Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Pacific Edge (Three Californias Triptych, #3)” as Want to Read:
Pacific Edge (Three Californias Triptych, #3)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Pacific Edge

(Three Californias Triptych #3)

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  1,335 ratings  ·  97 reviews
2065: In a world that has rediscovered harmony with nature, the village of El Modena, California, is an ecotopia in the making. Kevin Claiborne, a young builder who has grown up in this "green" world, now finds himself caught up in the struggle to preserve his community's idyllic way of life from the resurgent forces of greed and exploitation.
Paperback, 336 pages
Published May 15th 1995 by Orb Books (first published 1990)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Pacific Edge, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Mary Hey, Stian! This isn't a trilogy in the typical sense - rather, three books each set in three different futuristic Orange Counties. You can read them…moreHey, Stian! This isn't a trilogy in the typical sense - rather, three books each set in three different futuristic Orange Counties. You can read them in any order, or read only the "third" one if you like, as they are unrelated in story.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,335 ratings  ·  97 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Feb 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf
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
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Never reviewed this one but you can hear me discuss it on the SFF Audio Podcast. This one is a utopia. What happens when life is good? Well, not a lot. I do like the parallel future idea that KSR had for this triptych, but I haven't read the other two.
Mar 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite being a huge Robinson fan, I've never read two out of three books in his "California" trilogy, written back in the 1980s.

This book is full of what clearly became themes in his later works. Lots of detailed descriptions of landscape, hiking, and being out in the open, along with the strange (yet actually normal) interrelationships between normal people. There isn't a lot of overall plot in that it is an utopian novel set in a small town struggling with a legal zoning fight in the city co
Chris Radcliff
Jun 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
I started re-reading Pacific Edge with some trepidation; I worried it wouldn't stand up to my memory, that its utopian ideas would seem naive compared to my experience of the world. Luckily, the world Robinson builds is complex and nuanced, and the characters are so engaging I wouldn't have minded if it wasn't.

The main story is set in 2065, a time when many of our big problems – war, income inequality, fossil fuel dependence, corporatism – have been solved, not by technological breakthroughs, bu
May 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lena by: Solarpunk BOM
Shelves: audio, solarpunk
“One of the worst signs of our danger is we can’t imagine the route from here to utopia. No way to get there.

Take the first step and you’re there.”

This book had many interesting things to say about utopias and you can feel the author’s desire to bring us forward to a better tomorrow.

I enjoy that sincerity in KSRs work.

Unlike his previous work I found myself caring deeply for the main character, Kevin. KSR pulled me into this emotionally rich young man who bravely follows his conscious and h
Adam  McPhee
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Must redefine utopia. It isn’t the perfect end-product of our wishes, define it so and it deserves the scorn of those who sneer when they hear the word. No. Utopia is the process of making a better world, the name for one path history can take, a dynamic, tumultuous, agonizing process, with no end. Struggle forever.

Compare it to the present course of history. If you can.

Some brilliant moments that rise above, but still a lot of prosaic parts that characterize his early work (my fault for saving
Nov 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, fiction
"One of the worst signs of our danger is we can’t imagine the route from here to utopia."

In a review for, Jo Walton writes: "Pacific Edge is the only utopian novel that works, that shows you the world, that feels like a nice place to live, and that works as a story."

And that is all you really need to know. It was a pleasure dipping back into KSR after last reading something by him, which must have been the Mars trilogy. This shares some of the ideas later explored at a larger scale in th
Jack Atherton
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Pretty good. There are many bittersweet moments in utopia. Life will not stop being life no matter where we go. These are lessons I am not sure I was ready for, but I sure got them here.
Steev Hise
Mar 09, 2010 rated it it was ok
Of this book my judgment is mixed: the author is exploring something I think we need more of: visualizing a near-future where humanity actually gets its shit together and starts fixing some seriously broken stuff, like our abuse of nature and the out-of-control power of corporate capitalism.

But sadly, as with many science-fiction writers, the prose is sort of low-quality. Well, I'll say medium-quality. I started out reading SF exclusively as a kid, but I guess when you get used to reading top-no
Jul 25, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Kevin, Bryan, Jill, Melisa
Recommended to Brian by: Lee Hendricks
Recommended by dear friend Lee as one of his top-10 fave novels of all time, I was a bit disappointed with it. Certainly unique to imagine a (literal, not negative) utopia with intrusive government, heavy taxation, lots of lawyers and byzantine land-use zoning regulations. And also somewhat rewarding to find repeated characters/themes in the trilogy -- but not overwhelming in the end.

A lot more romance/sex/relationships than the first two, which caught me off-guard and seemed to distract from hi
Apr 06, 2008 rated it liked it
I liked a lot about this book. How many novels do you read where the local Green Party stops developers and engages with local residents in heated political arguments that are fairly sane?

But, as sometimes happens with KSR, the characters are not as sharply defined as they could be and it's easy to lose track of who is doing what. Hence I didn't like it as much as the great left activist/teacher/writer Mike Davis did.

Of the three books in the "Wild Shore Triptych" I liked The Gold Coast best, I
I liked what KSR was doing with this, but was a bit mixed on a lot of the particulars. I'll be making a video review very soon!
Maynard Handley
Feb 07, 2016 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jenny Chase
Aug 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is worthwhile - I went looking for this specifically because I was after the genre of plausible low-energy futures, and this fits the bill. The main plot, of a carpenter called Kevin being disappointed in love and trying to stop development in his backyard, is deliberately low-stakes; can't have a utopia with too much tension. I'm not sure how this could be overcome, in a plot sense, but it's a good stab at having a genuine utopia with a real plot.

I didn't really warm to protagonist K
A Reader
Apr 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
3.5 stars

Utopia means 'no place' or 'nowhere'. You can't ignore this irony reading K.S.Robinson' s concluding book of Three Californias series about alternate futures seen from the perspective of Orange County, California. Pacific Edge (first published in 1990) is an ecofiction, it portrays a near-future utopian dreaming scenario that it is only slightly shifted from our own reality.

Most of the region has undergone hyper-development but citizen action has limited growth and the expansion of bi
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 re ...more
And the last of the Three Californias. Three variations of a future Orange County. Three different fates. This book describes the best possible fate -- a world that's brought unchecked capitalism under control, a world where we are able to live in harmony with the surroundings, a possible utopia.

And yet there's still conflict, there are still people doing bad things and being evil. It's funny that KSR's most recent book dealt with real estate drama, as this one does as well, and it's the main un
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This short, unassuming book wormed its way into my imagination and has become one of my favorite books. I can't tell you how many people I've recommended it to and told about its semi-utopian ideal of California. Of what the world could look like if environmental movements "won" and we redefined what efficiency meant, to mirror sustainability. And the fact that regardless of how just and environmental our system is, people are still people and life will still be a tricky maze of broken individua ...more
Jul 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
"And suddenly I was telling him about it, the heat, the barbed wire, the nights in the dorm, the presence of the hospital, the fear, the courage of all those inside. It's not fair, I said, my voice straining. They shouldn't be able to do that to them! I seized the newspaper, shook it. They shouldn't be able to do any of this!

I know, the lawyer said, sipping his coffee and looking at me. But people are afraid. They're afraid of what's happening, and they're afraid of the changes we would have to
Kim Clarke
Mar 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Having finally finished the third book I can give a more complete review.

It is hard to say that these books are 'about' anything specific. We are shown three alternate futures for one particular area of California. One after a nuclear war, one a future which looks more like what we could actually get and a third with something of a utopian town.

There is one character is each story, an Elder man by the name of 'Uncle' Tom, who may or may not be supposed to be the same person. What you do have is
Feb 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Robinson is one of the few writers who could make an exciting book about land development. However, there are some obvious plot points that were eye roll worthy and some style choices that amounted to shortcut story summaries that were annoying. And everyone in the book seems to be fit and active with no disabilities or other health issues even when the character is well into their 80s. In spite of this, I still enjoyed the book.
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There's a sort of interstitial bit that I quoted earlier:

"Utopia is the process of making a better world, the name for one path history can take, a dynamic, tumultuous, agonizing process, with no end. Struggle forever."

That message, and the way that the continual process is demonstrated in this book, despite the pains that accompany that process, is why I'll remember this book for a long time, and recommend it to others.
Georgi Nikolaev
May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
I am not really sure if this book deserves a rating so high. But I am giving it because it is such a big improvement compared to the second one. Although there are some parts I read diagonally the characters really touched me. I should give at least one star for them. Another star goes for the interesting writing style at some places, although I think I see more potential in there than it was actually used in the end.

Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ebook
This was disappointing. Nothing much happens, I didn't care much about the characters, and there was a lot of softball. The characters seem almost caricatures of "all-American" good Californians, and it just did not appeal to me at all. I was more involved in the intro to each chapter, and that was mostly just the puzzle of figuring out how it related to the rest of the book.
Andre Chiasson
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kim Stanley Robinson is at or near the top of my list of favourite authors. This trilogy is his early work and it is not at the quality of his current writing but still excellent. He loves California and would love to see it reach its potential in the future. Still (or always) a master of character development, this book kept me reading and enjoying.
May 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
The best of the Three Californias series. It's a little looser than KSR's later work, but it's an enjoyable read. I was glad to have a little utopian reading given the distopian leanings real life has had of late. Recommended!
Aug 09, 2018 rated it liked it
When it's good it's very, very good and when it's bad it boring. Needed a strict editor who would have cut the thing by at least a third. Only recommend to those who have nostalgia for the old Orange County landscape -- I do and it kept me going all the way to the end.
Jens Rushing
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Not one of his best, but still a work of profound optimism and hope. And it has a great love story! I sighed almost continuously while finishing the book and then couldn't talk for an hour without crying. It's good.
Jose  Seco Sanz
May 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
As the rest of the series. There are some interesting ideas, but I think they could have been delivered in another way.
Adam Norman
Jan 30, 2018 rated it liked it
This was okay. Not something I would normally search out. I will likely steer clear of KSR in the future.
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Years Of The City
  • In War Times
  • Brother to Dragons
  • Beyond Apollo
  • Fairyland
  • The Sky Road (The Fall Revolution, #4)
  • Titan (The Grand Tour, #15)
  • Buddy Holly is Alive and Well on Ganymede
  • Song of Time
  • On Wings of Song
  • Terraforming Earth
  • Genesis
  • Probability Space (Probability, #3)
  • The Extremes
  • The Child Garden
  • Mindscan
  • The Alteration
  • Mars Crossing
See similar books…
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 (3 books)
  • The Wild Shore (Three Californias Triptych, #1)
  • The Gold Coast (Three Californias Triptych, #2)
“I grew up in a utopia, I did. California when I was a child was a child's paradise, I was healthy, well fed, well clothed, well housed. I went to school and there were libraries with all the world in them and after school I played in orange groves and in Little League and in the band and down at the beach and every day was an adventure. . . . I grew up in utopia.” 17 likes
“Utopia is the process of making a better world, the name for one path history can take, a dynamic, tumultuous, agonizing process, with no end. Struggle forever.” 15 likes
More quotes…