Friday, April 17, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Writers discuss challenging future trends at Whole Earth Festival

By
From page A1 | May 09, 2012 |

Kim Stanley Robinson. Enterprise file photo

Two of this country’s most forward-looking writers — whose carefully researched books describing life in the future have won multiple awards — will speak Saturday at the Whole Earth Festival about where current trends might take us in coming centuries.

Kim Stanley Robinson, a longtime Davis resident, and Paolo Bacigalupi, a Colorado author, will speak, take questions and sign copies of their books from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Young Hall on the UC Davis campus. Admission is free.

Robinson will talk about his new novel “2312,” copies of which should be available for sale at the festival, 10 days before the book’s official publication date on May 22.

The premise behind “2312” stems from a discussion between Robinson and his publisher about long-term trends. Think about how much life has changed in the 300 years between 1712 and 2012. Now, try to imagine how much life might change over the next 300 years.

Robinson typically grounds his projected futures in substantial factual research. He recently told Publishers Weekly that “art in our time is strongest when it is aware of science, includes science, is inspired by science, or is about science.”

In “2312,” Robinson describes a future in which humans are living as far afield as Mercury and Saturn, as well as on several asteroids. And life on Earth has become “a gigantic ongoing crisis,” as sea levels have risen by 11 meters.

“Manhattan is like Venice,” Robinson said. “People zip around in canal boats. The bottom floors of buildings are flooded, but things are still functioning.”

Robinson also writes of “a space civilization, with thousands of asteroids that have been hollowed out, and the interior serves as a sort of terrarium that imitates a biome on each.”

He projects enormous social changes as well. With advances in medicine and genetic engineering, people are living a long time, and gender identity becomes kind of a personal choice matter — male, female, both, neither. Some people choose to be 2 or 3 feet tall, other people stand 9 feet tall.

“It seemed to me that if technologies existed for lifetime extension and body modification, people might get into a mindset of wanting to try everything,” Robinson said.

Robinson’s writing style in “2312” is also a departure from his previous books. He tells his story using techniques somewhat similar to those used by John Dos Passos in his “U.S.A. Trilogy” (written during the 1930) — a kaleidoscopic composite incorporating everything from newspaper clippings to biography to prose poems, and a big cast of characters.

This style of storytelling was employed by the late science fiction writer John Brunner in his prize-winning near-future novels “Stand on Zanzibar” (1968) and “The Sheep Look Up” (1972). Now Robinson, who was a friend of Brunner’s, is adapting the approach to describe a future that is a bit further out.

“I had a blast” writing the book, Robinson said. He included some “lists and extracts, and I wrote ‘pocket bios’ of Io (one of Jupiter’s moons), Titan (one of Saturn’s moons) and Mercury, which made objects in the solar system into little characters in the book.”

And oh yes, “2312” includes a love story — involving one character on Mercury whose personality is mercurial, and another living near Saturn’s rings whose personality is (well) saturnine. Readers of Robinson’s other books also will recognize that the story in “2312” is set several decades after the events in Robinson’s landmark Mars trilogy.

Saturday’s event at the Whole Earth Festival will be the first time Robinson has actually met his co-presenter, Bacigalupi, though the two have read each other’s books. Bacigalupi is coming to Davis from his home in western Colorado and is touring in support of his new novel “The Drowned Cities,” which was published May 1.

As compared with Robinson, who has been publishing books since the 1980s, Bacigalupi is a relative newcomer — his first book came out in 2008. Bacigalupi is probably best known for his breakthrough 2009 novel “The Windup Girl,” which was picked as one of the year’s best novels by Time, Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal and others.

“The Windup Girl” also netted two of science fiction’s top honors — the Hugo Award, given by fans, and the Nebula Award, given by writers — and also has gone through multiple printings.

Set in Thailand, “The Windup Girl” is set in a dystopian future that includes bio-terrorism, genetic engineering, civil war, food plagues and slavery. The title character has been described as “a cybernetic geisha.”

Some critics said the book reminded them of the dark Ridley Scott science fiction film “Blade Runner.” Others compared Bacigalupi to cyberpunk novelist William Gibson, whose dark novel “Neuromancer” made a big splash in the 1980s. Bacigalupi has occasionally been dubbed a “biopunk” by way of comparative differentiation.

Bacigalupi’s 2010 novel for young adults “Ship Breaker” picked up the Printz Award, which honors books written for teens. The book, also a future dystopia, is a story of survival featuring a character who strips copper wiring from abandoned oil tankers.

Bacigalupi was born in Colorado and grew up there. He attended Oberlin College, where he studied Chinese.

Bacigalupi’s take on the future is by and large darker than Robinson’s — several of the young author’s works of fiction deal with ecodisasters — but Robinson sees some common ground.

“There’s a line from Ursula Le Guin through me that extends to Paolo,” Robinson said, “a kind of green environmentalist strand of science fiction. It’s not a dominant strand in the field, but it is important.”

And what more appropriate place for these two writers to meet and speak than the Whole Earth Festival at UC Davis?

Notes: Robinson also will sign copies of “2312” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 26, at The Avid Reader, 617 Second St. in Davis.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected] or (530) 747-8055.

Comments

comments

.

News

Psychedelic rock posters recall 1960s concerts

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
UCD study: Crickets not enough to feed the world just yet

By Kathy Keatley Garvey | From Page: A1

It’ll be a perfect day for a picnic — and lots more

By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Turning a mess into olive oil success

By Dave Jones | From Page: A1 | Gallery

UCD expands emergency notification service

By Julia Ann Easley | From Page: A2

 
California vaccine bill stalls; will come back next week

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Cities: California water reduction order unrealistic, unfair

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Bob Dunning: Chasing criminals and water-wasters

By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

Enjoy a chemistry bang on Picnic Day

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Start your Picnic Day with pancakes

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Local students to perform at fundraising concert

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
CA House hosts crepe breakfast

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Doxie Derby crowns the winning wiener

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Fundraiser benefits Ugandan women

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

See pups at Picnic Day

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Davis poet will read his work at library

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Free blood pressure screenings offered

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4Comments are off for this post

 
Rotary Club hosts whisky tasting

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Ribs and Rotary benefits local charities

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Dodd plans fundraising barbecue in Davis

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Soroptimists set date for golf tourney

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Socks collected for homeless veterans

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Council will present environmental awards Tuesday

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
Invention and upcycling to be honored at Square Tomatoes Fair

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
Take a peek at Putah Creek on daylong tour

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Pence Gallery Garden Tour tickets on sale

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
UC Davis Circle K Club wins awards at district convention

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

Davis authors featured at writing conference in Stockton

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
Sign up soon for Davis history tour

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Campus firearms bill passes Senate committee

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
Emerson featured at photography program

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

Portuguese influence in Yolo County detailed

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
Concert and dance party celebrate KDRT’s 10 years on the air

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
Survival skills to be taught at preserve

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

.

Forum

The new one puts her foot down

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A8

It’s time to fight for California’s jobs

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

 
Future leaders give back

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Know where your gift is going

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

Pipeline veto a good move

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Artists offer heartfelt thanks

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

.

Sports

DHS boys drop another Delta League match

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Aggie women ready to host (win?) Big West golf tourney

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

New strength coach hopes to stem UCD football injury tide

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Herd has too much for Devil softballers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

Les, AD Gould talk about the Aggie coach’s future

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

 
UCD roundup: Quintet of Aggie gymnasts honored for academics

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
River Cats fall to Las Vegas

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B12

 
Diamondbacks defeat Giants in 12 innings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12 | Gallery

.

Features

DSF kicks off 10th anniversary celebration at the carousel

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: B5

 
Many summer enrichment opportunities available for students

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: B5

 
What’s happening

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: B5

.

Arts

‘True Story:’ In their dreams

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
‘Once’ an unforgetable celebration of music, relationships

By Bev Sykes | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
.

Business

Honda shows off new Civic at New York show

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
.

Obituaries

Ruth Rodenbeck Stumpf

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Robert Leigh Cordrey

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Comics: Friday, April 17, 2015

By Creator | From Page: B10