‘The shadow of the future made all the difference’
Sustainability in Kim Stanley Robinson’s Science in the Capital trilogy
in Literature and sustainability

This chapter examines how Kim Stanley Robinson explores the possibility of transitioning toward a sustainable future in the Science in the Capitol trilogy. It begins by examining science fiction’s longstanding engagement with futures studies and moves on to consider how sustainable images of the future offer alternatives to unsustainable carbon-based energy regimes. Building on Roger Luckhurst’s identification of the trilogy’s use of “proleptic realism” and on Douglas De Witt Kilgore’s discussion of its status as “structural comedy”, this chapter considers the multiple interventions that are imagined as providing opportunities for a movement toward a sustainable future. It ends by locating interventions based on the adaptation of energy infrastructures, landscape restoration, climate rectification and climate mitigation in the context of geoengineering.

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Literature and sustainability

Concept, text and culture

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