Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312

With 2312, Kim Stanley Robinson returned to his careful (and artful) conception of a future that is both believable and enthralling. I was a big fan of the book, and pleased to see it make the Hugo Award nomination list. The Atlantic has a great interview up with Kim today. He had a nice bit about the fiction in science fiction:

Science fiction can explore not just what might happen, but how it might feel, and what it might mean. This means that science fiction has to work as fiction to work at all, which means it must have characters the reader can move inside; the old notion that science fiction was only “about ideas” was not correct. It’s best when the fiction part of it is best.

I find in KSR’s best work a mixture of character and plot and sheer intellectual effort — the Mars trilogy had it, and 2312 has it too. His thinking on future models for economical and social justice, for instance, is very thought-provoking.

The idea that economic systems contain elements of their precursors and their successors is a version of Raymond Williams’s idea of the residual and emergent, in which aspects of the present have their deepest roots in the past and future. Naturally science fiction takes an interest in this, by projecting a future history, thus portraying both what is emerging now, and also what persists and will be in the future a residual.

The whole interview is well worth a read. Read the rest at The Atlantic.