Kim Stanley Robinson is one of the science fiction writers I have read throughout my reading life. He joins Octavia Butler, Greg Bear, and Robert Silverberg as the science fiction writers I have found interesting and thought provoking to read.
Pacific Edge is the third book of The Three Californias Trilogy and a book that can read as a standalone novel. I have read the Mars Trilogy (Red, Green, & Blue Mars) and Aurora by Robinson. This novel is my second favorite Robinson novel behind Aurora.
It is the story of El Modena, California, a minor city in 2065 trying to create an ecotopia. Kevin Claiborne has lived his entire in El Modena and wants to preserve the way of life that has been established for all of its citizens. However, the forces of hypercapitialism want to transform the city’s idyllic way of life.
Robinson has a strong liberal viewpoint that comes through the novel. But I found his storytelling trumps the political and social agenda transparent in the novel. Utopian fiction gets a bad rap for not having much conflict. He makes sure that conflict exists despite the attempts of making El Modena a model city in California that has been changed by the outside forces of politics.
I have read all three novels of the California Trilogy and liked them. Pacific Edge is the one book of the trilogy that I would re-read again and have kept on my bookshelf along with Aurora. This novel is more character driven than the usual hard science fiction novel.
I believe that Pacific Edge is a book that should be read in book clubs for those who don’t like science fiction. Robinson creates solid characters in the story and presents a worldview that deserves further examination.