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A dark utopian vision, narrated from the vantage point of the year 2000, of a shell-shocked planet living under the pall of potential nuclear conflict, muddling toward a safer world of loosely linked independent and self-reliant villages based on ""green machines."" Green machines are engineered systems using biotechnologies to create food, energy and other goods and services. Greenhouses, artificial seed-making and the harnessing of microorganisms to turn organic wastes into combustible gas are examples of green systems, which by definition are based on sunlight, carbon dioxide, water and other ubiquitous materials available to people everywhere. According to Calder, green machines can not only increase prosperity in the Third World but also help the industrialized world avoid or even survive a nuclear war. Calder sees ordinary people recognizing the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of present-day politics, turning their backs on national leaders and leaving vulnerable cities for rural areas to make their own living arrangements, using green technologies. Rejecting the nation-state is key; nuclear weapons, he says, have rendered them dangerous and indefensible, indeed a threat to human survival. In the nuclear era, the only safe alternative is a decentralized political system such as that of the Swiss, whose voluntary confederation of self-governing communes has enabled them to remain neutral and free from invasion through two world wars. Conflicts wouldn't end, but the risk of a worldwide catastrophe would be dramatically reduced. Calder's ideas are provocative. Unfortunately, his writing lacks the clarity and power of an Orwell or the easy charm of an Ernest Callenbach.

Pub Date: Nov. 17th, 1986
Publisher: Putnam