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Introductions & Prefaces by Kim Stanley Robinson, 2006-2011 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kimon   
Sunday, 17 April 2011 10:25

Over the last few years, on top of concentrating on his novels, his short stories and his appearances in various media, Kim Stanley Robinson has also lent his pen to writing introductions and prefaces to various books, mostly new editions of past science fiction greats. Let's go over what's been going on over the past 5 years and what's in store for 2011:


The most recent one is Glimmering, by Elizabeth Hand, about a 1999 Manhattan plagued by climate, environmental and health disasters. This 1997 novel is re-edited by genre publisher Underland Press; it should be published in December 2011.

Says Hand in an interview with Tor.com:

There were such great environmentally-themed SF books from that time [1970s], stuff like Stand on Zanzibar, The Sheep Look Up, and Dune. I wrote Glimmering in that spirit, a novel that anticipated a lot of terrible stuff that actually did come to pass in the last decade. Unfortunately, it was published in 1997, at the height of the go-go 90s, and that terrible bleak vision of the near-future was not what anyone wanted to read about. But it’s being reprinted next year by Underland Press, with a new intro by Kim Stanley Robinson. So I’m very excited about that.

Robinson and Hand both participated in the Summer 2009 Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers' Workshop.


Speaking about Stand on Zanzibar and The Sheep Look Up, both of these landmark John Brunner novels were re-edited by genre publisher Centipede Press in June 2010, with introductions by Stan.

These are luxurious hardcover editions with original colour illustrations inside:

[Stand on Zanzibar] With a printed cloth front panel, Japanese cloth on back panel, top-edge stain, ribbon marker, beautiful European endopapers, full color illustrations, 500 + pages, a bonus essay by Brunner, and a stunning and simple design. Each book is signed by John Brunner and Kim Stanley Robinson.

[The Sheep Look Up] This is the first limited edition of The Sheep Look Up ever published. This edition features a fine introduction by Kim Stanley Robinson, one of science fiction’s best-known writers.
The book also features an interview with Brunner, a column by Brunner, and a lengthy autobiography with photographs. Signed by Kim Stanley Robinson. The book has a printed cloth front panel, Japanese cloth on back panel, top-edge stain, ribbon marker, beautiful European endpapers, full color illustrations, and is over 350 pages.

Stand on Zanzibar (1968) is the classic lengthy novel about an overpopulated future, which also experiments on narrative structure and with varied point-of-view chapters to enrich its wordbuilding.
The Sheep Look Up (1972) is a tale of environmental disasters and social unrests in a future USA.

Keep note of Robinson's association with Stand on Zanzibar, as we will be referring to it again in the future (hint, hint!)...


Stan also wrote the introduction to the short story collection The Very Best of Gene Wolfe, published in 2009 by PS Publishing (UK).

Careful though! According to this Strange Horizons review by David McWilliam, the US version of the book (called The Best of Gene Wolfe) is one story short and does not feature the introduction:

[The UK edition features] a thorough introduction by Kim Stanley Robinson that significantly augmented my enjoyment of the book. Robinson's boundless enthusiasm for Wolfe is infectious, though he occasionally verges on hyperbole, claiming that this is "one of the best story collections ever published, a masterpiece of American literature" (p. xix). Robinson's articulate championing of the nuances of Wolfe's style, mixing biographical details with literary analysis, makes the introduction a valuable addition to the collection.

Stan has expressed his love for Wolfe's prose time and again.


Also by PS Publishing, in 2007, is Promised Land: Stories of Another America, by Jack Dann.

This is a short stories collection of stories taking place in the same alternative history of the USA in the 1950s-1970s and features several of America's cultural icons (James Dean, Robert Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs!...). It is a companion volume to the 2004 novel The Rebel: An Imagined Life of James Dean, in which James Dean survived his car crash in 1955 and went on to have a successful life and political ties with Bobby Kennedy.

Jack Dann appeared with Stan last September in a panel of the Aussiecon 4.


In 2006, Stan wrote the introduction to a new edition by Bantam Classics of Jules Verne's classic-of-the-classics Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864)!

If you don't know anything about this novel then I encourage you to check out the 1959 film adaptation, in all its James Mason/Bernard Herrmann/stop-motion effects glory!


Moving on to non-fiction, KSR.info already covered the 2009 release of the essays & interviews collection Mythmakers & Lawbreakers: Anarchist Writers on Fiction by AK Press, for which Stan provided the introduction.


Finally, Saturn: A New View by Harry N. Abrams Inc (2006) is a large-format hardcover book that features 150 glorious photos from the Cassini-Huygens mission by NASA/JPL, which reached Saturn in 2004. Stan wrote the foreword.


That's all for now folks!

Last Updated on Sunday, 17 April 2011 10:57
 
Rethinking Capitalism conference PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kimon   
Tuesday, 05 April 2011 20:13

Bruce Initiative on Rethinking Capitalism Conference, April 7-9, 2011 - Social Sciences Division of University of California Santa Cruz

Kim Stanley Robinson will be appearing on the 2011 Rethinking Capitalism Conference, April 7-9, 2011. There are several panels and a wide range of participants over the three-day event. The conference is described as:

The collapse of capital markets in 2008 has produced a literature that describes the financial apocalypse we almost had. This new, more realistic, view of capitalism stresses its dependence on taxpayer subsidy and government regulation and the imperative of preserving it as something less than a market utopia. This conference will explore the difference and relation between confessing the fragility of capitalism and formulating a critique. Each panel brings theories of economic value and regulation into conversation with the study of culture, institutions, ethics, history, geography and theology. Their overall focus will be on the large role of financial products, especially options, in the development of global capitalism and the ways which questions of how to manage uncertainty about the future must be supplemented by political questions about the direction and sustainability of capitalism itself.

The issues covered are very topical and a matter of hot debate in recent times. Indeed, when including some of the most respected economists of our times insist that the problem not only lies in regulation (or lack thereof) of financial markets, but also in the fact that our world civilization is hitting against real physical limits inherent in our world and its finite resources, then it is time to listen, ponder, and act accordingly!

See this recent article in the New York Times by US economist and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman (December 2010), as one example among many many:

Oil is back above $90 a barrel. Copper and cotton have hit record highs. Wheat and corn prices are way up. Over all, world commodity prices have risen by a quarter in the past six months.
So what’s the meaning of this surge?
Is it speculation run amok? Is it the result of excessive money creation, a harbinger of runaway inflation just around the corner? No and no.
What the commodity markets are telling us is that we’re living in a finite world, in which the rapid growth of emerging economies is placing pressure on limited supplies of raw materials, pushing up their prices. And America is, for the most part, just a bystander in this story.

Stan will be appearing in one of the very first panels, on Thursday April 7:

7:15 PM Keynote Panel: Telling the Story of 2008: Realistic, Utopian and Apocalyptic Narratives of What Could Have Happened
Kim Stanley Robinson, Science fiction author known for his Mars trilogy
Lynn Stout, Corporate and Securities Law, University of California Los Angeles
Graham Ward, Contextual Theology and Ethics, University of Manchester

He will also be appearing on a panel with a large number of participants on Friday April 8:

2:00 PM ROUND TABLE 1: Eschatology, Visualization and Scenario Planning
Andrew Barry, School of Geography, University of Oxford
Karin Knorr Cetina, Sociology, University of Constance, Germany
Daniel Friedman, Economics, UC Santa Cruz
Dai Jinhua, Comparative Literature and Culture, Beijing University, Resident Fellow Townsend Center for the Humanities, UC Berkeley
Andrew Mathews, Anthropology, UC Santa Cruz
Darel Paul, Political Science, Williams College
Paolo Quattrone, Accounting, IE Business School
Kim Stanley Robinson, Science fiction author known for his Mars trilogy
Shyam Sunder, Accounting, Economics and Finance, Yale University
Graham Ward, Contextual Theology and Ethics, University of Manchester

The Santa Cruz Sentinel ran an article on the conference and provides some background:

Last year's inaugural Rethinking Capitalism conference focused on derivatives, the esoteric financial instruments that helped drive the economy to the brink of failure.
"Now we're drilling down," said Stephen Bruce, founder of the Bruce Initiative. Bruce is a UCSC economics graduate who went on to a career in international asset management.
He founded the Bruce Initiative at UCSC because of its interdisciplinary approach to probing critical social and economic issues in unconventional ways.
"This year we will look at social systems and questions of distribution and allocation."
"People used to be persuaded that the problems in markets could be solved by creating more markets. Now I think people no longer expect these markets to operate without very heavy involvement from government and central banks and government can't do what they do to keep these markets going without suspending democracy. The general view is that the system has been saved but that we're on borrowed time. The purpose of the conference is really an attempt to figure out what kind of time that is."

If you are going to the conference, we are interested in any material you might come back with!

And as always, if you have an opinion or want to react on these matters, there is always the comments section below.

Edit: Thanks to Albinoflea!

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 April 2011 21:31
 
Various updates PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kimon   
Friday, 28 January 2011 17:29

...And this is 2011 and we're still here! Some updates in the world of KSR:

The Lucky Strike has been included in a collection with stories from various authors (such as Ken McLeod and Stephen Baxter): The Mammoth Book of Alternate Histories, by Robinson (no, not that one, the publisher) and Running Press. With the PM Press release also last year, The Lucky Strike gets a lot of attention! Nice cover! (right)


The Lunatics has been included in the short story collection Brave New Wolrds: Dystopian Stories, by Night Shade Books (paperback). Editor John Joseph Adams created a whole mini-site for the book and conducted a short interview with Robinson himself for the occasion! Excerpt:

What was the genesis of the story–what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?

My wife and I were living in Zurich while she was doing a post-doc, and we hung out with all the other post-docs, most of them chemists. One night I saw a periodic table in someone’s kitchen and noticed the element promethium. The story came from that.


Meanwhile, The Best Of Kim Stanley Robinson has been released in paperback and Kindle editions by Night Shade Books.


Galileo's Dream has been translated in Spanish by Minotauro, and reviews are up! As far as I can tell, this is the first translation of the novel, ¡felicidades a los Españoles!

Galileo's Dream has also been nominated for the 2011 IMPAC Dublin Award. That's notable because 1) The nominees are designated only by public libraries from all over the world, which is brilliant, and 2) It's a "general"/"non-genre" award, which means Galileo's Dream is nominated for its own literary merits beyond its qualities as a specifically science fiction novel, which is also brilliant! The shortlist should be announced on April 12th and the winner on June 15th.


Back in October 2010, Kim Stanley Robinson participated in a conference at UC Santa Cruz, Emerging Terraformations: Climate Change, Geoengineering and Science Fictions. Speakers also included Chris McKay, Gregory Benford and others. Stan was interviewed by Colin Milburn (English and Science and Technology Studies, UC Davis). I only found a "liveblogging"...blog entry about this event over here on a very interesting blog! Written as cliff notes. Live reporting. Excerpt:

Economics is geoengineering. Our economics are not properly calibrated to long term survival on the planet. two ways to talk about it:
False pricing. We have never charged ourselves properly. Everything costs a lot less than it should. B/c we have shifted off costs to future generations. Charge less for something than it costs to make it = predatory dumping. Who are we predating on? generations of the future. can defend themselves. Imagine them as little babies underfeet, imagine us beating them, that's what we're doing. Imagine each generation as equal to us in economic value. We've systemically undervalued future generations. Geoengineering: properly pricing things. Post-capitalism.

A portion of this population will call that a tax. Immediately thrown back into framework of our economy. Political opposition, intense avoidance of economical environmentalism. Pro-carbon party. Will always be controversy. Biz won't like it b/c it's not profitable. Paradigm buster. We claim to have an economy that can put a price on everything. There are religious fundamentalists who won't like it:thinking about Earth as a planet in a secular, scientific world view. Global changes will never be visible to individual senses. With the exception of ice. that's not true. Increasingly hot summers and warm winters are really easy to perceive. You have to trust science to believe it. Science is often attacked as a stand-in for government, as atheist thing. Culture of anti-intellectualism and anti-science. Discrepancies and incoherences involved. Should be much more effort made to show that Sciences are conciliate, you can't cherry pick. It will always be resisted and controversial b/c it requires a trust of science.


On podcast StarShipSofa, Josh Roseman conducts a reading of the title story from Escape From Kathmandu, in serial style! Beware of yeti hunters in Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3!

Speaking of audio material, KSR.info contributor Albinoflea has tracked down the audio drama adaptation of The Lucky Strike, performed by the full cast of Seeing Ear Theatre! Recorded circa 2003 (to be confirmed) and clocking at 73min! The audio files can be found on Archive.org for your listening pleasure!

Last Updated on Monday, 07 February 2011 21:28
 
KSR Down Under, Part V (final) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kimon   
Sunday, 07 November 2010 12:23

A very belated final news post on material that surfaced the internet after Kim Stanley Robinson's visit to Australia in late August-early September!

In the Melbourne Writers Festival, writer and editor Lucy Sussex interviewed Kim Stanley Robinson as part of Australian Brodcasting Corporation's Big Ideas series. Stan discusses his novels, his ideas, his politics, his child love of Francis Drake's exloprations that inspired the award-winning short story "Black Air", his love of the Sierras that inspired the Mars novels, his love of Virginia Woolf and Olaf Stapledon, Galileo's character and time-travelling as a storytelling device that can stand in for psychology and memory, and much more. This excellent interview is available in video (mp4 & wmv) and audio, and is embedded below.

And some last Aussiecon 4 articles:

AusLit, as part of their series of articles on the Worldcon, also did a review article with all the technical issues discussed on the panel The Race To The Red Planet, with Kim Stanley Robinson, David D. Levine and Jim Benford. A video featuring part of the panel (atomic-powered rockets to Mars and space elevators) surfaced on YouTube; audio quality is very bad, but you can see it here (originated from this blog).

Blogger and SF writer Graham Clements posted reviews on all the Climate Change panels of the convention -- Stan of course participated in nearly all of them. Blog posts part 1 and part 2 (which includes an account of Gregory Benford's panel with some very interesting technical details on geoengineering). Excerpts:

He disagreed with the concept of sustainable development, which he thought was humanity saying: let’s just continue to live like we have, but get away with it.
He has a garden and solar panels.
He wishes they had a preferential voting system in the
US so environmental parties would get a look in at the elections.

He mentioned that one-third of humanity's food comes from the oceans, but greenhouse gases are raising its PH level which might kill the bottom of the food chain.

He believes it is still possible to get to a carbon neutral state, but it would take some severe action. Nuclear power has to be used as a bridging technology. Genetic engineering might also be part of the solution, for example, rice that can survive two month floods instead of the previous two week floods. He's against notions of purity, i.e., that the solution has to be pure and contain no nuclear power, no genetic engineering.


Keep checking the Calendar on the left -- next event with KSR is a NASA-sponsored talk on November 9th (in two days!) in Irvine, California, on human space flight and the public.

(Photo from ABC.)

Last Updated on Sunday, 07 November 2010 13:19
 
New publication: 80! Ursula K LeGuin festschrift PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kimon   
Monday, 25 October 2010 21:23

On October 21, 2010, Ursula K. Le Guin's 81st birthday, was published 80! Memories & Reflections on Ursula K. Le Guin by Aqueduct Press. Assembled for her 80th birthday from an idea of Kim Stanley Robinson, the book contains contributions by a great many people, including a piece written by Robinson.

A private gift to Ursula K. Le Guin becomes a gift to all readers, an exciting chance to enjoy someone else's birthday present. In 2009, for the momentous occasion of Ursula K. Le Guin's 80th birthday, Karen Joy Fowler and Debbie Notkin put together a volume of tributes and appreciations, as a birthday present. The project, known in academic circles as a ''festschrift,'' or ''celebration book,'' resulted in a single copy, handbound in green leather, which Karen presented to Ursula a few days after her birthday in October. The original idea came from Kim Stanley Robinson, who also contributed an essay to the book. With Ms. Le Guin's kind agreement, Aqueduct Press is delighted to share this unique celebration with Le Guin's readers and fans. The book contains poetry, personal essays, academic essays, biographical information about Le Guin, as well as fiction, including previously unpublished fiction by Andrea Hairston and John Kessel. Publication will coincide with Le Guin's 81st birthday. Contributors include Eleanor Arnason, Brian Attebery, Richard Chwedyk, Karen Joy Fowler, Molly Gloss, Eileen Gunn, Andrea Hairston, Jed Hartman, Gwyneth Jones, John Kessel, Ellen Kushner, Nancy Kress, Sarah LeFanu, Vonda N. McIntyre, Pat Murphy, Julie Phillips, Paul Preuss, Kim Stanley Robinson, Nisi Shawl, Lisa Tuttle, Elisabeth Vonarburg, and Jo Walton, among others.

Stan is a long-time friend of Le Guin and an admirer of her work; she has been cited as an influence on him -- in particular in the utopian approach of his work.

Happy birthday Ursula!

 
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