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Sci-Fi Author Kim Stanley Robinson Talks About 'New York 2140'

The new novel imagines life in a partially drowned NYC after massive sea level rise from climate change.
Image Credit: Orbit

What will New York City look like in 123 years? That's the basic question posed by award-winning sci-fi author Kim Stanley Robinson's new novel New York 2140, which depicts the metropolis under several dozen feet of water after rising sea levels take over. Robinson's city is as bustling, tough, frustratingly unequal, and endearingly communal as ever, but a huge upheaval in the capitalist grind is at hand.


Robinson stopped by our offices in Brooklyn earlier this year to talk about the novel on a special live edition of the Radio Motherboard podcast, which you can listen to now on iTunes or your favorite podcast app.

Our conversation touched upon numerous subjects, including climate change, capitalism, Trump, nuclear weapons, technology, automation, and Robinson's hardcore research and writing process. The author of previously acclaimed works, including 2312 and Aurora, Robinson also dispelled the notion that his sci-fi works exist in a kind of "shared universe", instead each is meant to be a different view of a fanciful, if possible, future.

Oh, and you should know that New York 2140—a moving portrait of urban life and revolution involving an ensemble of relatable characters from all walks of life—is not nearly as far-fetched as we'd like it to be. Climate change is, after all, really changing our shores, and even the most conservative consensus projection is that the mean global sea level will rise by 1.3-2 feet (0.4-0.6 meters) by the year 2100.

So if anything, New York 2140 is less a sci-fi novel than it is a thoughtful, realistic portrait of an exceedingly plausible future.