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Today’s guest, Kim Stanley Robinson, is perhaps the living writer most associated with utopian literature today. And as a student of the philosopher, political theorist, and literary critic Fredric Jameson, Robinson has thought deeply about the history of utopias, the history of the novel, and the strange hybrid form that became the utopian novel. In his mind it was Ursula K. Le Guin who wrote the first truly great utopian novel. We discuss Le Guin’s utopian work alongside his, and contextualize her importance historically. Robinson also shares some incredible anecdotes from his time in the 70s as her student and the ways their lives as fellow writers have intersected over the decades.
What is a utopian novel? What is an ambiguous utopia? And why has this genre become a particularly vital form and even a critical tool of the human imagination today? Listen in to find out. And if you enjoy this series consider transforming yourself from a listener into a listener-supporter. Head over to the show’s Patreon page to check out all the potential rewards and benefits of doing so, from rare Le Guin collectibles to bonus audio from SFF luminaries. Lastly, here is the Bookshop for today’s episode which contains many of the books and stories discussed today.