Kim Stanley Robinson is one of the most respected writers of science fiction – indeed, of any genre – and is known for his willingness to write on a global scale about issues which affect us all. Born in 1952 in Waukegan, Illinois, he moved to Orange County, California when he was two years old. He received his BA in Literature in 1974, followed by a MA in English; he then obtained his PhD with a thesis on the work of Philip K Dick, since published in book form. After writing several short stories, his first novel was The Wild Shore, published in 1984 and first of the Orange County trilogy, which explores three possible futures of that area.
His second trilogy is the one he is best known for: the Mars novels, and their companion volume of short stories, The Martians, is a landmark work chronicling the Red Planet from the early pioneers to the eventual terraforming of that world over a period of some 200 years. It follows the main characters as they navigate typical KSR themes: advances in technology and medicine, politics and society, the influence of hugely powerful mega-corporations, and environmental concerns – here in extremis – as those who want to keep Mars a pristine wilderness battle, sometimes violently, against those who wish to create a second Earth.
The ‘Science In The Capital’ trilogy explores in greater detail the relationship between science and politics in the United States, especially with regard to the environment and climate change. Its setting in a world which very much resembles our own adds weight to the increasingly relevant issues of extreme weather, population, hunger and ecosystem-collapse as seen through the eyes of the main characters in the USA. The standalone novel Antarctica, which preceded the trilogy, shares some of those characters and looks at the consequences of opening up that continent for commercial exploitation.
His latest novel, New York 2140, again explores the impact of climate change in a New York largely submerged by rising sea levels. It was described by Adam Roberts in The Guardian as ‘a towering novel about a genuinely grave threat to civilisation’, and has been received enthusiastically by reviewers.
— Tony Berry