Fifty Degrees Below

Kim Stanley Robinson
Fifty Degrees Below Cover

Fifty Degrees Below - Kim Stanley Robinson


...I think Fifty Degrees Below is a better novel than Forty Signs of Rain. It's his most political novel up to that point and probably also the one that is most likely to polarize readers. The tighter focus on a single character will not be appreciated by all readers but does give us the most detailed look into the mind of a type character that Robinson portrays in a number of his novels: the scientist engaged with society, working not just to expand the sum of human knowledge but to put this knowledge in practice too. Through Frank's eyes we see science reaching out to society and politics in a way that clashes with the traditional view of science as the pursuit knowledge only. Will science be able to overcome the shortcomings of the current political process? Will science help us deal with the current crisis better than the current policy of denial?

Fifty Degrees Below poses some very fundamental questions about the way we run the world at the moment. Not everybody will agree with Robinson's views but it makes for fascinating reading. At it's core, this novel is not a thriller but a political statement and the message is 'we need to do something now!' Read it as such and there is plenty of material to think about. It hits a lot closer to home than the Mars trilogy or other novels set in various places in the solar system. Earth is old, full and complicated and changing the direction we're headed is hard. The details of a story tackling such a complex subject and the details of science underpinning will always be debatable but Robinson captures that sense of complexity and inertia in society very well. All things considered I think I got a lot more out of this novel than during my first read.

Click on the link below for my full review.