3 Jul 2012

2312 interviews & reviews III

Submitted by Kimon

Kim Stanley Robinson is continuing the promotion of his latest, 2312.

Very notably, Stan was recently in the UK, where he did a panel with fellow writer and friend Iain M. Banks; they both read from each other's books, talked about writing, and in general had good fun.

(Photos above by Joel Meadows)

This blog has a good round-up of the event.

Stan also appeared in Bath. In this video he reads from the Prologue to 2312.

One of the very best, in-depth interviews of Stan I've seen lately comes from the New Zealand Listener! The interview appeared in print version under an article write-up form, but interviewer David Larsen was kind enough to put the much longer full version online as well. They discuss in detail several aspects of Stan's work, his themes over his enitre career, poetry, literary inspirations, specific plot points, real-life inspirations and trivia, very informative for the Robinsonite! One excerpt:

One of the things 2312 is is a question. Could we both wreck the Earth and have a rather active space civilisation at the same time? Could the Earth be thoroughly wrecked and yet also be flourishing in certain limited respects? I don’t know the answer to those questions. They’re proposals that I’ve put out there, saying could it be this way? Whether it’s physically possible or not I’m not quite sure. I have this double feeling: that the sciences are making us immensely powerful, so that the potential for a flourishing future civilisation a few hundred years from now is really quite realistic, and yet at the same time we’re in this dangerous moment, where we’re thrashing the environment and we have climate change, and it’s quite clear that politically the system is being manipulated by certain people who want to keep the destruction going, because they’re not convinced that it is destructive, or they don’t care because they don’t think it’ll apply to them or their families. So they’re going to be hard to beat, even in the best scenarios, because they have amassed a lot of money and political power resulting from money. So in 2312 I’m contemplating a future that seems to include environmental disasters like the raised sea levels, not at all unrealistic to postulate, and yet at the same time have things flourishing, because of materials science, because of medicine, because of all of the things that we’re learning. The ways we can manipulate nature and biology are becoming rather stupendous with potential. 2312 is an attempt to splash all that into one story. It’s a distorted lens aimed at 2012, at where we are right now.

But the whole thing is worth reading!

For an interview with the Huffington Post, Stan reacts on the privatization of space, on the force of technology, on climate change, on “Happy Space Sad Earth”. An interesting excerpt:

[J]ustice is another climate change technology that we have in the picture except for getting into this weird definition of technology as nothing but a silver bullet that we imagine might help. There's also Jevon's paradox that the better we get at efficiently using energy the more energy we use; so that and that machine technology improvements per se do not necessarily reduce our impacts because we immediately double down on how much we use.

It is important to de-carbonize but also important to make more horizontal the hierarchy of power and wealth. In other words, a world wide middle class that is modestly using resources by way of clean tech is the only real solution.

Stan was invited in the io9 video podcast and talks about 2312 (sadly, the interview feels edited down too much).

Reviews of 2312 are massively pouring in, from professional reviewers and from random bloggers alike. Some are enthusiastically positive, some are more mitigated, there's something for everyone.

The Independent

Everything is a perpetual project of improvement. [...]It goes back to the roots of the sci-fi genre and puts at its centre utopian and dystopian visions of the social models our descendants might inhabit, with a flashy travelogue around the places they might live. It is a novel of ideas that also sets out to be tremendous fun.

The Guardian

Kim Stanley Robinson's 17th novel is complex and sometimes bewildering, 500 pages crammed full of strange but decent characters whose actions play out against a vastly constructed utopian background.

Words Uttered in Haste

2312 is like a Klimt painting on steroids and LSD

Lone Star Ball

[T]he title takes its name from the year in the same way that a book might be titled "1793" or "1848" -- 2312 in this universe is a year looked back upon as a turning point in history, where the events described in the book changed humanity's course.

Empirical Majesteria

The slow, gathering surge toward an epic conclusion merely peters out in the end. [... KSR paints] a picture of humanity as a stagnant people who are merely distracting themselves until they die (ironically delayed due to longevity treatments) [...] As I read the book, I actually thought the protagonist was a thumbnail for a moribund humanity who had reached the limit of its abilities. It was almost as if the human race was bumping up against a wall which, for all of the mind and body enhancements, it could not conceptually break through due to fundamental flaws in its construction.

Booksellers New Zealand

I tried to imagine what it would be like to go back in time to 1712 and to not only explain what the world is like in 2012, but also how it got to that point over the 300 years in between. This is essentially the task that Kim Stanley Robinson sets himself in describing the world in 2312. [...] A divide has sprung up between the spacers (the ‘haves’) and the majority of Earth dwellers (largely the ‘have-nots’) [...] The main issue I had with the book was that 2312 doesn’t quite know what it is trying to be. [...] in general there was just too much information and too many ideas fighting for attention within one book.

...and more from Washington Bus, Chicago Tribune, The Daily Mail, For Winter Nights, Worlds Without End.

Even more coming soon!