Several passages in The Gold Coast indicate a subtle theme of human detachment. The public in general, as well as several specific characters in the book, are detached from the reality of the world around them, from each other, and from a meaningful existence.
As Jim and Arthur go around the mall posting anti-war posters, Jim makes a remark about how most people are “sleepwalkers,” with Arthur noting how they just go on acting functioning but not really thinking about what it is they are doing. In particular he points out the lack of attention to reading, and contrasts this with the attention on media (such as sex comedy videos), nodding towards the fact that one is an intellectual activity and the other figuratively can be done unconsciously.
The general public are also detached from the war, as they go on oblivious to carnage being caused for their sake, instigated by the politicians and the military industrial complex. “Look at these sleepwalkers, zombieing around in some kind of L-5 toybox… I mean, this is our country! This is it, from sea to shining sea, some kind of brain mortuary! While the rest of the world is a real mortuary. The world is falling apart and we devote ourselves to making weapons so we can take more of it over!” Here the leadership of the government are also so detached they fail to recognize that they are destroying the world by trying to conquer it, leaving nothing of value to gain by their actions.
Detachment from a life of meaningful endeavor is evident as Arthur confronts Jim about his own life, “You don’t give a shit about your jobs. So you drift along being ace culturevulture and wondering what it’s all about… Don’t you believe in anything?” Like many Americans, Jim spends his time working at a job he hates, to earn money which is not enough to make him happy, while distracting himself with other activities in his off time to forget about being unfulfilled in life. He is detached from himself.
Bureaucratic leadership are detached from their employees, and fail to treat them as human beings. Lemon, Dennis’s boss for example: “Lemon’s been out of engineering so long that little matters like weight or voltage or performance reliability don’t mean anything to him anymore. Those are things for others to worry about. For him it’s cost-effectiveness, schedules, the team’s momentum, its look. He’s the team’s fearless leader, the little furor of this little tin reich.” Here Lemon is so far removed even from what it is his business does. He no longer comprehends or considers the task that is to be done. He merely enforces requirements of the military, and the preferences of the corporate leaders which will be most profitable. His employees are not even treated as human, but things to be manipulated in order to produce the optimum results for the corporation.
 Kim Stanley Robinson, “The Gold Coast,” (New York: Tom Doherty Associates, 1988), 40
 Kim Stanley Robinson, “The Gold Coast,” (New York: Tom Doherty Associates, 1988), 41
 Ibid, 55
 Rate a Quote.com, [from Philip K. Dick, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep,” (New York: Ballantine Books, 1968)] http://www.rateaquote.com/q/a-human-being-without-proper-empathy-feeling-is-same-as-android-built-as-to-lack-it-either-by-design-mistake-we-mean-basically-someone-who-does-philip-k-dick-32705/