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"Road of Giants": Nostalgia and the Ruins of the Superhighway in Kim Stanley Robinson's "Three Californias Trilogy"

Helen J. Burgess
Science Fiction Studies
Vol. 33, No. 2 (Jul., 2006), pp. 275-290
Published by: SF-TH Inc
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4241435
Page Count: 16
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
"Road of Giants": Nostalgia and the Ruins of the Superhighway in Kim Stanley Robinson's "Three Californias Trilogy"
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Abstract

In this essay I look at two novels in Kim Stanley Robinson's Three Californias Trilogy, The Gold Coast (1988) and The Wild Shore (1984), in which the image of the superhighway represents a site for the tension between progress and nostalgia and plays a key role as marker of future human survival. These books, as alternative futures, provide us with a choice: will we continue to create the conditions that will lead to our destruction, a highway to a future of ruins? Or will we try to harness the best of what technology has to offer in order to avert such a catastrophe? I argue that a focusing point for these debates is the superhighway, as a representation both of the "road to the future" and a road to nowhere. The Three California novels are concerned with finding a way to develop a balance between technological progress and the need for sustainable resource consumption. But both The Gold Coast and The Wild Shore also engage critically with the narratives of past and future expansion so evident in highway literature of the twentieth century. It is these narratives, embodied in the ruins of the superhighway, that I believe are important.

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