Science fiction about science. Real science with all the administrative (un)pleasantness; grant committees deciding about funding, making and breaking academic careers, pushing research from the public domain towards commercial monopolization with intellectual property rights protection and trade secrets. Lobbying government officials for funding and policy change. Rain. Certainly not a space opera, my usual Science Fiction reading.
It works. At first I was not so sure. While mentioning Game Theory and its application to, for instance, agenda setting may have gotten me hooked, a perfectly superfluous rant about the woes of neoclassical economics, the afflictions caused by it by believing in its oversimplifying assumptions, got me less sympathetic with the author’s cause climate change. Who the heck knows this strangely specific term neoclassical economics and who know about the other schools of economic thought? Yes, I do. Though I would be part of a very small minority indeed.
The story build up very slowly. It’s the first novel of a trilogy, so the author can take his time. He does. There are three story sub-plots which develop step by tiny step and only for two of them I see how they will connect later. Only at the very end things begin to accelerate, otherwise the novel remains remarkably uneventful. Thus, in a strange way Robinson manages to keep me turning the pages and looking forward to the next two books of the trilogy. Strange because I feel more compelled by the story’s background, the workings of the NSF and science politics, than the looming disaster that the trilogy is all about.