Can You Create a Top 50 Libertarian Fiction List?

Sunni's picture

Precisely one week ago, Anders Monsen published his top 50 libertarian fiction list, and included the rules he chose. I particularly like his restriction of only one choice per author; not only does it help spread the love around, as it were, but it encourages the listmaker to reflect on the various volumes of, for example, Robert Heinlein and to attempt to articulate the ineffable: Which one do I really like best, and is good at promoting liberty?

I’m not even going to pretend to make a serious go at selecting 50 books today. Most of the scifi books I own are still in Lobo’s possession (time and emotional considerations when moving out left the delicate, difficult operation of disentwining our book collections for another day, which has not yet arrived), so I don’t even have the luxury of perusing titles, let alone the books themselves. I do have the book reviews at my salon to guide me somewhat; and I also have another motive that I’d use in shaping my list: given how popular some pro-freedom authors are, I’d make a concerted effort to include material from relatively unknown authors. I also suspect that my list would skew more to individualism than hewing to a more pure libertarian perspective, but that can’t be a surprise to anyone here. Without further ado, then, and in no particular order...

F. Paul Wilson has many books one may choose from, but for me Sims is the easy choice. As always, Paul created a compelling story and interesting characters wrestling with issues of genetic modification, what (if anything) differentiates humans from other animals, and the complexities of artificial versus native intelligence. All those issues are still highly relevant today. Given that Sims won the 2004 Prometheus Award, I expect I wouldn’t be alone in choosing it above some of his other excellent books.

I am firmly convinced that my early exposure to The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking shaped my individualist thinking from a very early age; and I remain just as firmly convinced that adults can benefit from reading or rereading Astrid Lindgren’s warm, light-hearted, fanciful tales of a free-spirited girl and her more conventional neighbor friends, making this collection of tales appropriate to all.

Shaun Saunders has a fiendishly clever way of storytelling that I adore (and have missed). Mallcity 14 seems every bit as relevant today as it did when he first published it, given that CRM (customer relationship management), Big Data, and debt-driven societies remain part of our world.

Carl Bussjaeger is another excellent and lamentably not well-known enough writer. Net Assets is must reading for anyone who wants to see the true privatization of space exploration, but deserves to reach a much broader audience because of its uncompromising but never preachy pro-freedom perspective.

The snolfs and I were instantly hooked by Warren Bluhm’s podcast series of The Imaginary Bomb. That in no way dimmed our enjoyment of this fun space adventure that reminds me of old-time radio stories when it came out in book format.

I came across John Scalzi when The Ghost Brigades was a Prometheus Award finalist. I’m sure I side-eyed in many a time before placing it at the bottom of the stack... such is my distaste for military fiction. The book turned out to be an excellent and emotionally wrenching examination of individuality and what it means to be human.

Neal Stephenson offers many candidates, but for me it’s a fairly easy task to choose The Diamond Age, probably because of its examination of the individual to various groups, and the creation of culture. Yeah, my choice has a typical Stephenson non-ending, but that isn’t enough of a fault to put a different book in its place.

I have thought highly of Ursula LeGuin since childhood, but didn’t see any of the books of hers I’d read in a pro-freedom context until discovering The Lathe of Heaven. In it, she vivisects the essential craven nature of the do-gooder better than any other novelist I have encountered.

I so vividly remember how my life was changed—and how completely I knew I was on the cusp of huge changes—when I finished reading Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. I still think it makes the best introduction to her ideas for most readers.

Robert Heinlein wrote so many different novels with great characters and stories that it’s very difficult to limit oneself to just one book. For a quick and dirty list such as this, I have to go with The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.

Gah! This is a terrible start, but it’s all I can muster for today. There are several scifi authors whose books I’ve read, but don’t remember enough details of each of them to consider them for the list. If I have missed one of your favorite authors or books, please enlighten us all via a comment.

Carl did good!

I'm reading "Net Assets" right now- and loving it!

Neal Stephenson

Stephenson's definitely near the top of my list.

Also Daniel Suarez (I'm counting Daemon and Freedom(TM) as a single work.

And Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy.

I like the Pippi

I like the Pippi Longstocking books. She's a great role model for young girls, and the books and movies are fun to read and watch. Astrid Lindgren wrote many wonderful books, and I read them as a young child, and now my daughter reads them.

I compiled this list years ago, with only the titles to begin with, then filling in brief descriptions over the years. Looking back at the list I'd probably make a few changes. I left off some books I should have included, such as Victor Milan's Cybernetic Samurai, Cecelia Holland's Floating Worlds, and Lois Lowry's The Giver, to mention just a few.


The Probability Broach by L.

The Probability Broach by L. Neil Smith, if just for the contrast between a police state and a free society.

For bonus points, try the graphic novel version.

No list for me...

I've actually tried a few times, but quickly decide that I'd rather be reading than trying to make a list. LOL

And besides, I have hundreds or thousands of "favorites." Hopeless...

But, strange as it may seem, one of the earliest books I remember that got me to thinking deeply about freedom and individuality is "A Tale of Two Cities." Dickens was no libertarian, but he was a master at painting the picture of poverty and brutality prevalent in that era. I credit my mother with showing me the true root causes for these evils, and the logical solution.