The year is 2312. Scientific and technological advances have opened gateways to an extraordinary future. Earth is no longer humanity's only home; new habitats have been created throughout the solar system on moons, planets, and in between. But in this year, 2312, a sequence of events will force humanity to confront its past, its present, and its future.
The first event takes place on Mercury, on the city of Terminator, itself a miracle of engineering on an unprecedented scale. It is an unexpected death, but one that might have been foreseen. For Swan Er Hong, it is an event that will change her life. Swan was once a woman who designed worlds. Now she will be led into a plot to destroy them.
©2012 Kim Stanley Robinson (P)2012 Hachette Audio
Post apocalyptic listener with some thrillers mixed in. Follow me on twitter at @drewsant
2312 is a tale of two books. On one hand KSR does what he always does on these types of things, he paints a vivid picture of what the future could be like so wonderful that you can almost feel the cold of space on the back of your neck. The world he has created draws from the Mars trilogy but stands alone with new and interesting places.
On the other hand this book is boring to the point where if I was actually reading it rather than listening to the audio book I might not finish it. This might also have something to do with it as the narrator’s voice was so calm even the parts which are supposed to be edgy didn’t feel like it. For about half the book I don’t know what the issue is. Should I like swan or not? Was Alex murdered? Is that even the crux of the story? It takes a while for the plot to pan out.
If I could rate this 2.5 stars (right down the middle) I would but since I can’t it gets 3. The world created does enough to make this a worthwhile read as long as you know what you’re getting into.
The story intrigued me. I love far future, hard science stories. In fact, I will be buying this book for my ereader. However, I couldn't make it past 30 min of this audiobook.
Yes, I love far future and hard science, scifi.
I'm sure Sarah Zimmerman is a wonderful person but I can't listen to her narrate. Her delivery is monotone and there is something about the cadence of her speech that makes it difficult to tell when one person stops speaking and another starts. I couldn't get into the story because I was too distracted by her narration. Sorry but that's my opinion.
Disappointment with the narration. I couldn't listen to more than 30 mins.
REVIEW OF THE STORY
Kim Stanley Robinson has a pretty narrow audience. Are you in that audience? Did you like the Mars trilogy? Are you a hobbyist geologist/astronomer/physicist/chemist/engineer/biologist/ecologist/mathematician/programmer/etc? Or - better still - are you a professional in any of these fields? Yes? Then you'll be happy to know that 2312 is exactly what you expect: it's more of KSR doing what he does, and doing it well. So, grab your pocket protector and your graphing calculator, and run - don't walk - down to your local bookstore and buy a physical copy of the book and read it; you're going to love it. But, beware: do not buy the audiobook. Why? Well, I'm glad you asked...
REVIEW OF THE NARRATION
This audiobook represents the absolute worst narration of any story I've ever heard, in any genre, anywhere, anytime, ever. No, I'm not being hyperbolic; it really was *that bad*. Sarah Zimmerman does not have an unpleasant voice, but the way it is delivered in this book is absolutely..."unlistenable."
For starters, Ms. Zimmerman's delivery is remarkably monotone; no matter what she's reading, it all sounds the same. Interpersonal dialog? Omniscient narrator's perspective? Supplemental lists and excerpts academic information supplemental to the story? Yep; it all sounds identical. Similarly, there is almost no attempt at voice characterization. There is a brief moment towards the middle of the book where one of the characters (Inspector Jean Genette, a flesh-and-blood person) starts to speak in a monotone drone that is slightly reminiscent of the stereotypical 1950s sci-fi robot voice meme, but that's about it. But that's not the worst part. What truly ruins the whole production is the fact that the cadence of Ms. Zimmerman's narration (or, rather, lack thereof) appears to completely disregard punctuation. What do I mean? Well...
Imagine. A, book where the punctuation, is completely random without following. Any conventional. Rules of phrasing or -- voice or -- timing or meter or anything that gives. The language it musicality its, flow its inflection its, meter. Imagine. Trying to, understand, a, text that is narrated. In, a manner that seems to, be. Written the same, way, I have written. This paragraph.
....Yeah. Like that. Now, admittedly, the above paragraph was a bit of an exaggeration for the purpose illustrating the point. But here's the thing: sadly, it wasn't *that* hyperbolic.
Now, take that chaotic, unstructured narration, add a monotone voice, and a total lack of voice characterization, and what you get is a story that takes real, conscious effort to follow. I can imagine this would be particularly difficult for people who don't have at least a passing familiarity with the scientific/engineering topics presented therein. I will admit that I *eventually* got used to it, but it tool over 12 hours of narration before I could stop skipping back to hear passages again in order to comprehend them. In fact, it was so bad, for the first five or six hours of the book, I could only listen to 30 minutes at a stretch before I had to take a break. With most audiobooks, I can - and have! - listened for hours and hours on end.
I have one final complaint about the narration -- and this may be a nitpick, but... If a person is going to narrate a book written by someone who ranks among the "hardest" of the hard science fiction authors - a book where science *is* the main character - then one should probably know how to properly pronounce words like "coronal" (as in, coronal mass ejection), or "teleological." And Ms. Zimmerman doesn't.
While it's surprising that such a poor quality product (the audio rendering of KSR's book) would be available from a respected publisher, it's downright incomprehensible when one considers that Sarah Zimmerman is just one person in a group of people involved in its creation. In addition to the narrator, there's also a producer, a director, an editor (or two), engineers...and NONE of these people said, somewhere along the line, "Hey, you know, this doesn't sound so good...?" Really? Really?!
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you like this author's other work, if you're a sci-fi fan with a truly nerdly bent, 2312 might be right up your alley. But get a *physical copy* to read the good 'ol fashioned way, because the audio rendering of this work is so amazingly bad, it detracts and distracts from the content of the story itself. Save your money; this audiobook isn't even worth the paper it's printed on.
I love Robinson's work, but had avoided this one for a while because of the poor reviews of the narration. I didn't find Sarah Zimmermans narration to be bad at all. the book is wonderful, and like much of KSR, less about a grand sci fi narrative and more of a collection of thoughtful musings by interesting people experiencing a fantastic world. what other science fiction writer would spend so much time rhapsodizing about classical music and land art?
2312 is the latest entry in the Kim Stanley Robinson universe spawned in "Red Mars" and continued through "The Martians." Being beyond even the super extended lives of the cross-book protagonists of previous volumes, we are introduced to an entirely new cast of characters. These center primarily on Swan Er Hong, granddaughter and heir to the latest and recently deceased Lion of Mercury. Primarily an artist and carefree spirit who previously worked on the many terrariums which now orbit the sun, Swan is reluctantly drawn into the intrigues of her late grandmother. This small group of individuals, carefully avoiding the normal communications net, has begun to amass evidence of a conspiracy against the Mondragon (the very loose trading alignment of ex-colonies beyond Earth). Details are sketchy, but it appears to be connected to a highly unauthorized and highly dangerous number of agents who appear to be human, but are actually creations of and repositories for intelligent AI's -- the same kind of AI's that run so much of the day to day existence of humans across the solar system. Linked unexplained attacks on a terrarium and on Swan's home city of Terminator bring home the humanity's vulnerability and hone the group's desperation to unmask the conspiracy before larger havoc is wrought.
The many characters both major and minor slowly piece together this three dimensional puzzle, taking us literally from asteroids inside the orbit of Mercury to the frozen fields of Titan where even here, humanity is working epically to terraform a home. And, of course, much of the problem is connected to Earth. It's an Earth where the promise of reform and openness hinted at a century ago (@end of Blue Mars) has yet to be realized; an ecologically devastated home world groaning under its teeming billions and 10 meter sea level rise.
There are flaws with this book - the economics of the solar system are still quite fuzzy, as are some of the particulars of the technologies and terraforming. Worse still, I don't actually *like* many of the characters featured - least of all the main protagonist - but she merely super-exemplifies the petulant, bohemian, self-absorbed, trans-gendered, labor-phobic extra-terrestrial humans that largely populate Stanley's 24th century. Lastly, the plot meanders often, taking more than a few detours and dead ends through duller spots.
Having said all that, the book is still marvelously engaging. Robinson shows us the "accelerando" from the end of the last trilogy here in full bloom: asteroid terrariums, hollowed out and spinning for gravity, each one a self-contained biosphere and society ranging from the mundane to the exotic. Many of these terrariums are doing dual duty as travelling conduits between the various ex-colony worlds scattered from Mercury to the moons of Neptune, which are themselves exceedingly diverse and fascinating in their detail. Even Venus at last is being changed to habitable under dueling and simultaneous terraforming strategies (fast and friendly enough to get more people off the Earth quicker, or slower and more drastically/thoroughly to make a more Earth-like planet). It is perhaps only because the settings become so vivid that I find myself wanting to know more of the hows and whys and thus finding a few loose ends.
All in all, anyone who either enjoyed Robinson's 'Mars' trilogy, or appreciates SF where an author creates a vivid and different universe for their characters to inhabit should enjoy the book.
I didn't find the narration as bad as some of the other reviews - but I enjoyed Richard Ferrone's narration of the Mars Trilogy more.
Nice imagery and an interesting overall plot. Disappointing to see so much effort put into complex sex and gender with such a poor result. Gender and sex are said to be nuanced but are still defined by physical attributes, and intersex people by birth are not represented. Also people only use he or she pronouns in practice even though they are said to be fluid as well. And so much damn heteronormativity. The mediocrity of the gender politics really got in the way of the positives for me. Good narrating though.
Yes. I loved the world-building and the descriptions of the terreria etc.
There was a fair amount of boring dialogue and I wish that space had gone to giving the actual plot and events of the story more intensity. When you are talking about potential war, human suffering and major social change you'd think there would be a very palpable sense of intensity and some emotion. It seemed like I should have felt a sense of urgency or of there being "a lot to lose." Instead everything felt a little numb. Also I feel like there was an opportunity lost in dealing with the ramification of life extension. He went into it a little but I think there was a lot more room to delve into that in a less cerebral way.
None. I had an extremely difficult time getting attached to the characters. The performance was fine... this was more an issue of how they were written. I just couldn't get myself to care about them at all.
No. Because I don't want to read it.
Love the feeling and tone. loved the existential futurism. A performance artist searches for meaning and identity in a fully described future "post melt" society.
I can't even begin to say how much I loved this book. The entire world is so well thought and imagined. Its completely immersive and beyond interesting. If you enjoy understanding an entire world in a highly detailed way this book is for you. I tend to get bored easily when two pages are devoted to describing a planet but in this book you want never what the details to end. KSR has created a completely unique, strange and cool solar system that includes bird implants that allow people to whistle and think in different ways, hollowed out asteroids that people develop into unique societies that act almost like cruise ships in space, physical alteration of the body from gender neutral characters to incredibly tall and very small people and that is just the beginning. This book is really just beyond cool and interesting... I read it about two years ago and I'm on the hunt for something that inspires me just as much to no avail.
The narrator got a lot of flack in the reviews here but I really thought she was absolutely amazing- she has this icy semi-robotic way about her that fits the story and main character perfectly. It seems the author embraced that quite a bit as in his next space/sci-fi book the narrator actually has a robotic voice. I am actually desperate for their to be a follow up to this book.
You will not regret reading this book! It's the best.
If you liked the MARS TRILOGY you'll love this! Excellent incorporation of best contemporary solar system science. It stretches the imagination in Terraforming potential. Philosophical; humanistic; existential; introspective; and spiritual--poetic.
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