1 Sep 2009

The Marsdreamers

Submitted by Kimon

The Marsdreamers is a new documentary on the efforts and dreams various people on Earth make about humanity's future journey to the planet Mars, by veteran film-maker Richard Dindo (pictured right). And Kim Stanley Robinson, whose image is now indissociable with Mars, makes an appearance.



More after the jump.



A Swiss, Dindo has been operating from Switzerland and France and making documentaries since the 1970s, with titles such as Wer war Kafka? on the Austro-Hungarian writer, Ernesto Che Guevara, le journal de Bolivie on the popular revolutionary, Arthur Rimbaud, une biographie on the French poet, or on more local subjects such as Grüningers Fall on a Swiss policeman who helped Jews during World War Two or L'Exécution d'Ernst S., traître à la patrie on Switzerland's relation with the Nazis during World War Two.

The Marsdreamers (poster on the right) was mainly shot in the USA, showing scientists, engineers and architects presenting their view on Mars colonization, but it also focuses on common people with big dreams, people for whom that faraway place holds a special place in their lives, the whole presented not without a bit of humor and irony. The likes of science fiction writers Gentry Lee (Rama II with Arthur C. Clarke, also a NASA engineer), Gregory Benford (Timescape, also astronomy professor) and, well, Stan.

The 83-minute documentary was presented recently at the 62nd film festival at Locarno, Switzerland (August 5-15). The French or German speakers among you can read the following reviews:
- les francophones ici
- die deutschen Sprecher hier

The documentary should now make its way to a limited release, or potentially a television broadcast before a video release. The film's press release can be read here.

22 Aug 2009

The first (professional) reviews of the recently released Galileo's Dream have started to appear: Adam Roberts for The Guardian (with much more spoiler-loaded material here) and Roz Kaveney for The Independent.

Kim Stanley Robinson will be present at the London store of the genre chain Forbidden Planet, on September 17th, for a signing . If, like me, you are unable to attend, it is possible to order a signed copy online.

Details can be found here.

Forbidden Planet - London Megastore
179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8JR, UK
Thursday September 17, 2009, 18:00-19:00

The UK being the first to release Galileo, it is possible that KSR will be involved in other promotional events in his journey to the Old Continent. Stay tuned for more.

Also, what appears to be the cover for the US edition of Galileo's Dream has made its appearance on the internets, see right. Galileo, his telescopes, and a picture of Jupiter in a frame with a Renaissance décor, quite sober. The release det is December 29, 2009. No news on the paperback release yet, UK or US, but it's fair to assume it will not be before 2010.


10 Aug 2009

KSR in Second Life

Submitted by Kimon

Galileo's Dream has now been released in the UK and Australia and potentially all territories that have postal service (I guess that would exclude Antarctica this time of the year). You can even read through the first sixty pages (!) over here. First thoughts?


In a blast from the recent past, back in January KSR had been invited in Extropia, a technocratic minded community in the virtual world Second Life, to have a chat.


More after the jump.


The event was organized by Events in Extropia and occurred on January 17, 2009. KSR appeared as Stan Shackleton, in a coyote avatar. Some highlights of the discussion:


On Galileo's Dream:

Sophrosyne Stenvaag: So what drew you to that person, and that time?
Stan Shackleton: Birth of science. Can there be such a thing? Scientific revolution? I made up an alternate scientific revolution in Years of Rice and Salt. Researching that I saw how interesting the real one was, and Galileo was central.

On Olaf Stapledon (to whom I had already referred to as a possible inspiration for Galileo's Dream!):

Extropia DaSilva: Stan, as well as your own books, if you had to name one science fiction novel everyone should read before they die, what would it be?
Stan Shackleton: Starmaker by Olaf Stapledon. Then a list of about a hundred novels. All very good. It’s so big. Every paragraph is a full novel condensed.

On Sax Russell:

Stan Shackleton: Sax is somewhat modeled on my wife. It’s true. I love Sax
IYan Writer: I like the Sax character, too – but is she the Red Mars Sax or the Blue Mars Sax? :)
Kim Anubis: Sax made me look at lichen in a new way :)
Stan Shackleton: She is the Blue Mars Sax I think. Lichen are great!

On Sixty Days And Counting (and Obama beginning his presidency):

Galena Qi: The final book in your trilogy was barely ahead of current events
Stan Shackleton: Yes, my book becomes historical alternative fiction in about six months

On revolution:

Sophrosyne Stenvaag: Stan, do we need that kind of blank slate?
Stan Shackleton: No, we need the long revolution. We have to do it here and out of the current conditions. This is what we are transferring now in our ideas of Obama. We are in this situation, can’t get out of it, have to start in it; but want great things.
Galena Qi: We’ll drag our “monkey mind” along with us everywhere we go. Societies are mutable but human nature doesn’t change.
Stan Shackleton: Yes Galena, but the monkey mind is very utopian! Ideas of justice, adequacy, all there before us in primates. oooooooooop! I’m going to jump now!
[his avatar actually jumps!]

It's original to see KSR appear in a medium like an online virtual world, a concept that has been so much influenced by a literary movement as contrary to his writings, cyberpunk! But the internet is becoming more and more relevant as a powerful world-wide social tool and offers new and amazing opportunites. I still prefer the hi-res of real life though.

The transcript of the entire discussion can be found here. You can find a more readable account of the discussion here and plenty of images of the event here.

31 Jul 2009

Even though Galileo's Dream comes out this week in the UK, I'm not going to talk about it here: in this entry we are already looking ahead to 2010!

Jonathan Strahan, Australian editor, publisher and reviewer of science fiction, will be editing a new collection of Kim Stanley Robinson's short stories and novellas. Tentatively titled "The Best of Kim Stanley Robinson", the single hardcover volume will be published by Night Shade Books in the USA, in March 2010 (date also tentative).

Strahan has long expressed interest in publishing a collection of KSR's short stories: see a 2006 blog entry of his where he made a selection of stories -- including the lengthier novellas The Blind Geometer, Green Mars and A Short, Sharp Shock -- which could fit into a single volume. This selection is certainly a good indication at the contents of the future collection.

KSR himself has also acknowledged that he believes some of his best work is featured in short stories, a format he has stopped writing in, at least momentarily. In interviews he has expressed the desire to see them republished, since older collections (such as Remaking History And Other Stories) have now gone out of print or are hard to find. Surely the publication of the short story The Lucky Strike later this year is a move in that direction as well.

26 Jul 2009

A few days ago, the world celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, 40 years after July 20, 1969. The International Space Station celebrated with a space walk and wiht a record crew of 13 astronauts and cosmonauts. Coincidentally, a few days prior to that, iconic American news announcer Walter Cronkite passed away.

For the occasion, Kim Stanley Robinson wrote an article on the Washington Post, asking the question of whether it is legitimate to spend money on space when there are enough problems on Earth.

More after the jump.




The creation of a cosmic diaspora is just one argument for putting humans in space -- a bad one. But now, as human-made climate change has thrust us into the role of stewards of the global biosphere, new reasons, good ones, have emerged. Indeed, keeping our space ambitions relatively local -- within our own solar system -- can help us find solutions for the climate crisis.


So, what actions, taken today, will help our children, and theirs, and theirs? From that perspective, decarbonizing our technology and creating a sustainable civilization emerge as the overriding goals of our age. If going into space helps achieve those goals, we should go; if going into space is premature, or falls into the category of "a good idea if Earth is healthy," it should be put on the science fiction shelf, where I hope our descendants will be free to choose it if they want it.

For once, I do not necessarily agree with everything he says. Sure, space probes are cheap and of great scientific value. Fair enough, there might be more urgent things here, such as pollution and poverty -- but this was always the case when empires and countries and entrepreneurs sent out explorers around the world. What was the share of GDP that 16th century Spain devoted to exploration of the Americas? Does it compare to NASA's budget?

Also, I'm not convinced of the orbital solar power microwaved back to Earth argument. It is much cheaper, let alone safer, to do it on Earth's surface, despite the reduced radiation.

Read the entire article here. The interview list has been updated.

Also, the MangalaWiki has been updated quite extensively with Mars trilogy articles.


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