A Cli-Fi novel set in New York in the year 2140, focusing on several residents of an apartment building in Manhattan after global warming has caused almost all of the world’s coastlines to go underwater.
This is a large-scale novel, not only in terms of its 624 pages, but also the number of characters and storylines Robinson deploys, the sheer range of themes and topics ... Robinson is not a writer who does villains; none of his characters here is evil, although some are grubbier and more compromised than others. The villain in this novel is capitalism itself ... New York 2140 does what Robinson’s award-winning Mars books did: it creates a whole world in such compelling detail that the reader starts to suspect the author has actually been there, in a time machine, and has come back to file what amounts to documentary reportage ... New York 2140 is a towering novel about a genuinely grave threat to civilisation. Impressively ambitious, it bears comparison with other visionaries’ attempts to squeeze the sprawl and energy of the US between two covers: John Dos Passos’s USA trilogy and Don DeLillo’s Underworld.
The book is a strange hybrid. It has the tenacious, encyclopedic detail that Robinson is known for, the big ideas of a modern CliFi novel and the twists and turns of a heist movie. The characters are memorable, particularly the two little orphan boys and the Internet video star, Amelia. It all comes together (perhaps a little too) beautifully in the end. Anyone familiar with Robinson’s work knows that he can be tedious and heavy handed, and this novel is no exception. But like the others, the thought-provoking ideas and vivid details make the book worth reading.
The most immediate pleasure of Robinson’s latest speculative epic is its tour of sea-swallowed Gotham. Lower Manhattan’s a city of canals, the Hudson and East rivers now New York’s least predictable thoroughfares ... Yes, gentrification is a crisis even in the flood zone, and that’s the heart of Robinson’s novel... The plot, loose as it is, centers on a mystery consortium’s attempts to snatch the building up for billions...New York 2140 surveys life as it’s lived in the city to come. Like Dickens, Robinson examines class and capital through the serialized misadventures of caricatures. Like Dos Passos, he pauses the story for chapters of context...Robinson’s characters’ great project isn’t the establishment of some new home for humanity. It’s the humanizing of an old one.