Ernest Callenbach, ‘Ecotopia’ author, dies in California at 83

SAN FRANCISCO - Ernest “Chick’’ Callenbach, 83, a film scholar who wrote the novel “Ecotopia,’’ a 1975 underground classic that inspired generations of environmentalists and readers yearning for an ecologically sustainable society, has died.

His wife, Christine Leefeldt, said Thursday that he died of cancer April 16 in Berkeley.


Mr. Callenbach initially raised money on his own to self-publish “Ecotopia,’’ a hopeful vision of a new, environmentally conscious nation composed of Northern California, Oregon, and Washington, in which recycling and solar energy are commonplace. The book sold nearly 1 million copies and was translated into a dozen languages.

“The ideas that came out of ‘Ecotopia’ were so diverse and picked up by so many people that he was always astonished,’’ said Leefeldt. “The thing that made him very, very proud was that it inspired several generations of writers, thinkers, schoolchildren, teachers, and environmental groups.’’

Mr. Callenbach grew up on a farm in Williamsport, Pa., and moved to California in his 20s. He also wrote “Living Cheaply with Style,’’ offering prescient advice to those seeking a simpler life.

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