2312 (novel)

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Robinson, Kim Stanley. 2312. New York City and elsewhere: Orbit (Hachette Book Group), 2012.[1] Audiobook: Hachette Audio, released 22 May 2012 (annotation based on audiobook,[2] checked against Wikipedia entry.[3]

As a novel by Stan Robinson, 2312 includes, as we should expect, serious considerations of ethics, sociology, and politics, including the sociology and politics of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, the organization of work and families — and the implications of human longevity and body shape, body enhancements and size. In structure, 2312 is a science-fictional variation on romantic comedy plus political thriller, mostly relevant here for the setting and plot of the thriller. The setting is the human solar system in the title year; hence, many locations — in the narrative and cinematic sense — are high-tech environments so advanced that the technology is there and encompassing, but frequently almost invisible, a kind of transparency emphasized by the protagonist's recent occupation as a designer of asteroid terraria and frequent inhabitant of Terminator: the human city on the planet Mercury, which survives and thrives pushed along tracks that expand and contract, keeping the city out of potentially deadly sunlight. The most immediate threats to human cities and human more or usually less terraformed worlds are attacks by an artificial meteorite formed by the coalescence immediately over the target of a swarm of chunks of matter each individually too small to trigger defenses. The calculations for such a weapon are so complex that they would require the use of "qubes": AI quantum computers that can be small enough to be worn on a human wrist or implanted into a human skull. So for "the human/machine interface" in wide senses of each term, note here human containment inside high-tech environments, and human beings interfacing with AI and other high-tech within their bodies.

(Totally tangentially, note a sly, subtle, and courteous nod to the "Ursula" in Ursula K. Le Guin in a tech term for discussing a variety of androgynous humans in 2312.)


RDE, 14/VIII/15