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Summary

This second book in Kim Stanley Robinson's richly detailed Three Californias Triptych reveals a second, all-too-plausible possible future for Orange County.

North America, 2027. 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 in to the shadowy underground of industrial terrorism brings him into a shattering confrontation with his family, his goals, and his ideals.

The Gold Coast is an epic work of science fiction that explores a grim future and what one man can do to turn the tides.

©2013 Kim Stanley Robinson (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc. and Skyboat Media, Inc.

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  • James
  • 27-07-20

Classic Kim Stanley Robinson poetic mysticism

This book was published over 30 years ago and got a few things right.

It predicts a future of autonomous drones and self-driving cars pretty closely.

Other predictions didn't pan out like changes in the institution of marriage and stalled out progress in the developing world.

It's got compelling characters and delivers on that classic KSR poetic mysticism.

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  • Jeff Koeppen
  • 05-04-21

Not as Good as the First Book in the Triptych

The Gold Coast is book two on KSR's triptych. This story is set in 2027 and Orange County is totally developed, full of shopping malls, sprawling industrial development, massive residential buildings and the autopia - multi-level electric/magnetic roads (built in the "roaring 20s") filled with programmable self-driving cars. It is a concrete jungle. This book was published in 1988 so KSR is projecting technology and world events out ~40 years, some predictions he gets pretty close and some not so much.

Our Californians are still recording things on CDs and video tape, and there isn't a cell phone to be found. Standard old telephones are still in use, so if you don't want to talk to that annoying friends just leave the phone off the hook like we used to. Houses have video walls which serve as computer screens and television screens, very interesting. Young folks take designer drugs via eyedropper and record their sexual encounters for later viewing. The world is an extension of 1988 in that Russia and the US are still in a cold war, and the development of weapons systems similar to Reagan's "Star Wars" is one of the main topics of this novel.

The narrative switches back and forth between Jim McPherson, a disgruntled twenty-something wannabe author who works part-time as an English teacher and spends a lot of time running with the same group of friends, and his dad Dennis McPherson who is an engineer for a major defense contractor which is trying to land the government contract for an advanced Star Wars weapons system. Sprinkled throughout the book, KSR tells of the past and future (1988 to 2027) history of Orange County and how it became the overdeveloped, overpopulated mess that the novel is set in.

In Dennis' timeline we learn all about what life is like at a defense contractor, how bidding and negotiation with the Department of Defense is handled, details about future weapon design, and how Dennis and his company are hoping to put an end to the cold war once and for all. Concurrently, we see the other side of the coin in Jim's timeline as he and his friends are anti-war and are looking for ways to take down companies like the ones his dad works at. Dennis and Jim aren't close and don't see eye to eye during the course of the novel, but their separate plots converge somewhat at the end.

Just like in The Wild Shore there is a very old man named Tom with memories of the past, and in this novel he happens to be Jim's grandpa.

I thought this novel came together nicely at the end, in a similar way the first novel of this triptych did. I liked it but not as much as The Wild Shore.

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  • Rico de Pico
  • 27-04-21

Weaker than book 1

KSR is a poetic stylist and a great plotter, but this book is just not as good as the first in the California trilogy. Also, I don’t care for Rudnicki as a narrator.