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Summary

Chosen by Barack Obama as one of his favourite reads of 2020

Established in 2025, the purpose of the new organisation 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 written.

©2020 Kim Stanley Robinson (P)2020 Hachette Audio UK

What listeners say about The Ministry for the Future

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Huge narration pitfall

A wonderful, sprawling, vital book for our times, massively let down by bizarre narration style of Jennifer Fitzgerald as Mary (the main character), who reads her chapters as if reciting a bedtime story to sleepy toddlers, a tone that lies somewhere between patronising and slightly simple. It was utterly impossible to take her seriously as a tough, hugely respected head of an international organisation at a time of global breakdown. Such a shame as the other narrators are largely very good (and a couple of them exceptional). A friend lent me a copy of the physical book and I ended up using that to read the Mary chapters and Audible-ing the rest! It's a fantastic book though.

10 people found this helpful

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What a disappointment

I bought this book having read positive reviews in a number of newspapers and as a longstanding fan of the Mars trilogy. Unfortunately I have reached the 4 hour mark and have decided against persevering any further.

The problems lie with both the text and the production. The author's warnings of the risks posed by climate change are clearly very important but on the basis of what I have heard so far he has spent too long on research and not enough time on constructing a story on which to hang it. Detailed descriptions of district and street names may serve to confirm that he has visited various of the places in which the story unfolds but offer scant consolation when characters behave implausibly or when the plot depends upon one too many coincidences.

So far as the production is concerned it embraces a series of single person narratives interspersed with editorial. The multiple narrators should be well suited to this style but none of them are particularly adept and one of them does just about the worst accents that I have ever heard. Given that she is narrating one of the main plot threads and is often discussing really serious topics then the thread of the story is seriously undermined by the urge to laugh at a ludicrous accent.

In short, this might be a book better enjoyed in print.

8 people found this helpful

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Tedious with near comic narration

Tedious writing - cod climate change ‘what-if’ story interspersed with long factual sections. Like being caught by the bores in a University bar. But the narration is so poor and distracting, people just doing silly voices that border on racist.

4 people found this helpful

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Brilliant

‘Doughnut’-minded AirMiners of all latitudes and longitudes will love this book. Thank you KSR for writing it. The future is not set. Keep on keeping on!

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Everyone should read this book

Not heavily plot driven but riveting nonetheless. Enough emotional engagement in the main character, Mary, to keep you invested. But the carefully researched facts and about economics, science and ecology are vital and illuminating.

1 person found this helpful

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Bit of a Frankinstein, doesnt work as an audio.

Not sure this was for me. very interesting on climate change but the fusion of science chapters with narrative fiction chapters didnt work.

There was also a chapter intended as a solely dialogue interview. But with one reader the guy had to mix up a range of English regional accents with terrifying/confusing/hilarious results.

Sure the topic is hard hitting and very well researched but the narrative story was boring, and was not written at all well. Character dialogue and actions are one note and basic, or just plain nonsensical. I gave up about 5 hours in when the encounter between 2 main POV characters descended into VERY repetitive dialogue.

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Hard to follow

The themes of this book are very relevant and it is great that there is a novel about them. I love listening to books - especially while doing something else like cleaning, driving, gardening. However this book was so hard to follow. I felt like every chapter is from a new perspective, with a new character. Perhaps someone who reads or listens with more concentration than I do can follow it - I was not able to finish it. I have got to chapter 43 of 106 chapters and am still not sure if there are any main charaters. There is one which seem to come up a little more often - but it is exhausting trying to keep up with the plot. It seems very random.

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Good story, horrible reader

Feels wrong to write a review after only listening 3 hours, but one of the readers of this audiobook is just aweful, it is driving me bonkers. The attempts og «foreign dialects» «performed» by the woman that reads the part of Mary is so bad that it ruins the rest of the book. The irish dialect of Mary is good but everything else is purely painful to listen to. It is so bad it makes me angry. Would pay good money to have it rerecorded by someone else.

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Frighteningly believable

No crazy scifi tech or 1in1000000 chance meteors from space. This is what will happen, on our current trajectory.

The book makes a very personal and human account of people in the thick of it, from all ends of the spectrum. At times depressingly inevitable, upsettingly tragic and heart-warmingly life affirming.

The book doesn't tell you sea levels will rise, temperatures increase and millions of people displaced - you live it, person to person.

Very well written (Kim Stanley Robison is of course a genius) and amazing narration to showcase the spread of cultures and personalities.

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Vital.

There’s a line in the movie “sorry to bother you” that goes something like: “if you present people with a problem and no solution they just get used to the problem.” This book at least feels like it presents some solutions.

Performances were good except for the terrible way that American guy pronounced Glasgow, but I’ll forgive.

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  • Emma Hooper
  • 11-11-20

eco-utopian politics and economics

Fantastic book, almost a manifesto. Lays out a map for transitioning from late capitalist ecocide to... something better. Like the best SF it takes us from our current world into something new in an entirely plausible way, backed by solid research and considered speculation. The story centres on Mary, head of the Ministry and we have just enough engagement with her inner life to humanize and personalise the global events.

At times a couple of the narrators are perhaps a little too eager to "act" the role they are reading, and some of the attempts at accents are questionable, but this is a mere quibble and those passages are short. The bulk of the book as superbly narrated.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Diane Reynolds
  • 03-07-21

Boring

This book is just boring. There are pockets of adventure, but in between are huge sections of weird quasi scientific ranting. It jumps around. I gave up about 5 hours in. I suspect it is better is you read it so you can see the breaks and skim some of the pieces when they get annoying. It just didn’t work for me as an audiobook.