the mob

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

Get it for free in epub and mobi formats!

The Syndic by C.M. Kornbluth

“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 Syndic is of interest to libertarians, not least because it was honored with the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award in 1986 by the Libertarian Futurist Society. This edition of the novel includes a forward and an afterward by Jeff Riggenbach that set the historical context for Kornbluth’s work and life and their relevance to libertarians. The Syndic is a fast-paced, entertaining tale replete with insights into the nature of the state and of war. Indeed, it could arguably be deemed an antiwar novel; but the insights do not end there.

As The Syndic opens, the continent of North America has long been divvied up between the Syndic and the Mob. The former United States government continues to exist in exile in Iceland and Ireland as the North American Government (NAG; an apt acronym). After an odd prologue composed of historical documents that set the stage for us, we’re introduced to our main viewpoint character, Charles Orsino, a low-ranking young bagman for the Syndic, who spends his days politely shaking down small businesses in the 101st New York Police Precinct for protection money and playing a brutal version of polo with jeeps and firearms instead of horses and mallets.

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Looper

Looper

Logic is never kind to a story about time travel. It seems that no matter what idea or aspect of so-called fourth dimensional travel a storyteller wishes to pursue, something does not work right — contradictions abound. The biggest plot holes in the history of fiction are to be found therein. For my money, this is the first and best reason to suppose that time travel is not possible. Reality is nothing if not possible and plausible — at least from the perspective of one in possession of the relevant facts — and if a story cannot be made to work right when time travel is involved, reality probably cannot either.

There is, however, a lot of potential in such tales. If a viewer will but suspend his disbelief and allow an author or filmmaker to explore one possibility while forgetting its necessary and contradictory corollaries, then some interesting possibilities may be realized. Rian Johnson has done a first-rate job of spinning a time-traveling yarn with the new movie Looper, if the audience will afford it such consideration.

The year is 2044, and time travel, as we are told by the narrator and protagonist (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt), is not yet invented. Thirty years in the future, it is/will be (it occurs to me that we need another tense or two in the English language when we discuss these things). It is illegal, though, and only mobsters make use of it, to send back their targets to be eliminated and their bodies disposed of. The men who do the eliminating and disposing are called loopers, and they earn that appellation when they close their own loop by, at the end of their contract, killing their 30-years-older selves.

Our protagonist, called simply Joe, is a drug abusing, well-dressed looper with a manner perhaps a bit too refined, and a face perhaps too smooth and handsome, for someone in his station. Leonardo DiCaprio, in The Departed, managed to overcome his golden beauty and give a convincing portrayal of a hoodlum. I would have preferred something rougher like that in Looper. Gordon-Levitt has all the makings of a leading man, but I thought the role he portrayed in this film was not quite the right one.

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