The Lucky Strike

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Lucky Strike by Kim Stanley Robinson.

Robinson The Lucky Strike

This slim book includes the eponymous novella “The Lucky Strike,” a closely-related essay “Sensitive Dependence on Initial Conditions,” and an interview with author Kim Stanley Robinson by Terry Bisson. I would totally recommend it as a chaser for anyone who has just finished Robinson’s The Years of Rice and Salt and can’t stop thinking about it. (Not that further ideas on those lines will stop anyone thinking.) The story and the essay deal with philosophy of history, and the evolving understanding of the relationship between chance and determinism, under the sign of non-linear dynamics and its “strange attractors,” as well as the relationship of all of this business to any understanding of free will.

The interview was entertaining, and reassured me that despite the prominence of Robinson’s scientific curiosity and social conscience, his ambitions as a writer are primarily literary. I especially enjoyed his angry rejoinder to those who object to the expository elements of his style: “go read Moby Dick, Dostoevsky, Garcia Marquez, Jameson, Bakhtin, Joyce, Sterne–learn a little bit about what fiction can do, and then come back to me when you’re done. That would be never, and I could go about my work in peace” (87).