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!

1 Mar 2022

Catching up with Robinson

Submitted by Kimon

Some time after the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow in November and some time ahead of The High Sierra: A Love Story book publication in May, let's catch up on all things Kim Stanley Robinson -- mainly around his latest, The Ministry for the Future. And there's been a lot to report!


First, interviews and events.

The New Yorker did an extensive profile on KSR: Can Science Fiction Wake Us Up to Our Climate Reality?

...where KSR, historian Mario Biagioli (behind much of the halp KSR got for Galileo's Dream) and the article writer Joshua Rothman go hiking in the Sierras!

Many of Robinson’s novels are essentially love stories in which friends grow enamored of one another and of the landscapes they explore; I could see that the dynamic was taken from life.


For the Los Angeles Review of Books, Everett Hamner conducted an interview with KSR, where they go in great detail about plot and character of many of his novels: Odd Couples, Carbon Coins, and Narrative Scopes

One change in my thinking came after finishing Red Moon, with the feeling I needed to go right to the heart of the story and not work on the margins any longer. (The moon is particularly marginal.) Another was the very strong impression that if, or when, people suffer a bad enough climate disaster, things will change. Then I began imagining a future history that felt real and yet ended up in some kind of “best case scenario” space — that was my challenge for this project. 


Of particular interest to Ministry and its focus on India, KSR was interviewed by Raghu Karnad for The Indian Express‘The first to go green will do the best afterwards’

The boldest countries will be the most successful later in the twenty-first century. It can’t be emphasized enough: the first to go green will do the best afterward.


Daniel Aldana Cohen interviewed KSR for Jacobin, a broad and extensive piece well worth a read: Kim Stanley Robinson on Science Fiction and Reclaiming Science for the Left

There’s a category error in thinking that science is just part of capitalism. Calling people “elites” is now a way to attack them. The 1 percent, the people in power, are elites, but are scientists elites? Are university professors elites? Kind of, yes. The word masks a divergence of projects between people who are rich, who want to retain power, and therefore hire lawyers and lobbyists in order to keep their power by killing tax laws, but also experts, scientists, and technocrats who work to make things better.

The term “elites” confuses the issue, demonizing the experts who are absolutely necessary to the work of getting to a better place, as well as the reactionary forces, the people who only want to hold on to their riches for one more generation.

This also resulted into an interview/article at The GuardianHow will humanity endure the climate crisis? -- and an interview at The Dig podcast: Near Futures


KSR was interviewed by the Green European JournalHow We Put Out the Fire

What needs to happen to make this a turning point for the world?

More awareness, more analysis, more flexibility. The creation of working political majorities in all the major economies, towards taking immediate, strong action in coordination with all other nations through the Paris Agreement. Central banks helping to concoct a new political economy in which money is moved away from carbon-burning activities into decarbonisation. All this will need to be led by the people telling their political representatives to do it. Resistance to all nativist authoritarian leaders encouraging tribalism and ignoring the climate problem; these forces are strong, and they need to be defeated.


Chatham House's The World Today magazine included an Interview: Kim Stanley Robinson (subscription required)


Some video interviews:

KSR was interviewed by Vishnu Som for Be INSPiRED, an Indian documentary series by Teamwork Arts: Finding Our Place in the Universe -- about space exploration, his writing about India and more (YouTube videoFacebook video) -- a welcome international outreach for his work.


KSR had the closing keynote at the Boulder Forum on Economy, Climate and Community -- there's a video of event (Vimeo) and a recap.

KSR delivered a lecture to the University of Sydney's Progress in Political EconomyDodging a Mass Extinction Event: Climate Change and Necessity (YouTube video) -- KSR has been talking about political economy as separate from economics for a while, as far back as the 40/50/60 trilogy and earlier.

KSR spoke at the Berggruen Institute's Possible Worlds series, on Optopia: From Fiction to Action on Climate Change (YouTube video).

More recently, KSR spent an evening with Fossil Free California, where he talked about COP26 and Ministry (YouTube video) -- see also a review of the event.


On for some (audio) podcasts:

On The New Yorker's Politics And More podcast, Kim Stanley Robinson on "Utopian" Science FIction

NPR's Here & Now conducted an interview with KSR: Novelists illustrate the climate futures that could await us (at NPR)

Literature exists to give our lives meaning. It's the stories we tell each other, and literature is the finest stories we have. [...] a kind of realism of our time will become climate fiction by default, because that's the overriding reality of the next few decades and fiction that tries to pretend that it's all about your individual problems without getting to the social and the planetary is a diminished form and not doing its job.


KSR was interviewed by the How We Survive podcast: What Sci-Fi can teach us about the climate crisis

CBC's Ideas podcast: The Best-Case Scenario You Can Still Believe In

KSR was on the Bold.ly Now Show/podcast: Transcending the Climate Crisis with Kim Stanley Robinson (also available as a YouTube video)


...and on the next article we are going to be looking at KSR's trip to COP26 itself.

14 Sep 2021

It's easy to think highly of one's self, but we do seem to be living in unprecedented times. KSR's latest novel, The Ministry for the Future, seems to have come at a perfect moment to address the converging crises of our times. Given its urgent and wide subject matter, MftF's readership has spread further than the usual circles of speculative fiction afictionados and into the world of current politics, op-eds, opinion pieces and highly-regarded mainstream media. Here is a glimpse of how this novel impacted the most important discussion of our times.

Announcement: the trade paperback edition of MftF is scheduled to be released on October 19, featuring an all-new cover (pictured above).


First, Kim Stanley Robinson's own articles and writings:


KSR's TED talk (at TEDMonterey): Remembering climate change... a message from the year 2071

Also available on YouTube. This includes a transcript in 8 languages.

The question at that desperate point was: Could things change? [...] Looking back from our perspective 60 years later, this of course looks possible, because they did it. But it was by no means a sure thing. You have to imagine what it felt like at the time, when panic filled the air, and no one could be sure success was even physically possible. 



KSR's article on the Financial Times: A climate plan for a world in flames 

What does it feel like to live on the brink of a vast historical change? It feels like now.

(+ a reader letter on that: The young will need resilience to cope with a dystopian future)


KSR's article on The Washington PostA declining world population isn’t a looming catastrophe. It could actually bring some good.

In other words, the precarity and immiseration of the unemployed would disappear as everyone had access to work that gave them an income and dignity and meaning (one new career category: restoring and repairing wildlands and habitat corridors for our cousin species), but this would still be a bad thing for the economy. The economy, measured by profit, being the most important thing. More important than people.


KSR's article on The Nation: The Novel Solutions of Utopian Fiction

Utopias exist to remind us that there could be a better social order than the one we are in. Our present system is the result of a centuries-old power struggle, and it is devastating people and the biosphere. We must change it—and fast.


KSR's article on Bloomberg Green: The City as a Survival Mechanism

What we’ll ask of cities in the climate era includes many contradictions, even some double binds. The climate city will need to be compact but with green space. It will have to be energy-efficient but also home to a great deal of industrial production. Instead of being carbon hot spots, belching out emissions, it would be better if cities were carbon-neutral heat sinks, helping to cool the planet. And while a good deal of agriculture and even animal husbandry should take place in cities, to help empty more of the country, our urban spaces should also feel pleasant and parklike for their human inhabitants.


Second, interviews. New interviews are so many, I will just list them here, chronologically, March to August:


Third, reviews of MftF:


But that's not just it. Plenty of readers have taken MftF and ran with it, referring to it to build a case or as as source of inspiration, and more:

In addition, these sites include MftF in recommendations and reading lists: Street RootsForeign PolicyPolitico, Community read-along in Decorah, Iowa. Also, bestsellers lists.


Finally, MftF was a finalist for the 2021 Locus Award for Best SF Novel and for the 2020 Kitschies Award (awarded for "the year’s most progressive, intelligent and entertaining fiction that contain elements of the speculative or fantastic").

This is the end of the links lists...for now. Coming up in the fall: KSR will be at the UNFCCC COP in Glasgow!


Subscribe to KimStanleyRobinson.info RSS