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New York 2140 - the ocean has arrived


New York 2140: A Novel by Kim Stanley Robinson

From one of our favourite science fiction authors comes another epic and very human novel based in, unsurprisingly, New York, around the year 2140. With a range of interesting and compelling characters, each slowly introduced independently and whose paths eventually converge, Robinson paints a post-climate change world that has already experienced two ‘pulses’ of traumatic sea level rise so that all of lower Manhattan is now flooded and a new water city has emerged.

Kim Stanley Robinson is a perceptive story teller who imaginatively creates highly plausible worlds. New York 2140 is not an entirely dystopian future. There is still money to be made (by the 1% in particular) and there is the usual struggle to survive by many in the bottom on the social ladder. One chapter in particular tells the story of how the world ended up as it did:

‘The Second Pulse was a lot worse than the First in its effects, because the total rise in sea level ended up at around fifty feet. This truly thrashed all the coastlines of the world, causing a refugee crisis rated at ten thousand katrinas. One eighth of the world’s population lived near coastlines and were more or less directly impacted, as was fishing and aquaculture, meaning one third of humanity’s food, plus a fair bit of coastal (meaning in effect rained-upon) agriculture, as well as the aforementioned shipping. And with shipping forestalled, thus impacting world trade, the basis for that humming neo-liberal global success story that had done so much for so few was also thrashed. Never had so much been done to so many by so few!’ Robinson, Kim Stanley. New York 2140 (Kindle Locations 2325-2330). Little, Brown Book Group. Kindle Edition.

But don’t worry, the world still trundles on, people get born (and die), and that world seems normal to them. And we get to read about it!


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(c) Simon Kerr 2019