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Any good libertarian fiction?

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Al_Gore the Idiot Posted: Sun, Jan 1 2012 3:17 PM

Anyone can recommend any good libertarian novels? Storylines such as citizens overthrowing/destroying the government, ordinary citizens at war with their own country's military, a lethal pathogen engineered to target statists and socialist thinkers, etc.

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a lethal pathogen engineered to target statists and socialist thinkers

Sounds pretty unlibertarian to me...

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Gero replied on Sun, Jan 1 2012 3:26 PM

“a lethal pathogen engineered to target statists and socialist thinkers”

Kill people who disagree? Sounds like many totalitarian ideologies. To preemptively kill people just for having different views is not libertarian. Nonconsensual initiatory aggression is a violation of liberty. The only justifiable use of violence is to defend oneself. Defending oneself against a tax collector is different from slaughtering one’s non-libertarian neighbors. Most people are not that politically interested. They have lives: children, jobs, struggles, and hopes. You change people’s views with arguments, not bullets.

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This Perfect Day by Ira Levin

Seemingly another dime a dozen dystopian novel for the first half of the book, that is until the ending. At which point you shed a good tear of joy.

Also, Frank Herbert's Dune series. The setting is a monarchical space opera, but I quite enjoy its treatment of government officials as scum. One of the major themes in the series is in the danger of following leaders, especially the more radical ones. Leto || in the God Emperor of Dune (the fourth book in the series)  is my personal favorite character due to his libertarian ambition of wanting people to break free from his (literal) universal government. Now if only he didn't have to enslave everyone to reach his golden path..

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I've heard Robert Heinlein is good. I've been wanting to read Stranger in a Strange Land ever since learning that it deals with polyamory.

Also, I just ordered The Dispossessed, but that's probably not what you meant by libertarian.

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In David Friedman's Machinery of Freedom he makes this list:

 

Fiction

Poul Anderson, 'No Truce with Kings', in Time and Stars (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1964). A libertarian novelette that plays fair. The bad guys are good guys too. But wrong. You are halfway through the story before you realize which side the author is on.

Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (New York: Putnam, 1966). Most of his books contain interesting ideas. This one is set in a plausible anarcho-capitalist society; it was one of the sources from which my ideas on the subject developed. A discussion of all the good things about this book would require a long article; some day I may write it.

C. M. Kornbluth, The Syndic (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1955). A book about an attractive libertarian society (run by organized crime) caught in the stability problem. It is threatened by external enemies and apparently doomed to eventual collapse; any energetic attempt to defend it will make it no longer worth defending.

Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, Oath of Fealty. (New York: Pocket Books, 1981). Both the authors of this book have some libertarian sympathies; neither is an orthodox libertarian. It is set in the near future and centers around a privately owned arcology—a building the size of a small city, providing its own 'governmental' services to residents. A central point of the book, and one which should be of interest to anarcho-capitalists, is that people protected by a private organization instead of a government will feel for that private organization the same sort of loyalty and patriotism that people now feel for their nation. The arcology is 'us', the government of the city of Los Angeles, where it is located, is 'them'.

Niven and Pournelle have jointly written several other good books that have nothing much to do with libertarianism; I particularly recommend The Mote in God's Eye and Inferno. 'Cloak of Anarchy', in Niven's collectionTales of Known Space (New York: Ballantine, 1975), is an anti-anarchist story that libertarian anarchists should read and think about.

Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged (New York: Random House, 1957). The Fountainhead (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1943). Anthem, rev. ed., (Los Angeles: Pamphleteers, 1946). Rand's novels upset some people because the heroes are all handsome and the villains nauseating, with names to match. She did it on purpose; she did not believe art should be realistic and wrote The Romantic Manifesto (New York: World Publishing, 1969) to prove it. When someone told her that her work was not in the mainstream of American literature, she is supposed to have replied that "the mainstream of American literature is a stagnant swamp." She has a point.

Eric Frank Russell, The Great Explosion (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1962). Bureaucrats from Earth are Putting The Universe Back Together. One of their failures involves an intriguing anarcho-pacifist society. This story may have originated MYOB (for 'Mind Your Own Business').

J. Neil Schulman, Alongside Night (New York: Avon, 1987), The

Rainbow Cadenza (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1983). Two explicitly libertarian novels. The first describes a libertarian revolt in the near future, the second a society with a male-to-female ratio of ten to one where women are drafted into a prostitution corps.

L. Neil Smith, The Probability Broach (New York: Ballantine, 1980), The Venus Belt (New York: Ballantine, 1980) and lots more that I have not yet read. His books are sometimes fun; my main reservation is that the good guys are too obviously in the right and win too easily.

Vernor Vinge, True Names (New York: Bluejay, 1984), The Peace War (New York: Bluejay, 1984; Ultramarine, 1984), Marooned in Realtime (New York: Bluejay, 1986; Baen, 1987). These are science fiction novels by a libertarian with interesting ideas. The historical background for the last of the three, which is set in the very far future, includes an anarcho-capitalist society along the general lines described in Part III of this book.

The story 'The Ungoverned', included in the book True Names and Other Dangers (New York: Baen, 1987), is set after The Peace War and before Marooned in Realtime. It portrays an anarcho-capitalist society under attack by an adjacent state. One of the best things about the story is the way in which both anarchists and statists take their own institutions entirely for granted. The failure of the attack is in part a result of its leaders misinterpreting what they run into because they insist on viewing the anarcho-capitalist society as something between a rival state and a collection of gangsters.

----------------------------------------------------------------

I bolded 'The Ungoverned' because it was the first thing that popped into my head when I read your question and it reminded me of this list.

Where there is no property there is no justice; a proposition as certain as any demonstration in Euclid

Fools! not to see that what they madly desire would be a calamity to them as no hands but their own could bring

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Be wary of any book saying "this is what a free society would look like" because, like statists, they are trying to impose their idea of how society evolves, when we actually can only suggest and recommend ways in which society should be ordered.

That's why I think I'd prefer books critiquing statism as opposed to showing life in libertopia.

That being said, you should definitely read 1984, Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, and The Giver.

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Kenneth replied on Sun, Jan 1 2012 6:15 PM

Has anybody read "Eden Against Colossus" by Misesian-Randian and futurist Gennady Stolyarov II?

It's 446 pages so I want more reviews of it before ordering a copy.  

http://rationalargumentator.com/eac.html

Here's the brief description:

 

In the year 2753, after unparalleled technological and economic advancement within the Intergalactic Protectorate, reaction has set in, as a group of environmentalist mystics seeks to usurp the mechanisms of government. A scientist on the Protectorate’s outskirts discovers a planet with an entirely new sentient life form, devoid of sight of the external world and revolving its language and culture around the mysterious quisly. Aurelius Meltridge, planetary biologist and intense advocate of Reason, is sent to colonize the planet, study the aliens, and resolve the enigma surrounding them. He is to face forces far larger than himself, machinating to disrupt his endeavor at home and abroad. The full nature of the enemy he is to face is far from transparent. Two visions of the world and of the future about to collide for one final, ultimate battle, and at stake are the lives and liberties of every sentient creature. Can the will of one man save the universe and the human species?

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Misesian-Randian

Are those two... compatible?

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Kenneth replied on Sun, Jan 1 2012 10:25 PM

 

Misesian-Randian

Are those two... compatible?

Stolyarov holds similar philosophical views as George Reisman, who was a student of both Mises and Rand. 

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Wheylous replied on Mon, Jan 2 2012 12:25 AM

Rand = objectivist

Mises = subjectivist

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They aren't exactly "libertarian novels," but some libertarians might find my two novels of interest. The first, Harald, published by Baen and available online from the Baen free library (also in print from Amazon, and free as podcasts on my site), is a historical novel with made up history and geography (marketed as a fantasy, but there's no magic). It involves three societies, one of which--the protagonist's--is loosely based on saga period Iceland. But the point isn't to demonstrate the superiority of that society so much as to explore the advantages and disadvantages of different societies, in particular in conflict.

The second, Salamander, is available as a kindle on Amazon. The initial idea was a fantasy version of the central planning fallacy, the idea that if only all resources were under the control of some sensible person, wonderful things could be done. As the story devloped, a second theme appeared--in what sense the ends do or do not justify the means.

Neither of them is a libertarian novel in the sense of a novel whose purpose is to promote libertarian ideas, both are novels written by a libertarian economist and informed by my view of the world.

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@David Friedman

Aslong as the topic is books; Do you intend to release a new edition of Machinery of Freedom in the near future? I recall some speculation last year that you were working on it.

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Wait, that (^) is actually David Friedman?

Ooh, then I have a question: I watched your lecture of market failure meaning that government failure is worse, but couldn't a statist then make the argument that because good voting is a public good we should subsidize education?

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I plan a third edition of MoF, but I expect it will take a while. At the moment I'm working on a book on legal systems very different from ours--you can find the draft on my web site, by following the link to the workshop I did this fall at GMU.

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Wheylous replied on Tue, Jan 3 2012 12:25 AM

Me, me, answer my question!laugh

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1. It isn't that government failure is worse than market failure but that market failure is something that occurs in many contexts, including government, and is on the whole more likely to occur in the political system than on the market. As I think I said, "market failure" is one of those terms that seems to have an obvious meaning but doesn't.

2. The idea that schooling results in better informed voters is an old argument for government subsidy. There are several problems with it:

i. Making you better educated might make you better able to manipulate the political system to benefit yourself at my expense--a negative externality.

ii. It seems doubtful that public schooling results in people being better educated, governments not being notably good a producing things.

iii. Getting your political information from governments is not likely to give you an unbiased view of political issues such as the proper role of government.

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Wheylous replied on Tue, Jan 3 2012 12:30 AM

Seems reasonable. Thanks! I enjoyed your lecture! You have a great and engaging speaking style!

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Runyan replied on Tue, Jan 3 2012 12:50 AM

David Friedman:

They aren't exactly "libertarian novels," but some libertarians might find my two novels of interest. The first, Harald, published by Baen and available online from the Baen free library (also in print from Amazon, and free as podcasts on my site), is a historical novel with made up history and geography (marketed as a fantasy, but there's no magic). It involves three societies, one of which--the protagonist's--is loosely based on saga period Iceland. But the point isn't to demonstrate the superiority of that society so much as to explore the advantages and disadvantages of different societies, in particular in conflict.

The second, Salamander, is available as a kindle on Amazon. The initial idea was a fantasy version of the central planning fallacy, the idea that if only all resources were under the control of some sensible person, wonderful things could be done. As the story devloped, a second theme appeared--in what sense the ends do or do not justify the means.

Neither of them is a libertarian novel in the sense of a novel whose purpose is to promote libertarian ideas, both are novels written by a libertarian economist and informed by my view of the world.

 

 

I've read both (well, listened to Harald) and enjoyed them greatly.  Has there been any progress on the sequel to Salamander, or is it still stalled at 75%?

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The Salamander sequel is still stalled, I'm afraid--I've been putting energy mostly into my current nonfiction project. I've also been doing a little revision on Salamander, mostly to deal with a problem a number of readers have noted with both books--I don't always make it sufficiently clear who is speaking when.

Part of the problem with Eirick (working title for the sequel--it may end up as Pawns) is that I have a number of different plot threads, and I want to make them all come together and all matter for the ending.  Eirick, incidentally, is Iolen's orphaned son and, as Mari at one point comments, a much nicer person than his father.

I also have the beginning of a sequel to Harald which I may get back to some day.

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Conza88 replied on Tue, Jan 3 2012 11:13 AM

"This Perfect Day by Ira Levin

Seemingly another dime a dozen dystopian novel for the first half of the book, that is until the ending. At which point you shed a good tear of joy."

Giving props to this. Re-read it a week or so ago, even better the second time.

This Perfect Hell - Ralph Raico

It's a crime it's never been made into a movie.

 

Ron Paul is for self-government when compared to the Constitution. He's an anarcho-capitalist. Proof.
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JRR Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings.  Its major theme is the necessary corruption that comes from the power of the state and central planning - a power which cannot be harnessed for good, but only for evil.  Tolkien was, of course, a customary law anarchist. 

The Voluntaryist Reader: http://voluntaryistreader.wordpress.com/ Libertarian forums that actually work: http://voluntaryism.freeforums.org/index.php
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Good libertarian fiction? How about we start with Human Action! Hahahaha. Sorry, I've been hanging around /r/politics too much. The mudslinging is just horrendous.

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Henry Hazlitt's Time Will Run Back, where a man who is thrust into the role of communist dictator sees first hand the problems of central planning.  He tries to solve the problem by dismantling it piece-by-piece and replacing it with a market system.  He discovers, in stages, that free markets solve the economic calculation problem that cripples central planners. 

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I can't believe I forgot that one.  Here's the Mises Wiki article on it.  It's still a total stub, but there's a link to a Mises Daily on the book.

 

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My ebook, "Mississippi Sizzling" deals with libertarian themes but I do not dare label it libertarian fiction.

http://www.amazon.com/Mississippi-Sizzling-New-Pandoria-ebook/dp/B005WJ3G78/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1343014346&sr=1-1&keywords=mississippi+sizzling

 

If you don't want to shell out three bucks but want to kick the tires, I have posted an audio version of the story on youtube (88 vids.) http://www.youtube.com/user/MississippiSizzling/videos?view=1

Hope you like it.

Frank Lee Rio

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Full Asylum by Michael Isenberg (http://www.FullAsylum.com) It's a dark comedy that takes place a few years in the future when the Nanny State is out of control and government CREEPS are ready to kick in our doors. Ends with a confrontation between an ordinary citizen and the Attorney General.

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