It’s early in the 24th century and we still don’t have FTL drive. In fact, the best we can do is .2C and that speed takes over a century to spin up to. So, in 2312, our own solar system is the extent of humanity’s grasp and it has been mostly populated.
So, humanity—or what evolved from humanity—is bound to the sun. Furthermore, they are bound to Earth for all spacers should return for a year every seven for maximum longevity or simply to feel the wind in their hair.
Why is this on our bookshelf?
2312 is a 2013 Hugo award nominee and Robinson has won the award twice before (for Red Mars and Green Mars). Finally, here is an excerpt from the jacket cover: “The year is 2312. Scientific and technological advances have opened gateways to an extraordinary future.”
Rating (2 stars)
As I mentioned before, spaceflight in this rendition of the 24th century is not terribly fast. Unfortunately, this book is paced very similarly. It takes five days to ride a space elevator up from Earth to orbit and months to travel across the solar system. This makes for a very slow read; one that I found excruciating.
All of the plot lines in this book seem to be given equal weight and they progress onward with a flat affect. Even the titular events of 2312 are underwhelming. Truly, by that point I wanted it to end. Or, alternatively, intersect and come together in an unexpected and interesting way. Midway through I was looking for the story to mock my inattention by bringing back details full-circle. I desperately wanted a plot twist that never came.
Finally—and this would be a spoiler if it wasn’t so obvious—the protagonist falls in true love to (presumably) live happily ever after. The only thing ruining that cliché is a bit of poorly implemented humor from Swan’s comic relief sidekick computer who is, arguably, the best character in the book.
Read this book:
if you are waiting out five day space-elevator ride from Earth to orbit, or on a multi-month trip from Mercury to Jupiter in a terraria.
Don't Read this book:
while driving, operating heavy machinery, or doing anything else that could be dangerous.
Once you're done, do this:
Read a short(er) story. Perhaps The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow by Cory Doctorow