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The Big Apple is bitten: New York 2140

book review cover
book review cover contributed

IT'S 2140 and inevitably gigantic ice sheets have slipped off the Antarctic continent, lifting global sea levels by 15m and devastating coastal cities.

New York is more like New Venice - the streets are canals, and buildings on less solid foundations are crumbling while others have used technology to seal up lower floors and keep the interior liveable.

But what of the city's under-class? What is life like in the intertidal zone that much of the city has become?

And what of the economy? Has the financial system been bailed out once more by governments? Have the rich continued to get richer and the poor poorer?

Kim Stanley Robinson, author of the generation starship novel Aurora, once again produces a well-researched, superbly imagined, character-driven speculative fiction.

It's told from the points of view of a varied handful of residents in the old Met Life building.

Chapters for each of the characters are written in different styles - from pure observer to omniscient to first person. These are interspersed with rants by an unnamed, smart-alec New Yorker who breaks the fourth wall to offer exposition and cynical commentary, as if to readers further in the future: "Read on, reader, if you dare! Because history is the soap opera that hurts, the kabuki with real knives.”

It's a big, engaging read, and ultimately optimistic.

And it's left me wanting to read Walt Whitman again.

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