Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Book Review: THE TRAVELER

2005 seems to be the Year of the Freedom Novel. While not as explicitly libertarian as Vin Suprynowicz’s powerful The Black Arrow, nor as well written as RebelFire 1.0: Out of the Gray Zone by Claire Wolfe and Aaron Zelman, John Twelve Hawks’ debut novel, The Traveler, is a dandy addition to the growing catalog of liberty fiction.

In quick summary, The Traveler takes place in a post-9/11 future (maybe 15 minutes from now) where there is “the appearance of freedom with the reality of control.” Every person’s actions are tracked by the Vast Machine, a web of computerized info systems accessed constantly by government, large corporations, and even “benign” nonprofits like the Evergreen Foundation, a front for forces interested in world domination. Generally, people surrender to (or choose to ignore) this 24/7 monitoring of their lives in exchange for “safety” from terrorism and crime. But some choose to live “off the Grid,” away from the prying eyes of the Vast Machine. Upon this backdrop is played a “secret history,” a centuries-old battle between those who want to control history (the Tabula, or Brethren) and those who aspire to freedom (the Travelers and their warrior-guards, the Harlequins). As one character in the novel reveals, “The facts you know are mostly an illusion. The real struggle of history is going on beneath the surface.”

The Traveler has an aggressive marketing campaign behind it. I first read about the book in a splashy USA Today article a couple of weeks ago, then checked out its official website, and later came across a big display for it at Borders. Doubleday PR hacks are promoting its author as an “off the Grid” celebrity; John Twelve Hawks is a pseudonym, and the writer talks to his editors only via a satellite phone or through the Internet. I also hear the book’s been optioned by a movie studio already.

All of this hype may deter you from reading the novel, or from pursuing the two sequels already planned. Don’t let that happen. With its effective warnings about the Security State and its hard-line advocacy of liberty, The Traveler deserves to be a bestseller. Buy a copy for yourself, and then buy copies for your friends. This is the closest we’ve been in a long time to seeing a libertarian-leaning novel break into the mainstream.
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2 Comments:

At 10:23 PM, Anonymous Tom Ender said...

Like you, not living almost off grid myself, I saw advance notice of this book, first from Amazon. I thought it looked very interesting.

When I did my "weekly Sam's Club shopping," they had a stack of them (as well as flats full of Half-Blood Prince which I also bought, but haven't read yet). Normally, in the vein of stuff I might read, Sam's carries Dean Koontz (and, of course, J.K. Rowling), but I don't see Claire Wolfe and Vin on their shelves.

Julie (my wife and a person in her own right, who has a very high reading speed) also read The Traveler last weekend and liked it a lot. It is on the agenda for me to read very, very soon. To me it sounds like another Matrix, only in this case a book, which has valuable insight into the political world of today, but tells its story perhaps in a symbolic or allegorical way, cloaking it to get around the "official gatekeepers."

The Traveler sounds very good to me. Your endorsement is another mark in the positive column. Maybe this weekend I'll get to it.

Thanks for the pointer.

 
At 6:22 AM, Anonymous Sunni said...

It's hard to disguise or alter one's writing style ... so, Wally, d'you think the book's written by a genuine pro-freedom person whose name might be recognized in the movement?

I'll admit to a healthy dollop of skepticism regarding the author. But I'll give the book a look, all the same. Have you read The Third Revolution yet? Another fine pro-freedom book.

 

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