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The Wild Shore

(Three Californias Triptych #1)

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  2,857 ratings  ·  210 reviews
2047: for 60 years America has been quarantined after a devastating nuclear attack. For the small community of San Onofre on the West Coast, life is a matter of survival: living simply on what the sea and land can provide, preserving what knowledge and skills they can in a society without mass communications. Until the men from San Diego arrive, riding the rails on flatbed ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published March 15th 1995 by Orb Books (first published March 1984)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,857 ratings  ·  210 reviews

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Apr 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf, utopian-anarchist
I tend to go on binges when I discover a writer I really like, taking down as many of their works as I possibly can voraciously for the first few months of my acquaintanceship with their works. Hell, I read really fast, so it's not like I don't have time. So I'm kind of in that stage with Kim Stanley Robinson.

I've read science fiction pretty regularly since I was pretty young, devouring my father's and uncles' collections indiscriminately. When I was about 14, I decided I was more interested in
Beth Cato
Apr 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, 2011, in, dystopia, fiction
In the year 2047, humanity struggles to survive in the ruins of coastal California. Almost 50 years before, nuclear blasts decimated thousands of cities across the United States. However, this is the only world teenaged Henry knows: a world revolving around harvests, fishing, the howl of the Santa Ana, and the danger of wild-eyed scavengers in Orange County. His ancient mentor, Tom, taught him how to read and of the way things used to be. Henry's world shifts when strangers from the outside arri ...more
Mar 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I had already read his Mars trilogy (Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars) and had liked them but had trouble at times with his didactic style/approach, even when I agreed with his point of view (which I don't always).

However, this book was his first novel and I really liked it. It has a simplicity but is as powerful as anything else he has done. It is an interesting post-apocalyptic coming of age story about a group of teenagers and an old man who are part of a small fishing community eking out
Masha Toit
Aug 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The Wild Shore it one of the best books I've read in years. Fantastic story, compelling characters, interesting issues, vivid writing - I just loved it.

It is set in America "after the bombing". The United States is no more. America has suffered a severe nuclear attack. Millions died in the initial attack, and millions more in the aftermath, struggling to survive in the new pre-industrial world. Getting food by growing and hunting it, avoiding the "scavengers" - the people who live from the loote
Apr 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is so rich and detailed.
Jun 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, speculative

Information is key in the novel. Just like the readers, the characters are in the dark about what happened. They are also in the dark about what is happening, for Robinson shows glimpses of a bigger narrative in world politics in the aftermath of the attack – but characters nor readers get to know its true extent. It is a clever narrative device, maximizing the reader’s empathy with the characters: we share uncertainty and frustration about it. It is especially clever because – like the rea
May 15, 2011 rated it liked it
A good book, engagingly written though a bit too YA for my tastes. A book in the fine American tradition of 'Huckleberry Finn'; the innocent who wises up but at a terrible cost.
A very convincing post apocalyptic world is created by Kim Stanley Robinson. It is also a very ironically prescient world (it was written in 1984) where America is defeated in some sort of conflict and severely crippled. The world imposes a quarantine which is something like the no fly zone imposed on Iraq after the first
Joe Stamber
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: paper-read, read-2017
Not so much a Sci-Fi or Post Apocalyptic novel as a coming of age adventure, the story of a young man Hank in a small community struggling to survive years after the bombs went off. Life has regressed to fishing and farming, with limited contact with other communities to trade the few things any of them have to offer. Hank and his buddies dream of better times but when opportunities present themselves are they all what they seem? Written in an easy, fairly old-fashioned style (it is over 30 year ...more
Bryan Cebulski
This book wasn't what I wanted it to be, but I think I would have found it lacking anyway. I loved Aurora and wanted another that follows the same basic template, ie a slow moving, broad-scoped hard sci-fi novel that is more about process than plot. The Wild Shore had the added bonus of loosely falling into the solarpunk genre, which I've been trying to read more of. Instead though, The Wild Shore is a relatively basic dystopia. The post-apocalyptic pastoral scenes were probably my favorite part ...more
Lisa Eckstein
Feb 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2015
Henry is a teenager living in a small fishing community on the southern California coast. At least, Onofre is part of a place once called California, but that name has been fairly meaningless for sixty years, since a large-scale disaster decimated the population and isolated the small groups of survivors. Henry is fascinated by the stories of his teacher Tom, still spry at over 100 years old, though he's never quite sure whether to believe the tales. When strangers arrive from San Diego, Henry a ...more
second read - 2009 October 15 - ***** 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 r ...more
Jan 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
(Spoilers alert!)

Here is the premise: in 2047, America is gone. Having suffered a sneak attack at the hands of the Russians forty years earlier, America no long exists as a political entity, and has been isolated by the United Nations. On the West Coast, in a small village in what was once Orange County, a young man writes down a narrative history of his life during an eventful summer when survivors in nearby San Diego try to begin knitting California, and the United States, back together again
May 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Another post apocalyptic story set on the coast of California. Well done - a small village of interesting characters pulling themselves together over the course of several decades after a nuclear war.

America's population has been decimated by fusion bombs, so radioactivity is not the major legacy, just ruin by explosions, death, and a strange coalition of nations charged to keep America from rebuilding. (Apparently Russia or some nation was able to pin the blame on the US for the conflict and ot
Nov 02, 2014 rated it liked it
This is the first in the post apocalyptic "Three Californias" trilogy. This first book is a decent story about survivors of a devastated United States living off the land in a community of "Onofre" along the southern California Coast. The story is told first person through a young man torn between the pleasant and familiar farming and trading community he is part of, and the exciting unknown of a distant and growing movement by other communities to bring back the "old America". The author speaks ...more
I was very pleased to finally get a copy of this book, now that it's been published in ebook format, because even my local library didn't have a copy. I have been a big fan of KSR, ever since the Mars series, and when I like an author, I try to read all of their work.

I think this is KSR's earliest published work, and it's definitely much more raw than his later stuff. It's the improbable story of a US post nuclear attack, that's been quarantined from the rest of the world.

Overall it's pretty go
Gregg Kellogg
Interesting, if dated, examination of an alternate Orange County. As a kid, I used to go to San Onofre with my family when my dad was a member of the surf club. Hard to imagine n ding snow-shoes to get about in the winter.
Tom Rowe
Sep 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Nuclear war. People survive. Stuff happens. Parts interesting. Parts uninteresting. Parts meandering.
May 31, 2018 rated it liked it
I finally got through a book by Kim Stanley Robinson! I really wanted to read and enjoy his Mars trilogy, but I got bogged down in the characters and their politics, which I had no interest in. I wanted to read about Mars, of course! This book feels like it's by a different author. The California coast itself plays a central role: it shapes the characters' lives. That's what I wanted to get out of Red Mars. Maybe that happens later in the book and I'll try it again one day.
With well-developed ch
A glimpse into the mind of SF great Kim Stanley Robinson BEFORE he hit his stride in the Mars Trilogy. Everything that makes him great, descriptive prose, hard technology-based sci-fi, a near-mythic regard for the environment, are all present on the proto level. The first of three books in the series that looks at possible futures. In The Wild Shore the reader is taken into a mid-twenty first century future in which the US lost a limited nuclear war and faces an world dominated by weather extrem ...more
Apr 17, 2019 rated it liked it

DNF @ Page 135

I was really excited about this book, but it was just a little too slow for me. The pace picked up a bit when Hank and Tom went with the “resistance” to meet the Mayor of San Diego.

I ended up giving in to temptation and decided to read the last few pages. I’m happy with my choice of stopping about a third of the way through the book.
May 20, 2019 rated it liked it
A more sedate book than I expected, interesting and sad. The idea of what comes after the end of the United States was a good but not exciting read.
Feb 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a trilogy. I'm going to read #2. It's very good. (Great review isn't it?)
Glen Engel-Cox
Dec 03, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: amazon
This was the overwhelming pick by my correspondents for the next book to read, and I was quite happy to comply. I picked up a paperback copy of The Wild Shore in 1985, then a hardback in 1990, and both copies had been hanging around my to be read shelf since then, possibly leading many another volume in their bad ways (how else to explain the sheer number of books not read?). It was quite rewarding to be able to remove it from its place of honor as the book that I have owned the longest but had ...more
Jack Atherton
Jan 28, 2019 rated it liked it
In this story, young people make a terrible mistake and learn the error of their ways. They spend soooooo long doing things that are a bad idea leading up to the mistake. There is not much wisdom to be gained from their perspective. I was mostly cringing and wishing they would stop doing stupid things.

This is some of Robinson's earliest work and I guess it shows. I miss the philosophy that was present in the Mars Trilogy, which he wrote right after this one. I'll probably read the other two book
Stephen Hergest
Kim Stanley Robinson is one of the few SF writers whose new works I still read. Works such as Antarctica, his Mars trilogy, and his “Science in the Capital” trilogy regularly stress world-building and ecologically-based themes. So it was interesting to read this, his first published novel, an “Ace Special” edited by the legendary Terry Carr.
The Wild Shore is a coming-of-age tale set in Onofre, an isolated village on the California coast south of San Clemente, 60 years after nuclear war has decim
Sebastian Sajda
I didn't know what to expect from a KSR post-apocalyptic story (especially as it is an early work for him), but after finishing it I thought "yes, this is exactly a KSR post-apocalyptic story."

Can't wait to read the other two in the triptych.
May 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
I don't usually like post-apocalyptic science fiction, but this one was alright. It didn't dwell in human cruelty too much. It was mostly about what it would be like for California to be returned to a natural state with people living off the land. That was the interesting part, to me. The plot had a strong adventure element, but not a very complete arc. The end of the book sort of petered out. There's some mystery left to be revealed, which I suppose is to be found in the next two books in the s ...more
Julie Duffy
May 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, science-fiction
I loved this book! I wasn't sure I was going to, on the first couple of pages but I'm glad I stuck with it past the first scene.

Set after a nuclear event has devastated America. The second generation post-apocalypse is reaching adulthood and we follow a group of them, centered on Henry.

The writing is lush, but not overdone, as Robinson depicts a hard, pastoral life in a small coastal community. To add to the tensions of adolescence in a small town, strangers arrive from a larger town, the first
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
A young boy grows up in a coastal village of a U.S.A that has undergone some catastrophe.
There are no raiders or giant scorpions, just the odd spell of bad weather.
This is an interesting post apocalyptic novel with a very gentle slant.

The young people want to try and get the U.S.A back to the state of power it once was, as some of the older people try to explain in a lot of ways the "new" U.S.A is a much nicer place.

When the the catastrophe is explained I was both surprised and disappointed at
Mar 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Notable in part for the use of the phrase "Make America Great Again" in a novel written in 1984. It's no Red Mars, but there's a lot to like in this story of a coastal community making a life for itself decades after nuclear catastrophe. The narrator and his friends have sort of this "gee whiz isn't this an adventure" tone throughout that's mostly fun but occasionally rings false; despite some writing foibles, there are some really beautiful and impactful sections (Henry's swim, Tom's story of m ...more
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Themes Across The Trilogy 2 17 Jul 25, 2008 02:05AM  

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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 Gold Coast (Three Californias Triptych, #2)
  • Pacific Edge (Three Californias Triptych, #3)
  • Three Californias: The Wild Shore, the Gold Coast, and Pacific Edge

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