22 May 2012

2312 interviews & reviews

Submitted by Kimon

2312 is out, and of course Kim Stanley Robinson is out there to promote it (check calendar on the left).



Robinson was interviewed by Space.com: Part 1 (Terraforming the Solar System) and Part 2 (The Future in 2312). Terraforming, public vs private space exploration, Mondragon, genders and body modifications, it's all here.

[2312 is] far enough out that it gives you time to think about the differences between now and 1712, if you run it in the other direction.

Robinson also reacts in another Space.com article on space exploration and science fiction.

"Beyond the solar system' is too far away. [...] It's a joke and a waste of time to think about starships or inhabiting the galaxy. It's a systemic lie that science fiction tells the world that the galaxy is within our reach."

Head over to Wired.com and their podcast Storyboard for an hour-long interview with Robinson! Hear about 2312, time travel, Antarctica and the future of humanity in Storyboard 82 (direct mp3 download here).

Robinson was also interviewed by SciFiNow and provides many insights in the thinking that went behind 2312. Excerpts:


The idea that sparked it had to do with the central story, a romance between two people, one from Mercury, the other from Saturn (with matching personality traits). I needed a solar system-wide culture to make it possible for people to be living in those two places, and it grew from there.

What do you model your future society’s on in 2312? Is there a base coat that we can find on Earth today?

China, the West, the under-developed world, vampire capitalism, alternative economies like that in Mondragon, Spain, technological advances and environmental damage, the uneasy mix of hope and fear, utopia and catastrophe—all these are already here, and in the case of this book, being displayed as if from three hundred years further on.


I am mostly at ease with being thought of as political. Science fiction, by postulating future histories, always contains theories of history and theories of human nature, so political philosophy is simply part of the genre. Ignoring that, or pretending that you can dodge that, is to try to reduce science fiction to nothing more than a game. But as fun as it is, science fiction can be so much more than a game.


And of course, the reviews are coming! Apart from a review in Locus Magazine, several have appeared online.

SF Signal:

2312 is a thoughtful read, and I’m glad that I took my time while I read it. While slow and ponderous, I found myself struck by the concepts that Robinson was pushing forward, scientifically, and socially. This novel takes space opera and makes it truly epic in a way that I really haven’t read in a while, and imparts a sense of wonder in our surroundings that made this a very good read.

Wall Street Journal:

The real hero of "2312" is human enterprise. There are so many things we could do! Jog round Mercury like the rolling city, dawn always coming up behind you. Use orbiting mirrors to burn the canals back into the surface of Mars and make the Ray Bradbury images come true. Create giant artworks on the surface of Jovian moons. One thing we can't do, in Mr. Robinson's view, echoing Arthur Clarke's, is go star-traveling; even the nearest stars are out of our reach. The solar system is what we've got, and we need to do better with it than we have done with Earth.

The Wertzone:

2312 is Kim Stanley Robinson's first widescreen, big-budget, blockbuster SF novel in some considerable time.

Little Red Reviewer:

Existentially sprawling, and scientifically fascinating yet completely accessible,  I’m reluctant to categorize 2312 as science fiction.


(Pictured above: land art by Andy Goldsworthy, photo by the CASS Sculpture Foundation; Goldsworthy is an influence in the world of 2312)


22 May 2012

SF writers Robinson and Paolo Bacigalupi (of The Windup Girl fame) recently (May 12) appeared together at the Whole Earth Festival in Davis, where Robinson lives. The Whole Earth Festival exists in Davis since 1969. In an interview with Davis Enterprise, Robinson provided some thoughts on his writing and Bacigalupi:

Readers of Robinson’s other books also will recognize that the story in “2312″ is set several decades after the events in Robinson’s landmark Mars trilogy.

“There’s a line from Ursula Le Guin through me that extends to Paolo,” Robinson said, “a kind of green environmentalist strand of science fiction. It’s not a dominant strand in the field, but it is important.”

This is the first time the two have met.


On May 13, Robinson gave the Commencement Address for the UC Berkeley English Department. A short clip of this apparently very entertaining talk has surfaced on the internet here (despite poor audio quality).



Also, during his UK tour in June, Robinson will be appearing with fellow SF writer and friend Iain (M.) Banks (of the Culture books fame) in London.


Links: British Library | Forbidden Planet | Orbit Books announcement

Saturday 9th June 2012
Doors 3pm for a 3.30pm start, followed by a signing at 5pm
Tickets £7.50, concessions £5 – available here

Conference Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
London NW1 2DB
United Kingdom

Check out the calendar on the left for more 2312 promo events with Robinson! (USA and UK so far)

21 May 2012

2312 is out!

Submitted by Kimon

2312 is now available in stores!

The "official site" for the book from Orbit is here. One of the chapters has been converted into a great little animation! Head over there to read and see the recipe on how to make a terrarium!

People at Orbit have been blogging on 2312. If you want 2312 wallpapers and 2312 HQ design elements, here they are! If you want the story behind the design of the cover for 2312, Kirk Benshoff explains it all! If you want to read the first praise the novel has got, here it is! If you want to read the prologue, it's over here!

"The sun is always just about to rise."

The book counts 576 pages. It is split in many chapters of several types:

  • The main story itself, which follows Mercurial Swan Er Hong and Saturnine Fitz Wahram.
  • Lists: KSR has been accused (or praised) of too many infodumps, here he takes that comment and runs with it with chapters that are just that, lists of things!
  • Excerpts: Think of browsing through a scientific journal full of abstracts, only that you only concentrate on small snippets of text.
  • Places: Bodies in the solar system that have been settled by humans.
  • ...and another one that would be spoilerish to reveal here!

Many readers of the Mars trilogy will sometimes feel that 2312 takes the solar system of Blue Mars and runs wild with it!

The 2312 page on this site is here, where I will link to all reviews and related material as they appear. You can leave your own review in the comments there! The 2312 MangalaWiki page is here.

Stay tuned as the 2312 promo tour kicks in full gear!

27 Apr 2012

Countdown to 2312

Submitted by Kimon

In less than a month, Kim Stanley Robinson's next novel 2312 is being released! May 22 in the USA and Australia, May 24 in the UK. Get ready for a wild ride in the solar system!

The first official review of the novel comes from Publishers Weekly:

Robinson (Galileo’s Dream) delivers a challenging, compelling masterpiece of science fiction. In a spectacularly depicted future of interplanetary colonization, humanity has spread across the entire solar system, from miniature biomes in hollowed-out asteroids to a moving city racing the fatal rays of the sun on Mercury. Mercurian artist and biome designer Swan Er Hong is struggling to cope with her grandmother’s death and an unexpected meteor strike when she gets caught up in a scientific conspiracy that touches on both the political and economic schemes of space-based humans, including Saturn’s ring-surfing moon dwellers and the secretive factions controlling slowly terraforming Venus, as well as the quasi-independent quantum computers called qubes. As Swan, the saturnine diplomat Fitz Wahram, and interplanetary investigator Jean Genette delve into the possible connections among a series of mysterious incidents, Robinson’s extraordinary completeness of vision results in a magnificently realized, meticulously detailed future in which social and biological changes keep pace with technological developments. Agent: Ralph Vincinanza, Ralph Vincinanza Agency (author now represented by Christopher Schelling, Selectric Artists). (May)

The review came with an interview with Robinson: "The Future Is Fun". Extract:

What was your starting point for a work that explores so many different areas of future culture and technology?

I usually start with ideas that are simple, then things get complicated as I try to make those ideas work. In this case, I began with the idea of the romance at the center of the novel, between two people from Mercury and Saturn who were (surprise!) mercurial and saturnine in character, and thus a real odd couple. But to make that story work I needed there to be people on Mercury and Saturn, which implied a solar system–spanning civilization, which in turn suggested the time of the story had to be pretty far off in the future. The project of describing this high-tech future civilization became a major component of the novel, but it all began by trying to give the central romance its proper setting. So I guess you could say it’s a process of following the implications of ideas and seeing where they lead.

What didn't make it on the magazine did make it on their blog here. Extract:

SDG: What drew you to the “collage” structure?

KSR: The book was clearly going to have a big information load, and as I was planning it, Jerad Walters of Centipede Press asked me to write introductions for new editions of John Brunner’s novels Stand On Zanzibar and The Sheep Look Up, classics from 1968 and 1973. I agreed to do that, and rediscovered the way Brunner had portrayed a complex global culture, which was by adapting the technique invented by John Dos Passos for his great U.S.A. trilogy of the 1930s. So I finally actually read the Dos Passos trilogy, which had been sitting on my shelf for thirty years, and I was amazed at how good it is—truly one of the great American novels. I decided to follow Brunner’s example and adapt the Dos Passos method, which in essence is a weave or collage of different kinds of writing, including songs, newspaper articles, stream-of-consciousness passages, impressionist pocket biographies of famous Americans, and so on. My lists, extracts, planet biographies, and quantum walks are my variations on the Dos Passos technique.

I’ve always liked lists, and I hope that the lists in 2312 will be seen as a new way to handle exposition, in effect squishing it down to something like word association games, or prose poems.

There's another reader review at Mysterious Galaxy and here (some plot spoilers).


Teasing the book, Orbit offers a Kindle sampler for their April-May 2012 releases over on Amazon.com, which includes an excerpt from 2312. The Orbit marketing continues to feature 2312 prominently, with a variant of the 2312 artwork featured as the cover for the sampler (picture above).




Expect an intense Robinson tour for the promotion of 2312 in the coming months!

The first is tomorrow (!) in Robinson's city of residence, Davis, California.

Davis Enterprise: Robinson talks about his latest novel, '2312'
Saturday April 28, 2012, 7pm
Davis Astronomy Club
Explorit Science Center
3141 Fifth St., Davis, CA

Apart from the Rexroth-related events on May 6 and May 15 (see previous article and calendar), there is much more planned.

  • May 23: Planetary Society, Los Angeles, California
  • May 24: Mysterious Galaxy, Redondo Beach, California
  • May 25: FiRE conference, Laguna Beach, California
  • May 26: Avid Reader, Davis, California
  • May 29: Mysterious Galaxy, San Diego, California
  • May 30-June 2: Spacefest, Tucson, Arizona
  • June 5: Book Passage, Corte Madera, California
  • June 7-11: Tour in the UK (includes June 8: Bath)
  • June 16: Book Cafe, Capitola, California

Details and links will be added as they become available. Make sure you follow the calendar!



Finally, online science fiction magazine Lightspeed published the short story "Our Town" in its April issue, available here (for free). The story is accompanied by a short interview with Robinson! Extract:

In May of 2012, Orbit will publish my novel 2312. By coincidence, this novel has a bit of a relationship to “Our Town,” in that one of its protagonists is an artist, but instead of the expensive and exploitative art form described in “Our Town,” my character Swan Er Hong practices landscape art and body art, in both cases using “found materials” to make art that speaks to her time. These new art forms are based on the current work of the landscape artist Andy Goldsworthy, and the performance artist Marina Abramovic. They are in effect inventing, or vastly expanding, new genres. This is interesting in itself, a great pleasure to watch, and also extremely suggestive for a science fiction writer. So I guess I’ve come back to a question that “Our Town” explored, as well as my novel The Memory of Whiteness: What will new art forms of the future be like?

Their May issue will include an excerpt from 2312.

23 Apr 2012

In The Sierra: Mountain Writings has now been released! A work of love by Kim Stanley Robinson, this is a collection of Sierra-themed poems by Kenneth Rexroth, edited by Robinson, with his introduction and notes. The beautiful cover is by illustrator Tom Killion; the book also includes a 'Rexroth's Sierra' map designed by Robinson and drawn by Killion.

Over the course of his life, Kenneth Rexroth wrote about the Sierra Nevada better than anyone. Progressive in terms of environmental ethics and comparable to the writings of Emerson, Thoreau, Aldo Leopard, Annie Dillard, and Gary Snyder, Rexroth's poetry and prose described the way Californians have always experienced and loved the High Sierra. Contained in this marvelous collection are transcendent nature poems, as well as prose selections from his memoir An Autobiographical Novel, newspaper columns, published and unpublished WPA guidebooks, and correspondence. Famed science-fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson has compiled a gift for lovers of mountains and poetry both. This volume also contains Robinson's introduction and notes, photographs of Rexroth, a map of Rexroth's travels, and an amazing astronomical analysis of Rexroth's poems by the fiction writer Carter Scholz.

The release is by prestigious publishing house New Directions.

Two events have been planned so far related to this new release, of course in California.

Kenneth Rexroth Celebration at Book Passage in Corte Madera

Link 1 | Link 2

May 6, 7 pm

Book Passage
51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, California, 94925
United States

A Celebration of Kenneth Rexroth’s Mountain Writings at City Lights Bookstore

Link 1 | Link 2

May 15, 7 pm

City Lights Bookstore
261 Columbus Avenue at Broadway
San Francisco, CA 94133


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