5 Dec 2011

After Galileo's Dream in 2009, Kim Stanley Robinson's next novel is 2312, which will present the world three centuries from now. Robinson's writings have often been concerned with imagining a future that is not as pessimistic as most futures commonly depicted in the media or our collective (un)conscious: a future that can become all the more possible because representations of a better world would form part of our mental relationship with what could possibly come tomorrow.

2312 was originally planned to be published in the beginning of 2012 -- fittingly enough, February 3 (2.3.12) for the USA and March 2 (2/3/12) for the UK were aimed! But eventually, the publication date was pushed back to May 2012: May 3 for the UK, May 22 for the USA and basically the world. It is Robinson's first novel with Orbit Books, and is being published in hardcover.

The official description reads:

The year is 2312. Scientific and technological advances have opened gateways to an extraordinary future. Earth is no longer mankind's only home; new habitats have been created throughout the solar system, on moons, planets, and in between. Humanity itself, augmented and modified, has changed. But in this year, 2312, a sequence of events will force mankind to confront its past, its present, and its future.

The first event takes place on Mercury, on the city of Terminator, itself a miracle of engineering on an unprecedented scale. It is an unexpected death, but one that might have been foreseen. For Swan Er Hong, it is an event that will change her life. Swan was once a woman who designed worlds. Now she will be led into a plot to destroy them.

2312 is a bold and brilliant vision of mankind’s future and a compelling portrait of those individuals who will shape its events. It is a major new SF novel from one of the most important and gifted writers in the field.

'If I had to choose one writer whose work will set the standard for science fiction in the future, it would be Kim Stanley Robinson' New York Times

The NY Times quote is generic and is from Red Mars (I think).

The Fall 2011/Winter 2012 catalogue of Orbit Books included extensive coverage of that release:

With the front and back cover dedicated to 2312, it looks like it is considered a flagship item in their catalogue!

You can click for larger versions. I'm pretty sure the Borg are not featured in the novel.

Between 496 (amazon.co.uk), 592 (amazon.com) and 800 pages (Orbit catalogue), there is some confusion as to its final length.

Stan referred to 2312 in several recent interviews, most significantly in the Coode Street podcast which was released recently. After the down-to-earth Science in the Capital books, he seems to be eager to have some fun with science fiction concepts that he had not touched upon much previously. In Galileo's Dream, he touched upon extraterrestrial intelligence and time travel. In 2312, we can find some Robinson ideas explored in the latter parts of the Mars trilogy -- human expansion in the gas planets, terraforming of Venus, hollow asteroids, the Terminator city on Mercury -- but also some new territory: new technologies, groups of genetically modified humans, starships, artificial intelligence, the solar system as humanity's new playground... with the memory of a damaged ecosystem on Earth. 2312 sounds effervescent, all over the place, full of vitality!

Also, 2312 will be written with a similar structure to John Dos Passos' USA Trilogy (The 42nd Parallel, 1919, The Big Money, 1930-1936), which was adopted decades later by John Brunner in his landmark science fiction novel Stand on Zanzibar (1968): chapters focused on the 'main' characters alternating with newspaper clippings, radio show transcripts, fictional book excerpts, speeches, vignettes from other characters' lives... This 'collage technique' helps give a fuller view of the richness, complexity and contradictions of the world at hand. Robinson wrote an introduction to a recent edition of Stand on Zanzibar. In 2312, parts of these chapters will focus on narrating the history that has elapsed from our 2012 to 2312.

This is an exclusive excerpt of the book:

The sun is always just about to rise. Mercury rotates so slowly that you can walk fast enough over its rocky surface to stay ahead of the dawn; and so many people do. Many have made this a way of life. They walk roughly westward, staying always ahead of the stupendous day. Some of them hurry from location to location, pausing to look in cracks they earlier inoculated with bioleaching metallophytes, quickly scraping free any accumulated residues of gold or tungsten or uranium. But most of them are out there to catch glimpses of the sun.

2312 is just five months away!

25 Nov 2011

The Los Angeles Review of Books recently featured a long column on Kim Stanley Robinson, "Pacific Overture", combining a very interesting interview by Istvan Csicsery-Ronay with Stan and a review by Mark Bould of the recent short story collection The Best Of Kim Stanley Robinson. The interview focuses on the Three Californias/Orange County trilogy (The Wild Shore, The Gold Coast, Pacific Edge): how they were conceived and written, and how he views them twenty or more years later.

Some extracts:

Development all around it has been extensive, and a few years ago I went to the Orange Hill restaurant on the next hill over, and had a look around, and it was amazing to see all the mansions studding the surrounding hills and overlooking the coastal plain, still often very smoggy. It had a very Gold Coast look. [...] So in a way the landscapes of all three alternatives can still be seen. But The Gold Coast dominates. As with the books, it is the center of the triptych. It will take hundreds of years to restore that landscape to something decently livable. The Pacific Edge project is a long-term effort.

I would like to see more Californian utopian novels join Pacific Edge, Ecotopia, and the many real-world utopian efforts that were made in California in the nineteenth century. The potential exists, both locally and globally, for huge improvements in human life and our fit to the planet. They involve not just technologies but laws and economic systems; they need to go beyond capitalism and its disconnect from ecology, and that next step has to be imagined and envisioned repeatedly, no matter the literary and conceptual difficulties, to give us a better sense of how it might feel and how we might take the first steps.

What we built so fast is not a sustainable infrastructure or social structure, so it’s going to have to be extensively rebuilt in the centuries to come. It may remain a kind of test tube for experimenting, and if so I hope my Three Californias helps a little in terms of cognitive mapping.

The review of The Best Of is also very insightful in Robinson's recurring themes and writing influences.

At first, I thought that the great image that accompanies the article (pictured here too) was some NASA photo of the Jupiter atmosphere... it turns out it's a painting! Storm No.2, by the awesome Ran Ortner!



In other news, the release date for the "Rexroth in the Sierra" collection, edited by Robinson, has been announced: April 10, 2012. The cover art is by Tom Killion, "Horse Creek Trail, Hoover Wilderness".


19 Nov 2011

Two Kim Stanley Robinson stories were included in collections in October 2011.

The first is Verso Books' I'm With The Bears: Short Stories from a Damaged Planet, a collection of stories from science fiction writers focusing on the impacts of climate change. Between David Mitchell and Paolo Bacigalupi, Robinson's contribution is "Sacred Space", an excerpt of Chapter 6 of Sixty Days And Counting (part of the Science In The Capital trilogy), where Frank and Charlie go on a hiking trip in the Sierra Nevada. The book says "the story here is adapted from the third novel", so there might be differences in the text.

The book features an introduction by Bill McKibben, notorious American environmentalist who has written extensively on climate change and sustainability.

Interestingly, the book mentions: "Royalties from the sale of I'm with the Bears will go to 350.org, an international grassroots movement working to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere." 350.org was founded by McKibben. With the world Conference Of Parties on climate change negotiations in Durban approaching and with alarming warnings coming even from traditionally conservative institutions, that is very timely!

The second is Send My Love and a Molotov Cocktail!: Stories of Crime, Love and Rebellion by PM Press, which had previously published the chapbook The Lucky Strike with the eponymous story and more in 2009. The collection includes Robinson's short story "The Lunatics", which is described as "a story of oppression and struggle deep in the bowels of the baleful Moon".

Thirdly, as a complement, the MIT's acclaimed Technology Review published a special science fiction issue "inspired by today's emerging technologies" with hard SF contributions from various SF authors like Ken McLeod or Cory Doctorow. The editor of the issue Stephen Cass had previously made a list of the kind of hard SF that inspired TR:SF, and included in it Robinson's Mars trilogy.

12 Nov 2011

Robinson in SF in SF

Submitted by Kimon

Kim Stanley Robinson will be appearing with Cecilia Holland to be interviewed with fellow SF writer Terry Bisson in San Francisco for a reading and a Q&A later today (!).

Details follow:

Saturday, November 12th

Kim Stanley Robinson & Cecilia Holland

Each author will read a selection from their work, followed by Q&A from the audience moderated by author Terry Bisson. Booksigning and schmoozing follows in the lounge, and books will be for sale, courtesy of Borderlands Books

6:00PM – doors and cash bar open
7:00PM – event starts

Suggested $5-$10 donation at the door – benefits Variety Children’s Charity of Northern California – to date, we’ve helped raise over $25,000 for the kids in our community!

The Variety Preview Room Theatre
The Hobart Bldg., 1st Floor — entrance between Quiznos and Citibank
582 Market Street @ 2nd and Montgomery
San Francisco, CA 94104


9 Nov 2011

Jonathan Strahan (editor of The Best Of Kim Stanley Robinson) and Gary K. Wolfe (professor and critic) conducted an interview with Kim Stanley Robinson during the last World SF Convention Renovation last August.

The interview is available from their Coode Street Podcast (direct download).

Robinson talks candidly about attending these annual Conventions, gives quite a bit of information on his next novel 2312, discusses writing his short stories, the themes he writes about, science fiction figures like Asimov and Wolfe (Gene, that is!), and writing in general. Well worth your time!

Pictured: Strahan and Wolfe


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