October 2012

One Nation Under Blood by Tarrin P. Lupo

One Nation Under Blood by Tarrin P. Lupo

With an official release date of October 30, 2012, just in time for Halloween, author Tarrin Lupo presents us with a new sort of vampire tale that is certain to make any libertarian’s skin crawl. While not intended to be a traditional horror novel, One Nation Under Blood is nonetheless a frightening tale of what can happen when government regulation and patriotism go too far.

In Lupo’s dystopian novel, it is discovered that blood transfusions can offer more than the gift of life to a needy recipient. Performed correctly, they serve as a fountain of youth, transferring rejuvenating properties from the blood of a child into the veins of an adult. Older generations are thrilled at the chance to become healed of their ailments and erase years from their appearance, leading to a huge demand for young blood that creates an unparalleled shift in the balance of wealth from the old to the young.

When blood transfusions become a target for politicians eager to profit from the new technology, the demand overwhelms the willing donor population and a new source of young blood must be found. By the power of legislation and with the help of a successful propaganda campaign, orphans and the children of immigrants are soon forced into concentration camps where they are made to give up their blood as a patriotic service to their country.

By telling the story through the eyes of those being taken advantage of, the author allows us to put ourselves in the place of those who face similar discrimination today. Although the novel is fiction, readers will find many similarities between the story world and our own. Perhaps the scariest notion is that we can easily imagine our society being swayed into nearly identical unspeakable actions under the pretense of protecting the children.

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Prometheus Unbound

Prometheus Unbound

As Prometheus Unbound nears two years in publication — I officially launched it on October 29, 2010 — now seems as good a time as any for a little reflection and reevaluation.

We’ve got some big things on the horizon: a site redesign built on Thesis 2.0; the launch of an original podcast in January 2013; professionally designed banner, logo, and favicon. The site is going to look slicker and, hopefully, load faster in the near future. We’re about to look more professional, expand into a new medium, and, hopefully, attract a new audience.

But at the same time, I don’t want to neglect our existing services. I need to personally rededicate myself to participating in the book club. I’ve let my involvement slip over the past couple of months while other things (teaching, kids, research, admin and design work for the site) demanded my attention. I also need to write news and review posts more regularly. We could use your help in this department, however. We’re always looking for more regular and irregular contributors to bring our readers more content, not just reviews but also news, interviews, articles, and more. Stop by the community forums as well. Say hello. Tell us what you’ve been reading or watching and what you think about it. We’d love to know and want to chat with you.

The main reason for this post, however, is that something made me wonder recently whether we’re sending out email updates too frequently. We’ve greatly increased our mailing list over the past couple of months and I want to make sure we continue to bring all of you great content and not make ourselves unwelcome in your inboxes.

Our email newsletter currently consists mostly of updates from our rss feed — the post(s) we publish in a given day — and two Lightmonthly Read updates every month. The email updates for posts are not quite daily, since we do not publish posts every day, but if we did then a digest email would be sent out once per day.

We’re always looking for ways to improve the services we provide here at Prometheus Unbound, so I thought I’d ask our readers what you want.

Would you prefer to continue getting email updates on a quasi-daily basis (usually just 1-3 times per week, whenever a new post is published) or on a weekly digest basis?

Let us know in the comments, or any other way you prefer to contact us.

While you’re at it, if you have any other comments, suggestions, or even criticisms, please do not hesitate to voice them.

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Higher Cause by John Hunt

This review is part of a series covering each installment of the serialized novel Higher Cause, written by John Hunt and published by Laissez Faire Books. To catch up, start with the announcement, the book’s link-rich table of contents, and the first review.

Higher Cause by John Hunt

There are a lot of plot lines this week. Just about all the major players, in fact, make an appearance.

We visit the Marcos family, where things in Mexico have nearly reached a climax point, and so has the family dynamic.

Elisa, still arousing my suspicions, briefs Petur and paints a picture of dark clouds on the horizon.

Onbacher makes some headway, perhaps, in his search for the Bounty.

The council of oligarchs comes on stage for a short while.

Finally, we see where Jeff Baddori has ended up. There is the potential problem of logic in this part, because it raises some questions that will need some plausible answers. For now, though, it certainly intensifies things.

The three chapters this week bring us perspectives from all the important storylines. Each either establishes something important or moves the plot forward. Most leave the story dangling tantalizingly in the air, waiting for another chapter so we can see what comes next. It is this aspect of the book, the chapter endings, that stand out most. It is what the author has developed the most in his writing technique.

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Alongside Night by J. Neil Schulman

Alongside Night by J. Neil Schulman

The date has been set for our live author chat with J. Neil Schulman, whose Prometheus Hall of Fame Award–winning novel Alongside Night is being adapted into a film starring Kevin Sorbo (Hercules, Andromeda).

The event will take place via Google+ Hangout on Air on Saturday, November 10th at 9PM EST (that’s 6PM PST / 8PM CST). It will be streamed live for those who cannot fit into the Hangout and a recording will be uploaded to our YouTube channel afterward. For more details, and to RSVP, visit the official event page on Google+.

Here are the official movie trailer, music video, and Schulman’s talk at Libertopia about bringing the book to film:

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Higher Cause by John Hunt

This review is part of a series covering each installment of the serialized novel Higher Cause, written by John Hunt and published by Laissez Faire Books. To catch up, start with the announcement, the book’s link-rich table of contents, and the first review.

Higher Cause by John Hunt

This week is more about setting things up than reaping payoffs. Onbacher proceeds with his plan to find the Bounty, but that is the only significant plot point in the three chapters. This is not to say that the chapters are skippable, because we catch glimpses of plots and machinations whose culminations will no doubt explode in future chapters, but we do get a little time to catch our breath. There have been some rather kinetic chapters of late, so like a symphony whose music is a contrast of louds and softs, and fasts and slows, and sharps and smooths, we catch our breath and proceed pianissimo, with perhaps one sequence as exception.

There are dark characters lurking on The Island. Hunt once again introduces things slowly, like a tease, as he should. The possibilities are numerous but over the course of the next few chapters we will no doubt start to narrow them down until we find out just what these people are up to.

It bears noting that there has been a lot of reliance on chance partial sightings, conversations improbably overheard, and the like. This technique can quicken the pulse and is often used to get a plot started, or to introduce a twist, but overuse wears out anything. I would hope not to see it used too much more.

We also revisit the Marcos family for another interaction between father and son, one that leaves us more engrossed than it found us. I will say that the removal of one character from the family scenario was a lost opportunity, but there is a hint that she may return. I really want to see more from them.

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Anthem by Ayn Rand

I’m pleased to see Laissez Faire Books publishing a new edition of this book. I may be unusual in this, but Anthem happens to be my favorite of Rand’s four major works of fiction. It is pithy, pared down to essentials, and more poetic. This guest editorial was originally published as the editorial preface of the new edition. — GAP

Anthem by Ayn Rand

“The author does not understand socialism,” read the letter from MacMillan in reply to the submission of Ayn Rand’s novella, Anthem. They turned it down. Actually, the publisher didn’t understand socialism. Hardly anyone did in 1937, when this book was written. Rand, however, did understand socialism. She understood it so well that she knew it would result in the opposite of what it promised and that its proponents would eventually come to embrace its grim reality, rather than repudiate the system of thought.

In many ways, this book is one of the best dystopian novels ever written because it puts the central focus on the key failing of socialism: its opposition to progress. How is that possible given that progress is a central slogan in socialist thinking? The problem is that by collectivizing private property, socialism removes the machinery of progress itself. It abolishes prices and profits and calculation and the incentive to create. It puts a premium on political control, and politicians resent the revolutionary implications of entrepreneurship. Therefore, a consistently socialist society would not only be poor and backward; it would revel in those features and call them the goal.

Think about it. This was the 1930s, long before the environmental movement and long before the primitivist streak in socialist thinking was to emerge as an outright agenda to be imposed by force. But as a child in the old Soviet Union, Rand had seen it in action. She had seen how entrepreneurship and creativity had to be sacrificed for the collective, and how this drove civilization straight into the ground. A totalitarian society would not be a world with amazing technology and flying cars, but would exist only at a subsistence level. And it would try to stay that way.

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Higher Cause by John Hunt

This review is part of a series covering each installment of the serialized novel Higher Cause, written by John Hunt and published by Laissez Faire Books. To catch up, start with the announcement, the book’s link-rich table of contents, and the first review.

Higher Cause by John Hunt

We cruise into chapters 30 and 31 with the most recent offering from Higher Cause. Both chapters take place on The Island. They deal with a couple of different strands of plot. A growing suspicion comes closer to being confirmed.

Enough time has passed to allow Petur and Jeff to fully recuperate from their injuries during the attack on the OTEC. Jeff makes a brief appearance before leaving for other areas of the globe as part of his investigations. Elisa, meanwhile, returns to The Island and Petur grows more and more smitten with her.

Elisa continues to dress as unattractively as she can manage, though Petur can see through it and is pretty sure she could be a knockout if she tried. On a couple of different occasions she is caught by surprise by Petur and quickly adjusts her appearance to minimize her appeal. The reasons for this are still unclear, but Petur has begun to wonder about it. This, coupled with another occurrence, makes me suspicious about her motives, although she has been nothing but helpful to Petur and The Island to date.

The alluring brunette whose pheromones have sunk hooks into Petur is seen again, and by now the faithful reader will probably have a good idea as to who she is. If my hypothesis is right, it only heightens my suspicions. It is a plot thread with a lot of promise.

All in all, another successful bit of work. There is, however, one thing that I have been waiting for and have seen little of so far. The Island seems to be functioning smoothly, with a freed economy that is beginning to heat up. However, there is little mention of how they handle the services that government keeps for itself. How are disputes resolved? How is punishment meted out? How are claims adjudicated? The question of security is not so pressing, because the world already has more private security than government cops, but the question of arbitration and enforcement is altogether different.

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