picked this one up at that Madeira Beech bookstore I mentioned in another review. The cover shows New York, but if you think about the name of the book and look closely, you’ll see that a lot of the forefront buildings are actually standing in water (with boats moving about them). So yes, this is a tale of what it’s like to live in the Big Apple when it becomes the Big Sea Grape in a century and a half. Global warming a reality. The result of our sins.
And actually, New York has largely recovered. Where streets were once, now they are canals. The skyscraper lower floors are now boat docks. And people are actually living more in cities now (as long-distance fossil-fuel burning is a thing of the dark past). In ways, and happily, wildlife abounds.
I really loved this book. There are a number of characters, all unique and interesting in situation and voice. Several plotlines wend and spin about, making you wonder where the hell everything is going (and why two characters, early on, end up locked in an underwater vault for three months). All of them, from the water rat kids to the ditzy wildlife blogger to the amazon cop to the investment broker to the social activist (and many more) bring a uniqueness to each chapter, as does the pseudo-narrator who recounts (in his own chapters) how things happened and how things work.
But the most interesting thing about the entire book is… finance. Kim Stanley Robinson has a bone to pick with the meltdown of 2008 (which has happened again and again, and is once more shaping up in 2140). He discusses how government (in the power of banks) shoveled money into their maws to stave off a global crisis, the whole too-big-to-fail deal. And in this, he makes a very strong case for an alternative, one that worked for GM (and, to my own thinking, the railroads, over and over, in our nation’s history). So as all roads lead to Rome, all plotlines lead to this final conclusion, of corrupt, under-value financing and the inherent evil of the invisible hand (as re-quoted in the novel, “The invisible hand never picks up the check”). And, for an old socialist like me, it was a very satisfying set of conclusions.
So yes, a great novel, one I’d keep on my shelf for a later reread but I feel an urge to ship to my Libertarian friend, a literary poke in the eye.