That actually sounds incredibly fun. Taking pictures and photoshopping in water at the appropriate levels would be pretty cool too.
I have to say, not having been to New York and having nothing on the line, that actually does sound like an incredibly cool setting.
These things are all anchored into bedrock anyway, so it's not like you should have to worry about the material under the foundations shifting or eroding.
Part of good literature and movies is being sold the story so as to suspend disbelief. This has always happened with KSR's books for me. Funnily enough, it didn't happen with Breaking Bad - I couldn't finish it.
Anyway, diversity makes the world an interesting place!
A planet with a huge human population and associated infrastructure is way more fragile. If you threw a lens in front of Earth, all sorts of frightening things would happen to circulation in the air and seas. In the books, Mars got some batshit crazy dust storms in the middle of its process, and Mars' atmosphere had wayy less energy capacity than Earth's at that point.
I guess my point is this didn't hurt my suspension of disbelief. Presupposing the orbital lenses are possible, it's not utterly insane to conceive them as imprecise tools that would make a mess of a full fledged biosphere.
The same reason the future is so hard to predict is the same reason outcomes that don't necessarily make sense at first should be given the benefit of a doubt and reasons should be looked for, not discounted.
Not only does it make things more enjoyable, but you end up learning a lot more. It does take admitting you may not be the genius you thought you were though, so some people have trouble with that...
It's obviously fatuous to suggest that, oh no, 4 degrees of global warming is a huge problem but also, given the ability to finely control global solar influx with essentially infinite variability (they are, after all, suggesting that they'll use their sunshade to give Venus a day-night cycle, so they can open and close the damn thing every 24 hours indefinitely), you can't find a solution to Earth's global warming problem that's better than four degrees of global warming. A perfect solution? Perhaps not! But better than their status-quo.
And what was their amazing solution? Literally air-drop animals everywhere. Think that might have some unintended consequences?
The whole thing was absurd. KSR seemed to have no ability to stitch together terrestrial problems that were plausible within the framework of the rest of his solar system.
In truth, I'll probably read the whole thing eventually, since I bought the paperback already, but it's certainly not a page-turner.
Though that calls into question the premise of the book, because they would have likely either filled in the land or built levees sometime in the half-century or so that the sea was rising.
(Flooding them could never happen, but sealing them against 50 feet of sea level rise seems like a comparatively minor feet.)
If your goal is to protect all five boroughs of NYC, you have to protect Brooklyn, which faces the open sea directly. So a huge seawall south of of Brooklyn, crossing over to Sandy Hook. That looks to be closer to 10 km straight across.
The east is also tricky, because the Bronx reaches so far north and east. Your best bet is probably a dam at Sands Point, but it will have to be a good 4 km long. That should be fun.
Finally there is the Hudson river, which flows north to south. You are going to have to divert that somewhere, or it will just pool up in New York harbor until it finds a way to the sea. A Yonkers-New Rochelle canal perhaps?
If this is your plan, you will have the gratitude of an entire generation of civil engineers, construction workers, and financiers. Your taxpayers may be less enthusiastic.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Petersburg_Dam to compare to - 15mi of dams built for a much less wealthy city.
So here we go again - a book that seems like it's focused on interesting ideas, but is that worth plowing through acres of arid prose?
Most sci-fi is a narrative set in some kind of technologically-different universe. His is more like a serious meditation on what that universe would be like if it really did exist.
The later books in the series slowly take on a more traditional structure, with focus more on a smaller cast of "heroes" about whom most of the action takes place.
Meandering plot lines I'm fine with. I kinda like it in fact.
What a great set of books, and I secretly hope it will one day be made into movies or a serie (HBO please ? ;-) )
>To truly spoil the end of the book...
You've just convinced me to buy it, and now I can't read further in your article. I don't know if its safe to keep reading, and I'm not going to tempt spoiling the book. Even if it is tongue-in-cheek, how would I know that for sure?
I know, atleast for me, it can help influence what I should consume when given time constraints.
Relatedly (because I have actually had people argue with me about this before) I really don't get why so many people (like these researchers) feel the need to tell me that those sensations I just described are invalid or imaginary.
I read the paragraph and still want to read the book.
(Looks slightly upscaled, but probably from a better source than in the posted article.)
> What I wanted to say with that part of the plot is you can’t hack the system, you have to legislate the system. Because hacks are reversible and they are too secret and they’re kind of like a desire for a technical, silver-bullet solution like you might get out of Silicon Valley people but in fact these are laws, global laws. So what you really need is legislation to change them and Piketty-ing the tax code.
Perhaps I should muster the courage to try some of his other work.
the characters go "well, eff it, I guess we have to make it work here on Earth". It seems to me that, in the arc of KSR's work, Aurora is the effective acceptance that humans will have to make Earth work for them, for better or worse, even as they collectively wrecked the planet. And that seems a nice segue into New York 2140.
Note however at the end of the book cryo-sleep is developed. This technology removes the main moral argument and technological difficulty against extra-solar travel as presented in the book. It is even noted in the book that a new wave of human colonization is taking place. KSR seems to be making both arguments at once but only telling one side of the story.
You do make an interesting point which I didn't emphasize: Aurora also makes a moral argument against generation ships.
But I think things get more complicated still. If you accept the book's argument, accept cryogenic sleep, but also accept that Earth is something like the biggest generation ship we have, then where do we stand? If we accept that cryogenic sleep solves that part of the moral argument, then we kind of walked into Woody Allen's plot for Sleeper (that is, why not sleep right here on Earth until things improve?) These are really tough questions to consider.
Needless to say, I think Aurora is the deepest, most introspective work that KSR has produced.
Not quite. The other difficulty presented is the sparsity of places suitable to settle at. And what you do then if you're not very lucky on arrival.
Option 1: Go to sleep and go home.
Option 2: Setup a small research station in a spun up asteroid and get terraforming.
Option 2 is much nicer with cryo-sleep. Try a terraforming experiment and sleep for 50 years to see how it worked out. You can even cycle people between Earth and the research station (see the plot of Alien). Planetary Geologists can live their lives on geologic time scales.
Or you could improve your odds by sending robots or small teams to many different stars (sleep, explore, sleep). You don't need to bring a full-cycle ecosystem until you decide to stay. Find good planetary sites and then send over the supplies.
My read of Aurora was that interstellar colonization was about to take place, but the PoV characters were against it.
You definitely won't get that from the Mars trilogy (or indeed Antartica which is pretty much "White Mars").
I have to say I rather liked Aurora though - I thought the Ship character was well done.
It's a relief to think that even if we do fuck up Earth in ways which seem like they may be very likely to happen, it is still such a good place for humans to live, ie better than any other planet we know of, even with serious terraforming efforts.
Do read the Mars trilogy, which has strife, but also hope.
But I'm struggling with 2140 (just checked and I'm 41% of the way through). Despite living in New York and having a lot of fun with the description of a venetian New York it's just not grabbing my interest yet. I'm going to keep plodding through it but at this stage I'd rather just start re-reading Red Mars again.
JG Ballard tackled a somewhat similar scenario in 1962 with The Drowned World. (1) It was London, not NYC, and the catastrophe was still progressing, which would lead ultimately to human extinction or the triumph of the reptiles. The beauty in the book was Ballard's language, the evocative descriptions of the world, and the sad main character living out his remaining days in a skyscraper penthouse. Worth reading (and comparing with Robinson's book).
It's pretty rare to find a character in Ballard's stories who acts "rationally" and usually (at least in my experience) the few that do tend to look alien/mad because they are still using human logic and common sense in a world that has obviously moved in a totally different direction.
In any case, these are just passive musings. I frequent Delta of Venus because I like the patio.
> "You can indeed become enormously wealthy and still be a good person just playing the game. That point needed to be raised because, as Orson Welles once pointed out, everybody has their reasons. Very few people are thinking as a sociopath might think, that nothing matters to me."
Glad to see this sentiment is a driver in this book's dystopia. A little slice of healing for our political climate.
I doubt that neoliberal capitalism will be "the real villain" 100 years from now. Capital is in the process of being superceded by information (a further rarification/reification of social relations).
Either way, it's hard to imagine neoliberalism making a good sci-fi villain. At all.
Sometimes I really can't follow comments on HN for technical jargon, this one I can't follow because I have no idea what you're on about.
How do you see capital being replaced by information?
Excerpted from Matt Levine's Money Stuff newsletter:
> One simple story to tell here is that globalization and technology have shifted the bargaining power between entrepreneurs and providers of capital. These days, if you want to start a social-media company, you don't need to raise a lot of money from investors to build a factory. You just need a dorm room, and your parents are probably paying for that. And if your social media company is a success, it can go global instantly with near-zero marginal costs. (Yes, I know, this does not exactly describe Snapchat, which is focused on developed economies and which has weirdly enormous costs, but still.) The path to being a gigantic profitable company is paved relatively more with ideas, and less with capital:
Vivek Wadhwa, a distinguished fellow at Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Engineering, says the “winner-take-all” culture in which a few tech companies emerge as hugely profitable from among a far-larger number that fail encourages investors to give tech executives more leeway.
Meanwhile the same forces of globalization and technology mean that there are a lot more people with capital. U.S. tech companies can raise money from China, or the Middle East, rather than limiting themselves to New York and San Francisco. Globalization opens up new markets, which makes good business ideas more valuable, and new sources of capital, which makes those ideas easier to fund.
So winning entrepreneurs are more valuable, while capital is less valuable and less scarce. Of course the bargaining dynamic between the people with ideas and the people with capital has shifted. You'd expect to see some of that playing out in price -- investors paying billions of dollars for unprofitable social-media companies -- but at some level, if you are a young billionaire entrepreneur, you don't really need any more money. You might as well bargain for more power, or more freedom.
Oh good, I'm glad the future can only be described as how the options of a select few are going to be different
At what point do these new aspects of our current "mode of production" reach a critical mass? I assume that by 2140, "neoliberalism" will not have much currency as a concept.
Note that there's a key typo in the introduction, suggesting the setting is 2040, and that made for a confusing first few minutes, but really, the book is set in 2140 indeed. Can't wait!