2312 (novel)

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Kim Stanley Robinson - 2312.jpeg
Author Kim Stanley Robinson
Cover artist Kirk Benshoff
Genre Sci-fi
Publisher Orbit
Publication date
May 22, 2012
Media type Print (hardcover and electronic book) and audio-CD
Pages 576 ppg
Awards Nebula Award for Best Novel
ISBN 978-0-316-09812-0

2312 is a 2012 science fiction novel written by Kim Stanley Robinson. It is set in the year 2312 when society has spread out across the solar system. Much of the action takes place on Mercury. The novel won the 2012 Nebula Award for Best Novel.[1]

Plot summary[edit]

The novel is set, as the title suggests, in the year 2312, in the great city of Terminator on Mercury, which is built on gigantic tracks in order to constantly stay on the planet's nightside. Swan Er Hong, an artist and former asteroid terrarium designer, is grieving over the sudden death of her step-grandmother, Alex, who was very influential among the inhabitants of Terminator. After the funeral procession, a conference is held among the family and the close friends of Alex (some of whom Swan has never heard of, including Fitz Wahram, a native of the moon Titan, whom Swan dislikes). Following the conference, Swan decides to head out to Io to visit another friend of Alex's, called Wang, who has designed one of the largest qubes or quantum computers. While Swan is visiting Wang on Io, an apparent attack of some sort fails. A violent attack on Terminator shortly follows. As Swan travels, she learns more of the mystery surrounding her grandmother's death and the destruction of her home-city of Terminator. With Wahram and Genette, Swan travels throughout the solar system and investigates an escalating series of conspiracies.


  • Swan Er Hong. An artist and former asteroid terrarium designer
  • Fitz Wahram. Diplomat from the moon Titan
  • Jean Genette. A "small" who was a close friend to Alex
  • Alex. Influential and deceased scientist and diplomat. Swan's grandmother
  • Mqaret. A scientist and Alex's partner
  • Kiran. A young Earth boy who saves Swan from some trouble in his slum-like home town. In thanks, Swan gives him a job off-planet.

Science and technology[edit]

In the world of the novel, the planets Mercury, Venus, and Mars are inhabited by humans, as are the moons of Saturn and Jupiter. Humans have a presence or are building a presence on all the inhabitable surfaces within the solar system (including moons and satellites). Almost all of the Solar System's asteroids have been hollowed out to form "terrariums," which include interior artificial environment designed to mimic various biomes found on earth or combinations of different biomes. Some of these serve as animal reserves or farms for endangered or underproduced flora and fauna. Humans take shuttles to these asteroids and use them as transportation around the system. Some of these terraria fail, such as one where a mistake in programming led to the near-destruction of the asteroid, and another where a small crack in the terrarium's ice wall destroyed most of its population.

In the novel, scientific and technological advances, such as human enhancement, settlements on other planets, and terraforming, have opened gateways to an extraordinary future. One major innovation are the qubes, which are quantum computers possessing artificial intelligence, often small enough that the wearer can have one implanted into their head or attached to their person, like one might wear a watch or carry a phone. Digital, as opposed to quantum, AI is still in use but is being supplanted by the smaller and much more powerful qubes.

Capitalism has been replaced by a planned economy described as based on the mondragon concept controlled by the quantum computers, but on the Earth there are still remnants of the market system.

Sex, sexuality and gender[edit]

Gender and sexuality within this world is fluid and expansive, with the principal categories of gender and sexuality listed to include feminine, masculine, androgynous, ambisexual, bisexual, neuter, eunuch, nonsexual, undifferentiated, gay, lesbian, queer, invert, homosexual, polymorphous, poly, labile, berdache, hijra, and two-spirit.

Many people exhibit intersex or "gynandromorphous" sex characteristics, including both penises and vaginas.


Terminator, a city that slowly drives around Mercury to stay out of direct line from the Sun, first appeared in Robinson's earlier novel The Memory of Whiteness.[2]


Critical reception for 2312 has been mixed to positive,[3][4] with Strange Horizons saying that the book was a "step back" for Robinson.[5] Slate Magazine and the Guardian both reviewed 2312, with Slate praising the book as "brilliant" while the Guardian criticizing the book's ending as "contrived".[6][7] Writing for the Los Angeles Times, Jeff VanderMeer called the book a "treasured gift to fans of passionate storytelling", writing that the book's "audacity" was an asset.[8]

The book was nominated for the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel,[9] was shortlisted for the 2012 BSFA Award for Best Novel[10] and the 2013 Arthur C. Clarke Award,[11] was honor listed for the 2012 James Tiptree, Jr. Award,[12] and won the 2012 Nebula Award for Best Novel.[1]


  1. ^ a b "2012 Nebula Award Winners," Locus Magazine, May 18, 2013.
  2. ^ Geek's Guide to the Galaxy (June 13, 2012). "Kim Stanley Robinson Sees Humans Colonizing the Solar System in 2312". Wired. Retrieved July 11, 2012. 
  3. ^ Kaveney, Roz (June 12, 2012). "2312, By Kim Stanley Robinson". The Independent. Retrieved July 11, 2012. 
  4. ^ Canavan, Gerry (June 14, 2012). "Struggle Forever". Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved August 31, 2012. 
  5. ^ Yanarella, Ernest J. (June 4, 2012). "2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson". Strange Horizons. Retrieved August 31, 2012. 
  6. ^ M John Harrison (June 14, 2012). "2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson – review". The Guardian. Retrieved July 11, 2012. 
  7. ^ Sicha, Choire (June 1, 2012). "What Will Be". Slate. Retrieved July 11, 2012. 
  8. ^ VanderMeer, Jeff. "Review: Kim Stanley Robinson's '2312' a masterful, moving vision". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 3, 2012. 
  9. ^ Hugo Award Finalists, LoneStarCon, March 31, 2013, retrieved April 2, 2013 
  10. ^ BSFA Shortlist Announced, British Science Fiction Association, January 18, 2013, retrieved May 30, 2013 
  11. ^ 2013 Shortlist, Serendip, April 4, 2013, retrieved May 30, 2013 
  12. ^ Kiernan and Salaam Win Tiptree Awards, Locus Magazine, March 5, 2013, retrieved May 30, 2013