Free books The Gold Coast: Three Californias –

Southern California Is A Developer S Dream Gone Mad, An Endless Sprawl Of Condos, Freeways, And Malls Jim McPherson, The Affluent Son Of A Defense Contractor, Is A Young Man Lost In A World Of Fast Cars, Casual Sex, And Designer Drugs But His Descent Into The Shadowy Underground Of Industrial Terrorism Brings Him Into A Shattering Confrontation With His Family, His Goals, And His Ideals The Gold Coast Is The Second Novel In Robinson S Three Californias Trilogy This book is a good example of what we might say differentiates speculative fiction from science fiction The novel takes place in the 2020s in Orange County, California Apart from the future setting, however, it is basically a mainstream novel about empty people leading empty lives in a society without values What small futuristic touches Robinson adds to this increased population density, cars that drive on tracks in the road like slot cars, laser defense systems are mostly there as background Robinson writes of what to him would have been Orange County forty years in the future as if it is mostly the same as Orange County in the 1980s, justintensely so Thus, it is interesting to compare his imagined future with our world now In his imagined future, the cold war is still going on, there are still video cassettes and cds as the major means of getting entertainment, people still use telephone answering machines There is no widespread use of cell phones, and there is no internet Reading the book now makes it evenlike a mainstream novel than it was at the time I kept sensing Don DeLillo as an inspiration for the style and subject That might not be the case, but it is the vibe that I kept getting Robinson writes very well He has a knack for getting inside his characters and showing us what they feel I was put off, though, by what seems to me to be too many repetitious scenes of drug infused parties I also find Jim McPherson s wimpy self destructiveness annoyingthan anything else So, my quibbles about this book are not with how Robinson writes, because he is very good at what he does, but with the subjects of that writing. The dystopia that is oh so nearly true Late stage capitalism inhabited with unhappy people stuck in late childhood Friends with angst, Breaking Bad withfun This is what happens when you have let it rip capitalism hooked on military spending and development for development s sake.KSR Kim Stanley Robinson engages the reader with a story that eventually picks upnarrative energy in the second half of the book as Jim s the main character world starts to seriously unravel Jim has charismatic, hedonistic friends with an unlimited drug supply in a time of uninhibited sex Sounds like paradise except that few have a real job and those that do are crushed by it The theme that KSR often comes back to is how the land affects the people and the people affect the land is a very big part of this novel A sense of place is something I appreciateandin all the stories that I watch and read The OC Orange County is alternately viewed in awe or disgust or pity It is always there though, not quite a protagonist but an entity with a past and a present. so very familiar, close to the surface, lived in the emotional life of robinson s characters are too close for comfortthan anything it reminds me of dark early mornings after a show at kpft with big jesus trash can winding out the over caffeinated state of afairs by driving around the 610 loop in houston, windows open, music blarimg, at the speed of progress, these concrete ribbons beneath the wheels, racing towards dawn while the city lights shined on crazy diamonds, and streams of pale smoke were snatched from inside the racing car it makes me long for the mist cloaked cascadian mountains on the olympic peninsula, hiking out of their evergreen shrouded paths to a set of hot springs above a racing river my teenage self mourning the terror that the yellow dinosaurs of construction sites leave behind, the scars of ripped scourged earth, as remains of their work. Not cyberpunk or dystopian in the strictest senses of either term but only by a matter of degree It s not about corporate assassins and cybernetic ninja It s a story about a near future Orange County and a few guys who have been friends since high school a part time teacher and amateur historian failed poet, a paramedic, a real estate developer, a surfer who lives largely off the grid, and an illegal drug designer The book is also about the history of Orange County and Southern California and that of the American military industrial complex aerospace industry via one character s father who is involved in the development of attack drones and space based missile defense systems as well as a subplot involving anti war activists attacks on weapons development facilities This book came out slightly before the final collapse of the Soviet Union, so, although the characters live in a generally wealthy and privileged culture, the shadow of the Cold War and the potential of WWIII and American military involvement including the draft across the globe Burma, Indonesia, Bahrain, Thailand, Pakistan, Turkey, etc hangs over them The technology is also interesting mix recreational psychotropic drugs with highly specific effects are common and taken via eye dropper Most people have home video cameras and multiple large screen playback in most rooms, but the images are still recorded on magnetic tape cassettes Police wear infrared sensors that allow them to track suspects footprints Electric cars are the norm, computer guided on tracks with drivers simply punching in their destinations But the world is still one that is very close to our own Making allowances for events that occurred between 1988 and the present, it s still a very believable future.