Kim Stanley Robinson has released the conclusion to his trilogy, Sixty Days and Counting, just in time! The hardcover is out and the paperback will be out at Christmas, if not, early next year: just in time for everyone to buy it, read the trilogy, and decide who to vote for in the Presidential elections of November 2008. Again, Robinson is not looking to wow and amaze readers with shocking scifi events, but keeping true to the close reality of his world.
The Gulf Stream is working well again, President Chase is just taking office, knowing that the absolute worse may have been averted for a little while, but that there is still very much to do. Selecting a cabinet composed of the many characters we have come to know over Forty Signs of Rain and Fifty Degrees Below, we know this administration is on our side and looking out for the world and its people. It is here Robinson really shines using his amazing knowledge of science and physics in coming up with ways to deal with the immense carbon dioxide volume being both pumped into the atmosphere and already there causing world temperatures to rise. The United States bands together with countries around the world, such as Russia and China, in the development of a fast growing lichen that will spread through a forest fast under the right conditions, and has an astonishing carbon absorption rate. Working in conjunction, the world slowly begins to heal itself. On a subplot level, Frank Vanderwal, who is now an assistant to a cabinet member, is looking for his quasi-girlfriend whose former husband was instrumental in a plot to rig the election that failed. It becomes a game of cat and mouse, as Frank and his girlfriend try to stay ahead of the chasing husband.
By the end of the book, some simple matters are resolved, while the world is a little calmer in their nonstop fight to “cool down” global warming. The one final consolation is Tibet being declared independent once more from the Chinese, and the close friends of the main characters who moved to DC at the beginning of the series because their island, Khembalung, was drowning due to rising ocean levels, have been vindicated.
Robinson’s message is clear at the end: global warming cannot be completely stopped, and to slow it down will be a long and arduous struggle that will last through our lives and into our children’s and grandchildren’s lives; but there is hope for this planet, so long as we act now and soon. The series will make the next presidential election a very interesting time.
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Originally written on April 8th, 2007 ©Alex C. Telander.
Kim Stanley Robinson will be interviewed in episode 28 of Bookbanter available March 15. Check out the Bookbanter website for more information.