:07)

There was plenty I liked about this book and a few things I wasn't so keen on. I admired the slow pace of the plot, that the story takes place across months and years, not a breathless week of all out action. The diverse cast of characters was well portrayed. Even those that I initially disliked had nuances deep enough to make them interesting. I would have liked to have seen more of any of them and would have been happier losing a few and gaining more focus on those that remained.

The setting in 2140 seemed a little shallow (despite its deeper seas). References to anything cultural that might have happened between 2017 and 2140 were few and far between. The world of 2140 didn't seem very different to now, just with more water, as if society had carefully avoided any innovation for 120 years. This is certainly not the only novel of the near future that does this but its many references to people and events from 2017 and earlier made it obvious enough to break my immersion.

I had no taste for the concerned citizen chapters, where the author delivers his diagnosis of society's ills directly to the reader. The whole book had a strong scent of sermon about it that was a little tedious to me. Skilled observation of characters' perceptions and reactions might make me question my own ideas. If it doesn't, then just telling me what's what and how I should fix it isn't going to achieve anything. This stood out particularly by the comparison with Moby Dick that the many references to Herman Melville seemed to invite. The asides in Moby Dick decribe the whaling life in minute detail but rarely (if ever) break into exhortation. In the end, for me, a step back by the author would have been two steps in his favour.