The Ministry for the Future

Paperback, 563 pages

English language

Published June 21, 2021 by Orbit.

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4 stars (9 reviews)

Established in 2025, the purpose of the new organization was simple: To advocate for the world's future generations and to protect all living creatures, present and future. It soon became known as the Ministry for the Future, and this is its story.

From legendary science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson comes a vision of climate change unlike any ever imagined.

Told entirely through fictional eye-witness accounts, The Ministry For The Future is a masterpiece of the imagination, the story of how climate change will affect us all over the decades to come.

Its setting is not a desolate, post-apocalyptic world, but a future that is almost upon us - and in which we might just overcome the extraordinary challenges we face.

It is a novel both immediate and impactful, desperate and hopeful in equal measure, and it is one of the most powerful and original books on climate change ever …

6 editions

Important but not fully successful artistically

4 stars

Terrifyingly, largely nonfiction. After a very strong, almost shocking opening, it lacks a strong story arc that pulls you through the book, the kaleidoscopic storytelling feeling a bit artificial. But full of interesting, sometimes essential ideas and insights about climate breakdown, the wider socio-economic system and possible solutions. After only two years already somewhat dated, which makes it even more terrifying.

Repackaged state power as a solution to the climate crisis.

4 stars

What would a worldwide, lasting revolution look like? What would be the obstacles and what tactics would be needed to overcome them? How are we going to survive climate change? These are the themes Kim Stanley Robinson tackles in his 570-page cli-fi novel THE MINISTRY FOR THE FUTURE.

The narrative is disjointed, with epistolary chapters placed throughout. If you roll with it, it works well. You get a well-researched, fairly well-rounded picture across class, power, and geography. The format makes for a clever way to introduce details that otherwise might not fit into a traditional narrative. I also appreciate the global perspective of this book. The U.S. is not at the center at all, and is critiqued heavily and fairly.

THE MINISTRY FOR THE FUTURE envisions a world that includes the Half-Earth concept as one of its solutions to combat climate change. Half of the planet would be reserved exclusively …

Some thoughtfully imagined hope

5 stars

Well-researched vignettes and story lines portray some of the likelyhoods and possibilities the changing climate could dish out. The thorough research doesn't always equal plausibility for me, but I found it educating and probably a much healthier rumination than I can manage on my own. Don't mistake hopeful for utopian, there is no denial that if there going to be hope humanity is going to get it's ass kicked on the way.

Review of 'Ministry for the Future' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

Ambitious and well-informed, but politically and emotionally implausible in key respects. That, of course would hardly be a criticism in much speculative sci-fi (hell, it defines the genre!) but good world-building invites us to embrace certain implausible (or outright ridiculous) foundations, by drawing us into a compelling story or novel vision, hopefully both. Here, alas, the vision far exceeds the power of the underlying stories to draw the reader in, and so the limits of character development and political-institutional simplicities become increasingly grating. Still, things could be (marginally) worse: he could have written Neal Stephenson's Termination Shock instead! :/

Too much blockchain and geoengineering

3 stars

I thought I would enjoy this book a lot more, and it ended up being a bit of a slog towards the end. A lot of the writing is very "stream of consciousness", and there's not much of a plot to speak of.

In terms of finding ideas for addressing climate change, there's too much focus on blockchain and geoengineering. Not really solarpunk.

A book worth starting

3 stars

The first 1/3 landed really well, but it started falling apart quickly after that. First KSR I've read, and I had "hard scifi" expectations for characterization, but there was still some corny stuff.

But despite the awkward anonymous first person chapters and uncomfortable Switzerland fetishization I think it succeeds at its primary goal: envisioning a collaborative utopian approach to realistic climate change impacts.

KSR trying to answer "how to write about/actually respond to climate change"

4 stars

So his answers for both, basically: maximalism. The point he's sort of making is that making the planet safely inhabitable is going to take every tactic and every ideology not necessarily working together but working on some piece of the thing. No one actor gets to be the hero (though I do enjoy that KSR's favorite kind of protagonist remains the middle-aged competent lady technocrat–guy's got a type) and while he's sort of indicating that capitalism as we know it has to die, he's not saying that happens through inevitable worker uprising. Some of it's coercion of central banks and some of it's straight-up guerrilla terrorism. Geoengineering happens at varying scales for better and for worse. Massive economic collapses occur. Millions die. And the point I think from KSR is that's the outcome in his most optimistic take. In general with KSR I don't know if I ever fully agree, …


  • Speculative Fiction
  • Climate Change
  • Politics
  • Environment