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Ernest Callenbach
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3.61  ·  Rating Details ·  3,106 Ratings  ·  379 Reviews
"Ecotopia was founded when northern California, Oregon & Washington seceded from the Union to create a "stable-state" ecosystem: the perfect balance between human beings and the environment. Now, twenty years later, the isolated, mysterious Ecotopia welcomes its first officially sanctioned American visitor: New York Times-Post reporter Will Weston. Like a modern Gulliv ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 0 pages
Published December 1st 1982 by Bantam Books (NY) (first published 1975)
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Kelly H. (Maybedog)
Jan 25, 2009 Kelly H. (Maybedog) rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: what-sf, abandoned
I'm a die-hard lefty and I still think this is a terrible book. It's poorly written, biased, and short-sighted propaganda. I read as much of it as I could before I just had to throw it down in disgust, and this was at a time when I was young enough believe I had to finish every book that I read. For decades this was the only book I couldn't finish.

It's really not even worth my time to review thoroughly so I'll give you just one example of how stupid and ill-conceived it is: The people are envir
Mar 09, 2009 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most important books ever written -- no joke. Callenbach, writing in the early-mid 1970s, imagines that Washington, Oregon, and Northern California have seceded from the Union to form Ecotopia, a new nation based on "stable-state" (today, we call it "sustainable") practices in manufacturing, agriculture, construction, transportation -- the whole gamut.

Some of Callenbach's ideas are dated, and feel like they should have been -- and were -- left behind in the 70s. This is a nov
Apr 17, 2007 ryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: revolutionaries
fun because it takes place mostly in the San Fransico bay area, this is an increadible vision of the future for people who have ever had a dream of living sustainably. California, Oregon, and Washington, seccede from the USA and become their own country. after 20 years of no contact and a small defensive battle for independence (hard to hear for pacificts that this is probably what would happen), a reporter from the East part of the remaining USA visits "Ecotopia" (the name of the new nation), t ...more
May 14, 2012 Terence rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Utopian/dystopian genre fans
Shelves: sf-fantasy
I went into Ecotopia not expecting much in the way of serious character studies or deeds of derring-do. What I expected was a typical utopian/dystopian novel where the author focuses on describing the virtues or faults of their imagined society at the relative expense of all else; and I wasn’t disappointed.

I was pleasantly surprised, however, at how well the novel read.

It’s constructed as a series of articles and diary entries written by William Weston, the first American (officially) allowed to
Mike (the Paladin)
Dec 02, 2010 Mike (the Paladin) rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
It would be very easy to make fun of this book, but I shall do my best to refrain from that. It would be like the proverbial shooting of fish in a barrel. Also, I'm sure that this book means a lot to many well meaning people. So... "bear" with me.

I suppose the book (for me) might be summed up in 3 words, "oh come on." From the opening scenes where our story teller rides in a "green" eco-friendly wooden train car, as everyone passes around legal marijuana and we see the people of Ecotopia wearing
Apr 04, 2008 Rico rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story as told by a reporter from the remaining United States visiting Ecotopia -- the seceded northwest bio-region of Northern California, Oregon, and Washington -- after 20 years of isolationism. His objective skepticism is quickly eroded by this green Utopian playground in which respect for living things is the society's primary value.

A bit naive. It is like Callenbach paved the way for our current silly belief in green capitalism. The message: We can do everything we do now in more or les
Feb 15, 2009 Tim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, formative
Northern California, Oregon, and Washington secede from the US. What's not to like? Five stars for imagination, given that this was written back in the 70s. This is a flawed masterpiece, an original vision that sticks to the inside of your head (OK my head) for decades. Callenbach shows us an alternative to the corporate- and profit-dominated world we live in now. Having read the book, I can't hear pundits talk about rising GDP and the need to increase our standard of living without wondering wh ...more
Jan 04, 2015 Fil rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dystopia
Terrible, just terrible. Demeaning to men and women alike, very dated with racist and sexist overtones, seemed written by a pre-pubescent idiot with zero understanding of basic human emotions and motivations – with very little political and economic acumen to boot. This fool equates superficial sex to deep feelings, likens it to true love and thinks a strong, powerful woman would tolerate being raped (and is glib about it), disgusting!

Almost everything here is a stereotype of some kind (70s styl
Nuno Ribeiro
This is a jewel. A good friend offered me a worn out paperback, that was probably read by many people. Mine was already read by others. It is good to get a hold of utopian scenarios. This stories makes this utopia feel real. And why shouldn't we dream of a better world? It is interesting the way it was constructed. An outsider visits Ecotopia for the first time since it was created. A visitor from the USA. Ecotopia is a new country, its territorry consists of Northen California, Oregon and Washi ...more
Aug 27, 2007 Headphonerecord rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
The great thing about this book is it thinks through all your West Coast Succession dreams. There is a lot of fake future trivia you can relate to and all the Eco living standards are wonderful to think about. I rate it with a 3 because it is no literary masterpiece but I highly recommend it to anyone who has ever dreamed of West coast succession. Independent Eco living.
Aug 10, 2007 Citra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fictions-novels
a story from the perspective of a journalist who gets permission to enter Ecotopia, a country that was seceded from the US. It is interesting to read a story of how people life in harmony with nature from a different view from what we have now. A must read.
Sep 16, 2015 Monica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you have read (as I have) Charles Eisenstein's "The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible"; If you are tired of living in "the world of Separation" and long for living in "a world of Reunion"; if you wonder what that world might actually look and feel like - have a look at one man's vision of it by reading "Ecotopia."

The book was written in 1975 and it reminds me that, as bad as I think inequality is today between the sexes and the (so-called) races of human beings, it was much wo
Michael Scott
I wanted to read Ernest Callenbach's Ecotopia since early 2009. (It took me almost four years to get there.) I had heard about it that it was introducing an utopian society, that it was exploring near-scientific explanations to how a sustainable society can exist, and that it practiced what it preached (the book was printed on-demand, sustained by the demand of interested consumers rather than publishing economics). Having finally read it, I am impressed in the way that I was after having read N ...more
In brief: Ecotopia is a brilliant story illuminating a possible, bright sustainable eco-future where No. Cal, Oregon and Washington secede from 'Merica and are isolated for decades and a NY journalist visits for the first time since secession. The writing is not that great but the story and the vision of a sustainable high quality communal egalitarian life is brilliant. A must read for minds open to fighting for and having a sustainable, enjoyable life based upon sharing and enjoying Earth. Amon ...more
Fordon James
Mar 24, 2011 Fordon James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading Ecotopia today is like watching men trying to invent a flying machine by flapping big finely crafted wings, as they did so for hundreds of years. Man can't fly that way! We are too much dead weight, we have to have a fixed wing and lots of power. We have to fire our jets against gravity. We need power, not a carapace of balsa wood and a bag of feathers. But oh, do I wish it weren't so! Ecotopia is hard evidence that good solutions only go as far as the people with good sense can carry th ...more
May 22, 2016 Rob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
...Ecotopia is very much a novel of its time. I suspect that if it had been published as little as five years later it would have sunk like a stone. This is likely true for many successful novels though. As a novel I wouldn't rate it too highly. The characterization in particular is not very well done. His struggle is obvious from the beginning and not particularly well portrayed. The society Callenbach describes, despite the obvious problems with it, is a fascinating one though. I can see why p ...more
Mar 31, 2017 Avery rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hmm. I have mixed feelings about this book. Overall, it presented some interesting ideas and concepts, but I would say that Ernest Callenbach took an easy, whitewashed way out when it came to presenting how racial harmony coexists in Ecotopian society. spoiler alert: (view spoiler)
Read this soooo long ago.

Good points I recall: the author presents an intriguing list of social, economic, environmental and technological changes that add up to, more or less, a progressive liberal fantasyland.

Bad points I recall: the political upheaval that made the forgoing possible was implausible at the time, but worse was that the same inventory, above — which was the raison d'etre for the novel — also became tiresome. Think of it as a staged tour of a Potemkin village. Time after time, ev
The Pacific Northwest secedes and forms a new country, Ecotopia, based on a sustainable steady-state model rather than the perpetual-growth model that is capitalism. A journalist from the U.S. visits Ecotopia and writes columns on various aspects of Ecotopis: education, health care, working habits, sex, etc. The book's 1970s roots show through in places, particularly in race and gender attitudes, but taken all in all it's an interesting piece of work. The book alternates between the narrator's p ...more
Yesterday's Muse Bookstore
An intriguing premise ably realized. Ecotopia explores what would happen if the American Northwest seceded from the United States to form a liberal, environmentally conscious country. Many of the specific ideas proposed are quite innovative, and the society as a whole is thought out well enough that this country seems to be not only an ideal, but a real possibility.

The technique of portraying the new community through the eyes of an American reporter is a good choice, as it allows the author to
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Geoffrey Benn
“Ecoptopia”, a utopian fiction by Ernest Callenbach, describes a future United States where most of the West Coast has seceded and formed a new country called Ecotopia. The book takes the form of diary entries and newspaper articles, written by Will Weston, the first American allowed into Ecotopia in the twenty years following succession. Throughout the book, Will describes the functioning of various aspects of Ecotopia, along with his increasing integration into Ecotopian society. The book clea ...more
Regina Durst
This book may be full of environmentalist propaganda, and it at come across as idealistic and erring on the side of fantasy. And I have to agree that this may be true. In this day and age. I do not see any major upheaval of our society happening like this. Washington, Oregon, and California, although arguably more environmentally conscious than the rest of America will likely never secede from the rest of the country, and people will likely never want to give up their technology.
But say that it
Callenbach's is an interesting vision of a future utopia in which sustainability is key. His book was written in the 1970s and parts of his imaginings have come to fruition. There are a lot of other books of this type and though many are not explicitly about environmentalism, many (if not all of them) are better than this one. The two main strikes against this book are 1) the uninteresting and unlike-able protagonist, Will Weston, who is a a pretty conventional and sexist guy, and who doesn't re ...more
Nov 26, 2008 Anderse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Pretty much everyone
Coincidentally, I choose to re-read this for the first time since college (early 90s) a week before it was profiled in the NYT. I always
knew I was a trendsetter.

I'm a sucked for fake journals/ article type books. I even wrote my own in junior high as if I was stranded on a desert island and only had Campbell Soup labels to write on. Turned it in rolled up in a soda bottle. Anyway, on with the review.

This book MUST be read in the context of original publication date" 1975.
Both the crazy ass se
Jun 09, 2010 Grace rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Pacific Northwesterners, people who are interested in unrealistic sustainability ;)
I definitely enjoyed this book. It was probably not the best thing for me to read, because it was easy, especially in the first half, to get swept away with the ideas.

It went a little downhill at the end, I thought, when it stopped just painting a portrait of this ideal, sustainable lifestyle and started seeming like a whole other planet with magical people. The whole part with the hospital seemed ridiculous and totally unbelievable, though neat - the way I felt about doctors using chocolate as
May 19, 2011 Kevin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Certainly a thought provoking, idealistic, hippie fantasy. Most of it is interesting, but it gets a little mundane when the author details industrial processes, etc. Parts of it made me think of Avatar and the Hunger Games. It also incorporated a lot of Western European and Ecuadorian ideas of people being more connected to each other and less stressed out. It's interesting that a lot of these ideas came from 1975, but it's too bad that the Reagan era shot down a lot of environmentalist ideas. S ...more
Rob Springer
Aug 23, 2009 Rob Springer rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is about how the West Coast, that bastion of enlightenment, manages to break away from the rest of the Union. Callenbach was apparently as ignorant of history as Governor Rick Perry.

Ah, but that isn't the intentional/unintentional irony. It's that I couldn't be sure if Ecotopia was supposed to be a Utopia or a Dystopia. I think the former, and to me that was the irony. For this ecologically perfect community of free hot tub love is the heavy hand of the State. Those who didn't fit into thi
Aug 26, 2009 Kyla rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read most of this one a while ago, and, despite being a lifelong environmentalist, I just couldn't finish it (and I almost always finish books). I'd be tempted to give it fewer stars if it were fresh in my memory, but I want to be fair.

I'd be interested in a reread now that I'm more versed in environmental studies and feminism, but I can't muster the enthusiasm to pick it back up. One reviewer reminded us that it was written in the 1970s and should be read with that in mind, but I have a hard ti
Jake Forbes
35 years after it was first published, this eco/new age/sci-fi classic is a mixed bag of prescient wisdom and cloying hippy optimism. The narrator's articles about Ecotopian society generally hold up very well as social allegory, but the more personal journal entries don't fare quite as well as the narrator, William Weston, just isn't a very likable or interesting character.

Kim Stanley Robinson and Margaret Atwood, amongst others, have since done far better eco-centric social sci-fi works since
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What's The Name o...: SOLVED California secedes & avoids WW III [s] 8 131 Jan 08, 2013 06:15AM  
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