green earth (kim stanley robinson)

this was a tome, and it kept getting just a few pages at a time in terms of grinding through it. it wasn’t really a grind to read, it was simply so large that i couldn’t bring myself to travel with it over the past month or so.

this is actually 3 books pulled together into a single volume. i think it’s call the “science in the capital” series and it’s kind of early KSR cli-fi. this was published in the early-mid 00s and there’s a ton of stuff he riffs on and some of it is quite prescient. there are dips into geo-engineering, he foresees much of the left-right division on climate change that politicians lean into. we were seeing the polite forms of this when he was writing this, but it’s only hardened in the intervening years. his fictional president is the victim of an assassination attempt, the assailant has been radicalized by right-wing media. rush limbaugh gets a well deserved and far too brief jab.

finally, you see the not so faint glimmers of “the high sierra: a love story” in here. it hits you in the last 100 or so pages like someone smacking you about the face with a trout. the descriptions of the geology, the concerns about the snowpack, traveling and drinking with friends, he gets to riff for a while on all that. in retrospect, he’s clearly winding up to something more substantial.

i suppose good {cli,sci}-fi is really about getting you to look at a range of possible outcomes that don’t feel to far fetched and the really good writers don’t just drag you thru disaster porn, they provide some sort of optimistic narrative that can be explored while providing a cautionary heads up.

this hits on most counts.