John Hunt

Prometheus Unbound Podcast

In episode three of the Prometheus Unbound Podcast, Matthew and I have a fantastic interview with the wonderful Jeffrey Tucker, editor of Laissez Faire Books. It’s a long one, about an hour and fifteen minutes, and we knew you’d be eager to listen to Jeffrey, so we wasted no time with chit-chat and got right down to business. We covered a number of topics ranging from LFB, intellectual property, and Jeffrey’s favorite fiction.

We started off by asking Jeffrey Tucker what it’s been like working for a commercial publisher and bookseller after having worked for a nonprofit educational institution, the Ludwig von Mises Institute, where he was editorial vice president, for so long.

Then we went on to talk about the business model of Laissez Faire Books and the role of the publisher in the digital age as a curator and service provider (curation as a service); the compatibility of open source and business; intellectual property; the nature of competition; how many entrepreneurs and businesses misidentify the source of their profitability and don’t understand why people buy their goods or services; how copyright has held back the publishing industry; and markets as institutions of teaching and learning.

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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

It has been a long trip. Twenty-two weeks, sixty chapters plus a prologue and an epilogue. With this week’s installment, John Hunt’s Higher Cause finally comes to an end.

We had a lot of adventure, saw a lot of character and relationship arcs, experienced some mystery and intrigue, and all the while saw a libertarian society in operation. It struggled to survive in the midst of statism, full of dedicated men who not only believed in a libertarian philosophy but were willing to live it and work hard to achieve it. It would be nice to see more works of this sort.

The books virtues, as I have mentioned before, are the imagination that went into the concept and the overall grasp of a story arc. The writing is generally solid and Hunt manages to competently weave together a rather complex tale.

It is my opinion that the dialogue could be improved and that certain sections of the prose could be deleted to good effect. At times, there was a tendency to over-explain things.

In addition to the above, and with the story now behind us, there are other aspects I would like to point out as needing strengthening. For starters, the separate story strands could have been synchronized a little better. For most of the novel, they complimented each other and crisscrossed back and forth quite nicely, but things came loose a touch at the end.

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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

It is my opinion that John Hunt’s greatest strength as a novelist is in his overall design of the story. This is particularly true when it comes to setting things up in one chapter to get a payoff in another. The last dozen or so chapters have been all about payoff, realizing returns on investments made in earlier chapters. In this the penultimate installment, we see as good a display of his careful planning as we have yet seen. A seed planted way back in the beginning of the book finally bears fruit as a twist to end the installment.

To begin the installment, we saw the conclusion of the cliff hanger from last week. I truly had no idea where he was going to go with it, but his resolution was clever and made sense. Things have, in the main plot line, pretty much come to a close, barring some unforeseen surprise in the next chapter.

One supposes that the last segment will be an epilogue that brings to a close the other plot line, the one about The Bounty, which never quite merged with the central story about The Island and its enemies. This is going to be a bit of a problem for the book. There is nothing about The Bounty story that needs connecting to The Island’s libertarian story. This is not necessarily bad, by any means, but it seems that the two are not going to ever truly be connected, except geographically. It is an odd choice, but The Bounty was never as fully developed and intricate as the rest of the plot. Leaving it to the side, as has been done, makes it feel unnecessary, like a story line that did not need to be there. Judgment must be reserved until the end, but right now it feels like The Bounty story could have been a separate book, maybe a sequel. The present one might have been better without it. We shall see.

As I said, the main story seems to have pretty much concluded. There are some final character moments we are going to need, especially involving Elisa and Petur. And something will have to be done to justify the inclusion of The Bounty in the story. And, of course, we must see how the British decide to handle things if they are to be the mafia institution that oversees The Island. Just one more week, and all will be answered.

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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

Higher Cause is a bit of a mixed bag this week. The final showdown continues, but there is an aspect to it that fails to convince. The action and the tension remain, but some of the maneuvering with respect to international law does not strike this reader as very plausible. However, there are two very good moments, one of them being what is probably the novel’s greatest cliffhanger.

The standoff with Mexico reaches what seems like a climax, only to redouble in suspense just a short while later. All in all, this final showdown has been an up-and-down affair. Just when the reader thinks one faction has an advantage, the tables get turned. I expect they will turn again, though how this is going to happen after the aforementioned cliffhanger is beyond me.

There have been a number of things I have criticized in these reviews, all having to do with how information is conveyed to the reader. There has been tell when there should be show. There have been moments when something already understood is explained at length. Sometimes, things that we do not need to know yet, or even really should not know yet, are told to us. All three kinds of these “information problems” are on display in this installment.

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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

Higher Cause #19 continues the entwining of separate story lines that began in earnest in the previous installment. There are three more chapters, with all the action being on or around The Island. The situation is at its most dire as we enter, but the good guys get a lucky break and suddenly their opponents’ hand is not as strong as it was. At the very least, they have been given a chance.

One of the key elements Hunt has used throughout the novel is the planting of mystery. Many seeds have been sown along the way, some of which sprouted and were further tended to. Now, as we near the end, we are starting to get a lot of payoff from the harvest. As far as timing goes, I think it was handled well.

One of the reveals, however, may be problematic for other reasons. The entire backstory has not yet come out, so final judgment must be withheld, but one of the enigmas we have encountered in the book is beginning to strain my credulity. At this point, it seems like some license was taken with plausibility in order to set up the mystery, but perhaps a future installment will set me straight on that.

Act Three is well under way and must resolve itself in the next ten chapters or so, unless a cliffhanger and a sequel are in store for us. It has been a pulse-pounding finale so far with more to come. And we know that perhaps the greatest mystery of all, the one that was prepared for us as early as the prologue of the book and has been developed repeatedly since, has yet to play a role. The author has done a good job of masking his intentions with it, because though some possibilities as to how all this will play out occur to me, there is no obvious or unavoidable scenario to make the book too predictable.

We shall have to wait to see.

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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

After a long break, we return to the Higher Cause reviews.

In part 18, there are many pieces in play as we near the end of the novel. Different story lines, separate for so long, are now starting to entwine themselves together in the narrative thread. What looked like nothing more than a mid-story action sequence a few weeks ago has turned into a protracted battle that reignites every time we think it might be slowing down. It is becoming apparent that, however it evolves over the next few installments, it is going to be the final showdown.

The terrorists are still playing cat and mouse games with The Island’s defenses. The Island has been evacuated as the Mexican government forces land on The Island. Petur and his team prepare to defend themselves, though in what manner we still do not know.

Chapters 45 through 48 exhibit the attributes we have come to recognize in the novel. There are many perspectives that enhance our experience of the action. Hunt likes to drop bombs to end his chapters — to good effect. There is a bit too much over-explaining. The dialogue could be cleaned up a little to sound more normal.

With only a handful of weeks to go, the end can be made out in the distance, though the features are still a blur. A few mysteries await elucidation, too. This marks several installments in a row that have kept us hooked and ready to read on, despite some areas in want of polishing. It is much to be hoped that the end will satisfy the built-up tension and expectation.

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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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