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(Ecotopia #1)

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  4,909 ratings  ·  617 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.

Ecotopia was founded when northern California, Oregon, and Washington seceded from the Union to create a “stable-state” ecosystem: the perfect balance between human beings and the environment. Now, twenty
Paperback, 181 pages
Published March 1st 1990 by Bantam (first published 1975)
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Tori Seitelman It's clear the book was written in the 70s. It just hasn't evolved with us in 2020. That said, it's still worth reading and many of the ideas (esp not…moreIt's clear the book was written in the 70s. It just hasn't evolved with us in 2020. That said, it's still worth reading and many of the ideas (esp not pertaining to race and gender) are fascinating and pertinent to us today.(less)

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Kelly H. (Maybedog)
Jan 25, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: what-sf, abandoned
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
Sean Barrs
Ecotopia is an extraordinarily seductive piece of writing; it offers a glimpse of a world that could be ours if we aligned our values with those of the ecototopians: it is a suggestion that we could live in a better and more environmentally driven way.

At the heart of things, Ecotopia feels like a piece of propaganda. It is a proposal for an alternative nation and an alternative way of living. And I don’t think the author tries to hide this fact; he celebrates it and he wants the world to consid
ECO- from the Greek oikos (household or home)
TOPIA- from the Greek topos (place)

Ecotopia is one of the books that I'm happy to say is going to be in my brain forever. Published originally in the seventies, as a series of articles and diary notes from a journalist travelling the titular country of Ecotopia, Ernest Callenbach has managed to capture a movement and a feeling years ahead of his time. My overwhelming impression of this book is one of optimism and hope; belief in the better nature of h
Mar 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“Ecotopians have the feeling of never being alone.”

This classic read as if it had been written yesterday.
That is beautiful.
That is sad.
Because I could have been living in Ecotopia instead of reading it.

Sexual equality, sustainability, 3D printing, FaceTime, community, guilt avoidance warfare, recycling, solar power, environmental harmony, social justice, and my personal favorite - the revision of the Protestant work ethic.

All the important issues being discussed today were addressed here
Jan 04, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dystopia
Terrible, just terrible. Demeaning to men and women alike, very dated with racist and sexist overtones, seemed written by a pre-pubescent idiot with zero understanding of basic human emotions and motivations – with very little political and economic acumen to boot. This fool equates superficial sex to deep feelings, likens it to true love and thinks a strong, powerful woman would 'tolerate' being raped (and is glib about it), disgusting!

Almost everything here is a stereotype of some kind (70s st
Apr 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Hákon Gunnarsson
Ecotopia is set in the year 1999, some twenty years after Northern California, Oregon, and Washington break away from the rest of USA to become Ecotopia. The American journalist William Weston goes to Ecotopia to investigate this closed country that has taken a radical turn towards more ecologically sustainable way of life.

On the surface this book should be right up my alley, but it has left me with very mixed emotions. On one hand this built up as most utopian fiction, and in travel books as we
Feb 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Fundamentally, this book is an interesting thought experiment which, when read over thirty years later, really shows its age. The concept of a nation-state primarily focused on sustainability is intriguing, and the framework of Will Weston’s newspaper articles interspersed with his personal diary was, I think, a good choice to showcase his internal conflict. However - and entirely unsurprisingly - Callenbach’s handling of issues such as race, gender, and sexual expression feel awkward at best an ...more
May 14, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Mike (the Paladin)
Dec 02, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy
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
Apr 04, 2008 rated it liked it
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
'Ecotopia' has been on my to-read list for at least ten years, but only this week did I finally find a copy of it. Thank you, eBay. I was concerned that it might prove dry, which turned out to be entirely unfounded. I was gripped throughout the short novel, which I read in one sitting. It is rather fascinating both on its own merits and as a historical document. Callenbach first published 'Ecotopia' in 1975. It follows the long tradition of Utopia, Millenium Hall, Erewhon et al of sending a man ...more
Nuno R.
This is a jewel. A good friend offered me a worn out paperback, that was probably read by many people. Mine was already read by others. It is good to get a hold of utopian scenarios. This stories makes its utopia feel real. And why shouldn't we dream of a better world? It is interesting the way it was constructed. An outsider visits Ecotopia for the first time since it was created. A visitor from the USA. Ecotopia is a new country, its territory consists of Northen California, Oregon and Washing ...more
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
Ecotopia is a book about a sustainable environmentalist utopia; the region west of the Sierra Nevada mountain range formerly known as Washington, Oregon, and Northern California became its own nation state after seceding from the Union. This novel, originally written in 1975, takes place 20 years after secession under the premise of the first American journalist coming to visit the region. Through journal entries and articles, William Westin of the New York Times-Post shares his perspective of t ...more
Feb 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, formative
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
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has made me deeply upset because it paints a world I desperately want to live in, but don't. While I can't say the book was very successful in its format of communicating through "newspaper articles" - no journalist ever wrote like that - the author WAS quite splendid at taking you along the narrator's emotional journey without your even realizing your own mind was going through the same changes he was. And, as nature loving as I am, it was the social structures and attitudes towards w ...more
Aug 27, 2007 rated it liked it
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.
Dylan Horrocks
Fascinating time capsule. Reading this was like doing an archeological dig into the roots of a whole heap of utopian political, social, and psychological attitudes that helped shaped the 1970s and beyond. I can imagine myself reading this when I was 18 in the mid-80s and grooving to a lot of the ideas. Today, I found it oddly disturbing. It will take a while to process why.
Aug 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fictions-novels
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.
Sep 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
If you have read (as I have) Charles Eisenstein's "The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible"; If you are tired of living in "the world of Separation" and long for living in "a world of Reunion"; if you wonder what that world might actually look and feel like - have a look at one man's vision of it by reading "Ecotopia."

The book was written in 1975 and it reminds me that, as bad as I think inequality is today between the sexes and the (so-called) races of human beings, it was much wo
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: eco
In this speculative fiction from 1975, the west coast separated from America to form a sustainable country, Ecotopia. The book can be read as an expression of leftish counter culture ideals after the 1960s: people in Ecotopia spend less time at work, they are physically active, women hold prominent positions of authority and power within society, people are sexually free in a 1970s way, groups and family dynamics are intricate and varied, people wear baggy but comfortable clothes made from natur ...more
Apr 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In brief: Ecotopia is a brilliant story illuminating a possible, bright sustainable eco-future where No. Cal, Oregon and Washington secede from 'Merica and are isolated for decades and a NY journalist visits for the first time since secession. The writing is not that great but the story and the vision of a sustainable high quality communal egalitarian life is brilliant. A must read for minds open to fighting for and having a sustainable, enjoyable life based upon sharing and enjoying Earth. Amon ...more
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I liked this book very much. I very much enjoyed the way it was structured, with different 'articles' describing different aspects of life in this imagined Ecotopian society. I always enjoy when books about alternate futures focus on the way people live instead of a dramaticized plot. I thought the interspersion of journal entries and articles was an excellent balance between these two aspects of the greater story of Ecotopia.

It is unfortunate to say that the book has not aged well. It is no lon
Colin Ng
Jul 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Ecotopia is an imaginative, original, fairy-tale-esque book that paints a world in which the west coast of the United States (Northern California, Oregon and Washington) had successfully achieved secession from the rest of the country. Will Weston has been allowed to investigate, write and report on the state of Ecotopia; the first American to be allowed to enter the borders of the break-away state since their independence.

Of course the idea of a part of the contiguous United States breaking awa
Neil Browning
Jan 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Apparently this book was rejected by many publishers, and became a counterculture classic when it finally circulated in the 1970’s.

Reading this was a priority for me because I have known many who speak of this book as a revolutionary, holistic blueprint for a sustainable society. It was ahead of its time, though not so far ahead of its time that it didn’t immediately resonate with a broad audience.

Don’t expect a good story, because that’s not the point. Ecotopia is written by a journalist, and i
Fordon James
Mar 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
May 22, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
...Ecotopia is very much a novel of its time. I suspect that if it had been published as little as five years later it would have sunk like a stone. This is likely true for many successful novels though. As a novel I wouldn't rate it too highly. The characterization in particular is not very well done. His struggle is obvious from the beginning and not particularly well portrayed. The society Callenbach describes, despite the obvious problems with it, is a fascinating one though. I can see why p ...more
Gaia DeNisi
Jan 08, 2021 rated it liked it
This book has made me desperately want to live in a place that doesn’t exist. Written in the 70s, it hasn’t aged perfectly but most of the concepts are impressively relevant—things we are still striving towards or have managed to achieve to some extent. Only 3 stars because it really isn’t stunning as literature and is, in some ways, a flawed masterpiece, but it is so enjoyable and immersive, and proposes a world so beautiful and seemingly real, you can almost touch it.
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Solarpunk: Ecotopia (November 2018) 25 22 Nov 27, 2018 06:20AM  
Ecotopia (Custom prompt) 1 7 Nov 05, 2018 03:03PM  
What's the Name o...: SOLVED California secedes & avoids WW III [s] 8 132 Jan 08, 2013 06:15AM  
Humanity and Violence 2 8 Mar 18, 2012 12:09AM  

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Ernest Callenbach was an American author, film critic, editor, and simple living adherent. He became famous due to his internationally successful semi-utopian novel Ecotopia. ...more

Other books in the series

Ecotopia (2 books)
  • Ecotopia Emerging

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