Ecotopia: The Notebooks and Reports of William Weston

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Bantam Books, 1990 - Fiction - 181 pages
2 Reviews
A novel both timely and prophetic, Ernest Callenbach’s Ecotopia is a hopeful antidote to the environmental concerns of today, set in an ecologically sound future society. Hailed by the Los Angeles Times as the “newest name after Wells, Verne, Huxley, and Orwell,” Callenbach offers a visionary blueprint for the survival of our planet . . . and our future.

Ecotopia was founded when northern California, Oregon, and Washington seceded from the Union to create a “stable-state” ecosystem: the perfect balance between human beings and the environment. Now, twenty years later, this isolated, mysterious nation is welcoming its first officially sanctioned American visitor: New York Times-Post reporter Will Weston.

Skeptical yet curious about this green new world, Weston is determined to report his findings objectively. But from the start, he’s alternately impressed and unsettled by the laws governing Ecotopia’s earth-friendly agenda: 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. His old beliefs challenged, his cynicism replaced by hope, Weston meets a sexually forthright Ecotopian woman and undertakes a relationship whose intensity will lead him to a critical choice between two worlds.

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I read this book as part of a Utopia/Dystopia class in college. It was my least favorite of the ten books we read and I couldn't wait to be done with it. It is not well written, and seemed to be the overindulgent daydreams of a concupiscent fourteen year old environmentalist. The protagonist is a caricature of the stereotypical american man (from an old hippies perspective) that I found to be laughable. As others have mentioned, his treatment of race is pretty awful, even for the seventies.
Overall I thought the text would have been better served as a paper presenting the authors environmental aspirations. It's predictable, poorly written, and incredibly over hyped. I suggest you pass it up for a better read, unless you are a hardcore hippie environmentalist. In which case, you're going to love it.

Review: Ecotopia: The Notebooks and Reports of William Weston

User Review  - KC - Goodreads

Read most of this one a while ago, and, despite being a lifelong environmentalist, I just couldn't finish it (and I almost always finish books). I'd be tempted to give it fewer stars if it were fresh ... Read full review


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About the author (1990)

Ernest Callenbach is also the author of Ecotopia Emerging, The Ecotopian Encyclopedia, and Publisher's Lunch. He is the co-author of The Art of Friendship and Humphrey the Wayward Whale (with Christine Leefeldt) and of A Citizen Legislature (with Michael Phillips). He edits natural history books and the journal Film Quarterly at the University of California Press, and lectures on environmental topics all over the world.

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