Ecotopia
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Ecotopia

3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  1,954 ratings  ·  261 reviews
A novel both timely and prophetic, Ernest Callenbach’s Ecotopia is a hopeful antidote to the environmental concerns of today, set in an ecologically sound future society. Hailed by the Los Angeles Times as the “newest name after Wells, Verne, Huxley, and Orwell,” Callenbach offers a visionary blueprint for the survival of our planet . . . and our future.

Ecotopia was found...more
ebook, 192 pages
Published December 16th 2009 by Bantam (first published 1975)
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Kelly  Maybedog
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...more
ryan
Apr 17, 2007 ryan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
Richard B
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...more
Rico
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...more
Terence
Jun 05, 2012 Terence rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Tim
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
Headphonerecord
Aug 27, 2007 Headphonerecord rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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.
Mike (the Paladin)
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...more
Citra
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.
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
Richard
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...more
Kayla
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
James
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
Anderse
Dec 18, 2008 Anderse rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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...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...more
Anastasia
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
Grace
Jun 15, 2010 Grace rated it 3 of 5 stars
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...more
Kevin
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
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...more
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...more
Kyla
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...more
Diego González
I've wanted to read this book ever since moving to the west coast 16 years ago. When I moved to Washington, this book seemed to be part of the subconscious feeling that you were in another country, akin to the Texas spirit.
The story is that 20 years after a secession, a reporter goes to visit the new country of Ecotopia, comprised of Washington, Oregon, and NorCal.
Long on ideas, short on good writing, the book's strength is the ideas centered around sustainable living and total biosphere economi...more
Kyle
Jul 20, 2012 Kyle rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: outdoors, pacnw
As childishly as it is written, this book pretty much changed my life. Having read it and "Desert Solitaire" pretty much back to back was a major inflection point finalizing my transition to environmentalism. I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone, even if they will find it childish and a bit chauvinistic.
Bob H
Prophetic, in a way, this book from the early 1970s: this is a science-fiction (fantasy) story about a US reporter's journey into Ecotopia, a Pacific coast territory west of the Sierras and the Cascades that had seceded 20 years before. Ecotopia is a society that is environmentally-minded and socially less uptight than US society. Some of what he finds are uncanny predictions of the little features of today's society (recycling bins for glass, paper and metal discards, for instance). Given its u...more
Stephanie
(Read this book for my Environmental Literature class) I was pleased to read a novel that I probably would have never found on my own. I got through it fairly quickly, but was disappointed to find that the sexual themes interested me most in comparison to any of the others. My major criticism is that this book clearly has an environmental agenda, which could explain why my mind resisted getting stolen by it.

At the same time, I like what Callenbach did. The alternating between Weston's official r...more
Christoph
I have been to many lands and seen many things, all of these places have their unique principles and quirks. For the Pacific Northwest, a responsibility of lifestyle and its impact with nature is a top concern. In addition, the left-wing view of libertarianism plays a significant role in public policy. With all that said, the caricature of this view and its portrayal in the alternative future of Ecotopia I found to be only mildly interesting. Whenever you start reducing populations to ways of be...more
Erin
This little piece of cheese just never quite got there and I write this review lamenting what could have been.

The entire western part of the United States has seceded to form Ecotopia, a bright beacon of democracy and the perfect balance between humans and their environment. We're never told what has happened in the new, smaller US that has completely broken them and caused them to lose all their fight. I mean, the United States I know wouldn't take something like this sitting down. I guess the...more
Ilya
In 1980, the states of Washington, Oregon (probably only the western halves - the eastern halves of both states are socially conservative) and Northern California secede from the USA and build an ecological utopia, complete with recycling, alternative energy, a virtual ban on the ICE, and Native American chic. Their government policies stand in relation to the election platforms of Ralph Nader and Dennis Kucinich as the platforms of Nader and Kucinich stand in relation to George W. Bush's polici...more
Dawn
Ten Reasons why I don’t like Ecotopia:

1. It reads like a how-to manual for your VCR. The world, unfortunately is not like a VCR.

2. Consistency. Consistency killed the cat, killed the characters, and put a dull green wash on the earth.

3. The society was an ideal society. This wouldn’t be a problem if the book were simply an idea of a book. But, things as they are, the book was real. And the pages were put to sleep—I have an “idea” of what went on, but I experienced nothing during the surgery.

4....more
Brian
Entertainment-1 Stars
Education- 1 Star
Readability- 1 star
Innovation- 0 Stars
Inspiration- 1 Stars


This was a pretty entertaining book. I would have to put it as sci-fi, or maybe bio-fi. Getting back to the basics of nature and seeing how good life could really be if we tried. There are a LOT of holes in the concept of Ecotopia, but it looks like some place I would like to live, but will never exists sadly.

What really amazed me is some of the concepts he talks about (biodegradeable plastics, electr...more
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