Kim Stanley Robinson, THE MINISTRY FOR THE FUTURE

Philosopher and cultural critic Steven Shaviro reviews Kim Stanley Robinson’s new book:

The Ministry for the Future: A Novel: Robinson, Kim Stanley: 9780316300131:  Books - Amazon.ca

The Ministry for the Future (2020) is dedicated to Fredric Jameson, and it offers an elegant and effective solution to the dilemma that Jameson outlined in his discussion of postmodernism several decades ago: how to ‘endow the individual subject with some new heightened sense of its place in the global system,’ when this system is dense and interconnected in ways that defy ordinary forms of representation. Robinson knows that a Spinozian understanding of this system sub specie aeternitatis, or a Hegelian grasp of the system in its dialectical totality, is impossible — the world system cannot be captured experientially, nor can it be cognized completely. Therefore, Robinson gives us multiple, and only loosely interconnected, perspectives — each of them is grounded in particular, incomplete sorts of experiences; but all of these actions and passions have global ramifications, well beyond the immediate experiences of the people who act and undergo them. The novel is filled with close descriptions of places and of actions, that are filled with local detail — but that also have implications that reach well beyond their immediate contexts. The book as a whole is discontinuous rather than synthesized into a perfectly shaped whole — but part of Robinson’s demonstration is that anything that were so well-shaped, would be, by that very fact, representationally inadequate. It is precisely this sort of open, indefinitely extensible, and never-completed endeavor that makes science fiction writing into ‘the realism of our time,’ as Robinson insists in numerous essays and interviews.”

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