Okay, this is not actually about the Book of Lists at all. It’s about Kim Stanley Robinson.
I’ve tried to read Red Mars. I gave up perhaps a quarter of the way in, and the book has become something of a running joke with my wife and I because of the List of Wrenches. There’s a passage in which he lists, in excruciating detail, the types of wrenches that were sent with the colonists to Mars. The list goes on and on, listing more types of wrenches than I knew existed, and serves no narrative purpose that could not have been served by stating “They were sent a comprehensive set of tools, with wrenches ranging from a common monkey wrench to a [most obscure wrench ever].” Perhaps the family joke has resulted in some exaggeration of the list, but in my house KSR is known more for listing things than the quality of his writing.
Consequently, I’ve stayed away from KSR’s books. I like a fair amount of hard sci-fi, but Red Mars was drier than Mars itself, and the List of Wrenches was the perfect encapsulation of the problems with the book.
Several years later, I’ve decided to give him another chance and started to read Aurora. Perhaps an hour in, I came upon a passage something like this:
The people in habitat A are:
And it went on. And on. I didn’t count, but I estimate it was about 100 names. When I pointed the passage out to my wife, she burst out laughing and asked why I had bothered with KSR again.
Does it get better? Should I give up on KSR entirely? Is anything he writes worth subjecting myself to his 100 item lists?