Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Fifty Degrees Below by Kim Stanley Robinson

This continues the story begun in ‘Forty Signs of Rain’. It continues to move with the stately grace of the first novel, reflecting the steady progress one associates with the seasons of the year. The pace of the book lends strength, or perhaps a feeling of reality, to the climate changes in the story, almost as if I should look outside and see the winter described in the novel. The climate changes of the novel are so realistic that the reader cannot help thinking “this is not wild eyed imagination, these changes are/could well be coming”.

One interesting of the novel is its’ ‘political commentary’ about how ill served the people are by the current political system and how people have to accept their share of responsibility for this state of the nation. I was reminded of Noam Chomskys’ writings, which raise many of these and similar points – in a much drier writing style. Mr. Robinson has written about climate change, the current political system, the need for changes to the system and the need for people to THINK when making choices about leaders and policies. All in the context of the story he is telling and an excellent story that is.

Perhaps it is necessary these days to take a lesson from our old oral story traditions, where lessons were taught by placing them into a story, fable or parable. In this manner those who heard (read) the story are exposed to the ideas and lessons, but since it is hidden in a story their rote responses (i.e. no such thing as climate change) can be bypassed and they may be able to entertain a new idea or concept – one can only hope.

This novel is worth reading for the story itself. The ideas, political comment and other hidden aspects of the story add thought provoking into the mix and resulting in a novel satisfying on several levels. I am certainly looking forward to next (to be hoped for) novel in this story.


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