Review: Robinson’s New York 2140

New York 2140
Kim Stanley Robinson

 

In the New York City one hundred and thirty years in the future, much has changed. Most of coastal Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island is gone. What’s left of downtown Manhattan floods with the tides. The power of the city has moved far uptown to the bedrock and relative heights of Washington Heights.

But some things haven’t changed. The City is still filled with hustlers, artists, and finance bros and the driving force, as ever, is real estate.

When the waters came, people abandoned downtown Manhattan. But then, some enterprising artists and weirdos found a way to make the tidewaters areas around of Downtown liveable again, and they turned it into a bustling area art galleries and experimental bars — a Bushwick in the water as it were. And now, of course, big real estate is interested again.

This is science fiction page turner, but one grounded in the city it is about and the science that will effect us all if we don’t make some very serious changes. I blew through this at record speed, you will too if a propulsive plot and some light climate science is to you liking.

Recommended.

Review: LaValle’s The Changeling

A book that starts out as a heartwarming tale of parenthood, turns real dark, real fast, and ends up a surreal exploration of a world of monsters, cults, and heartbroken parents in New York City.

Kinda about parenthood, kinda about race and difference, kinda about the role of social media, and kinda about the immigrant experience. All and all pretty spectacular. Some of the best writing about what it feels like to be a new dad that I have ever read, some of the most disturbing scenes of grief. Written with a love of New York City and subtle type of immigrant and racial justice politics.

A great book, if you can buy in on some supernatural elements, but fair warning, some of this can be tough going for parents of young children.

Recommended.

Review: Coleman’s Walking the Perfect Square

Walking the Perfect Square (Moe Prager Series)
Reed Coleman

I picked this one up because the star of the series is a New York Jew. My kind of guy. I wasn’t expecting much, but was pleasantly surprised. Reed Coleman is a strong writer, much better than most writers of this sort of fiction, and Moe Prager is a captivating and human hero who it is easy to cheer on.

The story is a standard PI haunted by a case he can’t forget. But the way it is plotted is well done, the characters expertly drawn, issue of sexuality and mental illness are handled with a care you rarely see in detective fiction, and the descriptions of New York are done in the loving and authentic way only a native of the city can accomplish. Prager is drawn as the opposite of the standard hard boiled detective. He is a caring and thoughtful person. He loves his kid, and wants to do right by his family and his client. Notably, his religion plays a much smaller role than I was expecting from the way the series was sold to me by a friend. Sure sometimes the writing was a little over done, and yes some of the jokes are pretty corny, but this is a great read for anyone interested in detective fiction, New York in the Seventies, or just a pretty damn good book.
Recommended for the enthusiast.