using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Lions Roar : September 2012
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2012 61 every time a character solves one problem it creates another. That way, there’s always a challenge that characters are working on. “ This is very much like life,” says Groner, “like samsara.” The action-packed storyline may have been a departure from Groner’s original idea for Exiles, but one element, at least, has remained the same: the theme of science meeting Buddhism. In the finished book, the science angle manifests as Peter, the Ameri- can doctor with a background in biology, while the Buddhist angle manifests as a Tibetan lama. Peter and the lama meet in Nepal, and their conversations challenge Peter to think deeply about issues such as evolution, the mind, and the nature of existence. “Writing from a spiritual perspective can be tricky,” says Groner. “You want to be true to your interests and experiences, but you never want to turn your work into propaganda. It’s important to remember that your job is to write, not proselytize.” Although Exiles deals with Buddhism, Groner is primarily focused on telling human stories and revealing how people are led by their foibles to some sort of crisis and then to understanding. “This,” he says, “is what all storytellers do, regardless of whether they have spiritual inclinations or not.” Groner occasionally experiments with magical realism, but these days he does so sparingly. Despite his admiration for writ- ers such as Gabriel García Márquez, Groner feels that, as a reader, unearthly happenings engage his skepticism and pull him out of a narrative. Magical realism, Groner says, can “distance the reader from the real human experience unfolding on the page.” “Real” is not a word that Groner hesitates to use when describ- ing fiction, because, for him, fiction requires relentless honesty. As he puts it: “The revision process not only involves looking at structural issues, such as information release, rhythm, and tone. It also involves relentlessly ferreting out anything dishonest in the writing, by which I mean anything that is not how things are in real life.” Groner often hears writers claim that writing is their medita- tion. But in his opinion, these two activities are distinct. Writing, for him, is more like a waking dream—the writer is following the story that he or she is creating. Meditation, on the other hand, is much more open and free. Yet Groner says there is one way writ- ing and meditation are the same, and that’s the flow they share, the way they both make you lose track of time. “Writing and meditation are compatible,” says Groner. “Any- one who’s tried to sit quietly for periods of time knows the fan- tastical capabilities that get unleashed when all you’re looking for is quiet. I sometimes keep a little pad and pen with me so that if I get a good idea I can jot it down and forget about it, because oth- erwise I try to hang on to it and it becomes extremely distracting. “Sitting practice relaxes and opens my mind, and this allows for free play of the imagination that can be conducive to writing.” “LITERATURE IS MY RELIGION,” says Kim Stanley Robin- son. “The novel is my way of making sense of things.” He doesn’t meditate, nor does he call himself a Buddhist. Nonetheless, he’s quick to acknowledge that Buddhism has had a profound impact on him and his writing. Zen philosophy, in particular, has taught him to stay in the moment, to pay attention to the natural world, and to ground himself in work. In interviews he frequently speaks of the Zen rubric “chop wood, carry water” and claims that it could just as easily be “run five miles, write five pages.” In Zen, according to Robinson, there is ritual in daily activities— gardening, washing dishes, looking after little children. “This puts a spark into things, a glow around them,” he tells me. “It gives a meaning to life that I appreciate very much.” Robinson is best known for his science fiction trilogy about terra- forming Mars: Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars. Buddhism does not play an obvious role in these titles. It does, however, in his alternative history novel, The Years of Rice and Salt, and in his series about climate change, which kicks off with Forty Signs of Rain. The Years of Rice and Salt is a re-imagining of the Black Death and its aftermath. According to history, the plague wiped out a third of Europe’s population; then Europe recovered from the loss and colonized large pockets of the globe. But what if the plague had wiped out 99 percent of all Europeans instead? Per- haps, Robinson posits, Buddhism and Islam would have become the two most influential world religions. The Years of Rice and Salt Kim Stanley Robinson’s new novel 2312 is an epic story of interplanetary love and strife.