Coode Street has a long history of talking to Kim Stanley Robinson about the world and his work, starting back in 2011, continuing in our 200th episode in London, and on the publication of 2312, Aurora, and New York 2140, so we couldn’t pass up the chance to talk to him now.
In what is easily the longest episode of Coode Street for this strange pandemic year, Gary, Jonathan, and Stan discuss his brand new novel, The Ministry for the Future, the value and purpose of science fiction, Stan’s important working relationship with editor Tim Holman, experimenting with form, what comes next, and more.
As always, we’d like to thank Stan for making the time to talk to us and hope you enjoy the episode.
For the first time since way back in March when they chatted with N.K. Jemisin, Jonathan and Gary are joined by a guest.
This time the wonderful Alix E. Harrow, author of the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy nominated The Ten Thousand Doors of January and the forthcoming The Once and Future Witches joins Jonathan and Gary to chat about reinventing fairy tale materials for the modern age, the recent resurgence of novels about witches, the difference between secret histories (as in her earlier novel) and alternate histories (as in the new one), using fantasy to address social and historical issues such as women’s suffrage, and her short fiction including “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies“.
As always, our thanks to Alix for making time to join us, and we hope you enjoy the episode. We’ll be back tomorrow with another episode of “Ten Minutes with…” and will see you back here in two weeks with another special guest!
Books mentioned include:
For their 500th episode (if you count the shorter “10 Minutes With” episodes they’ve been doing since March), Jonathan and Gary characteristically fail to achieve any sort of clear structure for the discussion but do return to some favourite themes. While we manage to avoid reopening the old canon of worms, we do talk about what science fiction cultural literacy might look like—not in terms of specific works, but in terms of concepts and techniques, and how they might change over time. Would a reader of Gardner Dozois’s first “year’s best” anthology feel any sense of familiarity with Jonathan’s volume from 2020? And as usual, we look at the year so far, some forthcoming books to look for, and the pleasures we’ve had in chatting with new and old friends in our shorter lockdown-era podcasts.
Flying in the face of both good judgment and common sense, Jonathan and Gary return once again to the question of canons in science fiction and fantasy—a discussion which has widely re-emerged in recent weeks as a result of controversies over the Hugo Awards presentation at ConZealand. Are canons lists of books that people actually need to read, or are they ways of defining and celebrating your own reading communities? Are they useful at all? Are publishing programs such as the Gollancz Masterworks or the Tor Essentials trying to impose a particular idea of canon, or simply to make certain works widely available for those who might be interested? Are there multiple canons for multiple interest groups, or does each reader form their own canon? Would it even be possible to start thinking about works published since 2000 in terms of this discussion? As usual, we have strong opinions without really deciding anything much.
Well, without really planning it, we had a bit of a hiatus. It seems like recording over a hundred episodes in a row left us – or at least Jonathan – with the need for a little break, but we’re back! We think.
With the Virtual ConZealand not quite over, Gary and Jonathan sit down to talk awards, congratulate the award-winners, talk about inclusiveness and the need for a fresher take on the genre, thank the ConZealand team and shout out to coming conventions, and more. Oh, and thank the World Fantasy Awards for a very unexpected nomination! Thank you!
As always, we hope you enjoy the episode. We should be back soon with more!