The latest episode of the always-excellent Agony Column podcast features an interview with one of science fiction's greatest living writers, Kim Stanley Robinson, discussing his latest novel 2312, a mammoth, epic story of a future built upon realistic and attainable space exploration -- a kind of meditation on life within lightspeed, which is nevertheless extremely personal and close-felt and on human scale.
"...it's a somewhat Utopian situation in space, and still a somewhat grim and screwed up situation on Earth..."
—Kim Stanley Robinson
In the statement above, is Kim Stanley Robinson describing the present or the future? That's not an easy call until you hear it in context. In this case, the future as written in his latest novel '2312' is certainly an outgrowth of the present, and there is more than enough "funhouse mirror" material in the novel to let you know Robinson has a lot to say about how things are here in the present.
It has been almost a year since I last spoke with Robinson and it was ever so kind of him to battle apocalyptic traffic to make it to the Capitola Book Café for a live conversation about his latest novel, '2312.' For a book that is chock-a-block with ambition, it is a really a racing, bracing read; I read most of it in a single day. That should signal readers that Robinson is hitting the sweet spot with both content and pacing. This is big-idea science fiction that doubles as pacey thriller.