Wednesday, September 06, 2006

06.30 The Wild Shore by Kim Stanley Robinson


The Wild Shore by Kim Stanley Robinson
Pbk, Ace, 371 pp.

The post apocalyptic literature journey rolls on! The Wild Shore is the first book in the this authors Three Californias trilogy. These novels imagine three different futures and are centered around Orange County, California. This is Robinson's first published novel.

In a post apocalyptic America set in 2047 series of nuclear explosions in all the major cities have reduced the population to almost nothing. The story is centered around a small valley, just north of San Diego. Several families numbering around 70 people live a relatively pastoral agricultural life growing what crops they can and fishing. They have almost no interaction with other survivors except on those rare occasions when they go to small trading markets. There they interact with other people who live in the cities or what are left of them and are called scavengers.

The story focuses on a small group of teenagers and in particular, one named Hank. These kids work hard for their fathers and listen to tales from a few old-timers who have survived from before the war. The old men describe what a great and what a terrible country it once was. One day a small group of men arrived from San Diego and represent a much larger community who are trying to repair the railway tracks up the coast. They ask Tom, an old-timer, and Hank to come along back to San Diego with them to meet the Mayor, who wants them to join in a larger resistance movement.

Geopolitically, the Japanese have been tasked with patrolling the coast in order to keep anyone from leaving. In addition, the folks from San Diego have found that when they do things like repair bridges satellite weapons will immediately destroy them. All of these measures seem focused on keeping the population of America small and fragmented.

The discovery of this resistance movement fires up many of the youth in the Valley and sets them against the older folk who believe that they should just focus on surviving and growing their families. Several of the boys decide they're going to take matters into their own hands.

The novel explores several interesting themes that I've discussed here before in some of the British post apocalyptic science fiction. What does it mean to form a new society and should that society be modeled upon the old one? This was definitely an interesting novel to read but I wouldn't say was the best exploration of these types of issues. Nevertheless, I look forward to reading the other novels in this triptych at some point down the line.

1 comment:

Buzby said...

Excellent. You should really write a critical bibliography of this genre.