Northern California Science Writers Association

Science Fiction as Science Writing: Kim Stanley Robinson on the Future of Science and Society

  • Thursday, February 25, 2021
  • 7:00 PM
  • Free Zoom event


Registration is closed

Join NCSWA for a conversation with Kim Stanley Robinson, one of planet Earth’s foremost science fiction writers, who will talk about how his reading of today’s science journalism informs his explorations of humanity’s future — whether colonizing and terraforming Mars, or grappling with the climate crisis here on Earth.

Robinson’s latest novel, 2020’s The Ministry for the Future, envisions a near-future Earth grappling with deadly heat waves, catastrophic floods, and a geopolitical order drifting into a death spiral under the pressure of climate change. Robinson picks out a precarious path for humanity through the upheaval of the climate crisis, shifting between first-person accounts of climate disasters to come and the struggles of scientists, technocrats, and climate insurgents to bend history towards a just and sustainable future for the planet. The Ministry for the Future was listed as one of Barack Obama’s favorite books of 2020, and Ezra Klein of Vox and the New York Times called it the most important book of the year.

As in all of Robinson's writing, the novel rigorously and artfully weaves together a vast tapestry of ideas, from ecology and planetary science to eco-Marxist thinking, modern monetary theory and block-chain encryption, to craft a compelling and ultimately hopeful portrait of how society could not only survive but thrive on the other side of the climate crisis. Robinson, who lives near Davis, spoke to NCSWA members about the role of science fiction in the public communication of scientific ideas, as well as how his own reading of the latest science journalism informs his ability to craft intellectually rigorous and believable speculative futures for humanity. 

Background reading / listening:

Robinson discusses The Ministry for the Future on The Ezra Klein Show in November:

Bill McKibben on The Ministry for the Future in The New York Review of Books in December:

Adam Rogers on Robinson’s work in WIRED in 2018:

Selected works by Kim Stanley Robinson:

Red Mars (1992)
Green Mars (1993)
Blue Mars (1996)
Antarctica (1997)
The Years of Rice and Salt (2002)
Green Earth (2015 — previously released as the Science in the Capital trilogy, 2004–2007)
Galileo's Dream (2009)
2312 (2012)
Shaman: A Novel of the Ice Age (2013)
Aurora (2015)
New York 2140 (2017)
Red Moon (2018)
The Ministry for the Future (October, 2020)

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