November 2012

Alongside Night by J. Neil Schulman

Alongside Night by J. Neil Schulman

Alongside Night by J. Neil Schulman, so far as I am aware, is still the agorist novel par excellence. More than three decades have passed since its publication — not that you would know it without looking at the copyright date — yet in that time no other novel has so successfully mixed the principles of agorism with such a keen perspective on the future. There are not many novels that can top it for entertainment value either.

The story takes place in what was then the future, but which now seems a very prescient present. Not only is the story filled with theretofore unrealized gadgets and technology that differ from what we actually possess sometimes by no more than an appellation, or occasionally a small feature or manner of use, but the economic conditions described in the tale read like a seer’s forecast.

Schulman’s knowledge of economics allowed him to make a forecast every bit as accurate as the one for which Ayn Rand, in her novel Atlas Shrugged, has been lauded of late. In fact, this very knowledge of economics is probably what helped the author predict all those gadgets, for it is well established that science-fiction authors, a group not known for their economic acumen, tend to think on a grand scale when most of the advances, in a consumer-driven society, are modest devices of everyday convenience and entertainment.

It is a dystopian world we are plunged into in Alongside Night, where central control of the economy and erosion of civil liberties proceed, as they must, hand in hand. When the government abducts the protagonist’s father, a noted free-market libertarian economist somewhere between Milton Friedman and Ludwig von Mises in his radicalness, the high school student Elliot Vreeland embarks on a quest to free him. This quest takes him into the world of the agorists, free-market rebels and masters of counter-economics.

[Keep reading…]

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Get The Syndic by C.M. Kornbluth for free!

Get it for free in epub and mobi formats!

Get The Syndic by C.M. Kornbluth for free!
Get it for free in epub and mobi formats!

We’ve got another book giveaway for you.

I’m pleased to announce that we’re working with publisher LiberNoctis to give away ebook copies of C.M. Kornbluth’s classic science fiction novel The Syndic.

From my review of the novel,

“What ifs” are the bread and butter of science fiction. What if organized crime overthrew the United States government and took over? What would life be like under the mafia? Would the people of North America be better off? These are the questions C.M. Kornbluth sought to answer in his science-fiction novel The Syndic (1953).

The new edition by LiberNoctis

brings you this classic of science fiction, with foreword and extensive afterword by noted libertarian writer Jeff Riggenbach on the history of the author, the novel, and the politics of mid-20th-century science fiction among Kornbluth’s contemporaries — men such as Isaac Asimov on the Left, Robert Heinlein on the Right, and libertarian science-fiction advocates who sought to redefine the political spectrum through the power of science fiction itself.

[Keep reading…]

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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

The action that began in last week’s offering is, for better or worse, brought to a conclusion this week. First, though, we get a scene with Onbacher in his search for the Bounty. It acts as a sort of interlude between the action of last week and the conclusion of that action this week. It is a good way to start off the installment, because we know what must surely be coming, but the gratification is delayed and therefore heightened.

Onbacher goes on a trek over land as the first chapter begins. There is nothing especially arresting about the segment, which is usually when Hunt chooses to hit us with something, and this time is no exception. Onbacher meets a man at the end and, through the clever use of a prop, the author relays to the reader everything they need to know. Another cliff hanger, and a great method of conveying much by showing just a little.

After that, we return to the threat to The Island from a few different perspectives. It is a nice piece, but last week I mentioned that more obstacles, more tease and denial, might have been used. Not doing so reduced the intensity of the conclusion. With more involvement, more perspectives might have been added, and there might have been more cutting back and forth from one to another, giving the whole sequence a more frenetic pace and taking us to a higher summit before finding a resolution. Again, it is still a nice bit of action and thrills, but I think more could have been done.

This week paved the way for a lead up to, one imagines, a final action sequence with everything on the line. Onbacher is going to get into something, and if the story is successful it will tie in to the Mexican threat to The Island as well as the Arab threat. If handled right, it will be a great way to finish off the story. We’ll see over the next few weeks how it goes.

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The Man Who Sold the Moon by Robert A. Heinlein

The Man Who Sold the Moon by Robert A. Heinlein

This month we are reading and discussing The Man Who Sold the Moon by Robert Heinlein:

This is not a novel but a collection of shorter fiction by Robert Heinlein that fall within his loose-knit Future History series. The title story, also the longest, is a novella about businessman D.D. Harriman’s dream of being the first to travel to and possess the moon, his schemes to raise capital in legitimate and semi-legitimate ways, and his efforts to avoid government ownership of the moon. The remaining short stories are “Life Line,” “Let There be Light,” “The Roads Must Roll,” “Blowups Happen,” and “Requiem.”

Moon only available on Amazon in mass market paperback, so order your copy soon. If you buy the book through our affiliate links you’ll be supporting our work here at Prometheus Unbound without costing yourself anything extra.

Join us as we read and discuss The Man Who Sold the Moon.

We’re reading the stories by internal chronological order rather than the order in which they appear in the book. I’ve written a post in the forum listing the stories in proper order and explaining why.

You need not have voted on this month’s selection to join in the discussion, but you do need to be registered and logged in on this site to access the book club’s dedicated forums.

October Recap

We’ve been reading J. Neil Schulman’s classic dystopian science fiction novel Alongside Night, winner of the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award and currently being adapted into a movie starring Kevin Sorbo (HerculesAndromeda).

Official discussion is still open if you want to chime in before the live author chat with Schulman on November 10th. For more information on this event, see the Google+ event page. The discussion will be retired to the TLR — Previous Reads forum after the event, where discussion can continue without distracting from discussion of this month’s read.

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