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Kim Stanley Robinson

Kim Stanley Robinson (born March 23, 1952) is a writer initially identified as a leading member of the "humanist", or literary, camp of science fiction authors in the 1980s, but whose Mars trilogy is a solid example of hard science fiction. His fiction frequently delves into ecological and utopian themes with a political sophistication and point of view rarely seen elsewhere in the field.

The utopian novels

Robinson's utopias are strikingly different in that the society portrayed is dynamic and subject to flaws and outside pressures, rather than the static perfection displayed in more classic utopias, in which literary values take a back seat to the political argument. His utopian novels include the Three Californias trilogy, which consists of the post-disaster novel The Wild Shore (1984, his first), the future dystopia The Gold Coast (1988), and the "ecotopia" Pacific Edge (1990); and the Mars trilogy, composed of Red Mars (1992), Green Mars (1993) and Blue Mars (1996) -- along with the short story collection The Martians (1999) -- which uses the red planet as a backdrop for experimenting with new forms of society. Antarctica (1997), a standalone novel, explores utopian ideas similar to those in the Mars trilogy. Robinson has described the Mars trilogy as a "2200-page novel".

Robinson's writings explore political ideas which contain many elements of socialism and green politics, as well as many alternative lifestyles (including ones where non-monogamous relationships are commonplace). Some reviewers (including, for instance, many of the reader reviews at have criticised these aspects of the books on the basis that it is Marxist and Green propaganda, and completely unrealistic. Other reviewers have categorised such people as wanting to read "Young Christian Republicans Go To Mars", and have suggested that the point of science fiction is to explore new ideas.

Other novels

His other novels include Icehenge (1984), The Memory of Whiteness (1985) -- a musican's tour through the solar system --and the alternate history The Years of Rice and Salt (2002), a thought experiment about a world without Christianity, featuring Muslim, Chinese and Hindu culture and philosophy. Not only because of the long time scale, but because of its realistic-utopian elements, and the frequent reflections about human nature The Years of Rice and Salt resembles the Mars books, brought to earth.

A standalone novella, A Short, Sharp Shock, was published in 1990.

He edited the anthology Future Primitive: The New Ecotopias (1994).

Short stories

His first short stories began appearing in 1976. Most are collected in The Planet on the Table (1986) and Remaking History (1991). Three longer, humorous stories -- Robinson can be a very funny writer -- featuring American expatriates in Nepal are collected in Escape from Kathmandu (1989).


Robinson won Hugos for Green Mars and Blue Mars, Nebulas for Red Mars and "The Blind Geometer" (1986), a World Fantasy Award for "Black Air" (1983), and a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Pacific Edge.The Memory of Witness was awarded the Locus Award.


Kim Stanley Robinson was born in Waukegan, Illinois. He studied in Califonia. In 1974 he received a B.A in literature (University of California, San Diego). At Boston University he gained a M.A in English in 1975. Robinson received a Ph.D in English from the University of California, San Diego in 1982; his doctoral thesis was a study of the novels of Philip K. Dick, published in 1984 (The Novels of Philip K. Dick).

In 1982 he married Lisa Howland Nowell, an environmental chemist. They have two sons.

Robinson has lived in California, in Washington D.C. and in Switzerland (during the 1980s). He lives in California.

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