Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Defining Robinson’s ‘2312,’ Part 2

In which I continue to define some terms that Kim Stanley Robinson uses in his new novel, 2312.

terrarium, p. 36: a small, usually dry habitat, usually decorative. Here, a Terran biome created on a large scale, often inside a hollowed-out asteroid, starting with an empty cylinder at least five kilometers in diameter and ten kilometers long.

Ascensions, p. 38: mixing up Terran biomes to create a new hybrid. Named for Ascension Island, the first hybrid biome, inadvertently started by Charles Darwin after his visit in 1836. (BBC News story and Wikipedia link.)

Accelerando, p. 40: A period of rapid change across a spectrum of issues, including technological progress, social progress, and economic advancement as human civilization spreads across the solar system. Robinson is borrowing the term from his novel, Blue Mars (1996).

Archilochus, p. 60: a Greek poet of the Archaic period, noted for fault-finding and stinging attacks. (Wikipedia link.)

Lake Vostok, p. 62: the largest sub-glacial lake in Antarctica, similar in size to Lake Ontario. The water in the lake has been isolated and undisturbed for at least 400,000 years and perhaps millions of years. In 2012 a Russian scientific team claims to have completed drilling over 12,000 feet through the ice shield to reach the lake and take samples. Scientists hope to find ancient forms of life. Controversy has surrounded the project and the drilling techniques. Critics suggest the drilling will compromise the habitat and contaminate results. (Wikipedia link.)

Deinococcus radiodurans, p. 64: extremophilic bacterium, one of the most radioresistant organisim known. (Wikipedia link.)

entheogens, p. 80: psychoactive substances such as peyote used in a shamanic or spiritual context. The term entheogen was coined in 1979 by a group of ethnobotanists and scholars of mythology as a replacement for the terms hallucinogen and psychedelic. (Wikipedia link.)

hypotyposis, p. 83: “the visionary imagination of things not present before the eyes.”

bardo, p. 84: a Tibetan term for the “intermediate state” between two lives or incarnations. Robinson used this concept to considerable effect in his novel, The Years of Rice and Salt (2002).

Related links on this blog:
Defining Robinson's '2312,' Part 1
Defining Robinson's '2312,' Part 3
Defining Robinson's '2312,' Part 4


  1. Good ones! My favorite of these is accelerando, because you can hear the music speeding up.

    1. Accelerando is one of my favorites, too. It may even catch on. Charles Stross used it as the title of one of his SF novels.