The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The Orange County trilogy is set in three different extrapolated futures. In each novel, a small group of people becomes involved in events that change their lives. Each novel takes place over a single summer, almost solely in Orange County, California.

The Wild Shore takes place in 2047 in San Onofre, six decades after a nuclear war devastated the United States but left the rest of the world intact. The remaining world powers have quarantined the United States and use satellite-based defenses to prevent the country’s redevelopment. Teenager Hank Fletcher lives in a valley populated by a handful of families struggling for survival.

Hank’s life involves farming, fishing, going to swap meets, and learning from his eighty-year-old uncle, Tom Barnard, about pre-disaster America.

Strangers arrive from San Diego by rail handcar, seeking to form an alliance to fight against the Japanese patrolling the coast. Hank and Tom travel with them to San Diego and learn how Russian terrorists exploded two thousand neutron bombs, one in each major U.S. city and town. On their return trip, they find rail bridges destroyed, so they must travel by sea. Japanese forces sink their boat, and Hank is captured. He escapes, swims to shore, and barely survives to walk home.

The San Onofreans decide not to help the San Diegans, but Hank and his friends choose to do so secretly. While Tom is ill, Hank learns about some Japanese “tourists” illegally visiting. He leads a small army of San Diegans to ambush them. They themselves are ambushed, however, and barely escape to return home. One of Hank’s friends is wounded and later dies. Tom recovers and convinces Hank to write a book about his life in San Onofre and the events of that summer.

The Gold Coast portrays a very different future. It is 2027, and Orange County has been developed into an endless tangle of condominiums, malls, freeways, and defense construction plants. Twenty-seven-year-old Jim McPherson, son of a weapons...

(The entire section is 831 words.)