June 2004
© 2004 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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Forty Signs of Rain by Kim Stanely Robinson
Bantam HCVR: ISBN 0553803115 PubDate: 06/01/04
Review by Ernest Lilley (editor@sfrevu.com)

384 pgs. List price $25
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A confluence of events. That’s what this book of climactic change is about, and set in Washington DC and its nearby environs, I’m vastly bemused by the fact that I’m sitting here in a Starbucks across from the Pentagon writing this review. A location that at any second the characters in this excellent expository adventure might walk through, as accurately realized as only Robinson realizes things. From his knowledge of the ins and outs of the National Science Foundation, the impact of global warming on polar ice, and other big issues, to the feel of the DC Metro, the hustle of Starbucks staff (unique in the world of baristas, and only in select DC stores) and the campus-like feel of DC, KSR knows of whence he speaks. Speaking of speaking, he’ll be giving a talk at the NSF on Wed June 16th. A chapter from the end of the book, I was reluctant to finish it. First off, it’s probably epilogue. Secondly, that means I’d have to wait for the next book…because I already know it’s a trilogy.

Forty Signs Of Rain sets the stage for major climactic change. Go ahead. Think of it as the first part of The Day After Tomorrow, but with good science and a more realistic timeframe. Indeed, severe climactic change might take place in years rather than the days in the movie, but years are the blink of an eye, even when measured in terms of human reflection.

Anna and Charlie Quibling (that’s quibling with one “b”) are one of the many government employed professionals in the DC area. They live in a condo inside the beltway, have two kids, and somewhere in the back of their minds, they’d like to save the world. Anna is a scientist doing proposal reviews at the NSF, and Charlie is a rare stay at home Dad, taking care of the rambunctious Joe, the second of their children, while writing environmental policy statements for “the most environmentally aware senator on the hill.” Which, unfortunately, isn’t saying much.

Frank Vanderwaals,

© 2004 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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