Sunday, October 23, 2005

Book Review: ALONGSIDE NIGHT

This weekend, I read J. Neil Schulman’s novel Alongside Night for, oh, the eighth or ninth time in 20 years. And for the eighth or ninth time, I’m convinced again that it should be on every libertarian’s must-read list. My old Ace paperback is so ragged and yellowed, it’s probably only good for a couple more readings before the pages start dropping out. (I’m ordering a new copy.)

Three things bring me back to Alongside Night again and again. First, it’s a damn good story, and one I don’t seem to tire of. Second, it remains the only explicitly agorist libertarian novel ever written, based directly on the strategic and tactical ideas of my late comrade Samuel Edward Konkin III. And finally, it’s a tale of genuine optimism and hope that stands splendidly next to novels like Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and Ira Levin’s This Perfect Day.

Briefly, Alongside Night is set in a very near future and details two mind-blowing weeks in the life of 17-year-old Elliott Vreeland. Elliott gets swept up in the final American revolution, joining black-market radicals to restore freedom (but not by “any means necessary”) and simultaneously rescue his family from a secret federal prison.

Remarkably, the book never gets preachy — a problem with a lot of political fiction. Rather, ideas are presented in characters’ actions and in snappy dialogue. You hardly realize you’re learning anything while you breeze through the story. But you are.

When anyone asks me, “But how will your so-called stateless society work?” I loan them my beat-up copy of Alongside Night — or send them out looking for a copy of their own. I haven’t heard any complaints yet.
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1 Comments:

At 7:24 AM, Blogger Happy Curmudgeon said...

You've read it 8 or 9 times? I'm only on # 7.

 

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