Mary Murphy, former foreign minister of Ireland, leads the Ministry for the Future (the nickname for a new international climate-crisis body) into deep and ever-deepening water in this story of geo-engineers trying to ensure our species’ planetary survival. Not only must they work in the teeth of runaway climate change; they face antagonistic groups whose opposition comes in all shades from the principled to the panicked to the positively malign. It’s a tale as sincerely thought out in human terms as it’s technically well researched.
Robinson shows that an ambitious systems novel about global heating must in fact be an ambitious systems novel about modern civilisation too, because everything is so interdependent. Luckily, when he opens one of his discursive interludes with the claim “Taxes are interesting”, he makes good on it within two pages. There is no shortage of sardonic humour here, a cosmopolitan range of sympathies, and a steely, visionary optimism.