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Angry Optimism: Climate Disaster and Restoration in Kim Stanley Robinson’s Alternate Futures

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The Palgrave Handbook of Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literature and Science

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Abstract

Focusing on Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140, 2312, and especially Aurora, this chapter shows how fiction can link human social structures and larger ecologies while rejecting both permanent despair and cruel optimism. Showing how Robinson’s indignation about our climate emergency drives his focus on economic exploitation and species extinctions, the essay investigates the increasingly complex human–animal–A.I. hybrids appearing across his corpus and considers how his advocacy of rewilding dovetails with contemporary climate policy. Relying on both concrete realism and subtler allegory, these novels prepare readers for climate devastation that spans many decades, features painful splits, and demands bold maneuvers. They invite readers to empathize with climate victims both familiar and distant and to pursue long-term transformations, not rhetorical band-aids.

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Hamner, E. (2020). Angry Optimism: Climate Disaster and Restoration in Kim Stanley Robinson’s Alternate Futures. In: Ahuja, N., et al. The Palgrave Handbook of Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literature and Science. Palgrave Handbooks of Literature and Science. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-48244-2_25

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