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The Santaroga Barrier Mass Market Paperback – September 16, 2002

33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Herbert may be one of our major prophets."-The Berkeley Barb

"Herbert is one of the most thought-provoking writers of our time; by focusing on an 'alien' culture, he makes us examine what the true definition of 'human' is."-The Pacific Sun

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About the Author

Frank Herbert's most popular works are the well-known Dune books: Dune, Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, and the extraordinary bestseller God Emperor of Dune.

Scott Brick has recorded over five hundred audiobooks, won over forty AudioFile Earphones Awards, and twice received Audie Awards for his work. Scott was chosen as Publishers Weekly's 2007 Narrator of the Year, and he has been named a Golden Voice by AudioFile magazine. --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (September 16, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765342510
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765342515
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.7 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,931,758 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Frank Herbert (1920-86) was born in Tacoma, Washington and worked as a reporter and later editor of a number of West Coast newspapers before becoming a full-time writer. His first sf story was published in 1952 but he achieved fame more than ten years later with the publication in Analog of Dune World and The Prophet of Dune that were amalgamated in the novel Dune in 1965.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Tim F. Martin on July 19, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
_The Santaroga Barrier_ by Frank Herbert features an odd choice for a hero; Dr. Gilbert Dasein, a psychologist from the University of California at Berkeley, employed to do of all things a market study. Meyer Davidson, agent of a powerful investment corporation, one that owns a chain of retail stores, was upset about what was termed in the marketing world as the "Santaroga Barrier," Santaroga being a small farming community and town located in an idyllic mountain valley in California. Davidson was upset that his corporation - as well as others before him - had failed utterly in selling a variety of products to the people of Santaroga. No on in Santaroga bought cigarettes- those very few that were sold were bought by transients, people stopping in the community's one service station to buy gas - nor did they buy any wine, beer, produce, or cheese brought from outside the valley. The people of Santaroga would only eat vegetables, fruits, cheese, beer, and wine raised or made within the valley. A great many Santarogans worked to produce these items only for local consumption, as they "didn't travel well." The largest of these institutions was the Jaspers Cheese Cooperative, a large factory-like complex that employed many in the little town.

Dasein, with the help of the head of the university's psychology department, Dr. Chami Selador (working outside Santaroga), uncovered a few more interesting facts, notably that outsiders never found a house to rent or buy in the valley, no one moved out, and Santaroga never reported any mental illness, juvenile delinquency, or crime to state officials. All businesses, including the bank and the gas station, were locally owned.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Joanna D. #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 26, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I loved "Dune" of course, but Herbert's other novels are often less know, but really are interesting, too. In particular, I admire "The Santaroga Barrier" because it is set, not in the future, but in a town that could be anywhere today.
"The Santaroga Barrier" is set in a valley town in California. It looks completely normal--life is typically small-town, with small businesses and farms run by the locals. But for some reason, big merchandisers outside the valley cannot sell there. In an age where marketing demographics can tell precisely what brand of car, cigarette, cola or watch you are likely to buy by where you live and your age cohort, this is astounding.
What's also astounding is how Herbert forsees the age of online data-gathering (think, cookies on your browser) and huge mega-merchandisers like W*-mart who control huge blocks of buying power and who drain small towns of dollars that used to circulate and support local businesses.
But that's not the only threatening situation in Santaroga. What is with the "Jaspers" Cheese Co-op (is it a cult?) and why did the previous marketing investigators sent by big business meet with unfortunate accidents? The story that unfolds is fascinating--are the Santarogans just minding their own business, or are they evil in some way, and whose side will you end up on at the end of the book? I really recommend this novel even if you don't like science fiction. It's one of my favorites.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By David Rasquinha on March 16, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The fame of Herbert's Dune series has sadly obscured some of his other science fiction - Santaroga is a prime example. A valley town in California appears to be not just different from the rest of the world around it, but practically on a different planet. It's residents have no interest in the external world or the products it offers - almost an autarky. Driven by a corporate marketing assignment combined with the lure of an old (but strongly flickering) flame, Gilbert Dasein visits the town and finds a bizarre degree of contentment and unity. On the face of it, it is the mysterious Jaspers (akin to the mélange of Dune) that is responsible but Herbert is driving at a larger picture here. Santaroga is almost a collective mind, or a community with a group consciousness. One that thrives in its little pond and fears the vast ocean outside which it strives to hold at arm's length - the barrier of the title. A fascinating read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By William Ferguson on October 1, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Santa Roga barrier is a great piece of writing. Although it wasn't the apparent intention of the writer, it is a particularly good expose of the thinking and inside language of a cult, and the reactions of outsiders to it.

Its also is refreshing in the subtle way it shows us how benign corporatism has invaded every niche of our lives. The corporate market investigations of the Santa Roga valley reminded me of the way Coca Cola pays airlines not to sell competing soft drinks from smaller companies. Why would corporations care they can't penetrate the Santa Roga Valley? The same reasons companies aren't satisfied with 95% of a market.

The Santa Roga barrier is not a mind virus like a cult, but something far more organic and primitive in nature. A great read!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By G. C JONES on February 4, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This short early (1968) novel of Herbert's looks upon a man's investigation into a strange world. Unlike most of his other novels, this one is set quite concretely on earth, within driving distance to Berkeley, CA. The first half is quite freaky and exciting; the second half (typical of Herbert) turns into drudgery with a lack of action and too much emphasis of philosophy; characters talking to themselves, characters giving long-winded speeches, characters dreaming, and characters in drug-induced states. Along the way he raises charges against our modern world, which seem trumped-up even in the fictional version. At the end, the main character seems to lose his willpower, and makes a mind-change which seems unjustified. The love story is not developed at all -- yet it seems strangely realistic. In fact this reader found a strange parallel in this story to his own life, given a choice to enter a world alluring yet terrible. The climax and ending to this novel are, IMHO, rather ambiguous.
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