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The Gold Coast

(Three Californias Triptych #2)

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  1,524 ratings  ·  112 reviews
2027: Southern California is a developer's dream gone mad, an endless sprawl of condos, freeways, and malls. Jim McPherson, the affluent son of a defense contractor, is a young man lost in a world of fast cars, casual sex, and designer drugs. But his descent into the shadowy underground of industrial terrorism brings him into a shattering confrontation with his family, his ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published May 15th 1995 by Orb Books (first published February 1988)
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Karen Kovac Go to "my books" ..There is a tiny x to the far right of each entry...try clicking on that should ask if you want to remove it .…moreGo to "my books" ..There is a tiny x to the far right of each entry...try clicking on that should ask if you want to remove it .(less)
Sebastian The three books don’t form a chronological story but depict three different possible futures. I’d suggest to read them in the order written. There are…moreThe three books don’t form a chronological story but depict three different possible futures. I’d suggest to read them in the order written. There are some recurring characters and sceneries of significance that probably get lost if you read the books out of order. (less)

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May 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
The dystopia that is oh so nearly true. Late stage-capitalism inhabited with unhappy people stuck in late childhood. 'Friends' with angst, 'Breaking Bad' with more fun. This is what happens when you have "let it rip" capitalism hooked on military spending and development for development's sake.

KSR (Kim Stanley Robinson) engages the reader with a story that eventually picks up more narrative energy in the second half of the book as Jim's (the main character) world starts to seriously unravel. Jim
jesse mabus
Nov 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
so very familiar, close to the surface, lived in. the emotional life of robinson's characters are too close for comfort. more than anything it reminds me of dark early mornings after a show at kpft with big jesus trash can winding out the over caffeinated state of afairs by driving around the 610 loop in houston, windows open, music blarimg, at the speed of progress, these concrete ribbons beneath the wheels, racing towards dawn while the city lights shined on crazy diamonds, and streams of pale ...more
Not cyberpunk or dystopian in the strictest senses of either term - but only by a matter of degree. It’s not about corporate assassins and cybernetic ninja. It’s a story about a near-future Orange County and a few guys who have been friends since high school: a part-time teacher and amateur historian/failed poet, a paramedic, a real-estate developer, a surfer who lives largely off the grid, and an illegal drug designer. The book is also about the history of Orange County and Southern California ...more
Nov 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
One of the 3 wonderful books in this triptych. They can be read in any order and don't have to all be read, but it's so worth the time. Robinson shows the possible future of southern California (coast around northern San Diego county and southern Orange county) in 3 very different scenarios, all plausible and all very interesting. ...more
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Robinson's writing style has changed quite a bit since the 80s, but one thing hasn't changed, his concern about the environment, and capitalism.

In this future version of California, things are dark and nihilistic, which seems appropriate for a book written in the mid 80s. It's set in 2027, about 10 years from the writing of this review. We're locked in an endless arms with the Soviet Union, mired in endless little police actions in Vietnam-like countries (Indonesia in this case.) It's a world wh
The Gold Coast is book two in KSR's triptych. This story is set in 2027 and Orange County is totally developed, full of shopping malls, sprawling industrial development, massive residential buildings and the autopia - multi-level electric/magnetic roads (built in the "roaring 20s") filled with programmable self-driving cars. It is a concrete jungle. This book was published in 1988 so KSR is projecting technology and world events out ~40 years, some predictions he gets pretty close and some not s ...more
Feb 23, 2020 rated it liked it
This is not Robinson's best work.

Obviously, when an author is writing about the near future (this book was written in the 80s and takes place in the 2030s), one takes the technology and social trends of the day and moves them forward. Unfortunately for Robinson, he got a lot wrong in this book. The Cold War is still a thing, people still use landlines and video cassettes exclusively, and people listen to music on CDs. There is no internet, no cell phones.

But it isn't just prognostication that m
Mar 25, 2018 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book, but it lacked a little of the tightness of KSR's later work. I waffled between giving it 3 or 4 stars, but I settled on 3 because it didn't pull me in quite as much as the first book in the Three Californias series. ...more
Jack Atherton
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Better than the first one. Has a little bit more point of view on society and interpersonal relationships. Poignant ending. Cautiously looking forward to the final one now!
Dec 24, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Started slow, but picked up as it moved along. Robinson creates an interesting vision of an Orange County, California, obsessed with not only a narcissistic view of itself, but obsessed with continued intensification of development. This is a world, much like the novel 1984, by George Orwell, where there is constant war, and in The Gold Coast the Department of Defense and the weapons industry play an important role in both the world at large, and in Orange County.

The action centers around Jim,
David Layton
This book is a good example of what we might say differentiates speculative fiction from science fiction. The novel takes place in the 2020s in Orange County, California. Apart from the future setting, however, it is basically a mainstream novel about empty people leading empty lives in a society without values. What small futuristic touches Robinson adds to this - increased population density, cars that drive on tracks in the road like slot cars, laser defense systems - are mostly there as back ...more
Austin Bell
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the first book I've read in the Three Californias trilogy.

The story follows Jim McPherson, a writing instructor in his late twenties living in a futuristic Orange County. Jim is what we now would call a failson - he's downwardly mobile, perpetually fighting with his defense industry father, and his love of history and literature put him at odds with his STEM-obsessed society. He spends his free time partying and doing drugs with his tightly knit tribe of male friends and is completely cl
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
second read - 2009 October 11 - **** I first read all three of Kim Stanley Robinson's Orange County novels as they came out, which was spread out over a few years in the 1980s. In the past two months, I re-read all three of them, and still like them quite a bit. They are related to each other, not sequentially, but as three alternate futures for the same Orange County (extensive suburban area of Los Angeles). The first time I read them, I was not aware of the extent to which subtle geographic re ...more
Sep 08, 2009 rated it liked it
In my estimation "The Gold Coast," (second book in Robinson's California Trilogy) is not as as good a book as its predecessor, "The Wild Shore."

While I understand that the novel's setting is a major element of the novel, I found that Robinson's digressions into the history frequently derailed the narrative. When subtly woven into the story (as in Wild Shore), the background material lends a certain richness, but in this case, Robinson injects several chapters worth of history. This comes across
Eugenio Negro
Feb 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Kim is too good!! The greatest compliment I can give is that his writing is THOUGHTFUL! He writes for those who live, who pay attention to their environment, the details. He makes you ask more by showing how to come up with questions. He has the Steinbeck discipline of starting from the ground up, every time. In tight, efficient writing he nails science, nails politics, nails characters, nails sense of place. Just nails it. Why aren't kids required to read books like THIS in school???
I haven't r
Fantasy Literature
Feb 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Jim McPherson is unsatisfied with the future. Unable to find steady, well-paid work, Jim mostly spends his time partying and casually hooking up with random women. Jim’s family is of small comfort to him since he spends most family dinners enduring his father’s many complaints about how Jim does nothing useful. Jim does not know it, but his father, a defense contractor, is also deeply frustrated in his career, even if it does provide what appears to be a successful lifestyle to outsiders. Jim on ...more
Jul 29, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-2010
I've decided to give up on The Gold Coast in favor of reading Blockade Billy by Stephen King. The Gold Coast has been really hard for me to read. It's full of technical jargon and the characters don't really have any depth for to them. I've been struggling through it because I loved the first book (The Wild Shore). This book paints the future as a very bleak place that leaves no inch of earth uncovered by pavement or buildings. Sounds like a very horrible future to me. I also have the third book ...more
Jan 25, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was very disappointing after reading the first book in the series. It lacked the focus and clear plot lines of the first book, and felt like an aimless series of events not all that tied together. Even by the end of the book where all the loose ends do get tied together, it still feels unsatisfying and as if a lot of the story details had nothing whatsoever to do with the plot or even the important characters. I just did not find this that enjoyable.
Scott Shjefte
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
Ah, to me this is a deep thought experiment that failed. I could almost identify with the characters but it did not quite work even though many similarities occurred between my own life and the ones in this historical simulation of the near future. Perhaps if I had read this before reading 'wild shores' I l have been able to connect with the characters. I kept expecting the neutron bombs to go off but maybe that is in an alternate future.... ...more
Maybe a 3.5. I think this may have been a bit more successful than the first in this series. The story lines were woven well together. It was maybe a better novel than a science fiction novel. California and the main characters being a young group of friends are really the only links in the books in this "triptych". Robinson is good at characters and good at presenting the realities and consequences of certain technological advances. But it's always jarring to read science fiction which is set s ...more
Allan Dyen-Shapiro
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm a huge fan of KSR's more recent stuff, and a recent reading of one of his early short stories that I loved (The Lucky Strike) inspired me to look at some of his earliest novels. This is one of his three envisionings of a future for Orange County. In this one he thought up a world dominated by freeways, malls, real estate developments, and defense contractors. Sort of the world we now have, except still with CDs and rotary dial phones. And with hipsters that do all sorts of custom drugs, near ...more
Apr 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, speculative

The California trilogy might be KSR’s most autobiographical work – at least the setting is, as he moved to Orange County when he was 2. Stan was 34 when he wrote it, and it is very much a book about saying goodbye to late adolescence – the extended period of drugs, booze and parties, being twentysomething before settling down.

I’m not sure how much of an epicure KSR is or was, but Jim McPherson, the main character, is an idealist – something he shares with his inventor. McPherson teaches lan
Apr 18, 2020 rated it liked it
I was about a third of the way through this before I realized that it wasn't a sequel to the first book; it's an alternate version instead. I think I would have liked Gold Coast more if I'd known it right away. The characters in this book are a lot less likeable than in The Wild Shore tho, and I wasn't crazy about the end.

(view spoiler)
Jenny Chase
Aug 27, 2019 rated it liked it
In some respects I enjoyed this more than the more utopian sequel, Pacific Edge, because more actually happened. The characters of Sandy, Tashi and Abe stood out as people trying pretty hard to do the right thing in very different ways. The general dystopian-ness was pretty understated - yes they're always on drugs and watching homemade porn, but, well, young men do that even in utopias. The traffic accidents are only what happens today, and apparently the main thing about self-driving cars is t ...more
May 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
A guy goes from Weather Underground to Unabomber while maintaining an active social life in California's near-future Orange County.

KSR's only work of military SF, and instead of space wars it's about the air force's procurement process. A very War Nerdish novel in that sense, and in that it speculates about a coming rift between the part of the military that glorifies pilots versus the part that recognizes the benefits of highly efficient, low risk drones.

Interesting, too, are the parts about
Jan 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Easily the most uncomfortably close depiction of the future I've read. It was very easy to see the similarities between the world we live in today and the world that Kim Stanley Robinson envisioned when he wrote this back in the 80s. Though it isn't a one-to-one match up between the world of the novel and the world of today, some of Robinson's ideas sailed a bit past the mark (the presence of massive malls for instance), but the general feeling held amongst the group of friends followed in this ...more
Maria Beltrami
Second volume of Robinson's California trilogy, and probably the least dystopian of the three. Less dystopian in that it is more similar to today's reality in its description of environmental destruction and the excessive power of the military in the development of industry. Jim, the protagonist, goes from total indifference to a gradual and deepening discomfort that leads him to become a kind of terrorist. However, when he realizes that nothing escapes power, and that even the terrorist movemen ...more
Kim Clarke
Feb 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Not exactly a riveting book, but at least there is the ability to compare the lives of Jim and his friends in a modern future Orange County, filled with parties and drugs to the subsistance life of Hank in the first book. Despite Jim having access to everything he wants/needs he yearns for something more peaceful, whilst Hank, tired of fishing is looking for a little adventure.

There is a third book in the series (duh... Triptych) and I don't know if I want to read it. One and two were interestin
Andre Chiasson
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes it's interesting to read about the future written in the past (40 years ago). The ubiquitous highways are "tracked" providing electric power to cars which are programmed. On the other hand, there are no cell phones, music is on CDs, computers aren't really big. Kim Stanley Robinson writes great characters. I really enjoy the way he weaves lives together.
Finding these books was a pleasant surprise. Robinson's writing is stronger now but he was good 40 years ago. Treat yourself to some f
Will Hudson
Jul 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
I really enjoyed the first book in this series. Unfortunately, I can not say the same about the second book. It has absolutely no ties to the first book that I can discern other than being about Orange County. It's set prior to the previous book and if there are ties back to the first, I didn't catch them. The characters though were the biggest problem. There were none that were compelling. A couple were mildly interesting, but few had any redeeming qualities. A shame considering how much I enjo ...more
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Kim Stanley Robinson is an American science fiction writer, probably best known for his award-winning Mars trilogy.

His work delves into ecological and sociological themes regularly, and many of his novels appear to be the direct result of his own scientific fascinations, such as the 15 years of research and lifelong fascination with Mars which culminated in his most famous work. He has, due to his

Other books in the series

Three Californias Triptych (4 books)
  • The Wild Shore (Three Californias Triptych, #1)
  • Pacific Edge (Three Californias Triptych, #3)
  • Three Californias: The Wild Shore, the Gold Coast, and Pacific Edge

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