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Fifty Degrees Below

Cover of Fifty Degrees Below

Fifty Degrees Below

Science in the Capital Trilogy, Book 2
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Bestselling, award-winning, author Kim Stanley Robinson continues his groundbreaking trilogy of eco-thrillers--and propels us deeper into the awesome whirlwind of climatic change. Set in our nation's...More
Bestselling, award-winning, author Kim Stanley Robinson continues his groundbreaking trilogy of eco-thrillers--and propels us deeper into the awesome whirlwind of climatic change. Set in our nation's...More
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Description-
  • Bestselling, award-winning, author Kim Stanley Robinson continues his groundbreaking trilogy of eco-thrillers--and propels us deeper into the awesome whirlwind of climatic change. Set in our nation's capital, here is a chillingly realistic tale of people caught in the collision of science, technology, and the consequences of global warming--which could trigger another phenomenon: abrupt climate change, resulting in temperatures...

    When the storm got bad, scientist Frank Vanderwal was at work, formalizing his return to the National Science Foundation for another year. He'd left the building just in time to help sandbag at Arlington Cemetery. Now that the torrent was over, large chunks of San Diego had eroded into the sea, and D.C. was underwater.

    Shallow lakes occupied the most famous parts of the city. Reagan Airport was awash and the Potomac had spilled beyond its banks. Rescue boats dotted the saturated cityscape. Everything Frank and his colleagues in the halls of science and politics feared had culminated in this massive disaster. And now the world looked to them to fix it.

    Whatever Frank can do, now that he is homeless, he'll have to do from his car. He's not averse to sleeping outdoors. Years of research have made him hyperaware of his status as just another primate. That plus his encounter with a Tibetan Buddhist has left him resolved to live a more authentic life.

    Hopefully, this will prepare him for whatever is to come....

    For even as D.C. bails out from the flood, a more extreme climate change looms. With the melting of the polar ice caps shutting down the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, another Ice Age could be imminent. The last time it happened, eleven thousand years ago, it took just three years to start.

    Once again Kim Stanley Robinson uses his remarkable vision, trademark wry wit, and extraordinary insight into the complexity between man and nature to take us to the brink of disaster--and slightly beyond.

    From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpts-
  • From the book

    IPRIMATE in FOREST

    Nobody likes Washington D.C. Even the people who love it don't like it. Climate atrocious, traffic worse: an ordinary midsized gridlocked American city, in which the plump white federal buildings make no real difference. Or rather they bring all the politicians and tourists, the lobbyists and diplomats and refugees and all the others who come from somewhere else, often for suspect reasons, and thereafter spend their time clogging the streets and hogging the show, talking endlessly about their nonexistent city on a hill while ignoring the actual city they are in. The bad taste of all that hypocrisy can't be washed away even by the food and drink of a million very fine restaurants. No--bastion of the world government, locked vault of the World Bank, fortress headquarters of the world police; Rome, in the age of bread and circuses--no one can like that.

    So naturally when the great flood washed over the city, wreaking havoc and leaving the capital spluttering in the livid heat of a wet and bedraggled May, the stated reactions were varied, but the underlying subtext often went something like this: HA HA HA. For there were many people around the world who felt that justice had somehow been served. Capital of the world, thoroughly trashed: who wouldn't love it?

    Of course the usual things were said by the usual parties. Disaster area, emergency relief, danger of epidemic, immediate restoration, pride of the nation, etc. Indeed, as capital of the world, the president was firm in his insistence that it was everyone's patriotic duty to support rebuilding, demonstrating a brave and stalwart response to what he called "this act of climactic terrorism." "From now on," the president continued, "we are at a state of war with nature. We will work until we have made this city even more like it was than before."

    But truth to tell, ever since the Reagan era the conservative (or dominant) wing of the Republican party had been coming to Washington explicitly to destroy the federal government. They had talked about "starving the beast," but flooding would be fine if it came to that; they were flexible, it was results that counted. And how could the federal government continue to burden ordinary Americans when its center of operations was devastated? Why, it would have to struggle just to get back to normal! Obviously the flood was a punishment for daring to tax income and pretending to be a secular nation. One couldn't help thinking of Sodom and Gomorrah, the prophecies specified in the Book of Revelation, and so on.

    Meanwhile, those on the opposite end of the political spectrum likewise did not shed very many tears over the disaster. As a blow to the heart of the galactic imperium it was a hard thing to regret. It might impede the ruling caste for a while, might make them acknowledge, perhaps, that their economic system had changed the climate, and that this was only the first of many catastrophic consequences. If Washington was denied now that it was begging for help, that was only what it had always done to its environmental victims in the past. Nature bats last--poetic justice--level playing field--reap what you sow--rich arrogant bastards--and so on.

    Thus the flood brought pleasure to both sides of the aisle. And in the days that followed Congress made it clear in their votes, if not in their words, that they were not going to appropriate anything like the amount of money it would take to clean up the mess. They said it had to be done; they ordered it done; but they did not fund it.

    The city therefore had to pin its hopes on either the beggared...

About the Author-
  • KIM STANLEY ROBINSON is a winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards. He is the author of ten previous books, including the bestselling Mars trilogy and the critically acclaimed Forty Signs of Rain, The Years of Rice and Salt, and Antarctica--for which he was sent to the Antarctic by the U.S. National Science Foundation as part of their Antarctic Artists and Writers' Program. He lives in Davis, California.

    From the Hardcover edition.

Reviews-
  • Publishers Weekly, starred review

    "Fifty Degrees Below should be required reading for anyone concerned about our world's future.... it provides perhaps the most realistic portrayal ever created of the environmental changes that are already occurring on our planet."

  • Kirkus Reviews "Fast-paced and exciting.... First-rate ecological speculation."
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch "Could give Michael Crichton a run for his money.... should be required reading for government officials and voters."
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    Random House Publishing Group
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Science in the Capital Trilogy, Book 2
Kim Stanley Robinson
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