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The Ministry for the Future

A Novel

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From legendary science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson comes a remarkable vision of climate change over the coming decades. 

The Ministry for the Future is a masterpiece of the imagination, using fictional eyewitness accounts to tell the story of how climate change will affect us all. Its setting is not a desolate, postapocalyptic world, but a future that is almost upon us—and in which we might just overcome the extraordinary challenges we face.

It is a novel both immediate and impactful, desperate and hopeful in equal measure, and it is one of the most powerful and original books on climate change ever written.

One of Barack Obama's Favorite Books of 2020

"If I could get policymakers, and citizens, everywhere to read just one book this year, it would be Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future." —Ezra Klein

"The best science fiction-nonfiction novel I’ve ever read." —Jonathan Lethem, Vanity Fair

"A breathtaking look at the challenges that face our planet in all their sprawling magnitude and also in their intimate, individual moments of humanity." —Booklist (starred)

"A sweeping, optimistic portrait of humanity's ability to cooperate in the face of disaster. This heartfelt work of hard science-fiction is a must-read for anyone worried about the future of the planet." —Publishers Weekly (starred)

"The Ministry for the Future ranks among Robinson's best recent works, a collection of actions and observations that adds up to more than the sum of its eclectic and urgent parts." —Sierra

Also by Kim Stanley Robinson:
Red Moon
New York 2140

What's Inside


Article 14 of the Paris Agreement Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change called for a periodic taking stock of all the signatory nations’ carbon emissions, which meant in effect the total global carbon burn for the year in question. The first “global stocktake” was scheduled for 2023, and then every five years after that.

That first global stocktake didn’t go well. Reporting was inconsistent and incomplete, and yet still it was very clear that carbon emissions were far higher than the Parties to the Agreement had promised each other they would be, despite the 2020 dip. Very few nations had hit the targets they had set for themselves, even though they had set soft targets. Aware of the shortfall even before the 2023 stocktake, 108 countries had promised to strengthen their pledges; but these were smaller countries, amounting together to about 15 percent of global total emissions.

So at the annual Conference of the Parties the following year, some delegations pointed out that the Agreement’s Article 16, clause 4, specified that the COP “shall make the decisions necessary to promote the Agreement’s effective implementation by establishing such subsidiary bodies as are deemed necessary for the implementation of the Agreement.” They also pointed to Article 18, clause 1, which allowed the COP to create new “Subsidiary Bodies for Implementation of the Agreement.” These subsidiary bodies had previously been understood to mean committees that met only during the annual COP gatherings, but now some delegates argued that given the general failure of the Agreement so far, a new subsidiary body with permanent duties, and the resources to pursue them, was clearly needed to help push the process forward.

So at COP29, held in Bogotá, Colombia, the Parties to the Agreement created a new Subsidiary Body for Implementation of the Agreement, as authorized by Articles 16 and 18, to be funded using the funding protocols outlined in Article 8, which bound all Parties to the methods outlined in the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage. The announcement said:

“Be it resolved that a Subsidiary Body authorized by this twenty-ninth Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the parties to the Paris Climate Agreement (CMA) is hereby established, to work with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and all the agencies of the United Nations, and all the governments signatory to the Paris Agreement, to advocate for the world’s future generations of citizens, whose rights, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, are as valid as our own. This new Subsidiary Body is furthermore charged with defending all living creatures present and future who cannot speak for themselves, by promoting their legal standing and physical protection.”

Someone in the press named this new agency “the Ministry for the Future,” and the name stuck and spread, and became what the new agency was usually called. It was established in Zurich, Switzerland, in January of 2025.

Not long after that, the big heat wave struck India.

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"Score a point for the audacity of hope....Robinson digs deep into how, with institutional support and some off-the-books black ops, revolutionary ideas could still seize our world."—Shelf Awareness on The Ministry for the Future
"[A] gutsy, humane view of a near-future Earth...Robinson masterfully integrates the practical details of environmental crises and geoengineering projects into a sweeping, optimistic portrait of humanity's ability to cooperate in the face of disaster. This heartfelt work of hard science-fiction is a must-read for anyone worried about the future of the planet."—Publishers Weekly (starred) on The Ministry for the Future
"A breathtaking look at the challenges that face our planet in all their sprawling magnitude and also in their intimate, individual moments of humanity."—Booklist on The Ministry for the Future
"Science-fiction visionary Kim Stanley Robinson makes the case for quantitative easing our way out of planetary doom."—Bloomberg Green on The Ministry for the Future
"...fresh and exciting. Another stellar effort from one of the masters of the genre."—Booklist (starred) on Red Moon
"Enjoyable and thought-provoking...[Robinson] is one of contemporary science fiction's great scene-setters."—SF Chronicle on Red Moon
" convincingly textured and observant as we've come to expect from one of the finest writers of his generation."—Locus magazine on Red Moon
"New York may be underwater, but it's better than ever."—The New Yorker on New York 2140
"Massively enjoyable."—The Washington Post on New York 2140
"Science fiction is threaded everywhere through culture nowadays, and it would take an act of critical myopia to miss the fact that Robinson is one of the world's finest working novelists, in any genre."—Guardian on New York 2140
"[A] near-perfect marriage of the technical and the psychological."—NPR Books on Aurora
"Intellectually engaged and intensely humane in a way SF rarely is, exuberantly speculative in a way only the best SF can be, this is the work of a writer at or approaching the top of his game."—Iain M. Banks on 2312
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