Top positive review
on December 25, 2001
In this and other novels, the author portrays societies in conflict - where the people of one society live under some flavor of socialism and those of the other society live in freedom.
This book is less entertaining and is more preachy than his other books, which is fine with me because it is thought provoking, but most readers should be forewarned. For example, he has tried throughout to push the envelope on libertarian philosophy.
Even libertarians may be turned off by his attempt to preach an extremely moralistic brand of libertarianism. He seems to have been tripped up by the incompleteness of the central tenet of libertarian philosophy, which basically says to not initiate force, but which doesn't say anything about how to respond to an initiation of force.
In this book for example, you pretty much have to die if you incur "moral debt". If you accidentally kill someone, you must die. If you grab a person and shake him, then you are obligated to grant him any wish. A man can use pretty much any amount of physical force to have sex with a woman, but if she wispers "no", then he must die.
The author did make many good points (as he usually does). One example, "If voting could change anything, it would be illegal." He also included this excellent historical point on page 226, "In the 19th century, infamous Democratic party boss William Marcy Tweed said he didn't give a damn who did the voting as long as he did the nominating."
If you are looking for a good novel with a libertarian bent, then read this one eventually, but first read books like "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert Heinlein (or pretty much anything else by Heinlein for that matter). I also highly recommend "Across Realtime" by Vernor Vinge. In fact, L. Neil Smith wrote a book almost as good as these two, called "Pallas".