It’s the latest novel (2017) from one of the major sf writers of our time. The book asks us to imagine a New York City drowned by aggressive climate change, but still alive and thriving as not just another Venice, but a “super Venice.” Multiple plot lines follow lawyers, social media stars, ambitious lads, expat landlords, a boat-happy financier, and more as they navigate waters literal, political, cultural, and atmospheric.
Things buzz along at quite a clip until they take off for a massive climax. Along the way chapters are interspersed with Greek chorus-style ruminations on changing New York. Ultimately it’s a big love letter to NYC from a Californian… and a deep, imaginative, fun, and provoking look into the near future. Just what the book club ordered.
The book is fantastic. Robinson pulls off a completely believable world of rising oceans, coastal flooding, and economic cataclysm brought on by un-checked unchecked carbon emissions and the resultant global warming. New York 2140 is so much more than a climate change fable. The book is a NYC history lesson, a treatise on comparative economic systems, and an entertaining adventure story. What would man made climate change skeptics make of this fabulous book?
So it’s great. You’re excited to read it. Now, how do you participate in our reading?
First, grab a copy from library, bookstore, or friend. (This Amazon link takes you through my bookstore, so I appreciate it.) Then see if you can read along with this schedule:
July 23 – Part One. The Tyranny of Sunk Costs; Part Two. Expert Overconfidence
July 30 – Part Three. Liquidity Trap; Part Four. Expensive or Priceless?
August 6 – Part Five. Escalation of Commitment; Part Six. Assisted Migration
August 13 – Part Seven. The More the Merrier; Part Eight. The Comedy of the Commons
August 20 – leftover and concluding thoughts. This may include reactions to the 2018 Hugo award, scheduled to be given August 19th.
How can you share your thoughts? Easy. Every Monday I’ll post about the reading, adding some observations and discussion questions. You can respond in comments. And if you fall behind, or are reading at a later date, no problem; the comment box will remain open.
You can also share your thoughts on other platforms. Sometimes readers will post from their own blogs, and I’ll link back to them. Others will use Twitter, and I will embed or link to their tweets. Still others will make all kinds of web content, which I build links to. Meanwhile, all blog posts for this reading will be organized under a single tag, NewYork2140, so all of that content is available in one spot.
If you’d like to see how this works in practice, check out our reading of We Make the Road By Walking. You see my posts, people’s comments, and also links to and examples of readers’ work elsewhere on line. Our readings of Soonish and Lower Ed are also exemplary.
Now, there’s one more way to add to your reading. If you can get to New York City over the next month or so, a mixed or augmented reality (AR) project offers to show you what Times Square could look like were it flooded by climate change.
Interested? Grab a copy of New York 2140 and join us!
PS: actually, the vote was a tie between New York 2140 and Cixin Liu’s Three Body Problem. I made a difficult executive decision, as Robinson’s novel seemed slightly more of the moment than Liu’s. It was difficult because I really like both books. Read Three Body Problem at the same time and see what you think!