Is it science or fiction? Both! Top climate science fiction writers Kim Stanley Robinson & Bruce Sterling. Robinson shocked the world with his 2020 book “The Ministry of the Future” where 20 million people perished in a massive heat wave. We talk consequences in a new interview. My feature on the climate sci-fi work of Bruce Sterling was produced in 2006 – but sounds like today (unfortunately).

Image Credit © Miguel Bucana for Socialter magazine issue #54

Listen to or download this Radio Ecoshock show in CD Quality (57 MB) or Lo-Fi (14 MB)



No writer has written more popular novels about climate change than Kim Stanley Robinson. With tons of awards and readers, if you don’t know K.S. Robinson, you should. In the 1990’s, I devoured his “Mars Trilogy”. Robinson’s 2020 book “The Ministry for the Future” drew raves from Barack Obama, Bill Gates, James Cameron, Bill McKibben – almost everyone. The horrific opening with millions dying in extreme heat turns into a vision of how we might survive ourselves.

In social myth, really inventive mind-bending writers drop out of college and send broadsides from the wilderness or the road. Robinson got a PhD in English from UC San Diego and became not just successful but inspirational.


Listen to or download this 30 minute interview with Kim Stanley Robinson in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


Strangely, heat deaths often go down after a mass casualty event. People adapt. The Government of India developed a heat strategy. Some folks in Vancouver bought air-conditioning for the first time. But if the electric grid goes down, the next great heat death might come not in India, but in Houston.

I blame both media and government for underplaying the grave risk of deadly heat in a warming world. Few know that more people die of heat-related causes than in all floods and hurricanes put together. Heat is the silent killer.

For those with scientific awareness of what climate change really means, there are only desperate optimists and the doomers. I vacillate between the two. Dark pessimists loved the beginning of “The Ministry of the Future” but a few were disappointed Robinson looked for ways out.

Following the publication of “The Ministry of the Future”, Robinson toured internationally not to promote the book but to discuss it. He an ambassador for a novel – and for a future. Big Capitalists like Bill Gates blogged about Robinson’s book. The Financial Times reported his meetings with bankers, investors and even the military. Yet many of Kim’s books search for alternatives to Capitalism. Does Capitalism have to go, and is there any alternative? We discuss in the interview.

Terraforming is intentional shaping of a planet to support human life. In the super-popular Mars trilogy, Robinson examines those issues at a safe distance – in space. Will geoengineering will be attempted in a climate emergency, and what do you think about that?

We also discuss Robinson’s latest book “The High Sierra – A Love Story“.



Another top climate-aware sci-fi writer is American author Bruce Sterling. He was among originators of Cyber-Punk science fiction. Sterling was early on climate awareness with his 1995 novel “Heavy Weather”, which gets more true by the day. This feature produced by Radio Ecoshock in 2006 contains clips with Bruce Sterling at SXSW 2005 in Austin Texas, and an interview on the now defunct He warned us.

Listen to or download this 30 minute feature about Bruce Sterling in CD Quality or Lo-Fi



Back in the early 1990’s, Bruce Sterling became personally concerned about climate change, and published a novel about it in 1995, called “Heavy Weather.” Set in his home state of Texas, the survivors of heat, drought, and drug resistant diseases, set out tracking the violent storms that depopulated the region by 2031.



Next week I ask top NASA scientist Gavin Schmidt why Earth was so much hotter in 2023 – and is it here to stay? You also get news on the big change in Greenland.

Thank you to listeners who donated to last week’s fundraising appeal for Radio Ecoshock. The show still needs another $500 or so to be covered into the late spring. Please help if you can.

I’m Alex Smith. Thank you for listening – and caring about our world.