Monday, October 09, 2006

Forty Signs of Rain and Fifty Degrees Below

by Kim Stanley Robinson
Nothing so far has spurred our current government to do much about impending global climate change. Meanwhile, heatwaves and hurricanes have shown us that our country is not actually immune to those changes. So what, exactly, would have to happen that would be severe enough to get our government into gear? That seems to be the question on Kim Stanley Robinson's mind with Forty Signs of Rain. How about serious flooding at our nation's capitol, nearly returning DC to the fetid swamp it once was? How about, later that same year, record low temperatures that grind the eastern seaboard to a halt? Robinson puts his characters at the center of the storm, politically as well as meterologically. Anna Quibler and Frank Vanderwal work with the National Science Foundation. Anna's husband, Charlie, is a stay-at-home dad and environmental advisor to a liberal senator (and possible presidential candidate). In Fifty Degrees Below, the driving question becomes: If the USA put our best minds and billions of dollars to work on the problem, is there really anything we could do at this point? I prefered the second book, which mainly follows the eccentric Frank. Forty felt too much like an introduction, while Fifty throws you right into the maelstrom.

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