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The Gold Coast: Three Californias (Wild Shore Triptych) Paperback – May 15, 1995

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This fine, bleak look at Orange County, Calif., owes more to 1984 and A Clockwork Orange than to the usual SF scenario. By 2067, the land between L.A. and San Diego County is a maze of gigantic shopping malls, "condomundos" and huge aerospace facilities, all joined by soaring, multilevel "autopias" that have paved over practically everything. Brushfire wars and famines are widespread, nuclear terror reigns and the business of America is weaponry. The narrative concerns young Jim McPherson's attempts to be a poet and his stabs at revolutionary action. His father is trying to make a tactical, nonnuclear missile that will end war, and Jim's best friends (drug-dealer Sandy, nightsurfer Tashi, emergency medic Abe) seek to avoidburnout and ennui. Some thingscorporate greed, Pentagon politicshaven't changed much. Improvements have been made (cars run on electronic tracking), and some changes are acidly funny: most people watch multiple video images of their love-making. Interspersed in the story are elegiac views of the history of "OC" and its possible grim future. Robinson (Planet on the Table, The Memory of Whiteness) offers a stark cautionary tale with a glimmer of hope at the end.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


What a bold, manic, wonderful book this is! (Los Angeles Times)

A rich, brave book . . . It celebrates, with an earned and elated refusal of despair, the persistent, joyful survival of human persons in the interstices of the American juggernaut. (The Washington Post)

Like light focused into coherent beam, The Gold Coast brilliantly illuminates the craziness of technology out of control. (Interzone)
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Product Details

  • Series: Wild Shore Triptych (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Orb Books; Reprint edition (May 15, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312890370
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312890377
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #402,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kim Stanley Robinson is a winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards. He is the author of eleven previous books, including the bestselling Mars trilogy and the critically acclaimed Fifty Degrees Below, Forty Signs of Rain, The Years of Rice and Salt, and Antarctica--for which he was sent to the Antarctic by the U.S. National Science Foundation as part of their Antarctic Artists and Writers' Program. He lives in Davis, California.

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Gerald J. Nora on September 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
To judge from some of the other reviews of this book, many read The Gold Coast expecting more of Robinson's excellent adventure-SF, like the magnificent Mars Trilogy or Antarctica. Those expectations are understandable but do this great book a disservice.
The setting is Orange County in the middle of the 21st Century, with the USSR and the Cold War alive and well. Orange County has largely disappeared into a maze of highways and strip malls. The protagonist, Jim, is a twenty-something still dependent on his parents, who dabbles in Zen, post-modern poetry, works at an insurance agency and teaches night classes at a local community college. He cannot concentrate on anything for too long and tends to see other people as characters in a novel who come and go at random: when Jim's dad taught him about engine mechanics, Jim is interested and sees how the thermodynamics involved can be a metaphor for society, but then he promptly forgets it. When he visits his uncle Tom in a massive retirement home, he is fascinated by the lonely old man's storys of how Orange County used to be and resolves to spend more time with him, but as soon as the visit ends, he gets the heeby-jeebies about the retirement complex and ignores his uncle until he's obligated to visit again. He is in a relationship showing signs of becoming serious, but betrays his girlfriend for a random hook-up with a girl at a party. When Jim's friends tell him that his ex's heart was broken by the betray, he is surprised and rather indifferent.
Eventually Jim realizes how hollow he is and his first attempt to find meaning is to get involved with some saboteurs trying to end America's huge military-industrial complex.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book continues KSR's musings on one of his favorite places, Orange County, California. The main protagonist, Jim, is a twenty- or thirty-something in search of a cause. In fact he's a bit of a Gen-Xer. The setting of an OC thoroughly covered in concrete and highway forces Jim to search for deeper meaning, which he does via reading history, digging up parking lots, writing poetry, and "lidding" psychotropic drugs with his pals. Oh yeah, he also plays around with various women, none of them really compelling his (or our) interest. In short, he's a rather self-centered idealist (?) who gets so caught up in his own world, he cares less than he should about his family and friends. Not an uncommon phenomenon, particularly among Gen-Xers, one might claim.
In any case, the plot thickens as Jim gets involved in the underworld of anti-military-industrial complex sabotage. We realize some personal cataclysm's inevitable, as Jim's own father develops high-precision munitions a la the Strategic Defense Initiative (the book was written in the 1980s). We follow Jim, his dad, and Jim's pals as they work, play, and blow up various weapons plants. The plot ends with something of an epiphany for Jim - a rather postmodern one. Postmodern, because it leaves that empty, "existential" or "what does it all mean" feeling in the reader that people who chronically wear black, smoke cigarettes, and inhabit coffeehouses so like to affect. We hope that Jim makes a turn for the better.
Be that as it may, there are more than a few telling passages that leave their impression. KSR has developed the skill of capturing the moment - and the observer's reflections thereon - beyond the level of most modern writers.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Shepherd VINE VOICE on January 20, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book does not have any big bangs or soaring flights of imagination, instead it is a very straight forward linear extrapolation of trends present in the mid-eighties involving the military-industrial complex and the urbanization of America. Both trends have had some deviations from that straight line in the years since this was written, but that does not invalidate the main focus of this book, that of not only how an individual can make a difference in the world around him, but why he should try to make that difference.
Jim, the prime protagonist, is a much conflicted individual, who really has not found out what he really believes is right or what he should do with his life. Involved in a seemingly endless round of parties with his friends, having no serious commitment to his lady friend, holding two desultory part-time jobs that he has no enthusiasm for, considering himself to be a writer with a strong interest in the history of Orange County but without any finished product he thinks is good, and still partially dependent on his parents for support, he is a prime target for suggestion and peer pressure to define his actions. When one of his friends suggests that he should actually do something to change the domination of the country by the military-industrial complex, he jumps at the chance, and soon finds himself involved in industrial sabotage. His father, in the meantime, is also fighting the same war, but from a completely different perspective of an engineer actively employed by that same complex, trying to find a technical solution to the MAD arms-race.
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