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Publisher's Summary

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, post-apocalyptic 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)

Also by Kim Stanley Robinson:

  • Red Moon
  • New York 2140
  • 2312
  • Aurora
  • Shaman
©2020 Kim Stanley Robinson (P)2020 Orbit

Critic Reviews

"Science-fiction visionary Kim Stanley Robinson makes the case for quantitative easing our way out of planetary doom." (Bloomberg Green)

"[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)

"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)

What listeners say about The Ministry for the Future

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great ideas, uneven narration

I downloaded to this audiobook because Ezra Klein said it was the most important book he had read in 2020—not for the story or literary quality so much as for the realistic and comprehensive way it addresses the coming climate crisis.

This is a novel of ideas in the truest sense. It's really about envisioning the future: what the climate catastrophe will look like, and how the world might change to address it. It is at times tragic and depressing, at other times optimistic. The scope of the novel is impressive. It definitely made me see the climate crisis in a new light, and got me thinking seriously about all kinds of things, and that's what a novel of ideas is supposed to do: make you think. The novel is well worth reading for that reason alone, though be warned at times the story and the characters definitely take a back seat to the ideas.

I found the narration of this audiobook uneven and sometimes quite irritating. This is a huge cast, and it seems like they just mailed out the chapters to a bunch of voice actors with little coordination or direction. So, different characters voices sound radically different at different times. The whole tone can shift radically too. The biggest problem I had though is that some of the voices are just over-wrought, over-done, garish and cartoony. This happens throughout, but I got especially frustrated by the Irish narrator who reads Mary's chapters: her idea of doing a mans voice is make her voice as closed and raspy as possible, her Russian and Indian accents have wild sing-songy intonations, and her American accent is whiney. This is a real shame because Mary becomes the novel's main protagonist and her chapters are long. I got to the point where my heart sank every time she came back on to start a new chapter, and I almost didn't make it through to the end as the result.

All that aside, it's an important book and well worth engaging with one way or the other. If you're picky about your narration, you might want to read it rather than listen to the audiobook.

52 people found this helpful

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Airships, bad philosophy, and light terrorism

I love KSR and I wanted really badly to love this book. But I just couldn't get into it.

The climate catastrophic isn't my problem. After all, I loved New York 2140.

* Scientifically illiterate take on Organic agriculture & Vandana Shiva.
* Poor philosophy of morality & punishment.
* Apologizes for and even glorifies terrorism.
* Implies that people "need" religion.
* Misuse and apparent total lack of understanding of "ideology".
* Airships.

Nothing very exciting happens in the book. Some scenes sound exciting in theory, but I wasn't excited reading them.

40 people found this helpful

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Ruined by dreadful narration

We have some narrators here, Fitzgerald the worst among them, who read without understanding of:

1. The material
2. How words are pronounced
3. How sentences work
4. Any accent other than their native one

The experience is comparable to an ice pick in the ear. Returning the audiobook and buying a paper copy instead.

29 people found this helpful

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A dystopian future told by the people at the top

An accidental dystopian view in the authors view of utopia. It is basically a Marxist/Greenpeace utopia that glorifies terrorism and authoritarianism for the "greater good." The tech and engineering is well thought out and interesting, but characters and story are naive. The story itself is a bland delivery mechanism for the evangelism. More of the same old political dogma.

22 people found this helpful

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I raved about it to my friends

The first step to change is being able to imagine how it could happen. I just loved that toward the end of the story, emissions start to fall. They top off at 474 ppm, hang at that level for a decade and then start to drop 5 ppm per year. Reforestation and seaweed farming and ??? I'm listening to it again to learn it better.
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Author is not perfect. He has not much studied nonviolent movements and is, as are so many, rather a leftist. Don't those two go hand in hand? But he knows a LOT about climate. I learned a lot and I've been a climate activist for a dozen years. Nothing he said seemed just plain wrong to me. And his putting all that info in stories is like chocolate coating it.
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Author is rather optimistic. The story characters discuss possible collapse of civilization, but do not mention the possibility of human extinction.
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This book earns author a spot on my climate heroes list: Paul Hawken, Greta Thunberg, Donella Meadows, Al Gore, John Michael Greer, Pope Francis,

19 people found this helpful

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bleak yet optimistic view of climate change impact

difficult to listen to, but an important book none the less. Robinson packs the book full of facts and real science. the plot is a little slow at points, but I'm still glad I listened.

13 people found this helpful

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will listen again

I loved the ideas and the writing though not a plot-driven page-turner. The many narrative performances were top notch.

13 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Multiple narrators distracting (again)

I purchased because of Ezra Klein recommendation and I recognize the importance of this title. However the voice chops of various readers is not consistent. As with many titles, it seems there was insufficient oversight regarding pronunciation of words, voice quality, speed of reading/narrator and acting (overacting/412). Was there a producer in the house? My prejudice is to not struggle with audio/narrator quality and multiple voices, and I knew up front that voicing would be an issue, but the premise is useful. I'm glad I listened.

10 people found this helpful

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the most depressing book ever

wow. I only got to chapter 2. This book put me in such a gross, dark mood. I already know our planet is doomed and the future generations will suffer and die horrible deaths. that is why i chose not to breed. I dont need a play by play of what a couple generations ahead on me will go through in excruciating detail. This is one of those rare times where I will be asking for my audible credit back.

8 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Narration is a mixed bag, but otherwise compelling

It's really impossible to sum this up, so I'll just toss out a few points:
1. The narration ranges from pretty good to among the worst I've ever heard.
2. The opening is extremely bleak, but once it opens up and gets going, it's an interesting mix of hopelessness and hopefulness.
3. There is a mix of science, philosophy, economics, sociology, and fiction presented in a mix of narrative, interview transcripts, essays, and so on. It's uneven and kind of random, but compelling, so just be ready for that.
4. I see a lot of reviews complaining about the book's agenda. The book doesn't actually pass judgment on the characters' actions, it simply reports their outcome. Maybe some of the economics and philosophy are questionable, maybe not. It is what it is, and I believe these are important conversations to have.

7 people found this helpful