Novelist Kim Stanley Robinson (Red Mars,2312, and Shaman) debates the merits of utopian thinking with Aeon Magazine’s Marina Benjamin and political theorist Alex Callinicos.
Here’s an interesting video from the University of California San Diego, presented by The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination and the Helen Edison Lecture Series…
Jonathan Lethem (the series editor for Library of America’s Philip K. Dick volumes) and Kim Stanley Robinson discuss the influence of Philip K. Dick on science fiction and their writing.
Hugo and Nebula Award winning author Kim Stanley Robinson is an American science fiction writer best known for his Mars trilogy. His novels delve into ecological and sociological themes regularly. In his latest novel, 2312 (reviewed here), Robinson takes us across the Solar System to investigate the destruction of a habitation on Mercury and its unfolding consequences that ripple through human occupied space (hollowed asteroids working as spaceships-cum-biospheres included) from the neighborhoods of the Sun to Saturn. As always, but most pointedly since the Mars Trilogy, Robinson does a masterful job describing the ecosystems and all the massive work required to build them – and keep working.
One of the most important SF writers of the world, and one of the most interested in investigating the impact of ecological changes in our world and beyond, he was kind enough to take a quick break from his vacation to answer a few questions, not about his books (even though there are many literary questions we wanted to ask), but about ecology and climate, two pivotal subjects not only for worldbuilding, but for surviving, here and in other planets.
Fabio Fernandes: Did you follow the discussions of the Rio+20 conference? What are your impressions on it? (If not particularly Rio+20, what conferences on environment have you followed via the press – or even participated personally?)
Kim Stanley Robinson: My impression is that there is a fading media interest in environment and climate change, that these crucial issues have been normalized in a sense and are now not considered as important to report, even as they become more important to our lives. They are also not something politicians want to talk about, as the money controlling politics does not want them discussed.
There are big advances being made in materials sciences and design based on ecological principles that suggest we can successfully deal with the huge problems we have created, so the actual project of decarbonizing and dealing with our environmental impacts more generally are ongoing and worth celebrating and intensifying, but we live in a stupidified media and political culture that insists on focusing on trivial matters, and regarding this big question with a mixture of ignorance and apocalyptic thinking. In parts of the culture this has created a Gotterdamerung mentality that has given up even trying, and indeed wants to increase the destruction as part of its denial of reality, which is profound and at the base of their philosophy. There are also big financial interests at stake, and when shareholder value is the only value, general destruction (including of shareholder value itself) is the result. Also, the carbon industry is well-funded and in its own interest will impede any progress on this front. So it is a very confused moment, with much to celebrate in terms of real progress in the sciences and humanities, but much to worry about in the world of economics and politics. It sets up a kind of race or struggle between different human groups, and the scientific-ecological group must win, for the sake of future generations.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: In the year 2312, humanity has risen to the furthest extents of the solar system in a new, space-faring society, and a series of events force humanity to confront its past, and its future.
PROS: 2312 is a brilliant, epic science fiction novel that spans the width of the solar system in an exceptional future.
CONS: Plot is slightly underwhelming amidst the scale of the story.
Kim Stanley Robinson has long been known for his Mars Trilogy, depicting the massive changes that humanity wages on the red planet, and with 2312 he turns his attention to the Solar System at large. At points brilliant, at others strange, Robinson’s latest novel is a fascinating epic that spans years and billions of miles as two main characters, Swan and Wartham, travel back and forth as they investigate the destruction of a habitation on Mercury and the people behind it.
Read the rest of this entry
[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]
Mars! From Percival Lowell to the forthcoming John Carter movie (check out our John Carter Primer!), Mars has been a locus of interest — if not outright fascination — in the general public and especially within the science fiction and fantasy community. So, we asked this week’s panelists…
Here’s what they said…
The appeal of Mars is that it’s real. We can see it in the night sky, and we know it’s the next planet out. And now we know a great deal more about it than that. Its surface looks like parts of Earth, and has huge features, much bigger than equivalent features on Earth (volcanoes, canyons). It’s possible it still harbors bacterial life underground. It’s also possible we could visit it, and set up stations to inhabit and study it.
So: it’s real but empty, beautiful and remote, but within our reach, just barely. It’s this combination of qualities that gives it its appeal. We want to fill that emptiness with stories.
- Interviews and Profiles:
- Paul Levinson interviews Robert J. Sawyer about FlashForward in his latest Light On Light Through podcast.
- At Joseph Mallozzi’s blog, Matthew Woodring Stover answers readers’ questions.
- Guests this week on the Sofanauts are: Jeff VanderMeer, Jeremy Tolbert, and Amy H. Sturgis.
- @Sci-Fi Fan Letter: John Ringo.
- io9 interviews Paolo Bacigalupi, author of The Windup Girl.
- The Guardian tells us that Kim Stanley Robinson accuses the Booker prize judges of ignorance, referring to the article in New Scientists in which KSR says: “…it seems to me that three or four of the last 10 Booker prizes should have gone to science fiction novels the juries hadn’t read.”
- Shaun Tan and Diana Wynne Jones are finalists for the Astrid Lindgren Children’s Literature Award. [via File 770]
- Jeff VanderMeer offers a John Clute Translation Guide.
- Omnivoracious looks at the first lines of J.G. Ballard.
- At The World in the Satin Bag, S.M. Duke post part 5 of his article series Punking Everything in SF/F: The (Closer) Past (Cyberpunk C).
- SCI FI Wire explores Cool video: The best TRON references from pop culture.
- On his blog mispeled, Luke Bergeron is running a 5-part series of posts on Self-Publishing, E-books, and Legitimacy. “The traditional publishing system has become a vile backwater of internal handshaking, intensely gated communities, and lottery-styled odds.” [via TeleRead]
- SFX lists SF and Fantasy’s 20 Most Irritating Characters.
- Interviews & Profiles:
- Dark Scribe Magazine interviews Ellen Datlow, editor of Lovecraft Unbound.
- @Innsmouth Free Press: Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (Burning Shadows).
- The Chronicles of the Necromancer author Gail Z. Martin talks with author A.J. Hartley about publishing, creating believable historical thrillers and his newest novels, Act of Will and What Time Devours. (Also of interest: Gail’s reports from Dragon*Con,Parts one, two, and three.
- BookBanter podcast-interviews Mike Carey (Dead Men’s Boots).
- Sci-Fi Talk podcast-interviews Leonard Nimoy.
- At Suite101: In one of his last interviews prior to his death in 2003, hard science-fiction pioneer Hal Clement discusses his final book, Noise, and his approach to world building.
- In the newly-compiled list of 101 Fantasy Books, Tolkien comes in at #12 with The Fellowship of the Ring. The top 11 positions are held by J.K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyer. No, really!
- Brenda Cooper liked Anathem…eventually.
- In case you were wondering, Jeff VanderMeer WILL read your f***ing script.
- Richard Matheson’s Somewhere in Time coming to Broadway, the way he intended it, I’m sure.
- The Mid-September 2009 issue of the SF Site is now online.
- VIZ Media announces the release of Zoo and Usurper of the Sun, the latest two books to be published by its Haikasoru imprint, the first U.S. based imprint dedicated to translating Japanese science fiction and fantasy.
- Forbidden Planet is hosting the UK Launch of Angry Robot Books on Saturday 10th October at the Forbidden Planet Megastore, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8JR. Featured guests include Dan Abnett (Triumff), Andy Remic (Kell’s Legend), and Colin Harvey (Winter Song).
- Eoin Coifer, author of And Another Thing…, the sixth book in the Hitchhikers’ trilogy, will be attending Hitchcon ’09 at the Southbanke Centre in the UK on October 11th. The event will include a live, radio-style stage play with Simon Jones and Mark Wing-Davey of the original radio cast
- Chris Roberson asks: What if Raiders of the Lost Ark had been a 50s film serial? What, no Broadway play version? Get to work, Internets!
- Matthew Sanborn Smith has posted episode 5 of his podcast Beware the Hairy Mango.
- The Wertzone takes a look at the new Douglas Adams and Kim Stanley Robinson book covers, for the Hitchhikers and Mars books, respectively. (Though, irrespectively, it makes me wonder what if their serie were written by the other writer…)
- Speaking of Kim Stanley Robinson, the new fan site KimStanleyRobinson.info is live.
- Gary Farber notes that NetFlix lists the 2007 documentary The Polymath: The Life and Opinions of Samuel R. Delany, Gentleman. Cool! And Bummer! The availability is currently listed as “unknown”. “No Delany for you!”
- In honor of Halloween, Super Punch announces the Horror of Star Wars art contest! Love the vampire Leia, though not as much as a metal bikini vampire Leia, if you know what I mean. (As if there was any ambiguity.)
- I’m so psyched for the new season of Fringe that even this Season 2 photo shoot video feels linkable.
- @ Cracked: 6 Star Wars Characters Too Retarded for Film.
- Also @Cracked: 5 Popular Zombie Survival Tactics (That Will Get You Killed).
- The 20 Weirdest Zombie Movies Ever Made. [via Look At This...]
- 18 Rare And Unseen Star Wars Shots. [also via Look At This...]
- David Goyer tells you Everything you need to know about FlashForward.
- AMC has acquired the rights to Robert Kirkman’s popular comic book The Walking Dead for a potential series. [via Tor.com]
- @Omnivoracious: Kage Baker, author of The Hotel Under the Sand.
- Patrick at Stomping on Yeti continues his profiles of Tomorrow’s Big Genre Stars, this time with Cory Doctorow.
- Angry Robot Books has video of Dan Abnett discussing reading and writing>
- Nnedi Okorafor asks: Is Africa Ready for Science Fiction?
- L. Jagi Lamplighter continues her discussion on the oirgins of her first novel, Prospero Lost.
- Jeff Somers says the Singularity is NOT the end of sf.
- Jason Sanford dubs the current sf trend “SciFi Strange“. I like it.
- Video treat: Neil Gaiman reads Cory Doctorow “The Right Book”.
- Tor books announces Halo: Evolutions a collection featuring original tales by Eric Nylund, Karen Traviss, Tobias Buckell and more — coming November 24, 2009.
- Suvudu’s Free Library is a temporary condition! Get yours before they’re gone.
- Forbidden Planet announces a signing by Kim Stanley Robinson (Galileo’s Dream) at the Forbidden Planet Megastore, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, on Thursday 17th September 6 – 7pm.
- Real (Weird) Science: Giant new planet orbits wrong way! Astronomers have discovered a planet (dubbed WASP-17) twice the size of Jupiter (the largest planet ever discovered) that orbits opposite to its star’s direction of rotation. [via Neatorama]
- Real Weird: Hewlett-Packard employees in Palo Alto, Califormia, were greeted with a phone message from William Shatner, a tele-bullying tactic by eco-activists in retaliation for HP backing off a eco-friendly promise. Oh, and then there was the vandalism.
- I’ll never get tired of pictures like this Death Star concept art.
- I’m not the only one who loved From Dusk Till Dawn. It’s two…two…two movies in one.
- Polish TV station TVN has released a teaser (in Polish) and trailer (with English subs) of a series titled Naznaczony (Marked). Looks cool. [Thanks, Pawel!]
- ScifiSquad tells us why Torchwood and Doctor Who should merge on the big screen. Sound great to me! Green light it.
- SpoutBlog lists 9 Greatest Human-Alien Sex Scenes.
- Not to be outdone, SciFi Scanner lists The Top Ten Close Encounters of the Scintillating Kind. What? No orgasmatron from Woody Allen’s Sleeper? What is the world coming to?
- Karen Burnham lists Non-Fiction for SF Fans.
- @retroCRUSH: The 20 Best Zombie Movies Of All Time.
- Interviews and Profiles:
- Adam Roberts’ Hugo rant to fandom is making waves. Check out these responses from artist John Picacio, author John Scalzi…and web comic My Elves are Different.
- Jim C. Hines is not happy with Realms of Fantasy covers and says “Sexism is Not About Your Ego“
- At the Washington Post: Kim Stanley Robinson has the essay Return to the Heavens, for the Sake of Earth: “Does the notion of sending humans to space still make sense in the age of climate change?” [via Locus Online]
- It’s Brent Weeks vs. Joe Abercrombie at Borders SciFi blog.
- Barnes & Noble Plans an Extensive E-Bookstore: “Barnes & Noble said that it would offer more than 700,000 books that could be read on a wide range of devices, including Apple’s iPhone, the BlackBerry and various laptop or desktop computers. When Barnes & Noble acquired Fictionwise in March, that online retailer had about 60,000 books in its catalog.”
- Orbit Books has whittled down the enormous outpouring of responses received from their Worst Book Cover Contest and came up with the Top 5 Worst Book Covers. Head on over and vote for your favorite!
- Entertainment Weekly’s new book blog, Shelf Life, asks Why aren’t there more bookish types on TV? But the even cooler item in that post is the mock-trailer for the PBS soap opera about well-read youngsters called ‘llectuals.
- BBC Film Network has a short film called Pop Art which is based on a short story by Joe Hill. [via Charles Tan, who listed this very story in today's Mind Meld of favorite short stories.]
- At Avalanche Software Art Blog, Adam Ford presents this cool Space Cowboy.
- @Total Film: 20 Movie Worlds That Could Make Great Holidays.
- Bibliophile Stalker Charles Tan (Him again?) lists 5 Quick Points on Print vs eBooks
- Matt Staggs points us to this list of 61 essential post-modern reads on which you’ll find several genre-ish titles.
- Joseph Mallozzi’s favorite Movie Twists.