Kim Stanley Robinson – The Salon Appearance
Science fiction great Kim Stanley Robinson was the Spotlight Guest at Sophrosyne’s Saturday Salon in Extropia, Second Life, on January 17, 2009. Appearing as his avatar, Stan Shackleton, a coyote, Stan chatted with more than 64 Salon guests for over two hours.
The chatlog is available here. It has been edited at Stan’s request to remove spoilers for his new novel, which he shared with the audience. This article excerpts highlights from the Salon, edited for clarity. All photos are courtesy of Boc Cryotank (Stephen Euin Cobb), who introduced the author to Extropia’s events organizer. Boc’s full collection of Salon photos is available on his Flickr site and on Extropia’s Facebook Page.
Upcoming Novel: Galileo’s Dream
Sophrosyne Stenvaag: So, I’ve been dying to ask this since we started corresponding – you just delivered a new novel – what can you tell us about it?
Stan Shackleton: Galileo’s Dream is about Galileo and how under the life we know was a strange set of incidents which explain many mysteries in his life. Galileo gets taken to a future where they all look like you…
Sophrosyne Stenvaag: ok, when’s the release date?
Vidal Tripsa has a Shelfari wishlist begging. 😉
Stan Shackleton: August 2009 in UK, Jan. 2010 in US
Vidal Tripsa: Then I’d ask – why the UK first? That’s.. extraordinarily rare in my experience? Do you know?
Stan Shackleton: My UK publisher is faster
“We are in the great age of Science Versus Capitalism. We have to hope science wins.”
Stan Shackleton: It has the method that actually works. This should help but is no guarantee. Think of government as the virtual commons, the company of us, of the people by the people for the people. We have been making government more scientifice for a long time. That’s the long revolution.
Tortov Ordinary: stan, what means a government get more “scientific”?
Stan Shackleton: more responsive to empirical data, less nepotisitc, more medicine.
Serendipity Seraph: global warming is not as clear as many think
Stan Shackleton: please go look at a glacier. Climate change is real. It could be very bad if we don’t act now. The generations to come need us acting now, also the biosphere. And it’s not too late to act, something always follows. Saying it’s too late means you don’t have to do anything. Saying it’s not too late means you don’t have to do anything. It’s a bad concept, “too late.”
Science As Religion
Stan Shackleton: Arne Naess died this week, philosopher and founder of Deep Ecology, which is important and everyone should study even though it’s a religion and an ideology, but so is science. This view of the biosphere is important for our survival. I say this as a shallow ecologist.
Serendipity Seraph: do not agree science is a religion. define and defend please.
Stan Shackleton: science is an ideology, an imaginary relationship to a real situation. We imagine our relationships to the real situation. Just that we create the mental structures that allow us to process the real. We also think of the word ideology as if it refers to other people, while we are right and have clear vision.
“Sax Russell Is My Wife”
Kim Anubis: Stan, what do you think we can learn from your Mars Trilogy character Saxifrage Russel?
Stan Shackleton: Thanks Kim, Sax is somewhat modeled on my wife. It’s true. I love Sax
IYan Writer: I like the Sax character, too – but is she the Red Mars Sax or the Blue Mars Sax? 🙂
Kim Anubis: Sax made me look at lichen in a new way 🙂
Stan Shackleton: She is the Blue Mars Sax I think. Lichen are great!
Science Fiction and the Future
Stan Shackleton: Science fiction created an image of the future. Parts of it came true in some places. Other parts never came true. Some may later. And of course there were lots of futures described. Science fiction is great for commenting about now. It’s also good for escapist adventure and power fantasies.
Rocket Sellers: what about techonology prediction?
Stan Shackleton: It’s very broadband, yes tech prediction for sure. It’s been good at that, with famous exceptions.
What One SF Novel Would You Recommend?
Extropia DaSilva: Stan, as well as your own books, if you had to name one science fiction novel everyone should read before they die, what would it be?
Stan Shackleton: Starmaker by Olaf Stapledon. Then a list of about a hundred novels. All very good. It’s so big. Every paragraph is a full novel condensed.
Sophrosyne Stenvaag: yes! a tesseract-novel – and more a future history than any sort of novel
Stan Shackleton: Let’s say the novel can also be a future history in summary too. Novel is a big form, lots of variety. I don’t like all these reviews and comments that seem to suggest there is such a thing as the novel. That puts limits on form or method. I like thinking of it as being really big and flexible.
Is Your Storytelling Changing?
Sophrosyne Stenvaag: Is storytelling changing? And, is *your* storytelling changing?
Stan Shackleton: Thanks, I think my story-telling is always reacting to the story I’m tryng to tell. But I notice the solutions begin to resemeble each other in certain ways, which must be my style or method. I don’t like novels to have all scenes at the same pace. That’s like music all at the same tempo for an hour. So, I like varying tempo.
Tortov Ordinary: stan, do you plans to “go back” to mars someday?
Stan Shackleton: No—See “I Say Good-bye to Mars” in The Martians. I’m done. There are other stories to tell.
What Would You Like to Ask *Us*?
Sophrosyne Stenvaag: Stan, is there anything you’d like to ask *us*?
Stan Shackleton: Does everyone know their carbon burn? Not asking for purity. I burn lots of carbon and use my computer. Just knowing and shifting behaviors. Also enjoying the high res of the outdoors.
Tortov Ordinary: stan, how do you think the internet can help change things?
Stan Shackleton: Maybe the internet can be the true global village idea. In which case we see we’re all in it together. So it’s really a good thing. But like everything, moderation in all things.Too much internet for any one person is bad. I see that around me.
Tortov Ordinary: one of the things i really liked in the mars trilogy is that there we see some new kind kind of plausibe social order, or many of them<
Stan Shackleton: Thanks Tortov, that was hard to suggest… I needed the blank slate of Mars and then just postulated thta many alternatives now discussed.
Sophrosyne Stenvaag: Stan, do we need that kind of blank slate?
Stan Shackleton: No, we need the long revolution. We have to do it here and out of the current conditions. This is what we are transferring now in our ideas of Obama. We are in this situation, can’t get out of it, have to start in it; but want great things.
Galena Qi: We’ll drag our “monkey mind” along with us everywhere we go. Societies are mutable but human nature doesn’t change.
Stan Shackleton: Yes Galena, but the monkey mind is very utopian! Ideas of justice, adequacy, all there before us in primates. oooooooooop! I’m going to jump now!
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