IMG_00802312 is exactly the kind of sic-fi novel that I adore; lots and lots of hard science, detailed techie details and complex societies explained at length. I was absolutely in my element reading this as part of Carl’s sci-fi experience and its up there with Jack Glass as my favourite reads of the year so far.

So, those of you who know Kim Stanley Robinson will be aware that apart from the stuff I’ve mentioned above he is brilliant at world building and deeply concerned about what humans are doing the planet. All of those themes are on show here but expanded away from Earth to the other planets and moons of the solar system which humanity has colonised. We are many years into these developments, so Mars, Mercury and so on have  been bio-engineered, have their own social structures in place and people have altered themselves in many different ways so gender is a complicated matter. As is the politics, which is the thrust of the story – terrorist attacks (or are they), alliances and rivalries at individual and planetary levels. The role of artificial intelligence is also a big issue – can we trust the technology used to smooth things along, can we really hide things from the implants in our heads and so on.

This is a terribly rambling description of the book and doesn’t really describe the plot terribly well. Against this messy background is basically a love story between Swan and Warham, the former from Mercury  and the latter from Titan, physiologically very different but a couple who come together during the course of the story as they try to work ou what’s really going on. I really liked them both and found their relationship convincing and rather lovely.

One of the most interesting things about the book is the structure, which intersperses the main plot developments (which are often described in terms of the main relationships within each of those sections) with extracts from relevant documents and lists of, well, stuff. I love lists so not at all unhappy with this but I think these interjections do slow the pace of the story, and I occasionally got a tiny wee bit impatient.

Reading this through again I feel I haven’t really captured what the novel is about but that’s not surprising. When the Book God asked me what 2312 was about while I was reading it I simply couldn’t describe the story in any coherent way. All I know is that I had a ball reading it and wonder if there will be a sequel because if there is I will so be there!

Loved it.