Saturday, April 6, 2013

46:120 Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach

It's been over 20yrs since California, Oregon, and Washington has seceded from the USA and formed their own nation, Ecotopia.  Their aims were to create a stable-state infrastructure to reduce pollution and their impact on the earth.  In all this time, they have refused to communicate with their mother country but at long last they are allowing a single reporter in to discover for himself what they have done.  Weston has been reporting for a long time in many different locations.  He knows how to be objective, get the job done, and go home.  This time tho, things aren't nearly as straight-forward.  What he finds both compels him and unnerves him right from the start: energy-efficient “mini-cities” to eliminate urban sprawl, zero-tolerance pollution control, tree worship, ritual war games, and a woman-dominated government that has instituted such peaceful revolutions as the twenty-hour workweek and employee ownership of farms and businesses.  

As he struggles with each of these new innovations he meets Marissa, a dominant personality among her group and one who shows him how life is to be lived to its fullest with all that Ecotopia has to offer to someone willing to grasp it.  Weston is constantly drawn to her as much as he is at first confused about her attitudes but through her and other 'friends' that he finds, he becomes more integrated with Ecotopia than he ever could have imagined when he first took on this assignment.

This book was recommended to me by a friend who had said after reading several dystopias, he was looking for an utopia novel but found them rather hard to come by but had eventually found this one and enjoyed it.  I was happily surprised by how much I've enjoyed it.  Do I think all of what was talked about would actually work?  No, but I do think there were some really good ideas that were worth considering how they could actually be made to work in our present society.  Technology has wonderful upsides and I appreciate many of them on a daily basis but I also feel like we have lost a lot and that in general people can be better than we are, both as a society and as individuals.  Would I like living in a society like the one described?  I could see it working for me, yes.  Would I miss certain things that I enjoy today, yes.  Did I find certain parts of the idealized whole it presented very 'hippyish', oh yeah.  And yes, there are definitely parts that I'm not sure would actually be workable.  I don't see this story actually coming true but I do find the whole thing very thought-provoking.

Page count: 194p/11,426p ytd/155,846p lifetime

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