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Three Californias Trilogy

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The Three Californias Trilogy (also known as the Wild Shore Triptych and the Orange County Trilogy) is a book by Kim Stanley Robinson, which depict three different possible futures of Orange County, California. The books that make up the trilogy are The Wild Shore, The Gold Coast and Pacific Edge. Each of these books describes the life of young people in the three different near-futures. All three novels begin with an excavation which tells the reader about the world they are entering.[1]



The Wild Shore


The Wild Shore was Robinson's first published novel. The Wild Shore (1984) is the story of survivors of a nuclear war. The nuclear strike consisted of 2,000–3,000 neutron bombs that were detonated in 2,000 of North America's biggest cities in 1987. Survivors have started over, forming villages and living off agriculture and sea. The theme of the first chapters is that of a quite normal science fiction pastoral, which is deconstructed in later chapters. Post-nuclear rural life is hindered from developing further by international treaties imposed by the victorious Soviets, with an unwilling Japan charged with patrolling the West Coast.

The Wild Shore won the Locus Award for Best First Novel in 1985[2] and was nominated for both the Nebula and Philip K. Dick Awards in 1984.[3] Algis Budrys described it as "a frontier novel, with rich threads of Steinbeckian populism woven into its cast of characters." Although faulting the novel's "failure to sustain the weight of its undertakings," he concluded that Wild Shore was "a remarkably powerful piece of work, still a good book, almost without doubt a harbinger of great books to come from Robinson. It is also a really interesting and good book."[4]

The Gold Coast


In The Gold Coast (1988) the reader learns about Southern California in 2027, a dystopian extension of the 1980s' Los Angeles and car oriented culture and life-style: "an endless sprawl of condos, freeways and malls." The book follows two groups of characters, connected by 27 year-old Jim McPherson and his father Dennis.

The Gold Coast was nominated for the Campbell, Locus, and British Science Fiction award in 1989.[5]

Pacific Edge


Pacific Edge (1990), set in the El Modena neighborhood of Orange in 2065, narrates a summer in the life of Kevin Clayborne, a young house renovator recently elected for the town council of El Modena. Kevin finds himself at odds with the town mayor, Alfredo Blair, both personally and professionally. On the personal side, both Kevin and Alfredo are vying for the affection of Ramona Alvarez, Alfredo's former long-term girlfriend. On the professional side, Alfredo has been influenced by corporate money and attempts to rezone the last virgin hill inside the town for a commercial development. Kevin loses in all accounts: After attempting a relationship with Kevin, Ramona comes back to Alfredo, and the rezoning of the hill is passed by the council and by a town vote. In a last attempt to save the hill, Kevin turns it into a memorial for his recently deceased grandfather, who was a pillar of the community. This makes the commercial development on the hill an unpalatable project for the town. At the end of the novel, Kevin attends Ramona and Alfredo's wedding, and mourns what he's lost and reflects on what he's achieved.

Pacific Edge was the winner of the John W. Campbell Memorial Award in 1991.[6]

Development history


In an interview with UCSD, Robinson said that "this was one of my few original ideas" and that he came up with the idea for the novels while still at UCSD on a drive to Orange County, California to visit his parents.[7]


  1. ^ Potts, Stephen. "UCSD Guestbook: Kim Stanley Robinson". UCTV. University of California Television. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  2. ^ Langford, David (August 9, 2021). "Locus Award". In Clute, John; Langford, David (eds.). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (4th ed.). Retrieved December 26, 2023.
  3. ^ "2003 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-07-06.
  4. ^ "Books," F&SF, May 1984, p. 39-40
  5. ^ "1989 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-07-06.
  6. ^ "1991 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-07-06.
  7. ^ Potts, Stephen. "UCSD Guestbook: Kim Stanley Robinson". UCTV. University of California Television. Retrieved 5 September 2015.