If you like: Turing tests * space * whistling
2312 is a story about a future where much has changed, while much has remained the same. Decisions in our present time have greatly influenced the state of Earth in the future, and so people have colonized space. Through a combination of terraforming and ingenuity, many seemingly uninhabitable locations are capable of sustaining life, and thriving in ways that Earth no longer can. Though beneficial to the survival of many species beyond just humans, there is much discourse about the equity of spacers and those on left behind Earth.
The adaptation and exploration of near space is made possible by many advances in technology. These changes allow for the specialization of places to live, as many fantastical habitats are created throughout the solar system. Though this is wonderful for the nourishment of new ideas and acceptances, it can also lead to even more divided factions. Bound by no specific history, people move to the places that suit them, creating an inherent confirmation bias. The use of AI and quantum computers is also prevalent in this future. This has benefits and consequences. Though it prevents many potential hazards, it also leaves the humans somewhat unable to run the systems on their own. It also puts increasingly smarter technology in a position to develop without oversight, and leaves many wondering about the impacts of sentient robots.
The most compelling aspects of 2312 take place in the unthinkable disasters that occur. With new worlds come new dangers, and new escapes. In spite of this, the basic human needs remain. The necessities of air, food, and water never go away (nor the need to experience Earth’s gravity). Beyond these foundations of the hierarchy of needs is the desire for companionship. The evolution of human interaction is fascinating. With seemingly infinite space and extended lifetimes, the preconceptions about families and relationships are challenged. It is possible to live somewhat autonomously. In times of peril, however, it is clear that companionship is preferable to isolation. Facing impending death while holding the hand of a close friend makes it much less painful. Surviving for weeks with little food, and dangerous conditions can be much less mentally debilitating with the solace of intimacy. With the future wide open, it is comforting to know that the things that make us human persist, even when traditional notions change.
If you would hitch a ride on an asteroid, read 2312.
Robinson, Kim Stanley. 2312. Orbit, 2012. Kindle Edition.