Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140 (Orbit) feels eerily prescient at times. Here Robinson (“Aurora,” “2312”) explores the lives of several residents of an apartment building in Manhattan after global warming has caused almost all of the world’s coastlines to go underwater. The novel follows the adventures of seven characters; each one intricately describes how society would change in a major natural disaster. Robinson covers all his bases: the science behind what caused the rise in the tides, the potential consequences to the U.S. economy, even the ins and outs of how to grow food with vastly diminished resources. The book is a strange hybrid. It has the tenacious, encyclopedic detail that Robinson is known for, the big ideas of a modern CliFi novel and the twists and turns of a heist movie. The characters are memorable, particularly the two orphan boys and the Internet video star, Amelia. It all comes together (perhaps a little too) beautifully in the end. Anyone familiar with Robinson’s work knows that he can be tedious and heavy-handed, and this novel is no exception. But like the others, the thought-provoking ideas and vivid details make the book worth reading.
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