This Monday, we discussed Stan’s work in advance of his visit in our Pacific Zen Luminaries Series on Wednesday, November 15, 2023.

With the release of The Ministry for the Future (2020), best-selling author Kim Stanley Robinson has become the most closely followed voice in science and climate fiction today. Called by The New York Times “the last great utopian,” Stan’s vision of the future is fearsome yet ultimately optimistic in its belief that the human race will learn how to come together to address our growing existential challenges.

Though not formally religious, for decades Stan’s spiritual guiding light has been Zen Buddhism. “What has persisted out of my interest in Zen,” Stan says, “is it’s devotion to treating the world as sacred in daily life. ‘Chop wood, carry water’ could just as easily be ‘run five miles, write five pages.’ This puts a spark into things, a glow around them.”

The work of deep-ecology poet Gary Snyder inspired him to become a writer, and he was later heavily influenced by mystical leanings of Ursula LeGuin and Philip K. Dick. The themes of consciousness, non-duality, and attention illuminate his writing and life. Stan’s devotion to Gaia, Mother Earth, has allowed his mind and imagination to explore the far reaches of space and time.

—Jon Joseph

Published in The High Sierra; A Love Story (2022):

Night Poem, Kim Stanley Robinson, 1988

Writing by starlight
Can’t see the words
Fill a page
Nothing there
Waterfall distant sound
Tree against stars Milky Way
Juniper Jupiter white rock
Wind dying my heart
At peace a Friday night
Big Dipper sits on the mountain
Friends lie in their tents
I sit against rock
Star bowl spinning overhead
Feel the movement
And soar away

Who knows how many stars there are
All those dim ones filling the black
Until it seems no black is there
And then you see the Milky Way
The sky should be pure white with stars
That’s black dust up there
Blocking the view
Carbon and hydrogen
All of us flung together
In just this way
A blank white page
I write and then
A blank white page
Story of my life!