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Arbie's Unoriginally Titled Book Blog

It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.

Currently reading

The Delirium Brief
Charles Stross
Progress: 106/368 pages
Ack-Ack Macaque
Gareth L. Powell
Progress: 249/792 pages
Introduction to Topology
Bert Mendelson
Progress: 10/224 pages
Isaac Newton
James Gleick
Progress: 32/289 pages
Basics of Plasma Astrophysics
Claudio Chiuderi, Marco Velli
Progress: 58/250 pages
Ursula K. Le Guin: The Complete Orsinia: Malafrena / Stories and Songs (The Library of America)
Brian Attebery, Ursula K. Le Guin
Progress: 468/700 pages
A Student's Guide to Lagrangians and Hamiltonians
Patrick Hamill
Progress: 7/180 pages
Complete Poems, 1904-1962
E.E. Cummings
Progress: 242/1102 pages
The Complete Plays and Poems
E.D. Pendry, J.C. Maxwell, Christopher Marlowe
Gravitation (Physics Series)
Kip Thorne;Kip S. Thorne;Charles W. Misner;John Archibald Wheeler;John Wheeler
Progress: 48/1215 pages
Pacific Edge - Kim Stanley Robinson

This is the second of the "Three Californias" series that I've read and it represents a huge improvement over the dull The Gold Coast, which probably would have put me off KSR forever if it had been the first book I'd read by him.

The Three Californias are really Three Orange Counties - three near future visions of what a place beloved to the author could turn out like. Gold Coast is an extrapolation of current trends toward money over everything, particularly environment. This is a "Utopia"; the one I haven't read is post-nuclear holocaust. But "Three Orange Counties" is probably not as internationally marketable a title as "Three Californias"... This was back in the days of KSR's optimism, when he thought presenting a choice of futures to people might help. Look at how strident he became when he realised that wasn't going to work: Forty Signs of Rain etc. And how depressed he became when that didn't work, either: Galileo's Dream. Gold Coast, here we come.

"Utopia" is in quotes because the point is that whilst this is KSR's optimistic view of how things could turn out, where corporate power is severely limited, the environment is a paramount concern and nobody owns a car as an individual, KSR recognises the will to power within humanity and that the fight against it would have to never stop. That struggle, in microcosm, is the plot of the story - to save an undeveloped hill from organised powers intent on re-asserting control illegally.

It's also a love-story. This aspect of the novel was particularly well done; I don't off-hand remember relating so directly to the descriptions of the emotional state of the protagonist during his love-pangs in any other novel.

There is one flaw, though; KSR's obsession with baseball (strictly soft-ball, in this case) is over-indulged. Indulging it at all being an over-indulgement in my view because the only thing I find more boring in sport than watching baseball is reading about it.