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Recommended Libertarian Science Fiction

August 30, 2009

taz1Science Fiction, at its best, helps us see what could be. Not necessarily what will be – where’s my flyin’ car, dang it! – but what could be – both good and bad.

Libertarianism is often accused of being unworkable in real life. How could people ever work together with all that freedom? L. Neil Smith proposes some ways in a series of books that have been around for years, but I never saw them before. The first is an alternate-universe story called The Probability Broach, published back in 1980. The North American Confederacy began when Albert Gallatin intervened during the Whiskey Rebellion, but on the anti-tax side – and convinced the militia to go with him, back to Philadelphia, to take back his fledgling country from the Federalists – especially George Washington and Alexander Hamilton. No taxes, no Constitution – a stronger set of Articles of Confederation, but focusing on the rights of the individual, not a federal government. No taxes, no government – and the Confederates get along just fine.

The latest is called The American Zone, and it is a direct sequel to the first. There are several in between that take the characters and their decendants further along, but Zone returns to the original characters. Written shortly after 9/11, Smith uses the book as a way to show how a libertarian society would handle terrorist activity.

Smith is a pretty decent writer and his ideas are certainly interesting. Right now, they are very welcome – when the federal government seems hell-bent on taking away all the freedom it can.

Smith’s web site can be found here.

Not to be confused with L. Neil Smith is J. Neil Schulman, another libertarian science fiction writer. His book, Alongside Night, sounds scarily possible right now – even though he wrote it years ago. It’s available at his website, www.pulpless.com.

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