2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson – Book Review [Bane of Kings]


Bane of Kings shares his thoughts on 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson, a space opera epic published by Orbit Books.

“A space opera of epic scale that whilst boasts some great ideas, is let down by a flawed execution.” ~The Founding Fields

2312 was one of my most anticipated novels from 2012, but I didn’t get around to reading it until recently. And well, with all the anticipation, I found it to actually be somewhat of a let down. Sure, don’t get me wrong – 2312 wasn’t a bad book, as it boasted some great, imaginative ideas on an epic scale with some great sci-fi elements, but I was somewhat let down by the fact that it suffered from a flawed execution, and wasn’t nearly as engrossing nor as interesting as it should have been.

Winner of the Nebula Award for Best SF Novel of the Year

The year is 2312. Scientific and technological advances have opened gateways to an extraordinary future. Earth is no longer humanity’s only home; new habitats have been created throughout the solar system on moons, planets, and in between. But in this year, 2312, a sequence of events will force humanity to confront its past, its present, and its future.

The first event takes place on Mercury, on the city of Terminator, itself a miracle of engineering on an unprecedented scale. It is an unexpected death, but one that might have been foreseen. For Swan Er Hong, it is an event that will change her life. Swan was once a woman who designed worlds. Now she will be led into a plot to destroy them.

Like the title suggests, 2312 takes place in the same year, where mankind have spread across the stars, throughout the solar system,on moons, planets – and thanks to scientific and technological advancements, this is all possible. However, this is the year when everything changes. The book is packed full of interesting ideas and concepts, that I really, really wanted to like and enjoy. However, I couldn’t help but be let down by the weak prose that lacks the requirements needed to draw you in, and the book just isn’t as enthralling as a grand space opera that won the Nebula Award for the Best SF Novel should have been.

2312In such a novel, it’s a bonus if you can care for, and like main protagonist, as this can save a book that’s let down by its weak story – but sadly, it’s not the case here. Swan is unlikeable, completely self-centred, and isn’t really interesting enough, like most of the cast. It also isn’t helped by the various ‘lists’ that fill the book, and break up the prose – I could have done without them, as they just felt like they weren’t needed in order to tell the story.

However, I’m optimistic. Kim Stanley Robinson is a praised author, and if anybody can recommend to me any of his other works, then I’ll check them out – because while I didn’t enjoy this one, I could stand a chance at enjoying another – after all, authors like Graham McNeill, James Patterson & Suzanne Collins have all had good books and bad books, so why can’t Robinson? Don’t get me wrong though, 2312 is not a bad book. It was strong enough to keep me interested throughout the book as I wanted to find out what happened next, and the world that Robinson created was really engrossing, filled with imaginative ideas that I haven’t seen anywhere else in science fiction before. However, I just feel like If he’d have put more effort into creating a more interesting lead cast and an interesting plot, and done away with all the “lists”, I would have enjoyed this book a lot more.

I mean, I love that cover. It’s awesome. It’s one of the reasons that compelled me to read this book.  It gets across the sci-fi epicness that was present on stuff like the fantastic Blue Remembered Earth by Alastair Reynolds.  However, this book is a bit too flawed for my liking – but it isn’t bad enough to put me off reading anything more by the author altogether.

VERDICT: 2.5/5

Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and watches a lot of TV. His favourite authors are Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson & Iain M. Banks, whilst his favourite TV shows are Battlestar Galactica (2003), Person Of Interest, Firefly, Game of Thrones, & Buffy the Vampire Slayer


  • http://www.models-workshop.com/ Larry B. Killian

    I tried reading Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars and was bored to death. The writing was OK but dragged horribly.

    • BaneofKings

      Fair enough. Thanks for the heads up.