In this cerebral near-future novel, the first in a trilogy, Robinson (The Years of Rice and Salt
) explores the events leading up to a worldwide catastrophe brought on by global warming. Each of his various viewpoint characters holds a small piece of the puzzle and can see calamity coming, but is helpless before the indifference of the politicians and capitalists who run America. Anna Quibler, a National Science Foundation official in Washington, D.C., sifts through dozens of funding proposals each day, while her husband, Charlie, handles life as a stay-at-home dad and telecommutes to his job as an environmental adviser to a liberal senator. Another scientist, Frank Vanderwal, finds his sterile worldview turned upside down after attending a lecture on Buddhist attitudes toward science given by the ambassador from Khembalung, a nation virtually inundated by the rising Indian Ocean. Robinson's tale lacks the drama and excitement of such other novels dealing with global climate change as Bruce Sterling's Heavy Weather
and John Barnes's Mother of Storms
, but his portrayal of how actual scientists would deal with this disaster-in-the-making is utterly convincing. Robinson clearly cares deeply about our planet's future, and he makes the reader care as well. Agent, Ralph Vicinanza. (June
Robinson's Mars trilogy (
Red Mars, etc.) received one Nebula and two Hugo awards.