Scraps of the Untainted Sky: Science Fiction, Utopia, Dystopia

By Tom Moylan | Go to book overview

7
Kim Stanley Robinson's
Other California

There comes into being, then, a situation in which we can say that if individual experience is authentic, then it cannot be true; and that if a scientific or cognitive model of the same content is true, then it escapes individual experience.

-- FREDRIC JAMESON, "COGNITIVE MAPPING" (349)


I.

Published in 1988, Kim Stanley Robinson Gold Coast (the second volume in his Orange County trilogy) is the earliest in my sampling of critical dystopias. 1 Although his utopian Martian trilogy is perhaps better known, Robinson's first trilogy, set closer to home, is in itself an important moment in the development of sf. 2 In this set of textual studies published between 1984 and 1990, he created three versions of the southern Californian landscape that perceptively explore the formal possibilities of the sf genre as well as the sociopolitical realities and tensions in the United States in the late 1980s. In each, a younger and older man cross generational barriers and engage in a conversation about society, personal life, and the vocation of the writer as they simultaneously confront the political crisis that shapes their particular spacetime variation. In the first two volumes, the young man eventually decides on the sort of writing he needs to do to be true to himself as well to be a responsible political agent in his society. In The Wild Shore ( 1984), Harry, at old Tom's urging, writes about his travels and experiences in the new frontier of post-neutron bomb Orange County; in the military-corporate-consumer society of The Gold Coast, Jim sets poetry aside to write the history of a ruined Orange County; but in Pacific Edge ( 1990) it is the older man (the Tom Barnard who appears in all three volumes) who works out the literary

-203-

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Scraps of the Untainted Sky: Science Fiction, Utopia, Dystopia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Permissions ix
  • Preface xi
  • Part One - Science Fiction and Utopia 1
  • 1 - Dangerous Visions 3
  • 2 - Absent Paradigms 29
  • 3 - Daring to Dream 67
  • Part Two - Dystopia 109
  • 4 - New Maps of Hell 111
  • 5 - The Dystopian Turn 147
  • 6 - The Critical Dystopia 183
  • Part Three - Dystopian Maneuvers 201
  • 7 - Kim Stanley Robinson's Other California 203
  • 8 - Octavia Butler's Parables 223
  • 9 - Marge Piercy's Tale of Hope 247
  • 10 - Horizons 273
  • Notes 285
  • Bibliography 333
  • Literary Bibliography and Filmography 367
  • Film and Video 373
  • Index 375
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