Kim Stanley Robinson

The Lucky Strike

Combining dazzling speculation with a profoundly humanist vision, Kim Stanley Robinson is known as not only the most literary but also the most progressive (read “radical”) of today’s top rank SF authors. His bestselling Mars Trilogy tells the epic story of the future colonization of the red planet, and the revolution that inevitably follows. The Years of Rice and Salt is based on a devastatingly simple idea: If the medieval plague had wiped out all of Europe, what would our world look like today? His novel Galileo’s Dream is a stunning combination of historical drama and far-flung space opera, in which the ten dimensions of the universe itself are rewoven to ensnare history’s most notorious torturers.

“The Lucky Strike,” the classic and controversial story Robinson has chosen for PM’s Outspoken Authors series, begins on a lonely Pacific island, where a crew of untested men are about to take off in an untried aircraft with a deadly payload that will change our world forever. Until something goes wonderfully wrong …

Plus: “A Sensitive Dependence on Initial Conditions,” in which Robinson dramatically deconstructs “alternate history” to explore what might have been if things had gone differently over Hiroshima that day. As with all Outspoken Author books, there is a deep interview and autobiography: at length, in-depth, no-holds-barred, and all-bets-off: an extended tour though the mind and work, the history and politics of our Outspoken Author. Surprises are promised.
115 printed pages
Original publication
PM Press



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    furtazahas quoted7 months ago
    There are few covering laws. Initial conditions are never fully known. The butterfly may be on the wing, it may be crushed underfoot. You are flying toward Hiroshima.
    furtazahas quoted7 months ago
    At the moment of choice, then, signals fly through a neural network that has been shaped over a lifetime into a particular and unique structure. Some signals are conscious, others are not. According to Roger Penrose, during the process of decision quantum effects in the brain take over, allowing a great number of parallel and simultaneous computations to take place; the number could be extraordinarily large, 10 to the 21st power or more. Only at the intrusion of the “observation,” that is to say a decision, do the parallel computations resolve back into a single conscious thought.
    And in the act of deciding, the mind attempts the work of the historian: breaking the potential events down into their component parts, enumerating conditions, seeking covering laws that will allow a prediction of what will follow from the variety of possible choices. Alternative futures branch like dendrites away from the present moment, shifting chaotically, pulled this way and that by attractors dimly perceived. Probable outcomes emerge from those less likely.
    And then, in the myriad clefts of the quantum mind, a mystery: the choice is made. We have to choose, that is life in time. Some powerful selection process, perhaps aesthetic, perhaps moral, perhaps practical (survival of the thinker), shoves to consciousness those plans that seem safest, or most right, or most beautiful, we do not know; and the choice is made. And at the moment of this observation the great majority of alternatives disappear without trace, leaving us in our asymptotic freedom to act, uncertainly, in time’s asymmetrical flow.
    furtazahas quoted7 months ago
    are always growing; intensely in the first five years, then steadily thereafter.
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