95* Kim Stanley Robinson, Books in Dark Times (JP)

Kim Stanley Robinson, SF novelist of renown, has three marvelous trilogies: The Three CaliforniasScience in the Capital and Red Mars, Green Mars and Blue Mars. But lately it is The Ministry for the Future, his “science fiction nonfiction novel” (Jonathan Lethem) that has politicians, Eurocrats and the rest of us pondering how policy might fight climate change.

In this Books in Dark Times conversation from the RTB vaults (you can also read a longer version that appeared as an article in our partner Public Books) Stan and John start out with Stan’s emerging from the Grand Canyon into the pandemic moment of late March, 2020. Then they discuss Stan’s sense that SF is the realism of the day and his take on “cognitive estrangement.” Finally, they happen upon a shared admiration for the great epic SF poet, Frederick Turner. Small fact connecting him to RTB-land: he completed a literature PhD directed by Frederic Jameson with a dissertation-turned-book on the  novels of Phillip K. Dick.

George Stewart, “Earth Abides

Mary Shelley, “The Last Man

M. P. Shiel, “The Purple Cloud

John Clute, Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (on “fantastika”)

Frederick Turner, “Genesis” and “Apocalypse

Ursula Le Guin, “The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia” (1974; KSR praises such works as this for “power of poetry alone”)

Darko Suvin, “Metamorphoses of Science Fiction: On the Poetics and History of a Literary Genre ” (1979; on cognitive estrangement)

The door dilated” a quote from Robert A. Heinlein in “Beyond This Horizon”

Listen to the episode here

Read the transcript here.

Author: plotznik

I teach English (mainly the novel and Victorian literature) at Brandeis University, and live in Brookline.

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