Forty Signs of Rain

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9780007148868: Forty Signs of Rain

It's hot in Washington. No sign of rain. The world's climates are changing, catastrophe beckons, but no one in power is noticing. Yet. Tom Wolfe meets Michael Crichton in this highly topical, taut, witty and entertaining science thriller.

When the Arctic ice pack was first measured in the 1950s, it averaged thirty feet thick in midwinter. By the end of the century it was down to fifteen. One August the ice broke. The next year the break-up started in July. The third year, it began in May.

That was last year.

It's an increasingly steamy summer in America's capital as environmental policy advisor Charlie Quibler cares for his young son, and deals with the frustrating politics of global warming. According to the President and his science advisor Dr S, the weather isn’t important! But Charlie must find a way to get a sceptical administration to act before it's too late – and his progeny find themselves living in Swamp World.

Just arrived in Washington to lobby the Senate for aid is an embassy from Khembalung, a sinking island nation in the Bay of Bengal. Charlie's wife Anna, director of bioinformatics at the National Science Foundation and well known for her hyperrational intensity, is entranced by the Khembalis. By contrast, her colleague, Frank Vanderwal, is equally cynical about the Buddhists and the NSF.

The profound effect the Khembali ambassador has on both Charlie and Frank could never have been predicted – unlike the abrupt, catastrophic climate change which is about to transform everything.

Forty Signs of Rain is an unforgettable tale of survival which captures a world where even the innocent pattern of rainfall resounds with the destiny of the biosphere.

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Review:

‘The Brave New World of global warming … A narrative that is rich in closely observed characters and a wonderfully vivid sense of place … depicts a society sleep-walking towards the abyss … His great achievement here is to bring the practice of science alive and to place this in an all-too familiar world of greedy capitalists and unprincipled politicians. Robinson's critique of science is heartfelt … humans have gone from being the smartest animal on the savannah to being "experts at denial".’ P.D. Smith Guardian

'Kim Stanley Robinson is freed by his medium – fiction – to deliver [a] message with passion and restraint … A great book' New Scientist

Praise for the Mars Trilogy:

'The excitement of the science is thrillingly rendered … a very impressive work of the imagination … The Mars trilogy is one of the landmarks of sf in the 1990s. The time may well come when it is regarded as one of the landmarks of American literature' TLS

On Years of Rice and Salt:

‘A tapestry of striving joy, unhapiness and ambiguity … the marvellous book may be the most hopeful thing you read for a long time’ Francis Spufford, Evening Standard

‘Robinson’s supple, thoughtful prose is always up to the challenge, whether exciting us with ideas, thrilling us with spectacle or presenting us with moments of elegy or quiet passion’ Roz Kaveny, Independent

‘A huge, complex and highly enjoyable book: buy it’ New Scientist

More on the Mars books:

‘Humane, witty, earnest and intricate books: they mark their readers indelibly with Robinson's seductive sense of place.' Independent

'Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy combines Big Science and real people. Robinson is a master of characterisation.' New Scientist
'One of the most impressive pieces of science fiction of the past ten years' The Economist

'First of a mighty trilogy, it is the ultimate in future history … Arthur C. Clarke hails Red Mars as "a staggering book", the best of its kind ever written … I have never read a book quite like Red Mars. It is unusually well written …three dimensional characters … the scale is awesome.' Shaun Usher Daily Mail

'To make Mars real and make it interesting. That's the double challenge which Kim Robinson has here so squarely and successfully faced… scientific reality leads straight into a conflict plot… a running commentary on human desire, frustration and fulfilment.' Tom Shippey Guardian

'A beautiful book – to be lived in.' Ian Watson Daily Telegraph

'A complex combination of science fiction and fact, political and social commentary which, together with strong characterisation and a brilliantly conceived plot, blend into a book that reads like a heavily dramatised version of past events, flowing smoothly from start to finish and building up to a climactic conclusion. Probably the most outstanding aspect of Robinson's novel, however, is his stunning visualisation of the beauty of this hostile planet. By the end you can't help feeling you understand the place, that it has some meaning beyond that of just another location for a story … I'm looking forward to reading the next two volumes almost as eagerly as I'm anticipating the reality of such an outrageous venture.' Alex Hardy Time Out

On Antarctica
'A tour de force of adventure writing, memorably told … He describes Antarctica like a great travel writer, but he does so in the aid of the story … It is hard to put the book down. It is important, it is relevant, it gives us a huge new continent to imagine; and it is fun.' Mail on Sunday

'The most momentous science fiction novel of the year… Robinson has turned his gaze on a landscape almost as hostile and unspoiled as Mars and describes it gloriously well.' Daily Telegraph

'A fascinating richness … with the unobtrusive lightness that allowed him to finesse so many of the difficult grandeurs of epic in the Mars books, he steals in Antarctica towards the tricky inward experiences of those archaic Brits, "conquering the world with bad boy scout equipment".' Independent

From the Back Cover:

The world's climates are changing: catastrophe beckons.

It's hot in Washington. No sign of rain. While he cares for a boisterous toddler, Charlie Quibler works from home as environmental policy advisor to Senator Phil Chase, the author of a climate bill currently being debated. It’s a tough sell. According to the President and his science advisor Dr S, the weather isn’t important!

In her air-conditioned office at the National Science Foundation, Anna Quibler also has other things on her mind, such as the imminent departure of Frank Vanderwal, her best programme officer. What she doesn’t know is that Frank is scheming to hold back one very special grant application for his own private gain. Mostly she feels sorry for Frank. His private life consists of trying to crack the code of human behaviour.

Then Anna befriends the staff at a new embassy for the tiny island state of Khembalung, just arrived in Washington to lobby the Senate for help with their rising sea-level. The weather is very important to them. The Khembalung ambassador has a profound effect on both Charlie and Frank, which could not have been predicted. Unlike abrupt, catastrophic climate change, which could have been ...

And now there are signs of rain.

Tom Wolfe meets Michael Crichton in this highly topical, taut, witty and swift-paced science thriller.

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