Kim Stanley Robinson is a great writer, and not just in the SF genre

I’m in the middle of “The Years of Rice and Salt.” It’s my first KSR book, and I’m hooked! Wow!

Not only is KSR a great SF writer, he’s a great WRITER, period. He obviously does a lot of research, and he practically puts you into the minds of his characters, even for spiritual experiences! I wonder if he’s a spiritual man himself, or dabbled in world religions? He seems to have great empathy for his characters. There’s even a chapter written from the point of view of a tiger! This isn’t just SF or fantasy, it’s historical fiction/fictional biography at its finest.

I may never read Turtledove again. “Master of Alternative History,” my butt. Just because you do something all the time doesn’t mean you’re the best at it!

By the way, has anyone read Steve Barnes’ “Lion’s Blood” yet? Similar premise.

Huh. I Hated “The Years of Rice and Salt”.


I have just started reading The Years of Rice and Salt, and I’m totally loving it. KSR identified a certain point in the 14th century where, if you just make one change to world history, everything else comes out totally different. This is by far the best what-if extrapolation I’ve ever seen: he researched it thoroughly and filled with with richness of detail and depth of background. He had to cover several civilizations and their worldviews inside and out. This is a tour de force of speculative fiction if ever I’ve seen one.

I’m simultaneously listening to the tape recording of Red Mars, and appreciate that the wealth of homework KSR did for the Mars trilogy on space travel, geology, engineering, terraforming, and urban studies, etc. was matched by a similar level of research into history and civilization studies for TYOR&S. The dense texture of detail that he builds up in his alternative Earth really puts you there. His ability to tell a story is not bad, either.