THE GOLD COAST by Kim Stanley Robinson


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From the author of The Memory of Whiteness (1985), a slice-of-life drama set in the drugged-out, laid-back, traffic-clogged, overdeveloped Orange County, southern California, of 2067. Young Jim McPherson has two dull, useless part-time jobs, a car he doesn't know how to fix, a female companion (""ally"") he doesn't see anymore, and no future; he writes poems and throws himself into the endless designer-drug and rock-music parties given by his friends. His father Dennis trouble-shoots for Laguna Space Research, a defense contractor, and thinks he's just invented the smart bomb that will make Earth-based wars impossible. Pacifistic, leftish Jim and conservative Dennis argue constantly. Jim decides to become an active protestor and begins to help in the sabotage of weapons factories. Dennis wrestles with two intractable problems. He loses one contract, thanks to behind-the-scenes manipulation at the Pentagon. To win another contract, LSR faked some crucial test results and now finds it can't deliver. Jim finds a new girlfriend, travels to Europe, and decides to write a lament on the history of Orange County. Finally, Jim's attempt to sabotage LSR itself goes disastrously wrong; a friend, designer-druggist Sandy, is nabbed at the same time while trying to recover a huge drug stash. What Jim didn't know is that LSR sponsored him to sabotage its own plant in a vain attempt to cover up its failures and deceit. Dennis loses his job. Nearly all of Robinson's characters are unsympathetic, the present tense narrative doesn't help, and his future scenario fails to convince: we're in the 1980's with few modifications. So this social satire plus ironic remembrance of things past is very Now, very California--and very hard to get involved with.

Pub Date: Feb. 24th, 1987
Publisher: Tor--dist. by St. Martin's