Sunday, October 30, 2016

Book Review:The Wild Shore (Three Californias Triptych #1) by Kim Stanley Robinson

The Wild Shore (Three Californias Triptych #1) by Kim Stanley Robinson

Paperback, 384 pages

first published March 1984

Nebula Award Nominee (1985)

Locus Award for Best First Novel (1985)

Philip K. Dick Award for Special Citation (1985)

SF Chronicle Award Nominee for Novel (1985)

The last two Kim Stanley Robinson novels I read (2312 & Aurora) were high on my yearly list of best reads. They were the first I read by KSR since the release of Mars trilogy which I read as they were brand new. These last two books gave me a really strong sense of the man's skill not just at telling scientifically strong speculative fiction but also his amazing ability to create characters and tell story.

I had no idea until I was almost finished with the novel that the book was first published in 1984, and not until I started this review did I know that it was his first published novel. I am sure that there is a trunk novel or two but this is a fairly advanced work for a first time writer.

I knew that this trilogy of California novels looked at three possible future California. They are connected only by theme and I have to say it was the idea of Kim Robinson looking into the future of our state was to good to skip. This novel set after a nuclear war that appears to have happened in the late 80's takes place in southern California 60 years after the bombs went off. It is clear from the event that the bombs were planted.

The Main Characters live in a wild OC that is cut off from the world with bombed out cities to the north and south. The main POV character is Hank Fletcher who struggles to survive and is slowly documenting his story in a notebook. He learned how to write and read by a teacher Tom who is the only survivor from the "Times before." This post apoc setting is a fully realized future California, when the novel travels here to San Diego I could see it vividly. The Flooded Mission Valley, to the changed jet stream and the suddenly green California was very interesting.

What confused me was the political aspects of the novel. I understand that the characters might not know or understand who bombed the U.S. As the mayor of San Diego starts organize a resistance it is Japan bombing them from off the coast. Who by the way should not have a military. Then sometimes they are attacked from Mexico. Either way it was the political aspects of the novel that caused eye rolling from me and kept this book from being perfect for me.

KSR is a master of style and character even this early in his career. While he has just as much skill at the hard science he never loses track of what makes a reader connection a story.

This is a sub-genre filled with classics. It is hard to rise above all the others. Aurora is a instant classic in the subgenre of the Generational ship. This is not that good.

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