Our mind is nothing other than mountains, rivers, and the great earth, the sun, the moon and the stars.
—Eihei Dogen, Shobogenzo
With the release of The Ministry for the Future, 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 to cooperatively address its growing existential challenges.
Though not formally religious, Stan’s spiritual guiding light for decades has been Zen Buddhism, and Buddhist themes of consciousness, non-duality and attention illuminate his writing and life. 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 K. LeGuin and Philip K. Dick.
“What has persisted out of my interest in Zen,” Stan says, “is its devotion to treating the world as sacred in daily life.” He adds, “Chop wood, carry water” could just as easily be “run five miles, write five pages.” Gardening, washing dishes, looking after little children, “this puts a spark into things, a glow around them.”
And because we are alive, the universe must be said to be alive. We are its consciousness as well as our own. We rise out of the cosmos and we see its mesh of patterns, and it strikes us as beautiful. And that feeling is the most important thing in all the universe—its culmination, like the color of the flower at first bloom on a wet morning.
―Kim Stanley Robinson, from Green Mars
Official Short Bio
Kim Stanley Robinson is an American science fiction writer. He is the author of more than twenty books, including the international bestselling Mars trilogy, and more recently, New York 2140, Aurora, Shaman, Green Earth, and 2312, a NYTbestseller nominated for all seven of the major science fiction awards.
Robinson works with the Sierra Nevada Research Institute, the Clarion Writers’ Workshop, and UC San Diego’s Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination. His writing has been translated into twenty-five languages and has won a dozen awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy awards. In 2008, he was named a “Hero of the Environment” by Time magazine.
His novel, The Ministry for the Future, was selected as one of Barack Obama’s “Favorite Books of 2020” and one of Bill Gates’ “Five Great Books for the Summer” in 2022. His most recent book, The High Sierra: A Love Story, is a non-fiction exploration of Robinson’s years spent hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada mountains, one of the most compelling places on Earth.