Revisiting the Future of Ecotopia

<em>Ecotopia</em> is a '70s cult novel that imagines a future where the Pacific Northwest secedes from the U.S. to become an environmentally-conscious utopian state. The NY Times reflects on the influence of this under-recognized novel.
December 25, 2008, 7am PST | Tim Halbur
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"In the '70s, the book, with a blurb from Ralph Nader, was a hit, selling 400,000 or so copies in the United States, and more worldwide. But by the raging '80s, the novel, along with the Whole Earth Catalog, seemed like a good candidate for a '70s time capsule - a dusty curio without much lasting impact.

Yet today, "Ecotopia" is increasingly assigned in college courses on the environment, sociology and urban planning, and its cult following has begun to reach an unlikely readership: Mr. Callenbach, [the author,] who lives in Berkeley, Calif., and calls himself a "fringe, '60s person," has been finding himself invited to speak at many small religious colleges. This month, the book's publisher, Bantam, is reissuing it.

"For a while it seemed sort of antique to people," said Mr. Callenbach, a balding and eerily fit man of 79, sitting in his backyard, which he was converting into a preserve for native plants. "They said the book is ‘very Berkeley' and all that. But now that you go out into America and young society, it apparently doesn't seem that weird to them at all."

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Published on Friday, December 12, 2008 in The New York Times
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