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Comments from the Editor

Richard M. Baker, Jr. wrote High Rise Orange Groves in 1965 and shelved it. He knew from experience with conventional publishers that the adult nature of the story would be a tough sell. Knowing him and his work, that’s why he wrote it. The futuristic novel was a departure in genre but no less typical of Baker’s bold, uncensored style. Armed with a strong social conscience, he wasn’t one to pull punches in delivering the human story.

High Rise Orange Groves is the author’s prophetic and technically farsighted view of millions of people engaged in interactive social networking -- in this case, to the detriment of the populace. In this speculative, dystopian fantasy novel - reminiscent of George Orwell’s 1984, Eugene Zamyatin’s WE, and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 - Richard Baker envisions an unspecified future time when people are isolated by the authorities and ruled by inertia, ignorance, and an absence of love. Uniquely his, Baker wrote High Rise Orange Groves during the height of the Cold War when fear of atomic annihilation was compounded by the population explosion and the sexual revolution, and America was being spoiled by human and technological wastes.

Beyond this period of human-induced catastrophes, the imaginary majority of peoples in this new world order are uneducated “tans” and the minorities are black or white. The tans – loosely ruled by the “Authorities” -- live in high rise buildings, do not work, and occupy themselves with sex. One, a self-educated tan who, rather than go by a number names himself Richard, tries to establish contact with other tans via his “telecom”, part of the building-to-building, room-to-room, audio-video system.

In High Rise Orange Groves, Baker writes of a disturbingly bleak, future society. The impression imparted here is that it may be far more difficult for man to realize a meaningful social identity than to adapt to a mindless one.