Saturday, February 27, 2010

Wookie Utopias?

Which novels have the best wookie-suiter utopias? My standard proselytizing books have always been The Probability Broach, Alongside Night, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, and Voyage From Yesteryear.

Any others I should keep in stock?

(Kings of the High Frontier is narrow-focus and hard to get, Atlas Shrugged is quite the literary Dagwood and a sure cure for insomnia in non-bibliophiles, and Firefly is neither a book nor particularly Utopian...)

47 comments:

Armed Texan said...

In Larry Niven's N-Space is a short story named "Cloak of Anarchy" about a "free park" where almost all laws are suspended. The outside society is hardly a wookie utopia, but the park surely is.

Anonymous said...

King Rat, Tai-Pan and Nobel House.

BobG said...

Some of H. Beam Piper's stuff comes to mind. A Planet for Texans is definitely in that group.

D.W. Drang said...

I'd say Michael Williamson's Freehold was close, if they could have just kept those pesky Earthers away...

WV: buggicon. Science fiction convention for Amish?

Anonymous said...

So people who tend to fall asleep all the time should read Atlas Shrugged to keep them awake?

Good to know, I think I'll get a copy so the next time I'm up late working on something, I can read a few pages to pep me up.

Alan said...

I bough KOTHF when it was an ebook, then managed to snag a dead tree copy later. Excellent book

I'd add Varley's Steel Beach to the list.

Justthisguy said...

I'll second "Freehold." Maybe it's too realistic to be a utopia, though, in that it shows how most people don't appreciate a nice thing like they have there, and want to beat them up and take their stuff.

Oh, and don't let Mike work on your HVAC unless you're sure he really likes you.

Anonymous said...

Another vote for Freehold.

TBeck said...

Michael Z. Williamson's FREEHOLD is another good one.

Matthew said...

Pallas by L. Neil Smith.

Asteroid colonized by private individuals yet forced to host a UN commune and the wacky hijinks that inevitably ensue.

Anonymous said...

American Zone as it lays out the big picture the Wookie Utopia.

Shootin' Buddy

Anonymous said...

You can't go wrong with John Varley's "Gaia" trilogy. 3 parts, Titan, Wizard and Demon.

Tam said...

"So people who tend to fall asleep all the time should read Atlas Shrugged to keep them awake?"

D'oh!

I don't know why my fingers typed "narcolepsy" when my brain was thinking "insomnia"...

Tam said...

Fixed.

...and I also don't know how I forgot Freehold.

jselvy said...

I gotta second "Lonestar Planet" by Piper

RobertM said...

Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series is good wookie-suitor material, but it's more about the fight to get to the utopia than actually living in it. Plenty of action to keep you from falling asleep but definitely spoon feeds libertarian ideals to you once you get about midway into the series and on.

Of course, it's all fantasy and not scifi, but a fun ride if you like that sort of thing.

I think LabRat of the Atomic Nerds once described Goodkind as 'Conan the Libertarian.'

Blackwing1 said...

For the inverse, Ringo and Evans', "The Road to Damascus", a step-by-step instruction manual on how to destroy your civilization.

For step-by-step instructions on how to save it from the collectivists, you could try Pournelle and Stirling's trilogy of, "Prince of Mercenaries", "Go Tell the Spartans", and "Prince of Sparta" (a little of the first book was recycled from Pournelle's earlier work, but well worth re-reading).

Look in your used SF bookstore for a copy of Piper's "Four Day Planet" and "Lone Star Planet"; they combined both novelettes into one volume back in the early '70's.

bryanp said...

I am a bibliophile, with hundreds upon hundreds of books littering the shelves of my home. Atlas Shrugged is a cure for insomnia in pretty much anyone.

TJP said...

The Constitution of the United States of America.

Mark Alger said...

Vernor Vinge's Across Realtime starts out with a glimpse of a libertarian utopia, although it pretty much leaves it behind rather quickly.

M

Dave R. said...

A quibble: Steel Beach, while well written and possessing a libertarian moral, is not necessarily an enjoyable read to anyone not already comfortable with trans-humanism and libertine-libertarianism. I found it engrossing despite being somewhat dark, but the first person I loaned it to couldn't finish it. I wouldn't call it a good general purpose proselytizing tool.

Chris M said...

"Unintended Consequences" by John Ross. Granted, it takes the first 400 pages to get started but the last 400+ make it worth the wait.

Pathfinder said...

"best wookie-suiter utopias?"

Is that where the rainbow-farting unicorns live?

Nathan said...

"Look in your used SF bookstore for a copy of Piper's "Four Day Planet" and "Lone Star Planet"; they combined both novelettes into one volume back in the early '70's."

Both available for free on Gutenberg. As is most of his work.

Nathan said...

Chris M: I hate to tell you, but any book that takes 400 pages to get started is going to lose me on page 50, if not before. :)

D.W. Drang said...

Note that it is sometimes helpful to remind oneself that "utopia" is Latin for "No place."

Sarah said...

"TJP said...

The Constitution of the United States of America."

TJP wins the Internet.

I liked Stephen King's "The Stand" as utopian literature. Wiping out 90-plus percent of the world's population would get rid of pretty much everything that I hate most about our society. Reality TV. Inflation. The worst of the politicians and lawyers.

Kristopher said...

Iain M. Banks Culture series.

He comes at Wookietopia from the far left ... but it does hang together well, and even makes economic sense.

If production and resources are so cheap that goods are as expensive as water from a drinking fountain, then your economy is based on people's time and attention rather than work or scarcity.

His Culture is an Anarcho-Syndicalist's utopia ... and he imagined it right. If a libertarian were to be dropped into it, they would just consider him a bit odd and leave him alone

Joseph said...

We should also consider defense against statist or technocratic utopias. For that, it might make sense to consider a book by an author who is usually associated with the technocratic side but got better. Such an author can speak the language better.

In other words, I recommend The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov. In The End of Eternity, all of history is planned by the Eternals, planners who really are all-wise because they have time travel and can see what the effects of their actions will be, ... and they still manage to make a mess of things:

Sample quote:

"Any system like Eternity which allows men to choose their own future will end by choosing safety and mediocrity, and in such a Reality the stars are out of reach."

Stranger said...

That depends on your "utopia." A place where the pantry is always stocked, the neverfailing sources of energy are free, there are enough people to interact with, and strife is unknown would fit many people's definition. Much of Ray Gallun's 1920's and '30's output, and some of Asimov's Robot series comes to mind.

On the other hand, a really good translation of Plato's Republic provides the original Utopia in pleasant enough form. Although it fails the pantry/energy/peace test and is impractical ideal - unless as Plato is reputed to have said "We shall all have slaves."

Stranger

Tam said...

Stranger,

No, I mean "wookie-suiter utopias"; places with minimal coercive government and maximum personal freedom. (Yet which aren't full of Somali warlords.)

Joel said...

I can't believe nobody's mentioned "And Then There Were None" by Eric Frank Russell. Granted it's more of a novelet or very long "short" story than a novel, it's got to be the prototype wookietopia. MYOB!

http://www.abelard.org/e-f-russell.php

Chris M said...

Nathan, "Unintended Consequences" takes that long to get started for a good reason. It needs that much to sufficiently review the history you probably weren't taught in school. Without that, the reader won't know how much we've lost and nor understand the reason for events in the last half of the book.

aczarnowski said...

I assume Alongside Night doesn't make the list because it's not pretty enough? Pretty is in the eye of the beholder though...

Tam said...

?

It's the second book I mentioned.

Joel said...

Shh! He's sleeping! :P

D.W. Drang said...

Michael Z. Williamson's Contact With Chaos may be considered more Wookietopian than Freehold. (It takes place years after the war described in Freehold and The Weapon, and those pesky Earthers have managed to field a diplomat who is not incompetent, nor a complete fascist...)

WV: sophisms. Really.

Justthisguy said...

Deathwish, I read that one standing up in the bookstore, and yes it is good. (Madmike forgave me, as I have negative net worth)

I think his funniest is "Better to Beg Forgiveness" which I actually bought. There is some hilarious Tuckerizing in it, most 'specially the Ginmar beast.

I want, no, I want a report from someone else who had a date with the Elke Sykora character.

Vaarok said...

The Probability Broach is also available as a comicbook!

http://www.bigheadpress.com/tpbtgn

LMWatBullRun said...

I echo the suggestions of others for H. Beam Piper, MZW, and L. Neil Smith's works, (Probability Broach is good, as is Pallas, but his most recent work is "Ceres", and it's good. ) Heinlein's "Time enough for Love" is not explicitly Libertarian, but it does exhibit strong anti-authoritarian tendencies.

For those interested in the journey to a libertarian society, I suggest Vin Suprynowicz' "the Black Arrow." He writes fiction surprisingly well for an editorial commentator.

Two oldies but goodies are by Jules Verne- "20,000 Leagues under the Sea," and "Mysterious Island." Captain Nemo is probably the original anti-statist libertarian.

You might also enjoy "The curious Republic of Gondor" by Samuel Clemons.

Bram said...

I always thought Starship Troopers was pretty utopian.

Ian Argent said...

The Venus Equilateral stories do pretty well, though the libertarianism is in the background (Anyone think today that VE would be allowed to operate with as little governmental oversight as they did?) Bonus points for gonzo engineering.

Honorverse is as llibertarian as you're likely to get in a monarchy (and the vote is denied to people who take more .gov money than they pay in taxes!)

Conterexample: Hammer's Slammers is a universe where the .gov's *are* a bunch of Somali warlords (more or less).

Anonymous said...

Not sure author name but Pallus (spelling?) was a fun book about colonizing (the moon?). A free society existed outside the govt commune, kid in th commune builds a simple radio, hears their broadcasts, escapes, learns about conservative values.

Atlas kept me awake first time I read it as a lib. Once I got past the first 100 pages I was hooked. Stayed up most of the night, read it at work when the boss wasn't around and finished in 3 days/nights. Changed my whole outlook on life and the world. Thank you Ayn Rand! Larry Weeks

Scott said...

The Third Revolution and Middle America by Anthony Lewis are good primers on libertarian thought.

Sean Galt said...

Molon Labe! is one I am kind of partial to.

J. Neil Schulman said...

Thanks for listing Alongside Night, which has one advantage over all the other still-in-copyright books -- you can download and read it for FREE!

Over 76,000 downloads so far of the free 30th anniversary PDF edition which is at http://www.alongsidenight.net

Psst! Alongside Night! Pass it ON!

Anonymous said...

Daniel Suarez!

Daemon / Freedom - what Neil Stephenson _should_ have written after Cryptonomicon.

Double-win: the audiobooks are very well done. The production was right up there with World War Z. Awesome!