Kim Stanley Robinson (born March 23, 1952) is an American writer of science fiction. He has published nineteen novels and numerous short stories but is best known for his Mars trilogy. His work has been translated into 24 languages. Many of his novels and stories have ecological, cultural, and political themes running through them and feature scientists as heroes. Robinson has won numerous awards, including the Hugo Award for Best Novel, the Nebula Award for Best Novel and the World Fantasy Award. Robinson's work has been labeled by The Atlantic as "the gold-standard of realistic, and highly literary, science-fiction writing." According to an article in The New Yorker, Robinson is "generally acknowledged as one of the greatest living science-fiction writers."
Kim Stanley Robinson
Robinson at the Phoenix Art Museum in September 2017
|Born||March 23, 1952|
Waukegan, Illinois, US
In 1978 Robinson moved to Davis, California to take a break from his graduate studies at UC San Diego. During this time he worked as a bookseller for Orpheus Books. He also taught freshman composition and other courses at University of California, Davis.
In 1982 Robinson earned a Ph.D. in English from the UC San Diego. His initial Ph.D. advisor was literary critic and Marxist scholar, Fredric Jameson, who told Robinson to read works by Philip K. Dick. Jameson described Dick to Robinson as "the greatest living American writer." Robinson's doctoral thesis, The Novels of Philip K. Dick, was published in 1984 and a hardcover version was published by UMI Research Press. In the 1980s Robinson also spent time with a National Science Foundation team at a research base in Antarctica.
In 2008, Time Magazine named Robinson a "Hero of the Environment" for his optimistic focus on the future.
In 2009, Robinson was an instructor at the Clarion Workshop. In 2010, he was the guest of honor at the 68th World Science Fiction Convention, held in Melbourne, Australia. In April 2011, Robinson presented at the second annual Rethinking Capitalism conference, held at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Among other points made, his talk addressed the cyclical nature of capitalism.
Robinson was appointed Muir Environmental Fellow in 2011 by the John Muir College, University of California San Diego.
Sheldon Brown described Robinson's novels as ways to explore how nature and culture continuously reformulate one another; Three Californias Trilogy as California in the future; Washington DC undergoing the impact of climate change in the Science in the Capitol series; or Mars as a stand-in for Earth in the Mars trilogy to think about re-engineering on a global scale, both social and natural conditions.
Virtually all of Robinson's novels have an ecological component; sustainability is one of his primary themes (a strong contender for the primary theme would be the nature of a plausible utopia.) The Orange County trilogy is about the way in which the technological intersects with the natural, highlighting the importance of keeping the two in balance. In the Mars trilogy, one of the principal divisions among the population of Mars is based on dissenting views on terraforming. Colonists debate whether or not the barren Martian landscape has a similar ecological or spiritual value when compared with a living ecosphere like earth's. Forty Signs of Rain has an entirely ecological thrust, taking global warming for its principal subject.
Robinson's work often explores alternatives to modern capitalism. In the Mars trilogy, it is argued that capitalism is an outgrowth of feudalism, which could be replaced in the future by a more democratic economic system. Worker ownership and cooperatives figure prominently in Green Mars and Blue Mars as replacements for traditional corporations. The Orange County trilogy explores similar arrangements; Pacific Edge includes the idea of attacking the legal framework behind corporate domination to promote social egalitarianism. Tim Kreider writes in the New Yorker that Robinson may be our greatest political novelist and describes how Robinson uses the Mars trilogy as a template for a credible utopia.
Robinson's work often portrays characters struggling to preserve and enhance the world around them in an environment characterized by individualism and entrepreneurialism, often facing the political and economic authoritarianism of corporate power acting in this environment. Robinson has been described as anti-capitalist, and his work often portrays a form of frontier capitalism that promotes egalitarian ideals that closely resemble socialist systems, but faced with a capitalism that is maintained by entrenched hegemonic corporations. In particular, his Martian Constitution draws upon social democratic ideals explicitly emphasizing a community-participation element in political and economic life.
Robinson's works often portray the worlds of tomorrow in a manner similar to the mythologized American Western frontier, showing a sentimental affection for the freedom and wildness of the frontier. This aesthetic includes a preoccupation with competing models of political and economic organization.
The environmental, economic, and social themes in Robinson's oeuvre stand in marked contrast to the right-libertarian science fiction prevalent in much of the genre (Robert A. Heinlein, Poul Anderson, Larry Niven, and Jerry Pournelle being prominent examples), and his work has been called the most successful attempt to reach a mass audience with a left wing and anti-capitalist utopian vision since Ursula K. Le Guin's 1974 novel, The Dispossessed.
Robinson's work often features scientists as heroes. They are portrayed in a mundane way compared to most work featuring scientists: rather than being adventurers or action heroes, Robinson's scientists become critically important because of research discoveries, networking and collaboration with other scientists, political lobbying, or becoming public figures. Robinson captures the joy of scientists as they work at something they care about. The Mars trilogy and The Years of Rice and Salt rely heavily on the idea that scientists must take responsibility for ensuring public understanding and responsible use of their discoveries. Robinson's scientists often emerge as the best people to direct public policy on important environmental and technological questions, of which politicians are often ignorant.
In 2017, in the novel New York 2140 Robinson explored the themes of climate change and global warming, setting the novel in the year 2140 when the New York City he imagines is beset by a 50-foot sea level rise that half-submerges the city.
|Year||Award||Work honored for|
|1984||World Fantasy Award for Best Novella||"Black Air"|
|1984||Science Fiction Chronicle Readers Poll-novella||"Black Air"|
|1985||Locus Award for Best First Novel||The Wild Shore|
|1988||Nebula Award for Best Novella||"The Blind Geometer"|
|1988||Asimov's Reader Poll Novella||"Mother Goddess of the World"|
|1991||John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel||Pacific Edge|
|1991||Locus Award for Best Novella||"A Short, Sharp Shock"|
|1992||Science Fiction Chronicle Readers Poll Short Fiction||"Vinland the Dream"|
|1993||BSFA Award for Best Novel||Red Mars|
|1994||Hugo Award for Best Novel||Green Mars|
|1994||Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel||Green Mars|
|1994||Nebula Award for Best Novel||Red Mars|
|1997||Hugo Award for Best Novel||Blue Mars|
|1997||Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel||Blue Mars|
|1997||Ignotus Award-foreign novel||Red Mars|
|1998||Ignotus Award-foreign novel||Green Mars|
|1998||Prix Ozone SF novel, foreign||Blue Mars|
|1999||Seiun Awards foreign novel||Red Mars|
|2000||Locus Awards Best Collection||The Martians|
|2003||Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel||The Years of Rice and Salt|
|2013||Nebula Award for Best Novel||2312|
|2016||Robert A. Heinlein Award||Entire body of works |
|2018||Arthur C. Clarke Award for Imagination in Service to Society||Entire body of works |
Robinson and his wife have two sons. Robinson has lived in Washington, D.C., California, and during some of the 1980s, in Switzerland. At times, Robinson was a stay-at-home dad. He now lives in Davis, California in a cohousing community.
In the 1980s, he told me, a team from the National Science Foundation was sent to a research base in Antarctica with a single handgun for the entire crew.
2312 is a science fiction novel by American writer Kim Stanley Robinson, published in 2012. It is set in the year 2312 when society has spread out across the solar system. The novel won the 2013 Nebula Award for Best Novel.A Short, Sharp Shock
A Short, Sharp Shock (sometimes titled Short, Sharp Shock) is a 1990 fantasy novel by Kim Stanley Robinson. The story deals with a man who awakens without memory in a strange land and journeys through it to find the woman he woke alongside.
His journey takes him along the narrow strip of land, surrounded by ocean, which makes up the whole world.
The phrase "short, sharp shock" is taken from Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta The Mikado.Antarctica (novel)
Antarctica (1997) is a science fiction novel by American writer Kim Stanley Robinson. It deals with a variety of characters living at or visiting an Antarctic research station. It incorporates many of Robinson's common themes, including scientific process and the importance of environmental protection.Arthur C. Clarke Award
The Arthur C. Clarke Award is a British award given for the best science fiction novel first published in the United Kingdom during the previous year. It is named after British author Arthur C. Clarke, who gave a grant to establish the award in 1987. The book is chosen by a panel of judges from the British Science Fiction Association, the Science Fiction Foundation, and a third organisation, which as of 2012 is the Sci-Fi-London film festival. The award has been described as "the UK's most prestigious science fiction prize".Any "full-length" science fiction novel written or translated into English is eligible for the prize, provided that it was first published in the United Kingdom during the prior calendar year. There is no restriction on the nationality of the author, and the publication history of works outside the United Kingdom is not taken into consideration. Books may be submitted for consideration by their publishing company, and beginning in 2016 self-published titles have been eligible with certain qualifications. An official call for entries is issued to UK publishers every year and members of the judging panel and organisation committee also actively call in titles they would like to see submitted. A title must be actively submitted in order to be considered. The judges form a shortlist of six works that they feel are worthy of consideration, from which they select a winning book. The winner receives an engraved bookend and a prize consisting of a number of pounds sterling equal to the current year, such as £2012 for the year 2012. Prior to 2001, the award was £1000.During the 32 nomination years, 125 authors have had works nominated, 27 of whom have won. China Miéville has won three times, while Pat Cadigan and Geoff Ryman have won twice; no other author has won multiple times. Stephen Baxter and Gwyneth Jones have the most nominations at seven, and Baxter has the most nominations without winning. Neal Stephenson has won once out of six nominations; Ken MacLeod and Kim Stanley Robinson have also been nominated six times. Paul J. McAuley and Miéville have been nominated five times; McAuley has one win, whereas MacLeod and Robinson have none.Aurora (novel)
Aurora is a 2015 novel by American science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson. The novel concerns a generation ship traveling to Tau Ceti in order to begin a human colony. The novel's primary narrating voice is the starship's artificial intelligence. The novel was well received by critics.Escape from Kathmandu
Escape from Kathmandu is a 1989 collection of novellas by American writer Kim Stanley Robinson, about a group of American expatriates in Nepal.Fifty Degrees Below
Fifty Degrees Below (2005) is the second book in the hard science fiction Science in the Capital trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson. It directly follows the events of Forty Signs of Rain, with a greater focus on character Frank Vanderwal, and his decision to remain at the National Science Foundation, following the earlier novel’s superstorm and devastating flood of Washington D.C.Galileo's Dream
Galileo's Dream (2009) is a science fiction novel with elements of historical fiction written by author Kim Stanley Robinson. It describes the life of 17th-century scientist and astronomer Galileo Galilei, and the far-future society living on the Galilean moons he discovered.
It was published in hardcover on August 6, 2009 in the United Kingdom and on December 29, 2009 in the United States.Icehenge
Icehenge is a science fiction novel by American author Kim Stanley Robinson, published in 1984.
Though published almost ten years before Robinson's Mars trilogy, and taking place in a different version of the future, Icehenge contains elements that also appear in his Mars series, such as extreme human longevity, Martian political revolution, historical revisionism, and shifts between primary characters.Kim Stanley Robinson bibliography
This is a complete bibliography by American science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson.'Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel
Winners of the Locus Award for Best SF Novel, awarded by the Locus magazine. Awards presented in a given year are for works published in the previous calendar year.
The award for Best Science Fiction Novel was first presented in 1980, and is among the awards still presented (as of 2016). Previously, there had simply been an award for Best Novel. A similar award for Best Fantasy Novel was also introduced in 1980.New York 2140
New York 2140 is a 2017 climate fiction novel by American science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson. The novel is set in a New York City that has been flooded and altered by rising water. The novel received generally positive reviews.Red Moon (novel)
Red Moon is a 2018 science fiction novel by American novelist Kim Stanley Robinson. The novel is set in China and on the Moon. It was reviewed in several national media outlets, but received mixed reviews.Shaman (novel)
Shaman is a 2013 novel by Kim Stanley Robinson. Set during the Ice Age, it tells the story of a trainee shaman, from a tribe of European early modern humans, who must learn the skills to survive and to aid his people.Sixty Days and Counting
Sixty Days and Counting (2007) is the third book in the hard science fiction Science in the Capital trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson. It directly follows the events of Fifty Degrees Below, beginning just after the election of character Phil Chase to the White House. It follows the previous novel's deep freeze of the area surrounding Washington D.C..The Memory of Whiteness
The Memory of Whiteness is a science fiction novel written by Kim Stanley Robinson and published in 1985. It shares with the Mars trilogy a focus on human colonization of the solar system and depicts a grand tour that travels from the outer planets inward toward the Sun, visiting many human colonies along the way. The different human societies on the various planets and planetoids visited are depicted in detail. The purpose of the tour is to stage concerts by the "Holywelkin Orchestra", a futuristic musical instrument played by a selected master. Readers follow the Orchestra and its entourage together with a journalist, who after some time detects a conspiracy that seems to be connected with a group of gray-clad, sun-worshipping monks. The tour ends near the planet Mercury in a solar station belonging to these "Grays", which controls the white line energy source for the whole solar system.The Years of Rice and Salt
The Years of Rice and Salt is an alternate history novel by American science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson, published in 2002. The novel explores how world history might have been different if the Black Death plague had killed 99% of Europe's population, instead of a third. Divided into ten parts, the story spans hundreds of years, from the army of the Muslim conqueror Timur to the 21st century, with Europe being re-populated by Muslim pioneers, the indigenous peoples of the Americas forming a league to resist Chinese and Muslim invaders, and a 67-year-long world war being fought primarily between Muslim states and the Chinese and their allies. While the ten parts take place in different times and places, they are connected by a group of characters that are reincarnated into each time but are identified to the reader by the first letter of their name being consistent in each life.
The novel explores themes of history, religion, and social movements. The historical narrative is guided more by social history than political or military history. Critics found the book to be rich in detail, realistic, and thoughtful. The Years of Rice and Salt won the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel in 2003. In the same year it was nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, a Hugo Award, and a British Science Fiction Award.Three Californias Trilogy
The Three Californias Trilogy (also known as the Wild Shore Triptych and the Orange County Trilogy) consists of three books by Kim Stanley Robinson, which depict three different possible futures of Orange County, California. The three books that make up the trilogy are The Wild Shore, The Gold Coast and Pacific Edge. Each of these books describes the life of young people in the three very different near-futures. All three novels begin with an excavation which tells the reader about the world they are entering.Viriditas
Viriditas (Latin, literally "greenness," formerly translated as "viridity") is a word meaning vitality, fecundity, lushness, verdure, or growth. It is particularly associated with abbess Hildegard von Bingen, who used it to refer to or symbolize spiritual and physical health, often as a reflection of the divine word or as an aspect of the divine nature.