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Publisher's Summary

This second book in Kim Stanley Robinson's richly detailed Three Californias Triptych reveals a second, all-too-plausible possible future for Orange County.

North America, 2027. Southern California is a developer's dream gone mad: an endless sprawl of condos, freeways, and malls. Jim McPherson, the affluent son of a defense contractor, is a young man lost in a world of fast cars, casual sex, and designer drugs. But his descent in to the shadowy underground of industrial terrorism brings him into a shattering confrontation with his family, his goals, and his ideals.

The Gold Coast is an epic work of science fiction that explores a grim future and what one man can do to turn the tides.

©2013 Kim Stanley Robinson (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc. and Skyboat Media, Inc.

What listeners say about The Gold Coast

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Classic Kim Stanley Robinson poetic mysticism

This book was published over 30 years ago and got a few things right.

It predicts a future of autonomous drones and self-driving cars pretty closely.

Other predictions didn't pan out like changes in the institution of marriage and stalled out progress in the developing world.

It's got compelling characters and delivers on that classic KSR poetic mysticism.

4 people found this helpful

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Not as Good as the First Book in the Triptych

The Gold Coast is book two on KSR's triptych. This story is set in 2027 and Orange County is totally developed, full of shopping malls, sprawling industrial development, massive residential buildings and the autopia - multi-level electric/magnetic roads (built in the "roaring 20s") filled with programmable self-driving cars. It is a concrete jungle. This book was published in 1988 so KSR is projecting technology and world events out ~40 years, some predictions he gets pretty close and some not so much.

Our Californians are still recording things on CDs and video tape, and there isn't a cell phone to be found. Standard old telephones are still in use, so if you don't want to talk to that annoying friends just leave the phone off the hook like we used to. Houses have video walls which serve as computer screens and television screens, very interesting. Young folks take designer drugs via eyedropper and record their sexual encounters for later viewing. The world is an extension of 1988 in that Russia and the US are still in a cold war, and the development of weapons systems similar to Reagan's "Star Wars" is one of the main topics of this novel.

The narrative switches back and forth between Jim McPherson, a disgruntled twenty-something wannabe author who works part-time as an English teacher and spends a lot of time running with the same group of friends, and his dad Dennis McPherson who is an engineer for a major defense contractor which is trying to land the government contract for an advanced Star Wars weapons system. Sprinkled throughout the book, KSR tells of the past and future (1988 to 2027) history of Orange County and how it became the overdeveloped, overpopulated mess that the novel is set in.

In Dennis' timeline we learn all about what life is like at a defense contractor, how bidding and negotiation with the Department of Defense is handled, details about future weapon design, and how Dennis and his company are hoping to put an end to the cold war once and for all. Concurrently, we see the other side of the coin in Jim's timeline as he and his friends are anti-war and are looking for ways to take down companies like the ones his dad works at. Dennis and Jim aren't close and don't see eye to eye during the course of the novel, but their separate plots converge somewhat at the end.

Just like in The Wild Shore there is a very old man named Tom with memories of the past, and in this novel he happens to be Jim's grandpa.

I thought this novel came together nicely at the end, in a similar way the first novel of this triptych did. I liked it but not as much as The Wild Shore.

2 people found this helpful

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a meditation on the endgame of American hollowness

Finished listening in the Owen's River Valley. Told myself I would only read KSR on paper, but I will say the reading is quite good for the three California's.

You can start to see the KSR style we know and love, with a counterpoint between exposition and a thread of action. Compared to The Wild Shore he has alot more to say, the character writing is much stronger, and the ending is on point.

Some might see a 21st century setting with a soviet union still around as hopelessly dated, but all the issues in this book are still as relevant as ever.

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Gold Tech

I got lost and distracted by the defense contract details after 20+ chapters.
I liked the first book a lot better.

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Too dated

Interesting story, but really hard to suspend disbelief with regard to future tech as imagined from 1988 in the actual 2022.

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Disappointing

Was really looking forward to this one after absolutely loving the first book in the trilogy, “The Wild Shore.” I understand the dystopian themes and actually like the overall message of the book, but MAN, was it boring. I was over halfway through the book before it felt like anything really happened. I also took a star away from the performance because even though I LOVE Stefan Rudnicki, there’s no way he was pronouncing “Lagunatics” correctly. Like, it HAD to be pronounced in a way that it rhymes with “lunatics,” right? But he says in with the wrong emphasis and it comes out sounding like “fanatics.”

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I Didn't Understand

This novel was well performed, But I really didn't understand the purpose in this series.

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fantastic!

I loved everything about this book. even it's datedness. my only complaint is, while I loved the narrator's voice and delivery, like so many male narrators he cannot do a woman's voice without making them sound like a 50's grandma or a drag queen. I find that so irritating. just read the female parts like a human being!

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'Oranger' orange county

Kim Stanley Robinson's The Gold Coast is the second installment in his California triptych trilogy. Each offering is a standalone tale that outlines possible futures for the region: dystopic, utopic, and just more orange county. This offering is the more orange county with unfettered urban sprawl and concretization of every square of land. While there are a two main characters, a father who works for the defense industry and his slacker son barely getting by, there are other characters including a paramedic, a drug dealer, an artist, a backpacker/surfer, etc. The slacker son gets caught up with an activist protesting the defense industry and ends up taking part in terrorist acts, which may actually be a front for corporate espionage / insurance fraud.

Robinson emphasizes the inherent contradictions between the economic / defense concerns and the original attraction of the region for settlement. He also dramatically points out his concerns and frustrations with the direction of developments. Of note, he highlights the eventual development of drone technology and designer drugs. While the managed automotive technology is yet to be realized, the technology is fascinating. He also intersperses the history of the area that add to the story.

The narration is reasonable with good character distinction, although the non-verbal sounds effects are overdone.

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Awfully drawn out and boring

Compared to other Sci-Fi, this book is full of uninteresting drawn out moments, like the first book in the series. I just can’t finish it.

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  • Jennifer Robinson
  • 11-28-21

might have gone over better 35 years ago.

I found all the drugs and gratuitous sex boring, and the plot wondering. Lots of ugly California history and plausible description of corruption in military procurement.

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  • Bruce MacDonald
  • 10-05-21

I can’t even figure out the plot!

I’ve made it nearly halfway through and am still struggling to figure it out. What is this about?
I’m really disappointed. KSR is usually a reliable author, but this has been a waste of time and money.