Kim Stanley Robinson's latest novel SHAMAN, out since September 2013, is coming out in paperback on June 10 2014. Meanwhile, it has entered the Locus Bestseller list for December for hardcovers (at #7) -- while 2312 has been released in paperback and has made it to #1 and is continuing its run! (September, October, November, December)
Despite Shaman's setting in the long past, or rather quite the contrary, enriched by that fact, the New Yorker's Tim Krieder published an article on Stan: "Our Greatest Political Novelist?", which draws from both his Mars trilogy and Shaman to make a major point:
Depending on your own politics, this [the Martian Constitution] may sound like millennia-overdue common sense or a bong-fuelled 3 A.M. wish list, but there’s no arguing that to implement it in the real world circa 2013 would be, literally, revolutionary. My own bet would be that either your grandchildren are going to be living by some of these precepts, or else they won’t be living at all. [...] I don’t just admire Robinson’s ambitions or agree with his agenda; I’m not recommending his books because they’re good for you. Kim Stanley Robinson is one of my favorite novelists, period. [...] The strength of his characterizations is inextricable from his power as a political visionary; Robinson is realistic about human beings but nonetheless optimistic about our capacity for change.
[...] Loon’s tribe in “Shaman” isn’t exactly a preagricultural utopia—they’re starving by the end of each winter—but it’s still a pretty benign view of man in his primeval state, closer to Rousseau than Hobbes. [...] Wouldn’t it ultimately be more optimistic to create a sort of past-dystopia, showing us how far we’ve come? There’s evidence to suggest that prehistoric cultures would’ve seemed far more savage and alien to us than Robinson imagines here. I suspect this is less a failure of imagination on his part than a triumph of his convictions over the evidence, a projection of his resolute optimism backwards through time to show us that folks are basically the same all over. [...] What he’s telling us over and over, like the voice of the Third Wind whispering when all seems lost, is that it’s not too late, don’t get scared, don’t give up, we’re almost there, we can do this, we just have to keep going.
Let the debate begin!
Stan participated again to Authors@Google last September, and read from Shaman and talked about creating the world of 30,000 years ago -- one of the great Shaman talks!
He also participated to a debate for iai tv on "Paradise...Lost?" with Marina Benjamin and Alex Callinicos:
Once a driving force of political change, utopian visions are now out of fashion. But is this a lost opportunity or a new realism? Should we create new utopias and thereby impel social advance, or will we learn the lessons of history and remain sceptical of grand visions?
And so... happy new year 2014 AD!