6 Nov 2013

Kim Stanley Robinsons' SHAMAN has now been out for a bit over two months. As the winter approaches, you might consider taking a step outside of your current life as an urban-dweller, with food available any time of the day any day, with buildings heated or cooled at will, and delve into our ancestor's minds -- a world challenging and stimulating, in an environment that actually still exists "out there" if you bother to seek it out. If you're not convinced yet, here are some recent interviews with the writer and some reviews on his work and most recent novel.

Above: Drawing of the Chauvet cave paintings by Eric Le Brun.

In an interview for the Library Journal, Stan explained many details in the thinking that went in writing Shaman.

More important for this book were certain other adventures in the Sierra, especially winter trips on snowshoes, in steep terrain, sometimes in storms, once or twice injured. These were crucial experiences for when I wrote about my characters’ escape from the northers.

In this novel, I looked to Anglo-Saxon for the feel of old words; to proto-Indo-European, a lost language recovered by historical linguistics; and to Basque, a very ancient language. Sometimes I used these older words to replace sexual terms in our language that have too much modern baggage.

And for those who were bothered by the fact that no map accompanied the book (but keep in mind that Loon's pack had no print maps or writing to begin with!), here is some context:

Yes, the story takes place mostly in the area around the Chauvet Cave, near Vallon Pont d’Arc. The stone bridge that crosses the Ardèche River there overlooks the home camp of my characters. During their seasonal trek to the caribou steppes, they walk to north of the Massif Centrale, and then some of them continue as far north as the southern edge of the Ice Age’s great ice cap, in Cornwall. They can walk there because there was no English Channel at that time, sea level being so much lower.

In this interview for Amazing Stories, Stan goes through his entire career, from his early Three Californias to Shaman:


I think of my novel Shaman as a particular kind of science fiction, which examines what we are as human beings by looking at how we became what we are now.  Also, it took the sciences of archeology and anthropology to provide the information necessary to write the book, because prehistory is literally prehistorical, in that we have no texts from the time, and have to infer what life was like by what was left behind, and by analogy to first peoples still around when industrial society colonized the planet.  So, this is partly a scientific process, and I have made use of all those findings, some of them very new, to write my book.

In particular, the 1991 finding of the ice man on the glacier between Italy and Austria, with all his gear frozen and intact, was a big inspiration to me; his gear kit was very sophisticated and resembled my backpacking gear in design, and I wanted to write about that.   Then the discovery of the Chauvet cave in 1994 gave me my particular story; it was painted 32,000 years ago, the paintings are beautiful, and they suggest an animal-focused culture with mysterious beliefs.  So I tried to tell the story of the people who painted the cave.

[...] Dystopias are all basically the same, and easy:  oppression, resistance, conflict, blah blah.  Like car crashes in thriller movies.  But utopian novels are interesting (I know this is backwards to the common wisdom) because they force us to think about what we are, what we could become, and if we were to make a decent civilization, what would endanger it, or keep it from spreading, etc.  One point I’ve been making all along is that even in a utopian situation, there will still be death and lost love, so there will be no shortage of tragedy in utopia.  It will just be the necessary or unavoidable tragedies; which perhaps makes them even worse, or more tragic.  They won’t be just brutal stupidities, in other words, but reality itself.  This is what literature should explore.

Also, thinking of utopia, I’ve always felt this:  since we could do it, we should.  And that will take some planning, some vision.

[...] sf looks at the present and imagines the various futures that could come to pass, given where we are now.  It’s not prediction of one future, but consideration of a multitude of possible futures, and that gives sf readers their particular flexibility of mind, their ability to react to history without huge surprise and disorientation.  In effect, they saw it coming.  So sf reading is a kind of cognitive mapping that orients people in time.  It’s not just great fun, but useful too.

Please give us a glimpse of your writing process from conception to award-winning novel.

It usually starts with an idea, fairly simple and basic.  Inhabit Mars and terraform it.  What would the world be like if all the Europeans had died in the Black Death?  What if Galileo were taken by time travelers to the moons of Jupiter?   What if a mercurial personality and a saturnine personality fell in love?

Then I build from there.  Often it takes many years, and eventually I have a sense of the story’s basic outline, with some events, and the climax or ending, but a lot of vagueness.  Eventually I need to figure out a form, and then a narrator.  The story tends to create the characters necessary to live the story.  And so on it goes.  Much is never decided until I am faced with writing particular scenes.  That’s when it gets really hard.

Talking to the North Adams Transcript before appearing at the David G. Hartwell ‘63 Science Fiction Symposium at Williams College as part of a panel on climate change, Robinson commented on science fiction, climate change and our attitude towards it, as well as the relationship between being human and our technology. Some food for thought:

"I often talk about what young people can do in terms of their careers and in terms of how they're going to live, what it means for them," said Robinson. "What I try to do is counter the idea that it means renunciation and suffering and that they're going to have to live like saints. This is a false image of how they have to live in the future. The future becomes a project for them, in the existential sense. They've built their lives around something that has an actual meaning. Life has meaning again and climate change, rather than just being disastrous, is actually being given a meaning to our civilization's existence."

[...] The reaction to climate change is just part of Robinson's wider concerns -- the human relationship with science and technology and how we negotiate a balance so that it does less harm than good. It's something that Robinson thinks is one of the most ingrained issues of our existence on this planet.

"My most recent novel, which was set in the Ice Age with Paleolithic people, makes the point in a different way that we are a high tech species," he said. "Technology is actually one of the first things we did as homo sapiens that really made homo sapiens. In other words, we really started using tools and that's what co-evolved us into being who we are, so we have to admit that. It does become an ecological matter of can you use your technology to stay in a healthy balance with the biosphere at large now that we're a global civilization and have immense powers compared to any times in the past."


[...] "I often think that bad category errors are being made," Robinson said. "By that I mean that often -- and GMOs are a great example -- people are scared and angry at the idea, but it turns out that the operation itself is very little different between that and hybridization and the stuff that we've been doing to plants our entire lifetime as a species, so that the anger has been misplaced. It's not genetic engineering, it's capitalism. Ownership of the natural world, people are very angry at that, and then they get angry at science instead of the business system, the economic system, that we live in. This slippage, this is where the left is so messed up, liberal sentiment in the United States -- and I'm totally onboard with that, that's what I am myself -- but when they get angry at science when it's actually capitalism that they're angry at, they're making a terrible error."


[...] "You've got to properly assess the risks, then you've got to do a true cost/benefit analysis of how much we're willing to pay socially and economically to manage the risks that we're creating. These are complicated things that aren't fully understood. And we have to start make distinctions between science and capitalism, and supporting the one and attacking the other, because I think of science as a public project for the public good and I think of capitalism as just privatization and an oligarchy and injustice. This is my own political ax to grind. It's something that drives a lot of my stories."

In an interview for LiveScience, Robinson talked about science fiction and went through the different kinds of SF: near-future, future history, space opera, utopia, political/economic:

"All sci-fi put together gives you a feel for the future that is fuzzy" [...] The futures are not always compatible, but "taken together, they give you a kind of weather forecast," Robinson said.

Of course, reviews for Shaman abound!

Alan Cheuse's review for NPR also aired on the radio.

Fellow writer Cecilia Holland reviewed Shaman for Locus:

Writing historical fiction is a rite of memory, of recovery – to imagine what the few surviving data can no longer tell us: how it was to live in another time. Stan Robinson has always been a writer of huge ambition – he owns Mars, after all – and in taking on this theme, he has another huge purpose: not to tell us what this most ancient of human worlds was, but somehow, through the act of fiction, to make us remember. This is what we were once. This is our true nature, indivisible from all nature; what it means to be human, then, and now.

Tor.com. Niall Alexander:

On the whole, I suppose the story’s on the slight side, but what narrative drive Shaman perhaps lacks, the author more than makes up for with his masterful handling of its central character, whose coming of age from boy to man and from man to shaman the novel cumulatively chronicles. This is in addition to Robinson’s carefully layered characterisation of the others Loon looks to, like Heather and Elga and Click, whom I loved. To a one, they are wonderfully done.

But if Shaman is about any single thing, it’s about legacies lost and left. Of particular significance, then, is Thorn, the long-suffering so-and-so in charge of painting the caves and preserving the memories of the tribe he tends. [...] we arrive, at the last, at the heart of the matter, for it is he who asks the question Shaman answers: what do we leave behind, and why?

Adam Roberts, massively readable, for Arcfinity:

The overwhelming sense of paleolithic life one gets from reading this novel is what it is like subsisting on little or no food for long stretches. What it feels like when your belly button is a fingers-width away from your spine. How Elga’s substantial breasts simply melt away from the withering lack of calories. One thing the novel does rather brilliantly is have you empathising with an aesthetic of female beauty that inspired the maker of the celebrated Venus of Willendorf figurine.

(Also, this had to happen.)

Val's Random Comments (a frequent Robinson reviewer):

While many of Robinson's characters can opt for a (temporarily) more primitive lifestyle, Loon doesn't have a choice. He simply know any better. What keeps him busy are the most primal concerns of all: food, shelter and sex. What struck me about this novel was the sharp contrast with what is probably the most famous series of novels set in prehistory; Jean Auel's Earth Children series. Where she presents life during the ice age as utopian, where a human being can make a decent living with a bit of planning and a good set of survival skills, and where paradise is lost after the discovery of the link between sex and procreation, Robinson's reality is much harsher and probably closer to the truth. Loon suffers periods of starvation followed by a summer of plenty. His weight fluctuates considerably over the course of the seasons and he is always aware of the upcoming lean season. All things considered it is a miracle he still has time for his more spiritual pursuits.

Forbidden Planet, Malachy Coney:

The learned experiences of the tribe ,the hard won history of survival , is passed on through the wisdom and songs of the shaman. More spoken word than musical theatre. Mostly stories about staying alive, the acquisition and quest for food. The pursuit of the next meal is all. The tribe, the clans, pursue the next meal with the greatest of intents and respect. They revere everything they kill to eat, before and after death. [...] Thorn the shaman is a grumpy cantankerous and unpleasant old sod who seems to take delight in tormenting his only pupil, Loon. [...] Thorn knows that even if he manages to pass on his accumulated knowledge there is the certainty that so much will still be lost. Without a written record even the spoken and learned wisdom will acquire cadences of its own, changing in turn the full message passed, little by little over generations. The Druidic past when guessed at became invested with romantic ideals it most likely never possessed. Wisely Robinson puts at the heart of the shaman’s lore a savage logic that could in actuality serve the needs of the clan. He creates very complex and personal conflicts within the clan.

Irish Examiner, Val Nolan:

Though the plot is straightforward bildungsroman material, Shaman brims over with some of the finest writing Robinson has yet produced. It immerses us in a vivid world of flickering lamplight and intricate ritual, a life of “smoke and mushrooms and dancing and flagellation”.

[...] Of course, this is not to say that the novel is a dry recitation of anthropological facts. Far from it. The pack’s sexual politics are, for example, as developed and intricate as any contemporary society. [...] Meanwhile, its members transcend their somewhat stock origins and achieve a credible life of their own. In particular, Robinson’s shamans are a colourful lot who consume heroic quantities of “berry mash” to “launch their spirits out of their bodies”. They are part-medicine men, part-counsellors, and deeply immersed in oral literature. Through them the author rejects the so-called Great Leap Forward, eschewing any notion of a sudden cognitive revolution in favour of the slow accumulation of human knowledge over generations. “It’s fragile what I know,” Thorn tells Loon. He must pass on his wisdom the same way embers from an old fire are preserved to light a new one. In fact, this is exactly the lesson which Loon and the reader learn on the first night of the boy’s wander: the difficulty of kindling a fresh spark, a symbolic new idea.

[...] For Robinson, stories are about optimism and the belief that life will always go on. Shaman is no different. It is an intelligent, and at times mesmerising novel. The perfect book for archaeology buffs, those who love the outdoors, or readers who prize an unusual perspective in their fiction.

More interviews & reviews soon!

13 Sep 2013


Submitted by Kimon

SHAMAN is out! Let the third wind carry you to Loon and take a trip to ancient Urdecha!

Above: Hand prints at the Chauvet cave (from EvoAth)

Kim Stanley Robinson's main inspirations for this novel have been the discovery of Ötzi the frozen man in the Alps in 1991, with all his alpine gear, and his own personal experiences of living in open spaces while hiking in the Sierras.

When asked to write about exploration for Slate.com, Robinson wrote about this experience of hiking in the Sierra Nevada of California, through rough off-trail terrain, with whatever partial help maps and GPS can give you: "The Map Is Not the Territory". There's some great landscape writing in there.

Just last week we were crossing from the west shoulder of the Gemini to Upper Turret Lakes, on a broad ridge in the sky, which our topo map showed as smooth. But we could see a drop ahead, blocked by a knob that kept us from seeing how deep the drop was; it could have stopped us, sent us back ever so many miles. And there was a notch up the other side of the drop that looked vertical. Two potential stoppers, and we hurried along that ridge round-eyed, hearts pounding, ignorant of what we would find. It was an ancient feeling, a primate thrill. Exploration was alive.

As with Galileo's Dream, also based on past events, there is going to be loads of material to explore at in the internet and off about the setting and the the lives of the heroes of Shaman!

LiveScience interviewed Robinson on Shaman and its themes, its background, and the amount of real "certified" science that he put in it: "Looking 32,000 Years in the Past".

LiveScience: What kind of research did you do when writing "Shaman?"

Kim Stanley Robinson: Mostly, [I read] the relevant materials. There was also that Werner Herzog movie, "Cave of Forgotten Dreams." I got the DVD of when it became available, because it's that very cave that I'm writing about. I have an archaeologist friend who lives across the street who read the manuscript and friends at [the University of California], Davis connected me up with an anthropologist that works with preliterate cultures in New Guinea highlands. Also, my own snow-camping experiences just [gave me the] direct experience of being out in the snow with camping gear only. That was a big help. It comes down mostly to reading the relevant scientific literature and also other prehistoric novels that existed before mine.

Robinson puts Shaman in continuity with his overall science fiction work:

LS: Does this book have a place in your science fiction work?

K.S.R.: It has been part of the project all along for me — this science fictional project of what is humanity. What are we? What can we expect to become? How do we use technology? Is there a utopian future possible for us? In all of these questions, it becomes really important [to understand] how we evolved to what we are now and what we were when we were living the life that grew us as human beings in the evolutionary sense.

Apart from the interview, LiveScience also did an article on "The Real Science of Kim Stanley Robinson's 'Shaman'" that uses some of the same material but offers some new as well.

Above: The writer in his element, at the top of Mount Williamson, Sierra Nevada, from the Slate article

Goodreads also interviewed Robinson, not just on Shaman but on various of his works, taking questions from Goodread members. It's a great read!

GR: Have you ever attempted something on par with Loon's wander?

Kim Stanley Robinson: No, nothing quite like that. It's a ritual initiation into a shaman's life and meant to be an extreme experience. Don't try Loon's wander at home!

GR: You're already known for alternate history, notably The Years of Rice and Salt. But Shaman goes considerably further back. What inspired you to write about the Paleolithic era?

KSR: It was partly the backpacking. When the body of the Ice Man was discovered emerging from a glacier in 1991, it occurred to me that his clothing and gear much resembled the stuff we took with us into the mountains. His materials were different, but the design and function were much the same. This started me thinking about the Paleolithic and the many thousands of years we lived that kind of life, and it became something I wanted to write about.

This stayed a general desire until I learned about the Chauvet Cave, discovered in 1995, with its beautiful paintings that turned out to be 32,000 years old. At that point I felt I had found my story and characters.

GR: Jared Diamond's recent book, The World Until Yesterday, looks to traditional societies for lessons on how to live. Shaman offers a similar look at an older way of life—much, much older. What do you think we can learn from looking backward?

KSR: We can learn how we became what we still are now; this has to be instructive. Nowadays, with our powerful technologies, it feels as if we have detached from nature and can become anything we want, but in fact we are still the same animals we were 50,000 years ago. And we evolved into the animals we were then, and are now, by living a certain kind of life. The more we understand that, and contemplate what it was we were doing in the Paleolithic that we could regard as fundamentally human (meaning the things we did that made us human in the first place), the better we can judge our current range of potential behaviors: Are they good or just the illusion of good? Do the activities make us healthy and happy? Bringing in the Paleolithic can make these questions shift from what might seem mere matters of opinion to a set of physical facts that can't be denied without bad effects in our lives. So I think the Paleolithic lessons can be really useful and profound.

Some reviews for Shaman have come out:

NPR: 'Shaman' Takes Readers Back To The Dawn Of Humankind

Tor: A Moment in Time: Shaman by Kim Stanley Robinson

Though rather more modest in its scope and conventional in its concepts than Kim Stanley Robinson’s staggering space operas, Shaman tells an ambitious, absorbing and satisfyingly self-contained tale on its own terms. At once delightful and devastating, it transports us to a moment in time, reverently preserved and impeccably portrayed... and if that moment is off in the other direction than this author tends to take us, then know that he is as adept a guide to the distant past as he has ever been the far-flung future.

Locus, September 2013, by Gary K. Wolfe

Finally, on a completely different topic, Robinson is featured, with many others, in a BBC show on "After the Gold Rush - The Poetry of California", where he talks about the impact of California's landscape on its writers. The podcast is available here.

Watch out the calendar of events (on the left) as it is updated with events, panels, readings, signings, as we celebrate Shaman!

20 Aug 2013

SHAMAN just came out, September 3 2013; but before the host of interviews and readings that that one will involve, some non-Shaman material:

Adam Ford recently interviewed Robinson for 33rd Square (probably during the Humanity+ event last December). This resulted in a fascinating interview where Robinson discusses many of his ideas and worldviews, from science fiction, transhumanism and the role of technology to optimism, Buddhism and self-actualization. It is well worth your time and summarizes many of his interviews in the past few years. The interview is on YouTube in 5 short parts, below is Part 1:

Kim Stanley Robinson is featured on the very KSR-focused cover of the August 2013 issue of Locus Mag. The magazine features a conversation with Stan, "Making Worlds".


From the beginning of my career, I’ve done the Solar System set a few hundred years in the future. So for this new one, I stole from myself: the city of Terminator on Mercury comes from The Memory of Whiteness. But when I tried to describe the rest of the Solar System, it began to get so detailed it was goofy. That was when I thought of Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner, and how he had used John Dos Passos’s USA Trilogy methodology. My lists, extracts, and quantum walks all have their equivalent in Dos Passos. Using his method clarified things a lot. With it, I could tell the lovers’ story, and the mystery they’re involved in, and all the rest of it. Instead of using the typical expository lump, which is the famous problem of science fiction writing (and I’m often criticized for being a monster in that regard), I was able to chop the exposition into little bits, make it more something like little prose poems scattered through the text. It’s sort of an internet version of the Encyclopedia Galactica of the 1950s, which I think was one of the things people loved about science fiction, actually: learning about a far-flung civilization by way of direct description. But my impression now is that a lot of new readers don’t remember Stand on Zanzibar, and never read the USA Trilogy, so they think I’ve done something new and peculiar. Some have complained, but I feel those people are a little too narrow-minded about what the novel can be.

2312 was translated in Spanish by long-time KSR and SF publisher Minotauro. Robinson was interviewed by El Cultural, where he talks among other things of Mondragon, on course.
La primera vez que oí hablar de Mondragón y su sistema de cooperativas fue cuando estaba escribiendo mis libros de Marte, es decir, a finales de 1980 y principios de 1990. Mondragón es ampliamente conocido en las comunidades teóricas izquierdistas de todo el mundo, ya que representa un ejemplo vivo de una alternativa al capitalismo estándar. Es famosa en esos círculos, como el estado de Kerala en la India, la ciudad italiana de Bolonia, el experimento de autogestión en Yugoslavia, y algunos otros ensayos de alternativas. Ahora, tengo que confesar un intenso interés por lo que ha ocurrido en Mondragón en medio de la actual crisis del euro desde 2008, y la crisis de desempleo de los jóvenes en España, esta noción creciente en todo el Mediterráneo de que puede haber una “generación perdida”. ¿Cómo se ha desarrollado en Mondragón? ¿Se ha mantenido sólido en la crisis, o no? ¿Hay lecciones allí que el resto de España y del mundo pueden aprender? Espero aprender más de lo que he podido averiguar.
A great find: artist Stanley Von Medvey depicted a scene from 2312 (larger there), probably Swan in one of the savannah terraria! I don't know if this was commissioned for some reason or whether the artist made it for his own enjoyment.
On the Huffington Post, Rabbi Lawrence Troster ponders about climate change activism (Climate Reality Project) and the historical period in 2312 that Robinson termed "The Dithering", 2005-2060, during which political lockdown and behavioural inertia resulted in a lack of action against climate change.
Some more 2312 reviews: Ancient Logic | City of Tongues

Some recent events:
Robinson was at the WorldCon in San Antonio, Texas, from August 29 to September 2, 2013: "LoneStarCon 3". The Hugos were announced there, but 2312 did not take the win.
Barnes & Noble SHAMAN reading & signing in San Antonio, Texas
Tuesday, September 3, 7 p.m.
Author Event: Kim Stanley Robinson
The New York Times bestselling author will make an appearance at Barnes and Noble San Pedro (321 NW Loop 410 suite #104) for his novel, “Shaman.” Robinson is most known for his Mars-trilogy which has won many awards including the Nebula Award and the Hugo Award.
For more information, visit barnesandnoble.com.
Some upcoming events:
Barnes & Noble SHAMAN reading & signing in Dallas, Texas -- TODAY!
Author Event
Kim Stanley Robinson, the bestselling author of science fiction masterworks such as the Mars trilogy and 2312, will be joining us to discuss and sign his new novel Shaman, a powerful powerful coming of age story set 30,000 yrs ago. Come meet the author!
Wednesday September 04, 2013 7:00 PM
Lincoln Park, 7700 West Northwest Hwy. Ste. 300, Dallas, TX 75225, 214-739-1124
Robinson will be a speaker at the Library of Congress in Washington DC on September 12 2013, on "The Longevity of Human Civilization: WIll We Survive our World-Changing Technologies?"

Will human civilization on Earth be imperiled, or enhanced, by our own world-changing technologies? Will our technological abilities threaten our survival as a species, or even threaten the Earth as a whole, or will we come to live comfortably with these new powers? Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology David Grinspoon convenes scientists, humanists, journalists, and authors to explore these questions from a wide range of perspectives, and to discuss the future of human civilization in an anthropocene world.

Full event
Date: Thursday September 12, 2013 from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Place: The John W. Kluge Center, Room 119, Thomas Jefferson Building, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, USA

Robinson will also be participating at A Science Fiction Symposium at Williams College in Massachussetts on October 24:

Please join us on October 22nd, 23rd, and 24th for a Science Fiction Symposium that will include readings, panels, and lectures by leading writers and thinkers from across the United States. October 24th will include a panel discussion as well as a 4pm Reading.  Participants will include Samuel R. Delany, Kim Stanley Robinson, Elizabeth Kolbert, David Hartwell, Paolo Bacigalupi, William Gibson, Terry Bisson, and John Crowley.  More information will be coming soon.  Sponsored by the English Department, The Margaret Bundy Scott Fund, American Studies, Environmental Studies, Africana Studies and the Oakley Center.

Full event
Date: Thursday October 24 2013, 4pm to 9pm
Place: Griffin Hall, 3 844 Main St, Williamstown, MA 01267, USA

More SHAMAN-related material very soon!

20 Aug 2013

You could say Red Mars's 20th anniversary is being celebrated in Grenoble, France, close to the Alps!

The public library of Grenoble hosts the exhibition "Mars la rouge" ("Red Mars" in French) with many of Ludovic Celle's photomontages around the future colonization of Mars in general, and on the world of Kim Stanley Robinson's book more specifically. The exhibition opened in June and (with a summer break in July) is still open for the world to visit and marvel until September 7th. So take your sailboats, space elevators and hyperloops, and come to Grenoble!

The work of Ludovic, a good personal friend of mine, have been featured on KSR.info before.

The montages -- made on open source software and photos on the public domain (a very conscious choice on behalf of the artist) -- are large and feature marvelous wild landscapes you should be able to see when exploring Mars, with the addition of the beginnings of a human presence, be it a rover dwarfed by the Noctis Labyrinthus canyons, a small tent holding some green inside, the plume of a distant mohole, or the thin line of the space elevator.

The images are accompanied by a short text explaining the artist's inspiration from Robinson's book, but there are many influences melding here: the crude realistic shots of NASA exploration missions and the ISS, the landscapes of Jordan or the United States, the modern efforts at urban agriculture, the process of discovering the very city you live in, and personal journeys. A book exhibit with several of Kim Stanley Robinson's novels along with some quotes from Red Mars complete the expo.

The largest exhibit is definitely the Mars trilogy photomosaic, at 2.50 m wide (about 8 feet) and featuring some 600 pictures, ranging from the technical engineering work to the entirely mundane of building a place to live in. More on the mosaic here.

Local media Cause Toujours also interviewed Ludovic Celle. The video in French has been subtitled in English and can be viewed below (subtitles can be turned on by clicking at the bottom right of the video); Ludovic talks about his inspiration, his work process, his feelings when reading Robinson's books, his other ecology-focused interests that feed and at times can clash with his passion on the subject of space exploration.

More on the expo (with pictures of the expo and of the montages themselves):

Ludovic promises more expos of his work in the future, on urban ecology and agriculture, and, why not, on Green Mars!

13 Jul 2013

Coming Soon: SHAMAN

Submitted by Kimon

"This is how we always start
It's time to be reborn a man
Give yourself to Mother Earth
She will help you if you ask

Kim Stanley Robinson's next novel, "SHAMAN", is coming less than two months from now, on September 3 2013!

Watch Stan himself introduce his novel:

Robinson, a Davis, California, resident and fellow science fiction author Tobias Buckell participated in UC Davis' 44th annual Whole Earth Festival. They were interviewed by Davis Enterprise:

“There are a lot of people who say, ‘If we have to change capitalism, well, OK, we’re doomed, because we can’t change capitalism.’ But we can. It seems to me that science and democracy together are actually capable of changing the laws for the sake of our survival and the sake of our kids and their descendants.”


Robinson said that he disagreed with scientists resolved that the best tack is adapting to climate change, rather than trying to halt it or reverse course.


“They look at me like I’m an old hippy utopian idiot and say, ‘No matter what you think, we’re at 400 parts per million. Nobody is stopping using carbon at any successful rate. In fact, it’s going faster than ever. We’re just being realistic, and you’re the one being unrealistic.’


“And then I say, ‘No, no, no, you’re the one who is being unrealistic. You’re being pseudo-realistic, because you’re saying the future is certain.’ I’m saying as a science fiction writer, nothing is certain.”

Most importantly, Robinson and Buckell did a joint panel on climate change, as covered by Steven Rose's blog: "Kim Stanley Robinson: Back to the Prehistoric Past for a Greener Future", which serves as a nice introduction to SHAMAN:

Robinson read an excerpt from his novel, Shaman, set in a prehistoric ice age. But this is no pulp-/Hollywood-/ One Million Years B.C.-inspired novel. Robinson takes his science fiction seriously; he writes hard science fiction. Strangely, however, Shaman does not seem to be his typical hard sci fi. In fact, with references to tribal magicians and mystic journeys one would think it’s closer to fantasy. But, after the reading, Robinson used the tribe from his this alternate (pre-) history novel as a model for how modern day humans are capable of planning ahead to save themselves from future ecological disaster such as an arctic meltdown. He explained how we can collectively come to solutions to prevent the disastrous effects of global warming.



During the two authors’ dialog on the subject of climate change and science fiction, one phrase Robinson kept bringing up was “utopian societies”. He referred to the primeval tribal society of Shaman as a model for a more communal future society that can plan ahead to prevent, or at least reduce, ecological disaster such as a global meltdown of the ice caps. Robinson explained how such a society could work in a high tech age: by utilizing clean energy technology and reforming capitalism to make it more socially just (though not necessarily communist). Through this idea, Robinson explained the economic implications and necessary reform for an environmentally responsible society.
In the meantime, Robinson is participating in Clarion's Write-a-thon.
In related news, the literature and science fiction world recently mourned the loss of one of the best writers of the field and personal friend of Robinson, Iain M. Banks. His last novel, The Quarry, was published barely days after his death in June 2013.
Top image: SHAMAN cover artwork by Michal Karcz, also featured prominently in Orbit Books' Autumn Catalogue 2013.


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