Pacific Edge by Kim Stanley Robinson
Pacific EdgeIn this version of Kim Stanley Robinson’s future California, it is 2065. Although technology has progressed, people have learned to live in better harmony with the environment. Business growth is strictly enforced and towns are self-governed. People, though, are still people.
Kevin Claiborne grew up in El Modena. Now in his early 30’s, he has been elected to the City Council as a representative of the Green Party. He rebuilds houses to take advantage of the surrounding environment. Alfredo Blair is the new mayor of El Modena. He invented a heart device that helps people live longer and now is partial owner of the company that manufacturers the monitor. Ramona Sanchez has been Kevin’s friend since they were children although she lived with Alfredo. She and Alfredo are now broken up for the first time since high school. Kevin discovers a new love for her – feelings he’s never had before.
Kevin’s grandfather, Tom Barnard, had been one of the activists involved in the change of laws to protect the environment and overthrow the capitalistic growth laws. When Kevin discovers that the last unzoned open area is in danger of a new development, he approaches his grandfather for help. Tom has become a hermit since his wife died a few years earlier. He is reluctant to get involved in the world or even in local politics again.
Although the question on the surface is the disposition of the open hill in El Modena, it becomes an argument between Alfredo’s vision of the future and Kevin’s vision of the future. Ramona is a complicating factor between the two.
Pacific Edge is a wonderful character study as well as political study. Kim Stanley Robinson brings the people in this book to life. Although the book is set in our near future, this story could take place any time. Ideals, romance, and greed don’t change. The issues are different and the future of the land and Nature’s resources are vital to the story development.
This novel isn’t a dire prediction of what will happen if we don’t radically change how we treat the environment. Instead it is a study of taking more responsibility for our world and allowing for human nature and the striving for more – more love, emotions, money, power, friendship, family ties, recognition, etc. Everyone has different motives and they all help create human relationships. Pacific Edge gives a good picture of people and our interactions.