Themes and Meanings

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

In the Heart of the Valley of Love uses science-fiction conventions and a future setting to discuss concerns very much of the time of its writing. In the recessionary 1990’s, California, long the utopian embodiment of the American Dream, was afflicted with an unfamiliar sense of limitation and despair. Kadohata’s California of sixty years hence is an extrapolation of the trends perceived as dominating the California of the author’s present. The scarcity of resources, the sharp division between the privileged inhabitants from the “richtowns” and the benighted urban proletariat, and the potential of authoritarian solutions to problems of social unrest are but the most prominent of the cultural factors operating in the world of In the Heart of the Valley of Love. A good primer on the sociology behind Kadohata’s world, especially in the division between a technologically advanced elite and an underprivileged lower class, is Mike Davis’s City of Quartz (1990), a meditation on the economics and culture of the Los Angeles of the author’s day.

Kadohata is one of a number of writers interested in a future Southern California setting. The most visible of these manifestations is in the “cyberpunk” school of science fiction, which tends to emphasize the depersonalizing effects of hegemonic corporate and media power while stressing that the future will not lead to the kind of radical or redemptive transformation...

(The entire section is 486 words.)