“When Shells Crumble may well be the most optimistic disaster novel you’ll ever read…”
—A.D. Cirulis, San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 29, 2023
Eric gave me a very generous introduction on his website:
Meet one of San Francisco’s most crucial chroniclers! Chris Carlsson has been observing and promulgating the City’s progressive past, present and future for decades. Writer, historian, bicyclist, blogger, photographer and much more, he’s been a core citizen of the City since 1978.
You know his work whether you realize it or not — from his books on San Francisco politics, his role in Critical Mass and bicycle culture, his immersion in FoundSF and Shaping San Francisco — he’s had an immense impact on your life, and ours as a collective soul expressed as the urban core of a variegated bioregion. He’s just one of many who have been forging the consciousness of the San Francisco Bay Area and coastal California since the days of Frank Norris, but he’s one who is here now, and he’s irreplaceable. He epitomizes what makes San Francisco uniquely alive and undefeatable.
Hear him at Bird & Beckett Tuesday the 13th with his new novel, When Shells Crumble.
Here’s what the Chronicle had to say about his book:
A.D. Cirulus / SF Chronicle: When Shells Crumble
Here’s the wonderful blurbs I got from various friends:
Carlsson’s masterful storytelling coupled with his deep ecological and historical knowledge of the Bay Area roots this novel intimately in place and community. His characters are multi-faceted, communicating the complexity of movements for justice made up of passion, vision, compromise, conflict and possibility. When Shells Crumble is a wild ride, that will leave you breathless at times, while over and over again centering the power of community — across many lines of difference — to manifest the world we so desperately need.
Chris Carlsson is one of the great bards of San Francisco, whose activism and storytelling have reshaped the way we understand our city’s past—and changed its future. When Carlsson offers a vision of urbanism to come, you’d better pay attention.
—Annalee Newitz, author of The Terraformers and Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age
Carlsson invites us to put the imagination back in the revolution. When Shells Crumble is reminder that the path from dystopia to utopia may not be as long as we have feared it to be.
—James R. Tracy, co-author No Fascist USA! The John Brown Anti Klan Committee and Lessons for Today’s Movements
Futurist and thought provoker Carlsson once again imagines a near-future scenario where disaster spawns opportunities for radical self-reliance. San Francisco and the greater Bay Area are where history, politics, culture and environment create a messy stew of biotech, inequality, activism, and overreaching federal crackdowns. But wait—mysteriously enabled flora and fauna may be allies in the struggle! As with his first novel After the Deluge, Carlsson’s ideas will stay in your mind long after you put down his tale of radicalized plumbers and urban gardeners.
—Laura Lent, retired, formerly Chief of Collections & Technical Services, San Francisco Public Library
Most dystopian fiction takes the reader to strange new worlds where mutations are large and grotesque. The strength of Chris Carlsson’s When Shells Crumble instead arises from how close its future-world is to our present-day Trumpland realities. Enriched by Carlsson’s deep, sympathetic understanding of San Francisco Bay Area alternative undergrounds, When Shells Crumble brings us into a landscape of martial law and spirited resistance to it, made all the more chilling by how little distance there seems between his imagined nightmare scenario and the near-nightmare we currently inhabit.
—Joseph Matthews, author of The Blast