26 Jun 2010

On May 6, Kim Stanley Robinson participated in an event at UCSD on Galileo: "Galileo Between Science, Science Studies and Science Fiction" -- very fitting with the themes of his latest novel Galileo's Dream!

Participants were Mario Biagioli, history professor and scientifc revolutions expert; Sheldon Brown, visual artist; Brian Keating, astrophysicist; and Kim Stanley Robinson.

In his recent book, Galileo's Dream, Kim Stanley Robinson creates a portrait of Galileo's life in which he combines historic research with science fiction tropes to show the impact and challenges of paradigm shifts and their very human origins. One of the sources for this work is the research of Mario Biagioli, who will discuss the importance of Robinson's approach to historians of science and interrelationships between science studies and science fiction. Additionally, UCSD Professor of Physics Brian Keating will describe his observations of the early universe made with a version of Galileo's refractor telescope, which is sensitive to radio-waves, instead of visible light. This telescope located in Antarctica, has made ultra-sensitive images of the afterglow of the Big Bang. He will show images of the early universe as well as data from observations of Jupiter made with a new UCSD telescope, and will discuss techniques to peer deeper into the universe, standing on Galileo's shoulders. All will be framed by films of high resolution images produced by Sheldon Brown of the four Jovian moons discovered by Galileo some 400 years ago. This event is organized by Don Wayne, Provost of Revelle College. Co-Sponsored by: California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), Clarion Writers’ Workshop, Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA), The Council of Provosts, Department of Literature, Division of Arts and Humanities, Division of Physical Sciences, Revelle College.

The recorded panel has been posted online, at Calit2 and at YouTube and lasts for 2h 10min. Here it is below for your enjoyment:



25 Jun 2010

Kim Stanley Robinson, a UC San Diego graduate, gave the commencement address for UCSD's Sixth College on June 13. Prior to the address he gave an interview for SignOnSanDiego. Highlights:

There is a mismatch now between our civilization and the natural systems that give us life and support us. In short, we have not yet invented a sustainable civilization, and now inventing that civilization has gone from being a good idea to a survival necessity. That process will be the story of the twenty-first century.

Those of the World War Two generation will understand best the idea that having an overarching goal for the whole society is something that can bring people together and drive individual decisions in powerful ways. Now we're facing a different kind of challenge, and in many ways a more positive one. It will take the global community coming together, rather than fighting each other; and young people are the most connected generation yet. So, this big necessary project will mean jobs, careers, and meaningful lives. It's a good thing to have.

Enough of my novels have had autopian aspect that I also often think of myself as a utopian science fiction writer. This is an odd pursuit, but I find it interesting, and it keeps me working to find new ways to do it. I think it's a useful thing for our literature to include visions of how we might build a better world. And it's fun to try.

Find the full interview here.

25 Jun 2010

KSR on Red Mars

Submitted by Kimon

Under the celebration of the 25th anniversary of SF&F editions Spectra at Suvudu.com, Kim Stanley Robinson has reminesced over the birth of his 1992 novel Red Mars in a short online interview:

"When I first saw the photos from the Viking missions to Mars, I was hiking a lot in California’s Sierra Nevada, and one stereo-optic photo pair, of Martian cliffs, struck me (in 3-D!) as both very familiar and very strange. It occurred to me that Mars would be a great place to backpack, and I began to read more about it, and think about what that idea might mean. The first result was the story “Exploring Fossil Canyon,” and the second was the middle part of my novel Icehenge. By then the idea of telling the story of the terraforming of Mars was firmly in my mind, but I had my Three Californias Trilogy to finish, and in general did not feel ready to take on such a big project. The title Green Mars seemed very clear to me, however; too clear, given how far away I was from starting, and how many busy science fiction writer colleagues I had. So in 1984 I wrote the climbing story “Green Mars” to lay claim to the title.

By 1989 I was ready to start my Mars terraforming novel. I wrote a couple hundred pages and found my characters had barely gotten to Mars, so in conversation with my wonderful agents Patrick Delahunt and Ralph Vicinanza, I discovered I had a trilogy on my hands. At that point Ralph took over, and made the deal for the trilogy with Bantam Spectra. For this I owe immense thanks to Ralph, as always, and also to Lou Aronica, most of all; and to Jennifer Hershey, who skillfully edited all three of the Mars novels; and to Irwyn Applebaum and Nita Taublib, who were strong advocates and supporters of my work throughout my years at Spectra.

I wrote most of Red Mars in Washington DC, while caring for our infant boy David; I described the process in the poem “Two Years,” published in The Martians. The novel was finished in late 1991, after we had moved back to Davis, California. The writing of this novel was a breakthrough for me in several ways, and a special experience. I remember after sending the book in, I had a month or so to wait while Lou and Jennifer read the long manuscript, and I spent that time tiling a sun porch in our new house. At that point no one had read the book but me. There was a lot of Mars left to go, but I remember the feeling of happiness at that time very distinctly."

Interesting how everything in Robinson's career during the 1980s, from "Exploring Fossil Canyon" to Icehenge to "Green Mars", seemed to have led to the Mars novel/trilogy!

25 Jun 2010

Kim Stanley Robinson's Galileo's Dream has been nominated for the 2010 John W. Campbell Memorial Award, for best science fiction novel! The full list of the nominees is:

  • The Year of the Flood, Margaret Atwood (Talese)
  • The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade)
  • Transition, Iain M. Banks (Orbit)
  • Makers, Cory Doctorow (Tor)
  • Steal Across the Sky, Nancy Kress (Tor)
  • Gardens of the Sun, Paul McAuley (Pyr)
  • The City & The City, China Miéville (Del Rey)
  • Yellow Blue Tibia, Adam Roberts (Gollancz)
  • Galileo’s Dream, Kim Stanley Robinson (Ballantine Spectra)
  • WWW: Wake, Robert J. Sawyer (Ace; Gollancz)
  • The Caryatids, Bruce Sterling (Del Rey)
  • Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America, Robert Charles Wilson (Tor)

The jury is a small committe consisting of Gregory Benford, Paul Di Filippo, Sheila Finch, James Gunn, Elizabeth Anne Hull, Paul Kincaid, Christopher McKitterick, Pamela Sargent, and T.A. Shippey.

The award will be presented during the Campbell Conference Awards Banquet, to be held July 16-18, 2010 at the University of Kansas.

Robinson had previously won in 1991 for Pacific Edge, and had also been nominated for The Gold Coast and Blue Mars.


25 Jun 2010

The Clarion Foundation, home of the SF&F writing workshop, is organizing a Write-a-Thon that will take place from June 27 to August 7, 2010, and Kim Stanley Robinson is one of the about 70 participating writers (among such names as James Patrick Kelly and Cory Doctorow)!

What is a write-a-thon, anyway? Think charity walk-a-thon. In a walk-a-thon, volunteers agree to walk as far as they can in return for pledges from sponsors, who agree to donate to a charity, usually based on the number of miles the volunteer walks. Our Write-a-Thon works the same way, except instead of walking or running, our volunteers write with a goal in mind. In return, sponsors make donations to Clarion, sometimes based on number of words written, sometimes based on other goals, sometimes just to show support for the writer and Clarion.

Our first annual Clarion UCSD Write-a-Thon will take place at the same time as this year's Clarion Workshop. From June 27 to August 7, 2010, Clarion Write-a-Thon participants and sponsors can tap into the creative energy of the renowned six-week Clarion workshop, encourage this year's Clarion students, and help secure the financial future of Clarion, all without leaving home.

That means that anyone can participate, including you, oh reader, and that also means that you can directly sponsor Stan here!


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