Teaching Science in the Capital / Green Earth by Kim Stanley Robinson


Amazon links:

  1. Forty Signs of Rain (2004)
  2. Fifty Degrees Below (2005)
  3. Sixty Days and Counting (2007)

(Also published in compressed form as Green Earth in 2015)

Timeline: near future (unspecified)
Setting(s): Washington DC metro area
Climate change, type(s): flooding, freezing, warming, sea level rise, abrupt climate change
Themes: climate science, climate politics, capitalism, permaculture, abrupt climate change, near-future sf
Official Summary (via Kim Stanley Robinson’s website)
The Science In The Capital trilogy consists of three novels by Kim Stanley Robinson that explore the interaction of science and politics in the United States capital, Washington, D.C.. They were also marketed as the Capital Code trilogy and have also been called the 40/50/60 novels. An omnibus edition, but with compressed and amended text, came out under the title Green Earth. Because of their basis in realistic situations, their depiction of topical themes and their setting in a time quasi-concurrent with the present at the time of their writing, they are notable for the sense of urgency that transpires from them. Serious weight is given to the need to tackle climate change on both national policy and international relations levels. They were written during the presidency of George W. Bush, whose ideology and policy-making was opposed to taking any action that was significant enough on these matters.
Secondary Readings, Non-scholarly
Nonfiction & Essays by Kim Stanley Robinson
Reviews & Review Essays
Selected Scholarly Bibliography
  • Buell, Frederick. “Global Warming as Literary Narrative.” Philological Quarterly 93.3 (2014): 261–294.
  • Canavan, Gerry, and Kim Stanley Robinson, eds. “Afterword: Still, I’m Reluctant to Call This Pessimism.” Green Planets: Ecology and Science Fiction. 243-60 Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2014.
  • Cho, K. Daniel. “‘When a Chance Came for Everything to Change’: Messianism and Wilderness in Kim Stanley Robinson’s Abrupt Climate Change Trilogy.” Criticism: A Quarterly for Literature and the Arts 53.1 (2011): 23–51.
  • Hamming, Jeanne. “Nationalism, Masculinity, and the Politics of Climate Change in the Novels of Kim Stanley Robinson and Michael Crichton.” Extrapolation 54.1 (2013): 21+.
  • Johns-Putra, Adeline. “Ecocriticism, Genre, and Climate Change: Reading the Utopian Vision of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Science in the Capital Trilogy.” English Studies: A Journal of English Language and Literature 91.7 (2010): 744–760.
  • Kilgore, De Witt Douglas. “Making Huckleberries: Reforming Science and Whiteness in Science in the Capital.” Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology 20.1-2 (2012): 89–108.
  • Markley, Robert. “‘How to Go Forward’: Catastrophe and Comedy in Kim Stanley Robinson’s Science in the Capital Trilogy.” Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology 20.1-2 (2012): 7–27.
  • Rose, Andrew. “The Unknowable Now: Passionate Science and Transformative Politics in Kim Stanley Robinson’s Science in the Capital Trilogy.” Science Fiction Studies 43.2 (2016): 260–286. JSTOR.

Teaching Resources


A quick slideshow that briefly introduces Kim Stanley Robinson and key concepts for discussion of Forty Signs of Rain:

Classroom Friendly Videos