Forty Signs of Rain

Forty Signs of Rain

by Kim Stanley Robinson

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Forty Signs of Rain 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I purchased the complete trilogy after reading about the global warming series in USA Today. A novel on the possible effects of global warming remains an excellent idea, and can serve as a valuable educational tool to the public and to our politicians to wake up and do something about this global crisis. Unfortunately, Kim Stanley Robinson hasn't done it. The writing is sophomoric at best. It's been a long time since I've seen so many sentence fragments in a published work. There's absolutely no action until the last fifty pages of the 400 page book. Characters are dull. Robinson writes more about the trials of being a stay at home dad than global warming. It's a very dull novel, but may cure your insomnia.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book, like all of his books including those in the (highly overrated) Mars trilogy, deals with black and white attitudes, and the writer always assumes his own opinion takes the moral high ground and is correct. Robinson needs to learn to write more about the gray areas in between and not establish a side so early on. His characaterizations haven't improved since Mars where most of the characters were either thin or distinct archetypes who wouldn't waver. And this one isn't as well written as Mars.
kurtankeny on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A nice hard SF book, which I read probably past its peak, which is kind of bad considering it was only written four years ago. But basically all of the information in it that was supposed to blow your mind was stuff I already knew. Hm. The other problem I has with it was a typical hard SF syndrome. Basically the people are never described to much level of detail, so you've got a name and a brain and that's about it. SF characters often are a collection of thoughts and viewpoints, but rarely emotions, and I struggled to be interested in it until about 4/5 of the way through. I understand that the ideas are in the spotlight here, but since the ideas affect humans it's be nice to be involved with those humans. I guess it's a fine line especially when creating a semi-disaster book like this one, to not fall over to the Michael Crichton side where everyone is a brain that will be killed or eaten. I can understand not wanting to jump that fence, but I'd like a little more dirt in my laboratory, if you know what I mean. I'll finish off the series and comment further then.
sturlington on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Robinson really let me down with this first in a series about global warming. The plot mainly concerns the main characters going to work and having meetings and endless discussions with scientists. It really is all too much like real life to make for interesting fiction.
Phyrexicaid on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not as good as the first Mars book, starts slow, and it seems like he wants to go into great detail about seemingly arbitrary things. Perhaps all will be revealed later... Busy with the second book, and it's going much better.
librisissimo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Substance: Interleaved stories of several protagonists in Washington DC and San Diego during a few spring months before a concurrence of cyclical and incidental natural weather events deluge the District. Denver Post: "Robinson presents the warning signs of environmental disaster i a warm, gentle novel of family life. He makes heroes of scientific bureaucrats who still remember why they became scientists.." Guardian (UK): "Robinson has written a slow-moving yet absorbing narrative; it's clear he is pacing himself for the long run of a trilogy. His great achievement here is to bring the practice of science alive -- from the supposedly objective peer review process, to the day-to-day work of researchers in the lab -- and to place this in an all-too-familiar world of greedy capitalists and unprincipled politicians. Robinson's critique of science is heartfelt; scientists should stop being tools in someone else's endgame."Style: Much less ponderous than "Red Mars", and the people are more likable. However, nothing more exciting than normal life happens to anyone, including the great flood, which is no worse than many actual instances just from the last decade, and which occurs in the final few chapters of the book without any dramatic incident for the protagonists. Basically, boring.NOTE: The intent of the book is to warn readers of the danger of Anthropogenic Global Warming. The protagonists consider the science to be settled, and the skeptics to be evil heretics; Robinson's writing makes this very clear, although he does not belabor the point or rant about it. However, he presents absolutely no evidence to support AGW, nor does he give the skeptics a fair hearing. His spokesmen explicitly disavow the idea that the DC flood was caused by global warming, although he posits some indications that such is happening (primarily, and almost singularly, the melting of the arctic ice cap). He doesn't address how to eliminate AGW or ameliorate its predicted consequences. How is this science fiction rather than a just another contemporary novel?More importantly, Robinson's novel pre-dates two important events: a British judge's order in 2007 that Al Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth" was so full of errors that it could not be shown in schools without balancing comment, and the revelations from the email controversy erupting from a hacked server at the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (also known as "Climategate") in November 2009 and a second dump in November 2011. Forbes Magazine: "We need more objective research and ethical conduct by the scientists at the heart of the IPCC and the global warming discussion."Contrast the novel's general attitude and this sentence from one of the protagonists, a Senate staffer, on page 193: "...he was combating liars, people who lied about science for money, thus obstructing the clear signs of the destruction of their present world."Robinson and the Guardian were right about there being liars, greedy capitalists (and socialists and dictators and anarchists and so on and so forth) unprincipled politicians (and lobbyists and journal editors and so on and so forth), and scientists (and journalists and science-fiction writers) as tools -- they just don't recognize that their own side has them in equal or greater measure than their opponents.This blinkered view might be acceptable in a mainstream novel - proselyting for one's own opinions is fair -- but it seems out of character for a science fiction author, who ought to be questioning the people who make grandiose assertions of apocalyptic doom rather than taking their bait hook, line, and sinker.
kurtankenybeauchamp on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A nice hard SF book, which I read probably past its peak, which is kind of bad considering it was only written four years ago. But basically all of the information in it that was supposed to blow your mind was stuff I already knew. Hm. The other problem I has with it was a typical hard SF syndrome. Basically the people are never described to much level of detail, so you've got a name and a brain and that's about it. SF characters often are a collection of thoughts and viewpoints, but rarely emotions, and I struggled to be interested in it until about 4/5 of the way through. I understand that the ideas are in the spotlight here, but since the ideas affect humans it's be nice to be involved with those humans. I guess it's a fine line especially when creating a semi-disaster book like this one, to not fall over to the Michael Crichton side where everyone is a brain that will be killed or eaten. I can understand not wanting to jump that fence, but I'd like a little more dirt in my laboratory, if you know what I mean. I'll finish off the series and comment further then.
alexbook on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Decent enough, but the start of a mediocre trilogy.
louisedennis on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"If the Earth were to suffer a catastrophic anthropogenic extinction event over the next ten years, which it will, American business would continue to focus on its quarterly profit and loss. There is no economic mechanism for dealing with catastrophe. And yet government and the scientific communicty are not tackling this situation either, indeed both have consented to be run by neoclassical economics, an obvious pseudo-science. We might as well agree to be governed by astrologers. "I really, really wanted to like Forty Signs of Rain by Kim Stanley Robinson. Its about scientists who are mostly doing everyday science, worrying about publications, grants, phd students and so forth but somehow they were just dull, dull, dull (don't comment!). Even when breaking into NSF by abseiling through a skylight in order to steal documents they somehow contrived to be dull - which is no mean feat. The most fascinating, and actually I found it genuinely gripping, chapter concerned the manipulation of a grant awarding panel meeting in order to deprive a particular grant of funding.I can't even say the book is "worthy yet dull" since its message, encapsulated in the quote above, is that we can invent our way out of the current crisis and, in fact, enable such invention by giving more money and power to scientists. It covers the issue of changing society and behaviour but comes to the conclusion that this is so deeply rooted in the Savannah brain evolved millions of years ago that we might as well give up on that route. Not that I necessarily object to the idea that scientists should have more money and power but I don't think that should be used as an excuse to abdicate responsibility for more wide-ranging changes.The book also doesn't really end, it just sort of stops. I mean, there is a big cataclysmic (at least if you live in San Diego or Washington) weather event but that is merely a climax. The stories that have been driving the novel don't really stop just because there has been a flood. I suspect Robinson would argue that it is obvious (or at least obvious enough) where most of the stories are going to end by this point but I would disagree - especially the re-incarnated Tibetan Llama sub-plot that is only introduced properly on page 324 (the book has 355 pages) despite a fair amount of foreshadowing, is mentioned once thereafter and just left dangling. The whole thing had me checking for "first in a major new trilogy" bylines secreted in places I might not have noticed around the book... and I now see from teh comments here that there are indeed sequels.As a pet peeve the book also features an angelic toddler. Despite being mentioned as more troublesome and energetic than his sibling this toddler could sleep for America. He sleeps so soundly and reliably his stay-at-home Dad takes him (sleeping on his back) into a critical meeting with the President in order to discuss the details of a climate change bill. OK so Gwendolen has always treated the concept of sleep with deep contempt but I doubt most real parents of even reliably sleeping toddlers would contemplate trying to do this. The book tries to show how difficult it is to work while caring for a toddler but I was just amazed at how much this particular parent appeared to able to get done.Its not a bad book by any means but I wasn't gripped by it and was mostly bored or irritated in turns. A disappointment.
reading_fox on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Stunning. A wonderful scientific science fiction work, the feel for how science is actually practised and funded is intricately detailed and correct, the additional climbing terms also capture reality. First in a trilogy about global warming, set slightly into our future. Anna and her co-worker Frank, work at a funiding body the (fictional) National Science Foundation, reviewing and awarding research applications. Anna's husband father at home, works for an "environmentally friendly" senator, but no-one seems to take global warming seriously, business as usual, even the "League of drowned nations" newest members, monks in exile form Tibet, can't get anything done. Then two storms collide at hightide ... All the rest of the science is very accurate, I'm not a climatologist but I hope KSR has done equally accurate research here too. The events seem a bit "Day after Tomorrow" like, but the writing is supurb. I hope the quality lasts throughout the trilogy.
ejp1082 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first of a new trilogy. I'm currently reading the just released second chapter, "Fifty Degrees Below". I quite enjoy it because Robinson manages to touch on so many disparate elements through the lens of characters who are leading very normal, human lives. There's current science surrounding global climate and global warming, Buddhist philosophy, and the very real intersections of politics and scientific research, and how it gets done in the real world.Of particular prescience is the startling similarities between the climax of this book and what happened to New Orleans this past summer.I quite enjoyed the read although I don't feel it's as strong as his "Mars" novels - but I'd still highly reccomend it to anyone who enjoys hard science fiction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Expected more sci fi drama but not there. Even ends badly.
GirasolMJC More than 1 year ago
This continues Robinson's climate changs series and gives a fairly realistic,if drastic, idea of what may be coming all too soon. A few degrees of warming will be disaster for LOTS of low elevation population centers. I also learned tons about DC!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Kim Stanley Robinson's Forty Signs of Rain has all the makings of a masterpiece. Characters are so well drawn that one sentence into a new chapter is all that's needed for identification. The story is well-crafted and seemingly simple, starting with a basic education in Arctic ice levels, moving through U.S. politics with scathing brilliance, following the plight of Tibetan Buddhist refugees whose emerging nation is on a submerging island in the Indian Ocean, and dissecting the lives of scientists caught between searching for a viable medical truth and making millions off patents...and this is just book one in a trilogy. I couldn't put this book down and I can't wait for the next two books!