I remember reading an account of the reactions from viewing the first photograph of the earth in full view--the famous "Blue Marble" shot taken on December 7, 1972 as the Apollo 17 crew left Earth’s orbit for the moon. One awe-struck soul stammered out something like "The rest is art." 2312
provides a glimpse of that artistic rest-of-existence following our first forays into space. Terraforming planets, moons and asteroids throughout our solar system; reintroducing extinct species onto Earth; engaging with artificial intelligences; extending life spans to multiple hundreds of years; eradicating dualistic concepts of gender. That's high art! Kim Stanley Robinson has produced a work of high art himself. 2312
earned the heck out of its 2012 Nebula Award.
Chances are I'll never forget the "Reanimation" scene of millions of animals returning to Earth in bubbles. The accounts of Wahram and Swan in Mercury's utilidor and floating in space are beautiful and memorable as well. What type of mind thinks up body surfing Saturn's rings, or terrorist attacks by millions of pebbles launched by AI from across the solar system and meant to converge years later at the intended target? A good and geeky mind. I wonder if Robinson's a Whovian. He should be.
On the whole, I'd say Robinson's a realistic optimist when it comes to future prospects for humanity and the environment. Neither utopian nor dystopian labels stick to Robinson. AI, mass extinction, global warming, persistent poverty and our propensity to Balkanize our political and cultural worlds represent significant challenges to our ability to thrive. But instead of sulking, Robinson would have us keep after our artistic vocation. Mistakes will happen in our geoengineering efforts (a Little Ice Age caused by attempts to cool the planet would indeed suck). Rewilding the planet will involve inconveniences like being attacked by bears and such. Technological advances bring both opportunities and threats. But our existence has always been rife with opportunities and threats, so we shouldn't give up and return to the primitive. Progress, not regress. Robinson's certainly no Luddite. His imperfect yet hopeful vision of our future is appealing to me. I suspect I'll read 2312
again and again. Prepare to have your mind blown kids!