Kim Stanley Robinson Maps the Unimaginable

Critical Essays

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About the Book

While Kim Stanley Robinson is perhaps best known for his hard science fiction works Red Mars, Green Mars and Blue Mars, the epic trilogy exploring ecological and sociological themes involved in human settlement of the Red Planet, his contributions to utopian science fiction are diverse and numerous. Along with aspects of sociology and ecology in the Mars trilogy and other topics, these essays examine Robinson’s use of alternate history and politics, both in his many novels and in his short stories. While Robinson has long been a subject of literary criticism, this collection, which includes five new essays and is drawn from writers on four continents, broadens the interpretive debate surrounding Robinson’s science fiction and argues for consideration of the author as an intellectual figure of the first rank.

About the Author(s)

The late William J. Burling (1949–2009) was an English professor at Missouri State University. He put in twenty years of 17th and 18th century studies, publishing four books and more than 50 articles. Recent essays have appeared in Utopian Studies and Kronoscope.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by William J. Burling. Series Editors Donald E. Palumbo and C.W. Sullivan III
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 312
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2009
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3369-8
Imprint: McFarland
Series: Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments      1
Introduction      3

PART I. UTOPIA AND ALTERNATIVE HISTORY
1. Witness to Hard Times: Robinson’s Other Californias
(THOMAS P. MOYLAN)      11
2. “If I Find One Good City, I Will Spare the Man”: Realism and Utopia in the Mars Trilogy
(FREDRIC JAMESON)      48
3. Falling into History: Imagined Wests in the “Three Californias” and Mars Trilogy
(CARL ABBOTT)      67
4. Remaking History: The Short Fiction
(JOHN KESSEL)      83
5. The Martians: A Habitable Fabric of Possibilities
(NICK GEVERS)      95
6. Learning to Live in History: Alternate Historicities and the 1990s in The Years of Rice and Salt
(PHILLIP E. WEGNER)      98

PART II. THEORY AND POLITICS
7. The Density of Utopian Destiny in Red Mars
(CAROL FRANKO)      115
8. Falling into Theory: Simulation, Terraformation, and Eco-Economics in the Mars Trilogy
(ROBERT MARKLEY)      122
9. Chromodynamics: Science and Colonialism in the Mars Trilogy
(ELIZABETH LEANE)      144
10. The Theoretical Foundation of Utopian Radical Democracy in Blue Mars
(WILLIAM J. BURLING)      157
11. The Politics of the Network: The Science in the Capital Trilogy
(ROGER LUCKHURST)      170
12. Living Thought: Genes, Genres and Utopia in the Science in the Capital Trilogy
(GIB PRETTYMAN)      181
13. “Structuralist Alchemy” in Red Mars
(WILLIAM J. WHITE)      204

PART III. ECOLOGY AND NATURE
14. Ecological Newspeak
(ALAN R. SLOTKIN)      227
15. Murray Bookchin on Mars! The Production of Nature in the Mars Trilogy
(SHAUN HUSTON)      231
16. The Mars Trilogy and the Leopoldian Land Ethic
(ERIC OTTO)      242
17. Dead Penguins in Immigrant Pilchard Scandal: Telling Stories About “the Environment” in Antarctica
(SHERRYL VINT and MARK BOULD)      257

PART IV. INTERVIEW AND SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY
18. A Conversation with Kim Stanley Robinson
(IRVING F. “BUD” FOOTE)      277
19. A Select Secondary Bibliography
(WILLIAM J. BURLING)      292

About the Contributors      297
Index      301

Book Reviews & Awards

“Very good selection of essays on the work of Robinson, unquestionably one of the most important writers currently practicing in the field…one of those rare critical worth the high admission fee”—Critical Mass.