“New York 2140” by Kim Stanley Robinson (2017) Review

New York 2140 offers a mature take on the science fiction genre. A genre typically reserved for the surreal, New York 2140 grants it’s readers a possible realistic future of New York and the world by the year 2140. Despite its approach of complex issues, I often found myself overwhelmed by these topics and the pages of information throw at me.

A quick summary of New York 2140 is as follows:

“The waters rose, submerging New York City. But the residents adapted and it remained the bustling, vibrant metropolis it had always been. Though changed forever. Every street became a canal. Every skyscraper an island. Through the eyes of the varied inhabitants of one building Kim Stanley Robinson shows us how one of our great cities will change with the rising tides. And how we too will change.” – Credit to Hachette.

In New York 2140, there were multiple chunks that I felt didn’t need to be there. These moments felt repetitive, unnecessary and if I’m being completely honest, quite boring. They probably felt boring to me because, in terms of the main narrative, I wondered why I as a reader needed to spend my time dwelling in these moments. Because of these feelings, New York 2140 was an incredibly difficult book to read. I don’t know, maybe it was my need for more action, emotion or drama when reading the book, I’m not sure. New York 2140 had a few of these moments (most books do by default) but they never stuck around for long. Whenever things were starting to pick up, I felt as though it was gone before I knew it and replaced by more pages of information and fact.

There’s no denying New York 2140 a smart book that discusses complex issues around society e.g. finance, business and money. Although I never studied these particular areas myself to fully understand them, I’ve heard that Kim Stanley Robinson’s world building paints a vivid and somewhat realistic picture of how life could turn out in the future. A lot of time was spent gathering or studying information and fact for New York 2140, that’s paramount from the get go, but as briefly mentioned earlier, it tended to distract and become overwhelming for someone who wanted to just wanted to enjoy a fictional science fiction story and not get lectured in the process.

Told in both third person and first person narrative, New York 2140 introduced multiple characters that I could never quite like, even after spending time on and off with each of them. As I probably mention in every book review I write, I have a thing for characters and the emotional connections that I as a reader form with them. Even if I have nothing in common with them, I still want to like this person and feel interested in their lives. New York 2140 just didn’t cut this for me and is probably another reason why I struggled to make my way through the book.

If you’re a fan of thought provoking literature that blurs the line between fiction and non fiction, than New York 2140 is your kind of book. Unfortunately though if you, like myself, are just in need of an escapist science fiction novel, than New York 2140 probably won’t be your kind of book.


Book supplied by Hachette NZ – (RRP: $37.99). Click here for details.