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)

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  1,470 ratings  ·  116 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. ...more
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
Average rating 3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,470 ratings  ·  116 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Pacific Edge (Three Californias Triptych, #3)
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
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
second read - 15 October 2009 - ****. In the past two months, I re-read all three Orange County novels, 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 references, a few plot events, and one character, were re-used in different ways in each. But watching for that now just added t ...more
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
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. ...more
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 an
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
Frederick Gault
Jun 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, sci-fi, political
Excellent character development, the third in a trilogy of imagined futures for Orange County CA. This is the utopian vision where world-wide conglomerates and capital flight to tax havens are illegal. What do people do in a Utopia? They drink, surf, play softball, have love affairs and have broken hearts just like now, however things are more fair and easier on the ecosystem.
Sep 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This book is about a contested zoning issue in town government. It wants to be something more, and it's pages are full of Kim Stanley Robinson's wonderful characters, poetry, love triangles, and even personal tragedy.

But it's not about anything interesting. And it doesn't have a satisfying ending.
Nov 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, sci-fi
"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
Marion Hill
3.5 Stars

Kim Stanley Robinson is one of the science fiction writers I have read throughout my reading life. He joins Octavia Butler, Greg Bear, and Robert Silverberg as the science fiction writers I have found interesting and thought provoking to read.

Pacific Edge is the third book of The Three Californias Trilogy and a book that can read as a standalone novel. I have read the Kim stanley robinson mars trilogy 3 books collection set and Aurora by Robinson. This novel is my second favorite Robin
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! ...more
Oct 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I'm all about utopian stories set in the near future that explore how we got from here to there. “Pacific Edge” is set in 2065 and was published in 1990. In this story, 2012 is the date at which countries around the world began to change things for the better. Hmmm. We seem to have missed that deadline by about seven years. Maybe it's 2020?

This book is part of an inventive trilogy that explores three possible futures with the same characters in the same place, Southern California. It’s fundamen
William Fricke
Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviews
COUCH FACTOR (1-5): 🛋️🛋️🛋️🛋️

I bought Pacific Edge at Gene's Books on Sanibel Island. I put this on my to-read list on Goodreads when an old acquaintance of mine marked it as 4-stars. I had never heard of Kim Stanley Robinson before but knew the friend's tastes titled toward mine in the science fiction world.

Gene's Books is an amazing place. Books are piled everywhere from the floor to mid-chest. Just stacks and stacks of books that are in a slight resemblance of order. When I walked in I could o
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
Carl Mucho
Sep 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, reviewed
Third in a trilogy about the author's different visions of the future, Pacific Edge hits the mark on its myriad speculations on how the world will be like in 2065 which eerily resembles what it is now in 2020. It gives a nod, though briefly and in spurts, to current problems that beset humanity: an out of control pandemic (HIV), climate change, corporate greed and its hijacking of government, social injustices and partisanship.

The story is set in an ecotopia (ecological utopia) where Green Party
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
Mar 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
When I read the first book in the triptych, I thought, "Not spectacular, but not bad, either." The second book wasn't as good as the first. This one was almost like watching paint dry.

So I enjoy Robinson for the most part, but I'm not sure I understand his mindset... All three books definitely have a Green/environmentalist angle. But if you are going to write about three alternate futures from the 1980s, I don't know why the third one was about a town's struggle to keep its last hilltop green an
Dec 07, 2020 rated it liked it
This book gets a conflicted review from me.

Don’t get me wrong—I loved it. The world Kim Stanley Robinson has envisioned is a true vision of ecosocialist ideals and is certainly an early work of the growing movement now known as solarpunk. There are incredible, imaginative ideas in here that got me really excited, and I loved the journal entries from the narrator who remains unknown for much of the book.

Then there are the characters. I don’t know what it was, but I never could connect with the ch
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
Apr 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
Picked this up because a review in Slate of the Three Californias Triptych made it sound interesting, and because I remember liking "Red Mars."

Similar to that book, this takes us into a different world, but easy to imagine as our future because, while life has changed -- do to a massive shift in values and laws, which are revealed gradually -- people still have their petty rivalries, their political battles, their loves and losses and eccentricities.

The characters are interesting enough, the p
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
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
Maria Beltrami
The third and final volume in Robinson's California trilogy, it moves from the dystopia of the first two to a kind of utopia, a return to nature, not in the primitivist sense, but a nature from which the best can be obtained by applying technology, from renewable energies onwards. Of course, not all that glitters is gold, and the old methods of profit are always trying to peep through. The book's "ecotopist" pages alternate with those that record the memories of Tom, the protagonist's grandfathe ...more
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Attack Surface
  • Walkaway
  • Deathworld 1 (Deathworld, #1)
  • Homeland (Little Brother, #2)
  • Heavy Time (The Company Wars, #4)
  • Firewalkers
  • Babel-17
  • The Saints of Salvation (Salvation Sequence #3)
  • Sundiver (The Uplift Saga, #1)
  • Veil
  • Midnight at the Well of Souls (Saga of the Well World, #1)
  • Iron Council (New Crobuzon, #3)
  • The Swarm (The Second Formic War, #1)
  • The Grifters
  • The Last Best Hope (Star Trek: Picard #1)
  • A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town (And Some Bears)
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 (4 books)
  • The Wild Shore (Three Californias Triptych, #1)
  • The Gold Coast (Three Californias Triptych, #2)
  • Three Californias: The Wild Shore, The Gold Coast, and Pacific Edge

Related Articles

Cast naked into the wilds of the Paleolithic Ice Age, a young apprentice braves the elements in Shaman, a prehistorical novel by the science...
64 likes · 17 comments
“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.” 18 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.” 18 likes
More quotes…