Jan 26 • 56M

Writing A Better World | Kim Stanley Robinson

How things could go right

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Rachel Donald
Planet: Critical is the podcast for a world in crisis. We face severe climate, energy, economic and political breakdown. Journalist Rachel Donald interviews those confronting the crisis, revealing what's really going on—and what needs to be done.
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“History is malleable and is constantly changing in people's heads. I say there was a moment that was intensely revolutionary in the new wave science fiction between 1965 and 1975. Then, along with Reagan and Thatcher, came this kind of reactionary, defeatist science fiction, sometimes called cyberpunk. And that was dispiriting, and science fiction kind of lost its way and fantasy came in to replace it.

“So I have a macro story for even my own field that is very personal, but what I can say is that now it has blown up. There are scores of writers with scores of stories coming at it from every possible angle trying to say, we can make a better world. In other words, I think utopia keeps rising to the top; the story of things getting better is something that people are hungry for, and so people keep writing it. And sometimes it does feel like magical thinking. Other times it's like social planning.”


Kim Stanley Robinson is a science fiction writer and author of the acclaimed novel, The Ministry for the Future. Set in the near future, this work of climate fiction explores the geopolitical, technological, political and economic demands of the climate crisis, imagining how nations around the world will respond to its impacts—resulting in the destruction and reimagining of the world order.

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Stan joins me to discuss the role of writing, of art, of fiction in particular in the face of a crisis. He gives a fascinating overview of science fiction’s response to the world over the past few decades, exploring the role of stories, narrative, and how citizens can both grapple with and demand change in their societies.

Planet: Critical investigates why the world is in crisis—and what to do about it.


© Rachel Donald