The Ministry for the Future is established in 2025 as a response to an unfolding climate change catastrophe. A heatwave kills 20 million in India heightening the global emergency.
Mary Murphy heads the Ministry, its key aim to bring financial, business and government sectors to the table to address the emergency. Mary's life is interleaved with Frank May, the sole survivor of India's catastrophe in the searing opening chapter. They become unlikely friends after Frank threatens her. The friendship endures, with Frank becoming Mary's conscience as she battles overwhelming odds to deliver real environmental change.
Mainly set in Zurich's United Nations city, Kim Stanley Robinson (KSR) lovingly brings vitality to the international brokerage capital. At nearly 600 pages, it's a long read. Having read Mars Trilogy and 2312, I know KSR can be a stickler for detail, sometimes at the expense of well-drawn characters. His Mars Trilogy classic explored the geo-engineering of Mars to be habitable to humans. Now, he turns that examination to a future Earth in accelerated environmental decline.
How would the head of the Ministry for the Future, the main protagonist Mary, tackle the ultimate challenge, given recalcitrant actors protect their position of power? Selfish players listed as companies still wishing to make a trillion or two out of the earth's remaining carbon. Practical politics is not enough as they secretly engage a black ops wing to motivate change illegally.
KSR's new novel highlights the sheer scale of the challenge facing future generations and is filled with a wealth of facts, intermittently added between the storyline, including biosphere health, macro and microeconomics and global politics, to name a few.
Readers looking for a fast-flowing and entertaining read may be frustrated. However, readers genuinely looking for a better understanding of the environmental challenge facing us will find this filled with a treasure trove of insights. It's not a book to read just once if you want to take in KSR's ode to future generations fully. Riveting, horrifying, believable. 4.5 STARS