File Under: we do not make this stuff up
I have nearly completed the 4th Flatland essay. After that, I will send it to a few early reviewers for comments, make the final changes and publish it late next week. Or so I hope.
Anyway, science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson makes a brief appearance in the essay's conclusion. And if you read this article, I think you'll see why (Bloomberg, March 8, 2017). I saw this after I had used Robinson as a Flatland example. I may have to change the text (or link to this).
... His 18th novel, due out on March 14, bases its plot on something more typically down-to-earth: New York real estate. In New York 2140, unstoppable glacial melt has caused a 50-foot rise in global sea levels, flooding the city. Everything below Midtown has become a tidal zone where menacing green waters flow around the ground floors of skyscrapers.
Wall Streeters commute to work by boat; the super rich live on high ground, above 125th Street; and speculators have started moving in on downtown, an underwater Bohemia where artists and middle-class strivers struggle to get by. A winter freeze locks the city in ice. And, spoiler alert, billions of gallons of standing water don’t help with the smell in summer.
But life goes on much as it does today. New Yorkers adapt. “Most people are treating climate change as the disaster that is going to end civilization,” says Gerry Canavan, an English professor at Marquette University who co-edited a book of essays on ecology and sci-fi with Robinson. By contrast, he says, Robinson shows a “process of improvisation and innovation that will allow us to continue living.” People living their lives, only wetter, may not produce the same vicarious thrills as more dystopian visions—John Carpenter’s 1981 film Escape From New York imagined the city in 1997 as a walled maximum-security prison—but books such as 2140 feel more relevant and essential as startling reports of climate change mount. The year 2140 isn’t exactly around the corner, but we did just have the hottest year on record. How far off will rowing to work seem even in 2040?
Climate change has long been Robinson’s preoccupation. His Science in the Capital trilogy, whose first installment was published in 2004, stars National Science Foundation employees who, having failed to stem the consequences of global warming, launch “terraforming” projects, pumping melted glacial ice into the Sahara and trying to restart a stalled Gulf Stream. His 2312, published 300 years before the title date, predicted that we’d figure out how to live on Mercury and the moons of Jupiter but not how to prevent our planet from becoming too hot. Stephanie LeMenager, a professor at the University of Oregon who studies climate change fiction, recommends 1992’s Red Mars, the first book in a trilogy by the same name, which explores that planet’s colonization. Robinson “tends to be a utopianist,” she says, explaining that he’s “a person who finds solutions in the most wicked problems—problems that would seem unsolvable.”
The utopian streak running through 2140 has its roots in what would seem a particularly intractable problem. Robinson believes that the free-market financial system, the cause of a great deal of ruin in recent years, could yet become something better...
There you go.