Response to “Pacific Edge”

Response to “Pacific Edge”

My initial reaction to “Pacific Edge” by Kim Stanley Robinson was one of surprise. Firstly, because I felt as if the first 300 pages were devoted to a slow development of the conflict over Rattlesnake Hill woven with the individual characters’ storylines and romances, and then somehow in the last 20 pages everything came together at race pace. Secondly, it seemed odd that the author would choose to end an ecotopia novel with the main character, Kevin, losing his grandfather in a tragic accident and the woman he loved to his adversary. After more consideration, I feel as if this ending was inevitable. It would almost be a disservice to Tom as a character to allow him to die the way he did without it meaning something more; it was a gracious end to his character arc for his death to be Rattlesnake Hill’s salvation.

More broadly, it would have severely weakened the power of the novel and its message if Kevin had ‘won it all’. In crafting a utopia, specifically an ecotopia, maintaining a degree of authenticity and relatability is paramount. If the utopic society is too advanced, or too far removed from existence as we know it, then its ability to inspire others to imagine creative solutions to climate change is limited. Allowing Kevin to suffer showed the reader that the climate can change, civilization can change, but humans will still love and lose and grieve. Offering such relatable human experience allows the reader to accept the novel, and in so doing the underlying notion that humanity can (and must) adapt to changing environmental conditions.

This is unrelated to my thoughts above, but I saw it as I was writing and think it is funny.


How I imagine Tom’s plaque might look one day (

A real-world example of bio-architecture (

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