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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

Critic reviews

"The Ministry for the Future ranks among Robinson's best recent works, a collection of actions and observations that adds up to more than the sum of its eclectic and urgent parts." (Sierra)

"A breathtaking look at the challenges that face our planet in all their sprawling magnitude and also in their intimate, individual moments of humanity." (Booklist - starred review)

"Gutsy, humane... This heartfelt work of hard science-fiction is a must-read for anyone worried about the future of the planet." (Publishers Weekly - starred review)

What listeners say about The Ministry for the Future

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    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.

12 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.

9 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.

5 people 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.

2 people found this helpful

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A future unknown

I enjoyed the scope of this book, encumbering a larger world view, other than just that of the West's that storytellers often focus on. Overall a rambling tale that I found unfocused, ambitious, and overlong.

1 person 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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Really interesting story almost unlistenable voice acting

I think very hard to enjoy due to distracting voices that do not add to the story in any meaningful way. What is wrong with just having someone with a comprehensible voice reading the story without doing absurd accents. All of the accents attempted are done so half-heartedly and creates a squirming awkwardness when trying to enjoy the story.

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Terrible narration

Impossible to focus on the story or take it seriously when the narration across the board is so atrocious, even comical, not least due to the unnecessary attempts at accents.

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Captivating story

A daring and stunning vision of our potential future. Beautifully crafted, wonderfully performed, this will totally engulf you...and give some much needed hope in this time of the climate and ecological emergency.

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Thought-provoking

What will the future look like? Kim Stanley Robinson has thought widely and imaginatively about this question, and has clearly drawn deeply from the work of many people who are trying to solve our most frightening ecological and political challenges. The future he creates in this book doesn't always convince - and the narrative device might not always work - but it deserves huge credit for taking a global view of our globalized world. If you want to move beyond a doom-laden, frozen and terrifying vision of tomorrow, and think about how challenges and change can accelerate solutions, it is worth a listen.

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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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  • Courtiol Alexandre
  • 24-11-21

Probably better as audiobook than as a book

The book contains many important ideas but its experimental nature seems to betray many unsuccessful attempts at creating a good storyline. I would recommend the audio version which is read by a cast of readers with lovely voices. This helped me to recognize the various threads that run in parallel from the get go. It also helped me to go through this very long book that starts brilliantly and slowly goes down from there till the end.

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  • Darren
  • 17-09-21

A stunning vision of the future

This is a bit like World War Z, climate change edition, written by Bishop Tutu. Compelling and exciting, human and revolutionary. This is how humanity could actually overcome systemic greed with clever policy and disruption, to avert global disaster.

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  • S. Hancox
  • 12-09-21

Appalling reading makes this unlistenable

I really, really wanted to listen to this book but after several hours I gave up. The readings are just dreadful. The attempts at accents are simply embarrassing and at time become offensive, as if they are telling a racist joke. It just made me cringe. Whoever made the decision to record it this way should be fired. This was, without doubt, the worst I’ve ever listened to and I just couldn’t continue. A pity because the CONTENT seemed interesting and thought provoking. The woman who read accents from Ireland and the Indian sub continent was absolutely the worst. :-(

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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.