Science, Good Narrative Mesh In Robinson Collection
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
Science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson has done it all. His books include a trilogy about the terraforming of Mars, an alternative history in which the Chinese and Arabs discover America and a trilogy about global warming in which Washington, D.C. ends up under a lot of water.
His latest book is a collection of several decades of his short fiction under the title "The Best of Kim Stanley Robinson," and Alan Cheuse has this review.
ALAN CHEUSE: Robinson is a former English major who wrote a doctoral dissertation on the maverick novels of Philip K. Dick. So it's not surprising that his love of science, technology and good narrative come together in these 20-some mostly delightful short stories.
There's this ecological and climate obsession in the opening story of a drowned Venice. There's his out-and-out science fiction tale done to perfection. In "Before I Wake," Earth has entered a powerful electromagnetic field that drives human beings back and forth between waking and sleeping, waking and sleeping.
In a wonderful little story about an interplanetary translator called "The Translator," the main character wards off a ritual war between two very odd species of aliens, the small, hippo-like Ba'arnas(ph) and the nearly ugly beyond words, the birdlike Igla(ph).
But from his deep interest in history, Robinson also has made a wonderful story about a young crewman in the Spanish Armada, called "Black Air," and a startling alternate history story of the dropping of the atomic bomb over Japan, "The Lucky Strike," and a Voorhees-like creation called, "Vinland the Dream," about a grand, historical hoax on the shores of Maine.
I also want to mention a story called "A History of the 20th Century with Illustrations." That, as with the best of short fiction, escapes all classification and is almost beautiful beyond words.
NORRIS: The collection is called "The Best of Kim Stanley Robinson." Our reviewer, Alan Cheuse, teaches writing at George Mason University.
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