6 Feb 2024

Ministry still riding the (heat) wave

Submitted by Kimon

"Article 14 of the Paris Agreement Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change called for a periodic taking stock of all the signatory nations’ carbon emissions, which meant in effect the total global carbon burn for the year in question. The first “global stocktake” was scheduled for 2023, and then every five years after that. That first global stocktake didn’t go well."

Thus begins Chapter 3 of The Ministry for the Future. But it could very well be a headline of the coverage of COP28 in December 2023, in our very real world! 2023 was the hottest year of the Anthropocene, and the heat wave kicking off Ministry makes it a timely and obvious starting point for discussing these issues.

Kim Stanley Robinson has been talking tirelessly about Ministry for the past three years now with no sign of slowing down! In November, he visited several countries in Europe.

Dutch editor VPRO produced this nice short video that can serve as a layman's introduction to KSR and to Ministry (some parts are in Dutch but they are short): "Voorbij de klimaatcrisis met Kim Stanley Robinson"

While in Rotterdam, he was interviewed by the Financial Times (with a lot of detail about the menu!): "If the world fails, business fails"

Robinson tells me he has been invited to meetings about the future with central bankers and defence department officials, as well as associations of hedge fund managers, although he can’t share their names. “They don’t want to shake the confidence of the world by telling [everyone] that they’ve been consulting with a crazy science-fiction writer . . . They thought it might shake the stock markets.”

In Switzerland, Stan gave a talk at ETH Zürich (which has been featured in a few of his works): see a report with photos from that event.

Also in Switzerland, he gave a talk at the World Trade Organization, together with WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: "Harnessing the Power of the International Trade System to Respond to the Climate Crisis" (panel on YouTube)

In Germany, the German translation of Ministry was awarded the Carlowitz Sustainability Award (named after the "father" of sustainable forestry), see also publisher Heyne press release.

Several of Stan's interviews in French media are very interesting -- going beyond just talking about the issues around Ministry but more in general about his influences, his view on literature and science fiction, looking back on his career... Material in English is noted below.

Interview at Blast (alternative media): "Un ministère du futur face à l'urgence climatique" (in English):

Interview at the podcast C'est plus que de la SF ("it's more than science fiction"): "Le Ministère du Futur par Kim Stanley Robinson" (in English)

Interviews for purely French speakers:

And, last but not least, Stan's panel at the Utopiales science fiction conference in Nantes, France (that he had also visited in 2006) (in English):

I will catch up with more Ministry-related and High Sierra-related interviews in the next update.

Meanwhile, here are some reviews for Ministry:

And some sightings of Ministry in book lists and other recommendations:

In addition, Ministry found its way in this interesting art-meets-science project: A Future Manual For Future Models: An Artist’s Guide on How to do Integrated Assessment Modelling Differently

And it inspired a short story challenge at the Spectator.

Then, Ministry book clubs! Here's one in Martha's Vineyard and I'm sure there are others out there. With this book club by Wonkette, there were several articles discussing aspects of it:

  1. A (Climate) Change Is Gonna Come
  2. Hope To Do Some Good, No Matter How F*cked Up You Are
  3. Hot And Cold Running Crises
  4. Climate Dreams And Flying Machines
  5. The Everything Feeling And An Earthquake In The Head
  6. A Future Up In The Air

Finally, as the world continues to wake up to the reality of climate change and mobilize resources to counter it, lots and lots of articles make reference to Ministry in more or less detail. Here is a selection, the list is long and I'm sure there are more out there!

Long story short, Ministry is still being widely discussed. With this infodump out of the way, be on the lookout for a future update with more varied material!

(Illustration: Miguel Bucana for Socialter Magazine)