3 Sep 2010

KSR Down Under, Part I

Submitted by Kimon

Kim Stanley Robinson, as the Guest of Honor in this year’s Worldcon, is travelling to Australia and has a very busy schedule!

First, he appeared in the Melbourne Writers’ Festival on August 29, where he was interviewed by Lucy Sussex and spoke about his passion for writing, landscapes, Galileo and history -- and his dislike of cyberpunk. Accounts of the speech can be found in the blogsphere here and there.

He was also a speaker in the Monash University academic series of conferences "Changing the Climate: Utopia, Dystopia and Catastrophe". He did a lecture with Tom Moylan on utopia and climate change on August 31st, and chaired a speech by Kohn Clute on "Truth is consequence" (this one sounds very intriguing) on September 1st. There were also many lectures on science fiction and utopia which sound extremely interesting, including several focused on Robinson's work -- Tom Moylan, Adeline Johns-Putra, Jenn Martin, Anne Melano, Chris Palmer -- the abstracts for the lectures and associated papers can be found here. I hope some of these papers will be available in some format in the future!

He was also interviewed by ABC’s Book Show, on, once more, utopia and climate change. The interview can be found here (direct mp3 link).

The Worldcon -- Aussiecon 4, the 68th World Science Fiction Convention -- began yesterday Thursday September 2nd and will last till Monday September 6th, in Melbourne, Australia.

Stan and fellow SF writer Robert Silverberg just had a discussion in the Worldcon (see picture on the right -- picture by Cory Doctorow).

Stan’s solo lectures are set to be about Virginia Woolf’s correspondence with Olaf Stapledon correspondence and time in the novel more generally (he wrote about it last year in New Scientist); and one about the way climate change is forcing the work towards utopia upon us (after Copenhagen, Cancún, anyone?). Actually he is making a huge number of other appearances, panel discussions, interviews in the Worldcon in the coming days (wow, I didn’t know Worldcons were so busy!), namely:

Time and the novel
The mutual admiration of Virginia Woolf and Olaf Stapledon for each other’s novels will serve as a start for a
comparison of the very different treatments of time in their books, which will then lead to a discussion of the many
ways novelists can portray the passage of time, often in ways unavailable to the other arts. The impact of these
formal methods on the reader’s sense of pace and meaning, therefore crucial questions of readerly pleasure, will be
explored by way of examples from Joyce, Proust, Golding, Garcia Marquez, and other great fantasists.
Kim Stanley Robinson
Saturday 1000 Room P3

The future is overtaking us
Science fiction used to be a means of extrapolating today’s technology and society, and predicting the future. More
and more often, however, our ideas of the future simply aren’t turning true. What happens when the real world starts
advancing faster than the imaginations of science fiction writers?
Kim Stanley Robinson, John Scalzi, Mike Scott, Norman Cates
Saturday 1200 Room P3

Shaping the world: The possibilities of geoengineering
“Geoengineering” refers to the deliberate engineering of the planet, most often as a means of averting catastrophing
climate change. What sort of things would we be likely to do if the world’s governments pursued a geoengineered
solution? What could you do to a planet through geoengineering - and what would be the potential risks?
Kim Stanley Robinson, Tom Wigley, Greg Benford
Saturday 1600 Room P3

Climate change and Utopia
In the last thirty years utopia has gone from a nice idea to a survival strategy. In the coming era of climate change
we will not be able to muddle through in our current system, because the bio-physical base of our existence will not
support it. Social change is therefore inevitable; and the work of all the sciences together now suggest an emerging
plan for change in a positive direction, and a resulting sustainable civilization. Enacting that plan will be both the
history of the twenty-first century and the best utopia yet. The talk will explicate this argument.
Kim Stanley Robinson
Sunday 1100 Room P3

The race to the Red Planet
Ever since the Apollo moon landings, it always seemed Mars was the next target for human space exploration. It’s
been 41 years and we still haven’t been there. As the debate over a human mission to Mars continues, we ask the
questions: should we go? What is stopping us? What will we need to do, and consider, to make a human mission to
the red planet a success?
Kim Stanley Robinson, David D. Levine, James Benford
Sunday 1300 Room P3

The bioethics of terraforming
Let’s say we colonise Mars, and develop the technology to terraform its environment and create a warmer,
breathable atmosphere for humans to breathe. Let’s also so that we discover bacterial life on Mars - life that cannot
exist if the planet’s atmosphere changes. Do we have a responsibility to leave Mars intact, or simply try to save the
bacteria the best we can. What are the bioethics of terraforming worlds?
Kim Stanley Robinson, James Benford, Sam Scheiner, David D. Levine
Monday 1000 Room P1

Climate change: Possible futures for planet Earth
Climate change is real -- there’s no serious question about that, but just about everything else you read about it is
open to dispute by serious, knowledgeable people. Is it actually bad? (It’s change, but is change necessarily bad?) It
will cause habitat change, (But how much and how serious?) It will cause changes to the weather. (But for better or
for worse?) Assuming it can be stopped or slowed, which approaches are most likely to work? A discussion of what
we know, as well as what we don’t.
Kim Stanley Robinson, Sam Scheiner, Sean McMullen, Tiki Swain, Grace Dugan
Monday 1200 Room P1

Counterfactuals: Science fiction vs historical analysis
What role can alternate history fiction play in historical analysis? By examining the potential after-effects of a
fictionalised course of events, do we gain a fresh and valuable perspective on what actually happened? If so, what
requirements exist for alternate history fiction to achieve this aim? A look at alternate history fiction from two
perspectives: as science fiction readers, and as historians.
Kim Stanley Robinson, Gillian Polack, Dena Taylor, Jonathan Walker
Monday 1400 Room P1

This is happening right now!

I am working on gathering material from all this slew of events, and you are more than welcome to contribute! If you are attending the Worldcon and have your own word to say about the events, the topics discussed, the guests or the weather in Melbourne, do leave a comment or a link below.

5 Aug 2010

Summer releases!

Submitted by Kimon

It's the summer and you may be wondering what to read next. Here are a few fresh suggestions:

The Best Of Kim Stanley Robinson, a hardback collection of Stan's short stories and novellas across all his career, has just been released in the USA. Contents:

  • Venice Drowned
  • Black Air
  • Ridge Running
  • The Lucky Strike
  • Our Town
  • The Blind Geometer (previously uncollected)
  • Mother Goddess Of The World
  • Glacier
  • Remaking History
  • The Lunatics
  • Before I Wake
  • The Translator
  • Zurich
  • A History Of The Twentieth Century, With Illustrations
  • A Sensitive Dependence On Initial Conditions
  • Muir On Shasta
  • Vinland The Dream
  • Arthur Sternbach Brings The Curveball To Mars
  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • Discovering Life
  • How Science Saved The World (previously uncollected)
  • Prometheus Unbound, At Last (previously uncollected)
  • The Timpanist Of The Berlin Philharmonic, 1942 (previously unpublished)
  • Afterword by Kim Stanley Robinson

Some reviews can be found here, and of course you can leave your own.

Also, one year after its hardcover release (this seems to be standard publishing procedure), Galileo's Dream has now been released as a paperback in the UK (and by consequence the rest of Europe too)!

" Late Renaissance Italy abounds in alchemy and Aristotle, yet it trembles on the brink of the modern world. Galileo’s new telescope encapsulates all the contradictions of this emerging reality. Then one night a stranger presents a different type of telescope for Galileo to peer through, enabling him to see the world of humans three thousand years hence.

Galileo will soon find himself straddling two worlds, the medieval and the modern. By day his life unfurls in early seventeenth century Italy; by night he is transported through dimensions of time and space no other man of his time could possibly comprehend. Inexorably, Galileo faces trial for religious crimes in his own time, while in the new world he discovers, where science assures men that they can perform wonders, but does not tell them what wonders to perform, he is revered.

This sumptuous, gloriously thought-provoking and suspenseful novel recalls Robinson's magnificent Mars books as well as bringing to us Galileo as we have always wanted to know him. "

More reviews can be found here. Some minor corrections and modifications have been made in the text for this release compared to the first edition of the hardback. Personally, I prefer paperbacks because of how easily they can be carried around to be read anywhere in the Great Outdoors, so this is the edition I'll be reading.

All this makes for a very stellar post -- both covers are amazingly similar!


8 Jul 2010

KSR.info : 1st birthday

Submitted by Kimon

KSR.info has already reached its first birthday! Bring out the kava!

KSRi hopes to continue nurturing appreciation for Kim Stanley Robinson's works and fuel related discussions for many terrestrial revolutions around the sun to come...

8 Jul 2010

Art corner: Carlos NCT

Submitted by Kimon

Carlos NCT is a friendly and up-and-coming illustrator from Spain, who has taken his love of KSR's Mars trilogy and applied it to his digital paintings. He has produced several pieces over the years, and went at it again recently:

Red Mars

Green Mars

Blue Mars

(you can click for bigness)

The three images above were actually part of a project to create mock covers for a fictional edition of the Mars trilogy (in Spanish). The project actually included much more material, such as bookmarks and pencil sketches. See also these "faces" drawings:

His other Mars-related work exhibits the same excellent use of colours and landscapes:

You can find more on the covers project, more Mars-related art and more artwork in general on Carlos' blog here and on his portfolio here.

¡Le deseamos mucho éxito!

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:




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