Review of 'Sixty Days & Counting'

Sixty Days & Counting by Kim Stanley Robinson
3rd book in the 'Science in the Capital' series

sixty_days.jpg The final book in the “Science in the Capital” series sees Phil Chase now president and pushing forward with policies aimed at addressing the climate change crisis. The climate is beginning to show some positive responses to the radical remedial actions of the previous books but things are still not looking that good for the planet.

Frank Vanderwaal now works in the office of the Presidential science officer which his former boss at the NSF, Diane, now leads. Frank is still homeless and has moved into the Khembali embassy house's garden shed. He still suffers from brain damage sustained during a brawl in the park and is under increasing surveillance by mysterious forces having something to do with the love of his life, Caroline, who he barely sees as she is in hiding from the same people. Charlie Quibler works with the new president giving up caring for his son Joe. Charlie is increasingly distracted and concerned about his son's radically altered personality following the Khemabali ceremony that “excised” him of the spirit of reincarnated lamas.

“Sixty Days & Counting” is not recommended for new readers as it picks up pretty much immediately following the events of the previous instalment in the series, Fifty Degrees Below. As with the previous books the focus here is not so much on the dramatic climate change but on the life of Frank Vanderwaal which has the unfortunate side effect of ending (without giving anything away) when his story is pretty much tidied up but before we have any sort of resolution to the planet's problems so those expecting any sort of dramatic climax will likely be disappointed. This is not to say that Frank's life is not interesting, on the contrary, it is quite interesting but as far as the end of the world, unusually, not much is really said. When we do get around to learning about what is happening in the world it is intriguing and fascinating with a degree of realism that Robinson is able to bring to the most fantastic of stories. He has a firm grasp on not only the scientific but also of American politics. As to world politics, I am not so sure with the focus here very much on America's efforts to save the world with seemingly little input or involvement from other countries. He does touch on China with it's somewhat inexplicable about-face change here in their attitude towards climate change but other than that we hear very little from the rest.

As might be obvious, by the end of this book I was quite relieved to be putting down the series for good. The first book, Forty Signs of Rain showed great promise but after that the story has pretty much been on a decline and ending very much not with a bang but a bored and sad whimper. For a story about the life and times of a man seeking himself it does a pretty good show but as far as a Science Fiction-y action-packed blockbuster, not so much.

Rating: “Average, but who wants to be average?”

Review Date: 2017-10-22

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publication Date: 2007

ISBN: 9780007148929

Other reviewed books in the 'Science in the Capital' series:

Other reviewed books by Kim Stanley Robinson: