40 Signs of Something

When I first started reading this book I had every belief that it was going to be just another far fetched science fiction novel about climate change. So imagine my surprise when it was nothing of the sort. A lot of people describe this book as “boring” but I don’t really see that. I see a web of different stories that somehow intertwine together into one. Stanley does an amazing job of not being overly scientfictiony. That’s not to say he doesn’t throw a lot of facts at you because he does, the details of Leos biological research, the depth of Frank’s thoughts about everything, and even the dynamic that Charlie and Anna have going on. You would think that the little tid-bits of information he gives us about Charlie raising his sons or about what Frank really thinks about Anna or even how Leo feels about his boss are irrelevant, but they aren’t. All of the little details are what make the story real. They make it believable. They make us relate to it in a way we haven’t before. So no, we aren’t given a page turning action packed novel, we’re given something else entirely. An invitation to see how all of these different lives intertwine together to show us what can happen.

Stanley also really shows us how much words matter when it comes to our government and how things work. We see Charlie talking on the phone about getting his ideas through congress to construct carbon sinks and to work for international cooperation for amelioration of climate change. We see how much the emphasis is on the words that are used when he just has to turn around one or two within the piece of legislation he’s trying to get passed. It just shows how even though climate change is a real thing thats happening right now, you still have to be manipulative and careful to show that it’s really something that we have to take care of with out in-sighting fear into everyone. It’s a catch 22. We can’t over sell it because we, just like in the book at first, are not seeing the effects right away. We’ve been talking about it so long, about how its such a problem and we’re going to be sorry…but no one cares. And the fact that nothing significant has happened just justifies and reinforces the people in power’s decision to do nothing about it. Now the flip side, us underselling it, us not doing everything in our power to show people how important it is, will have everyone going crazy asking where were the scientists that were supposed to have seen this coming.  A perfect example of this is in the article “In 300 Years, Kim Stanley Robinson’s science fiction won’t be fiction” when he refers to us as “the dithering”. Not only do we refuse to believe it, we blatantly deny that it is even happening.

Everything always leads back to money and power. Money in the sense that in order to combat this problem, its gonna take money. And a lot of it. If no one can see a major cataclysmic even within our life time, they see no reason to just throw money at it. Then we come to power. Ever notice how people with all the power in the world really don’t do anything? Well when it comes to politics, I’m sorry to say that the needs of the greater good don’t always outweigh the power of an election year or political agendas. If no one else is trying to fix something and you’re the only one making noise, you’re going to find yourself being the odd one out. We are the only people who can save our planet, but a lot of us are letting anything but what’s right get in the way of what needs to be done. Kim Stanley Robinson showed us that if nothing else, we need to pay attention.

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