February 9, 2020 4:12 AM Subscribe
Three Californias, Infinite Futures - "Kim Stanley Robinson on science fiction, utopia, and the reissue of his Three Californias trilogy."
From the very beginning of his career, science-fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson has combined literary invention with an imagination somehow realistic and utopian at the same time. His first foray was Three Californias, a triptych of novels first published between 1984 and 1990 that imagine three possible ways that the Golden State could evolve in the 21st century: In The Wild Shore, a young man living in a post-nuclear holocaust navigates the chasm between his immediate community’s survival and the desire to rebuild the United States. For The Gold Coast, Robinson took a page from Philip K. Dick and imagined a hyper-Reaganite, hypercapitalist Orange County and what resistance to the forces of capital and empire might look like in the future. But it’s the third book, Pacific Edge, which tried to imagine in practical terms how you could build an eco-utopia, that signaled the incredible ambition—and thematic concerns—of his future work.also btw...
- A Sci-Fi Author's Boldest Vision of Climate Change: Surviving It - "Kim Stanley Robinson's novels imagine environmental collapse in arresting precision—and humanity finding a way forward."
- Read Kim Stanley Robinson's Surprisingly Accurate Vision for Autonomous Cars — From 1988 - "Here's an exclusive excerpt of 'The Gold Coast' (1988), which Tor Books is reissuing as part of KSR's 'Three Californias' trilogy." [also btw: Jim Keller: Moore's Law, Microprocessors, Abstractions, and First Principles]
How do you create something plausible?
I read the scientific literature at the lay level—science news, the public pages of Nature. I read, I guess you would call it political economy—the works of sociology and anthropology that are trying to study economics and see it as a hierarchical set of power relations. A lot of my reading is academic. I am pretty ignorant in certain areas of popular culture. I don’t pay any attention to social media, and I know that is a big deal, but by staying out of it, I have more time for my own pursuits.
Then what I do is I propose one notion to myself. Say sea level goes up 50 feet. Or in my novel “2312,” say we have inhabited the solar system but we still haven’t solved our [environmental] problems. Or in my new novel, which I am still completing, say we do everything as right as we can in the next 30 years, what would that look like? Once I get these larger project notions, then that is the subject of a novel. It is not really an attempt to predict what will really happen, it is just modeling one scenario.
What technologies excite you?
Clean energy. If we add clean energy, which is to say we are not burning carbon to get our energy for power and for transport, a lot of good things can follow. A lot of clean energy means people in the future don’t have to live like saints. They don’t have to reduce their lifestyle to something that is very much constrained. It will just be cleaner. And of course, I am like anybody who is paying attention: Modern medicine is rather thrilling, because all of us are benefiting from it with extended, healthier lives.
Also, if you could drag carbon dioxide out of the air and turn it into a replacement for concrete, then you get a beautiful double gain.
Justice and the language and law and the global economy—these are also technologies. They are software for society. The most crucial technology is that we get into a better social relationship to the planet at large. That is not just a matter of machinery or of hardware. It is really a software question.
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