BLDG Blog has a great interview with science fiction giant Kim Stanley Robinson, one of the field's finest worldbuilders and intricate plotters — as well as an incredibly smart and passionate environmental activist.
I started writing about Earth's climate change in the Mars books. I needed something to happen on Earth that was shocking enough to allow a kind of historical gap in which my Martians could realistically establish independence. I had already been working with Antarctic scientists who were talking about the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, and how unstable it might be – so I used that, and in Blue Mars I showed a flooded London. But after you get past the initial dislocations and disasters, what you've got is another landscape to be inhabited – another situation that would have its own architecture, its own problems, and its own solutions.
To a certain extent, later, in my climate change books, I was following in that mold with the flood of Washington DC. I wrote that scene before Katrina. After Katrina hit, my flood didn't look the same. I think it has to be acknowledged that the use of catastrophe as a literary device is not actually adequate to talk about something which, in the real world, is often so much worse – and which comes down to a great deal of human suffering.
So there may have been surreal images coming out of the New Orleans flood, but that's not really what we take away from it.
Kim Stanley Robinson's new book, Forty Signs of Rain
Kim Stanley Robinson on what Martian water means for science fiction
Kim Stanley Robinson on eco-disasters on Earth and Mars
Kim Stanley Robinson talks ecotastrophe
Stan Robinson on adventure travel
Red Mars: a very belated appreciation