cover image The Gold Coast

The Gold Coast

Kim Stanley Robinson. St. Martin's Press, $18.95 (389pp) ISBN 978-0-312-93050-9

This fine, bleak look at Orange County, Calif., owes more to 1984 and A Clockwork Orange than to the usual SF scenario. By 2067, the land between L.A. and San Diego County is a maze of gigantic shopping malls, ""condomundos'' and huge aerospace facilities, all joined by soaring, multilevel ``autopias'' that have paved over practically everything. Brushfire wars and famines are widespread, nuclear terror reigns and the business of America is weaponry. The narrative concerns young Jim McPherson's attempts to be a poet and his stabs at revolutionary action. His father is trying to make a tactical, nonnuclear missile that will end war, and Jim's best friends (drug-dealer Sandy, nightsurfer Tashi, emergency medic Abe) seek to avoidburnout and ennui. Some thingscorporate greed, Pentagon politicshaven't changed much. Improvements have been made (cars run on electronic tracking), and some changes are acidly funny: most people watch multiple video images of their love-making. Interspersed in the story are elegiac views of the history of ``OC'' and its possible grim future. Robinson (Planet on the Table, The Memory of Whiteness) offers a stark cautionary tale with a glimmer of hope at the end. (February)