It might have been too soon after Aurora to read another Kim Stanley Robinson novel. But I’ve had 2312 in my collection for two years and needed to finish it. Also, I’ve been Jonesing lately for science fiction stories that take place exclusively in our solar system, rather than depicting interstellar travel.
Robinson builds up a plot in his usual way– out of a mosaic of endless, tiresome, breathtaking description. He does random, nonsensical things just for the opportunity they provide for his long-winded sensualities, like having his protagonist travel from Io to Earth on a ship with absolutely no internal lighting, and another ship that is one long orgy.
He breaks up the narrative with entire chapters of scientific, technological, and sociological exposition and lists, which he calls “abstracts,” “extracts,” and yes, “lists,” as if determined to show off his world-building notes and editing castoffs. Must be nice to get away with that.
His main character is annoyingly, stubbornly naive and storms through the novel like a bull in a China shop. I went back and forth between admiring her courage and wanting to smack her.
I was intrigued by the actual plot, when Robinson actually paused to spend syllables on it. It presents as a political mystery–terrorist acts the main characters must trace the origin of. Robinson should consider adding a plot to his word paintings more often in the future.