19 Sep 2022


Now that summer heat is dying down, it's time for the big infodump on what the prolific KSR has been doing of late. This is going to be a big one!

First off, some interviews with KSR, out promoting his latest book The High Sierra, but also the ever-timely The Ministry for the Future.

Bryan AlexanderAcademia, climate change, and the future

If a real revolution leading to a real post-capitalism comes into being by way of the public insisting on it, by demonstrations and votes, then how would that be bad? It wouldn’t be bad. So to hope for it is not naive or stupid.


The New York TimesA Sci-Fi Writer Returns to Earth: ‘The Real Story Is the One Facing Us’

“I decided that it was time to go directly at the topic of climate change,” Robinson said. “The real story is the one facing us in the next 30 years. It’s the most interesting story, but also the stakes are highest.”

The Sierra Club (of course!): Minister for the Sierra

“When I was younger, I didn’t notice interactions with wild animals as being transformative and important,” he admitted. “Now when I see wild animals up there, it’s like sticking my finger in a wall socket.”  

The Orange County RegisterThe Book Pages: Kim Stanley Robinson shares the books he loves — and a story that improved with age

I like the cover of my novel “New York 2140” very much. Otherwise, to tell the truth, I don’t much notice covers.

Fatherly (Cory Doctorow): Growing Up Fast On Planet Earth

I came home and I realized that it’s best to spend more time outdoors than we do. There’s a lot of people who know it’s fun to be outdoors because they’re carpenters and they’re outdoors all the time, and they like it. Farmers too. But writers, not so much. So a garden, working outdoors and then being an activist for environmentalist causes, greening everything in my life and my political aspirations of looking for what would be best for the biosphere.


Book Forum: Mountain Song

I start with a situation, usually. Say I want to write about terraforming Mars—then I need a terraformer, a person opposed to terraforming, a political radical, a Machiavel, a builder, a psychologist, etc. The French structuralists spoke of characters as actants, as the action-doers who make the plot happen. A single character could cover a couple of actants at once, or an actant could be split between a few characters. This I’ve found useful in clarifying things to myself as I get started. Therefore, characters are, at first, kind of just positions, or needed operators of the plot. But this is just the start.

Another useful conceptual tool is protagonicity. Does a novel have high protagonicity or low protagonicity—meaning the story is maybe spread out among a lot of different characters, who might be considered minor characters, except there aren’t any major characters. The story I intend to tell determines or suggests how I might go about deciding this. 

High County NewsSeeing Mars on Earth

I was surprised how many of my texts have some analogue to the High Sierra. Right from the start, I can see when Hjalmar Nederland is wandering around Mars in Icehenge, it was a Sierra wander. And that kept happening. It was true in my Mars Trilogy. To terraform Mars is really cheating. Mars is basalt rather than granite. It’s poisonous rather than healthy. So, turning Mars into the High Sierras required something like a 2,000-page novel to make it even slightly plausible. I like it when my novels find their way to get in a big walk 

Sactown MagazineQ&A with Sci-Fi Author Kim Stanley Robinson

Once you got up there above the treeline in the Sierra, you were in a different space that was cognitive and emotional and spiritual as much as it was physical. And I think that has to do with the whole sense that humans are only visitors there, nobody lives there year-round. There’s something different about it. It really did take the whole book to try to capture what we were talking about with this single phrase, you know, “up into the God zone.” What the heck did that mean? We were young hippies, all very Buddhist, so it was simplistic hippie stuff, almost a joke, but a joke about a real feeling.


The Times of IndiaClimate change is now the big story in world history

I felt an obligation to stick with India, after deciding to put that first awful scene there, because it is in such a dangerous spot. I couldn’t just show the disaster and then walk away. Much of the novel is based in Zurich, Switzerland, the home base for my fictional Ministry for the Future, but the minister’s chief executive officer is an Indian (with a Nepali mother), and he and the minister and the story itself keep returning to India, to see what is going on there. This allowed me to show that positive developments in India, in agricultural practices and in governance, are world-class and could lead the rest of the world in positive ways.

Entertainment WeeklyWhy prolific sci-fi writer Kim Stanley Robinson's latest book is about real-life mountains

I had been wanting to write about the Sierras for decades, and The Ministry for the Future felt like the end of a sequence of novels, so that it was kind of a case of "now's the time." I was really ready for it.

Literary HubWords of Hope, and a Defense of John Muir: Kim Stanley Robinson on His Love of the Sierra Nevadas

I think this book is an anomaly in my career, a one-off. I’d prefer to return to novels and stay behind my characters and my stories, to get out of their way. But also, it’s as you’ve noted; I am a Californian writer, and have written about the state a lot, and of course The High Sierra is a major contribution to that part of my work.

Extinction Rebellion: Q&A with KSR

So on the one hand, I wanted to warn readers that bad things are going to happen; on the other hand, I wanted to describe humanity reacting to the climate crisis in an uncoordinated way that nevertheless dodges the mass extinction event we have started, and comes to a better moment in future history, where even more progress could be made.  So ultimately this was a kind of low-bar utopian novel, which presents a good future happening despite the lack of any strong plan imposed from above, or below or from the sides.  Instead it results from lots of people trying lots of different things. 

Los Angeles TimesSci-fi master Kim Stanley Robinson on the Sierra and why humans might just ‘squeak by’


There are many places on this planet that are intensely beautiful and lovable. You don’t need to burn a lot of carbon to have a good time. The basics of paleolithic contentment remain the same in us and are available at any time.

The New Institute: Capitalism is the Main Problem

I think my Ministry for the Future says what i have to say about this issue, as a writer and novelist. I’ll let it stand for what I have to say for a few years and see how it goes. It’s making an impact— I don’t want to get in its way by adding bits or sequels or distractions of any kind. As a writer, I’ll pursue a few other projects and see what happens. 

Farsight: "Mars is irrelevant to us now. we should of course concentrate on maintaining the habitability of the Earth"

My Mars trilogy is a good novel but not a plan for this moment. If we were to create a sustainable civilisation here on Earth, with all Earth’s creatures prospering, then and only then would Mars become even the slightest bit interesting to us. It would be a kind of reward for our success

Politico: Climate Catastrophe Is Coming. But It’s Not the End of the Story.

I chose India because it’s the biggest democracy. It’s one of every eight people on Earth or even more. It’s a mess like any other democracy, but it has the potential to be a leader. Once I put the disaster there in Chapter 1, I made a promise to myself, to my mental India, that I would stick with India. It wouldn’t just be the place that the disaster happened and then everybody else solved the problem.

Interview in Neue Zuercher Zeitung (in German): Ist Science-Fiction der Realismus unserer Zeit

Die Leute waren unheimlich hungrig auf diese Geschichte. Eine Geschichte darüber, wie die nächsten dreissig Jahre gut ausgehen könnten: ohne Superhelden, ohne technologisches Wunder. «Ministerium für die Zukunft» füllte eine Nische. Das Buch scheint mir gelungen zu sein.


Also, a couple of videos:

KSR's Keynote at Future in Review 2022 (with David Brin)

Discussion "From science fiction to climate action" at Hertford College, Oxford


Now for some podcast interviews:

Storytelling AnimalsKim Stanley Robinson on Wildlife, the Martian Constitution, and Loving the High Sierra (podcast)

Azeem Azhar's Exponential View: Imagining Climate Futures with Kim Stanley Robinson

Tin House Between the Covers Podcast: Crafting with Ursula : Kim Stanley Robinson on Ambiguous Utopias

Everyday Anarchism: KSR on The High Sierra

The Ezra Klein Show (The New York Times): A Weird, Wonderful Conversation With Kim Stanley Robinson

Pricing Nature: Kim Stanley Robinson, Kate Raworth, and Delton Chen Discuss "Carbon Currency"

Rick Kleffel's Agony Column podcast on The High Sierra

Planet A - Talks on climate change: Kim Stanley Robinson – On Climate Fiction and “The Ministry for the Future”

Blue Dot: Kim Stanley Robinson and the High Sierra



Plus, you can find more KSR writings in two recent publications:

Tomorrow's Parties: Life in the Anthropocene, edited by Jonathan Strahan, includes an interview with KSR by James Bradley: "It's Science Over Capitalism: Kim Stanley Robinson and the Imperative of Hope" (MIT Press, Penguin Random House).

In Noema magazine issue III: Rupture, Fall 2022.

Kim Stanley Robinson contends that, in the vein of eco-realpolitik, the rest of the world needs to compensate petro-states for their lost income as they transition to a green economy — or they never will.



So, the multi-media multi-mode book of Kim Stanley Robinson The High Sierra is available for nature lovers to enjoy.

You can listen to KSR reading from the audiobook version - specifically the chapter Moments of Being (6): A Sierra Day: Under the Tarp. And read an excrept at Literary Hub.

The High Sierra was in various recommendations lists and summer read articles: Redlands Daily FactsYale Climate ConnectionsThe Christian Science MonitorAdventure JournalThe San Francisco ChronicleThe Bend SourceMen's Journal. Also in best sellers lists (in California): Alta Online, Daily News week 31week 32.

Book reviews:



Meanwhile! The Ministry for the Future is continuing to make waves, which, given the abnormal summer the northern hemisphere has had, is not that surprising.

Book reviews:

As usual by now, plenty of articles are making reference to it or are using one aspect of it to build an opinion piece around current events. Here are the ones that I have found: The Economist on wet-bulb temperatures, Jayati Ghosh (Project Syndicate) on heat waves and Indian workers; Pete Golis (The Press Democrat) on California's heat and water stress; David Wallace-Wells (The New York Times) on extreme heat waves, Stuff on New Zealand climate policy, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists on cities and extreme heat, Reuters on climate finance, Fareed Zakaria (The Washington Post) on climate policy options, New Jersey on heat waves and climate change reporting, Yale Climate Connections on imagining positive climate outcomes, The Guardian on climate and diet, Daily Kos on Goetterdaemmerung capitalism, The Fore on the carbon coin idea, The Story on climate fiction, The New Statesman on the importance of Utopian thinking

Further recommendations of Ministry specifically and mini-reviews: Outlook IndiaSiouxland Public Media KWITPatheosConservation.orgElectronic Design, Rare BooksInstitut Montainge (French).

More Ministry mentions at Storytelling Animals book club, RizolveThe Berkeley Daily Planet, Allison Stephenson Haus, Korean Quarterly, Slate podcast, Robert Reich, LawfareEuropean Council on Foreign RelationsIllinois book club, The Carbon Almanac, Calgary Climate Hub book club.

Ministry still finds itself in the American Booksellers Association bestsellers list.

More translations of Ministry are out: in Italian, by Fanucci, and in Romanian, by Nemira/Armada.


It looks like in 2023 thare will be a Slovenian theatre production, Bodočnost, that is inspired by Ministry!

After this exhaustive list, it's time for a break. More shortly.

(Top image: Sierra Nevada from NASA's Worldview)

10 May 2022

The High Sierra published!

Submitted by Kimon

Shortly after KSR celebrated his 70th birthday, today marks the publication date of KSR's first non-fiction book (well, his thesis The Novels of Philip K Dick excepted), by Hachette/Little Brown and Company!

It's The High Sierra: A Love Story.

Maps. Personal memoir. Aerial photos. Local history. Scientific diagrams. (Psycho)geology. Personal photos. Hiking gear advice. Numbered chapters alternating between different categories, à la 2312. And more. All about the Sierra Nevada of California.

Robinson described it in this way, in an interview for Publishers Weekly:

I hope that the book can inspire people to pay attention to simply being outdoors, the sky, the trees, walking—things that can be done anywhere. Some parts of the Sierra experience are very specific to the Sierras. Others are specific to simply being outdoors. I hope that people reading the book who will never get to the High Sierra will be thinking, “Well, that sounds like a good range. I wonder about my local hill—it’s got rocks, it’s got trees, it’s got sky and clouds, weather.” I hope it inspires them to find pleasure in outdoorness and the physical world, especially in this age of the internet and younger generations that are very often caught in their screen reality, to get out into that third dimension.

In another interview for Sactown Magazine, Robinson discussed the new book, but also Mars and Ministry:

But ordinary suburban neighborhoods could begin to think about less grass, less water, more native species and more wildlife corridors. There are things you can do as local landowners and as local citizens that begin to add up pretty quickly to a larger vision of the landscape.

The Los Angeles Times include it in their May 2022 books and Esquire already recommends it as one of the Best Books of Spring 2022.

KSR just presented The High Sierra at the Bay Area Book Festival.


In other KSR news:

KSR recently visited India to meet the Dalai Lama (!), in a Dialogue For Our Future event on Earth Day, during which time the Dalai Lama was given a symbolic bloc of melting Himalayan ice (report).

Kim Stanley Robinson, who described himself as a science fiction writer, asked how Buddhism can help science. His Holiness told him that scientists have been interested to discuss ways to achieve peace of mind because they recognise that if the mind is disturbed people won’t be happy. He emphasised the benefits of discovering more about mental consciousness and learning to train it on the basis of reasoning.

KSR also delivered the closing keynote for that, on Creating a Good Anthropocene (available on YouTube).

KSR's March column for Bloomberg Green was a Guide to Keeping the Doomsday Glacier Hanging On: "Send the navy—all of them—and the oil industry to Antarctica if we want save every beach on the planet"

KSR wrote the introduction to The Dark Ride: The Best Short Fiction of John Kessel.

In the newly published book/reader version of (re)programming – Strategies for Self-Renewal, Marta Peirano is in conversation with, among others, KSR.

A very interesting discussion with KSR on buddhism, meditation and more on A Skeptic's Path to Enlightnment.

An interview with KSR by Andrew Majeske published as an article on the New American Studies JournalClimate Crisis and Writing in the Anthropocene.

KSR spoke to the podcast of the World Bank's International Finance Corporation: the Ministry of the Speculative Carbon Market.


Erzähler des Klimawandels ("narrator of climate change"), edited by author Fritz Heidorn, edited by Hirnkost, is a new KSR short stories collection has been published in Germany, together with interviews, discussions and guest contributions from Klimahaus Bremerhaven. With material from the 1970s to today, it is the first time these ten short stories appear translated in German. Review by Die Zukunft.

KSR is also supporting the writers competition Klimazukünfte 2050 ("climate futures 2050"), organized by Hirnkost and Klimahaus Bremerhaven, to raise awareness about various climate futures.


The paperback of Ministry found its way to the top sellers list of SF&F books! 

More recommendations of The Ministry for the Future:

Ministry reviews:


Stay tuned as the interviews and reviews around the new book start coming through.

8 Mar 2022

More things that happened

Submitted by Kimon

(Image by Anders Dunker for Rediscovering Earth)

Continuing on The Ministry for the Future related news:

Crooked Timber organized a full on-line seminar around Ministry, with some great content and great commentators. Links to all articles:

Related to that, following a very successful book club on MinistryBryan Alexander interviewed KSR: Academia, climate change, and the future

KSR gets a mention to set the context for an interview with Delton Chen, the man behind the carbon coin idea developed in Ministry, in the Wall Street JournalCould a ‘Carbon Coin’ Save the Planet?


More stuff that happened in 2021 that I didn't previously cover:

Interviews or events that have put their material online (I wonder what would happen to the world if YouTube were to go offline):

Some short interviews:


Some things in print + Forewords:


And, finally, something for the collectors! Thomas Gladysz gathered up the author trading cards from author events at the Booksmith bookshop in San Francisco, see his website with the complete details. Kim Stanley Robinson had two, #314 from 1999 celebrating the release of The Martians, and # 911 from 2008 celebrating the release of Sixty Days and Counting.

8 Mar 2022

The Ministry for the Future has generated quite some buzz in wide-ranging circles, not only in the science fiction circles but also in anything from environmental activists and current event commentators to international institutions and in anyone who is interested in imagining alternatives. It was helped by KSR's appearance at the last COP but also by the current moment in public discourse, where it would appear we are at a turning point towards taking sustainability issues seriously, despite all odds.

Some more KSR interviews and podcasts before and after COP26:

At the 4th edition of the Paris Peace Forum: Engineered climate: The needed governance of Solar Radiation Modification (YouTube video)

At the Climate Crisis Advisory Group public meetings of January 2022: What needs to be achieved in 2022 to ensure a manageable future for humanity? (YouTube video)

At the Long Now talks: Climate Futures: Beyond 02022 (YouTube video) -- a great long-ranging talk as the Long Now series tend to be, on Ministry and its reception, on what KSR learnt from COP26, and more.

Of particular interest to Ministry and its focus on India, at the Jaipur Literature Festival ("the world's largest book show"), in conversation with writer Raghu Karnad: The Urgency of Borrowed Time. The recording is available on YouTube. The event generated some buzz in India: a report on Mint Loungeanother report on News9Live.


An Orbit Books discussion between KSR and science fiction writer Lincoln Michel about capitalism, climate change and the future of New York City.

At TYT's The Damage ReportA Climate Plan For A World In Flames (on YouTube).

At the Your Undivided Attention podcast: How Science Fiction Can Shape Our Reality.

At the Manchester Green New Deal podcast: Sci-Fi is a Metaphor for How Now Feels.

A print interview in Spanish at TelosEl futuro inmediato será un desastre.

Another one in Spanish at Contra el diluvioHay un nicho ecológico para las historias que cuentan cómo alcanzar un mundo mejor desde el presente.


This website has existed for a while now -- all the links above and the list of past events KSR has participated in can be found at the Archive of Events page.

By the way, Ministry has been translated into Spanish (El ministerio del futuro, Minotauro) and German (Das Ministerium für die Zukunft, Heyne Verlag; includes a preview of the first 70 pages) -- at least!

Chapter 57 of Ministry was published on, quite fittingly, Anthropocene Magazine, and it is available to read.

Ministry has inspired a whole new podcast: Climate Futures, by Annelisa Kingsbury Lee, has interviews with people researching the ideas mentioned in KSR's novel.

And meanwhile, Matt & Hilary's podcast that is still called Marooned! on Mars has concluded 2312 and has begun its coverage of Green Earth!


Ministry reviews, in no particular order:

Book clubs! Ministry was selected by SciFiEconomics/Edgy Ryders, by Gaianism (where KSR also appeared, apparently), by the Albany Public Library and by Steamboat Pilot.

Ministry was in The Economist's best books of 2020. It was in Grist's reading list and New Scientist's reading list for climate fiction. It was in Otago Daily News' Top 10 of 2021 (New Zealand) and in Die Zukunft's best of 2021. It was recommended by New Scientist's Rowan Hooper, by Financial Times' Pilita Clark, by Radio West and by the McGill Reporter. It was on international bestsellers lists as well as California bestsellers lists.

Ministry also generated and inspired articles and thought pieces around the world. A non-exhaustive list and in no particular order:


That's "just" it, from what I could gather, on Ministry. Coming up in just two months, in May: KSR's non-fiction book on the Sierra Nevada, The High Sierra: A Love Story, by Little Brown!

(Top image from the latest IPCC report on climate change impacts)

3 Mar 2022

It is one of those rare moments where fiction meets fact. The Ministry for the Future -- among the many things it does -- takes a close look at the mechanics of policy action to mitigate and adapt to climate change, in particular the international aspects of this global problem. The UNFCCC and its Conventions of Parties (COPs) are explicitly part of the setting and plot of the book, with the titular Ministry being a result of a COP and the book drawing to a close with a COP set some 30 years in the future. It was only fitting then that KSR went to a COP to talk about his novel and its ideas to push for a better world on this global stage!

Before going, KSR wrote his column at Bloomberg Green on Why COP26 Invited a Science Fiction Writer

If the biggest United Nations climate meetings are, as someone once described them to me, a combination of diplomacy, trade show, and circus, then presumably I’ll be part of the circus at COP26. Like one of the clowns, which sounds about right. The court jester often says things people need to hear, from angles no one else would think of. Those in power listen for amusement and crazy insight.


The COP summit itself was preceded by many events, several were done remotely, such as the Net Zero Festival organized by Business Green, in which KSR spoke about A climate plan for a world in flames. Video available:


Another event was organized by klimafakten and Deutsche Welle: KSR in discussion with IPCC scientist Fredi Otto: Climate science meets climate science fiction. See also the report at DW: Why even climate change needs a good narrative and the video of the event itself on YouTube.

While in Scotland, KSR visited Glasgow Memorial Chapel at an event organized by Glasgow’s Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic. The video of the event is on YouTube. See also reflections on the event.

Another UK event, Bristol Ideas' Festiival of the Future City, where KSR spoke of What Do We Do Now to Protect Future Generations? The recording is also on YouTube. See also the introduction by Cheryl Morgan.

The COP itself took place in Glasgow, October 31 to November 12. In a COP, typically, there's the actual climate negotiations part restricted to the actual country representatives, there's the national pavilions area which is a bit like a tourism or industry trade fair, and there's the side events with all sorts of speakers. Covid resulted in many events being simultaneously broadcast to the world. KSR was given a red pass by the UK Government, which allowed him to also visit the neotiations area -- but no video of that exists, as could be expected.

One of the events was The New York Times' ClimateHub, where KSR was one of many panelists, from UNHCR and NGOs to academics and filmmakers: Hearts and Minds: Storytelling and Climate Change. See the video on YouTube.

Another event was the Futures Lab, with KSR, Sandrine Dixson-Declève (The Club of Rome Co-President) and others: Transformational Economics meets Transformational Leadership (video included).

KSR was also part of the TED Countdown events, together with other artists, activits or experts. Session 3 can be watched on YouTube (KSR from 27:00).


KSR was at an event with documentary filmmaker Eva Orner organized by Bloomberg Green, on The Power of Storytelling. The video of the event can be seen on Facebook (and only there, as far as I can tell), starting from 44:00.

Another big event was organized by 5x15: Arts and the Imagination. Hosted by Brian Eno and featuring the likes of Amitav Ghosh, Emtithal Mahmoud, Neil Gaiman and more artists. KSR provided the opening statement (while Eno's music played in the background) and participated in the panel. Video on YouTube.


Finally, The Economist's To a Lesser Degree podcast included an interview with KSR in its coverage of COP26 and of the history of climate negotiations: Ratcheting up - what does the outcome of COP26 mean for the planet?

There were more events -- you can check out this site's archive -- but not all put their material online.

Now, as to whether the climate summit itself was a success or a failure...well, there are reasons to be both positive and skeptical -- but beyond binaries, it was part of a process that is on-going and didn't end with COP26.

That's all for now -- but there's even more around the coverage of Ministry coming soon!


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