How to Tell if You Are in a Kim Stanley Robinson Novel

This was inspired by a format you might have seen on the late, great The Toast. As always, it is meant with the greatest amount of affection. (Seriously, go read Aurora.)

The Meeting of the Community did not go well.

The old-timer, the one with the bright eyes, the one who could remember how it was Before, the one who survived the Illness and the Bad Times — oh, how he used to laugh! But he doesn’t laugh anymore.

You are the child of a genius, but you are not a genius yourself. This does not bother you, as it means that you have time for other endeavors. Your other endeavors are either reading about Sufism, or finding new weird places to have sex.

Your mother, the genius, is a small, angry woman scientist, with a deep furrowed brow and various physical and emotional scars, though she never speaks about her past. All fear her. All love her. She is the one who will save us all.

The genius is now dead. That was fast.

Everyone spends all their time talking about how great the genius was, and how the genius could have fixed everything, and asking, “What would the genius do?”

You are starting to suspect your former friend, the quiet one who never smiles, has assassinated your other former friend. You are correct.

You are starting to suspect your other former friend, the anarchist who always smiles, is responsible for the insurrection. You are correct.

Everyone’s a bit too nonchalant about the spacecraft orgies you’ve been having. (Except for that one guy, and man, he is really, really not.)

The old-timer is staring at the sea. “The sea,” he mutters. “It always comes back to the sea.”

Your mission is of utmost importance, but not so important that you can’t take a break to engage in a very, very long meditation on Sufism.

Everyone is bisexual in space. Everyone is bisexual in the future. Everyone is bisexual in… the past? Whatever. Wherever you are, everyone fucks everyone.

Your friend has started a religion, and you don’t have the heart to tell them it’s basically just space-Shintoism.

Everybody secretly thinks the President or CEO or Mayor or FBI Agent or Sultan or UN Secretary-General is an idiot, but you’re going to take it a step further and punch them in the face.

Perhaps you will never truly understand the others. Perhaps your two cultures are just… too different.

“The tiger,” the old-timer is muttering. “It… it saw me, somehow.”

You forgot to take pathogens into account, didn’t you? WELL IT’S TOO LATE NOW

Absolutely nobody lives an unexamined life, and everyone you meet, regardless of personality, background, and education, is willing to explain the intricacies of their culture and spirituality to you, in detail, and quite eloquently.


You and your people have traveled worlds, seeing all matter of lands and societies. Yet everybody just knows there is no better or more beautiful place in the Cosmos than San Francisco.

Dedicated to my brother Jon, who introduced me to the Mars Trilogy, and whose birthday was this past week. I love you, Jon!

Stuff I Did This Week: I was asked to present an award at the Hollywood Beauty Awards (which honors achievement in make up and hair, wardrobe design, and styling) in honor of incomparable makeup genius Ve Neill, who did the make up for Mrs. Doubtfire (and won an Oscar for it!) and Matilda. She also did the makeup for Beetlejuice, Batman Returns, Edward Scissorhands, The Hunger Games, Mars Attacks, Pirates of the Caribbean, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Galaxy Quest, A Star Is Born, and many, many more. Her work is nothing short of iconic: she is the inspiration for thousands of make-up artists, and probably millions of teenage goths. She’s also fun and funny as hell. Congratulations, Ve! (I also got to share a table with most of the Haus of Gaga. Holy shit!)

Fake BBC Show Title of the Week: Rose and Valerie, Screaming from the Gallery