L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 256, January 25, 2004
"From the ashes a fire shall be woken"
Book Review: Freehold
Exclusive to TLE
Freehold by Michael Z. Williamson is a fascinating new science fiction book published by Jim Baen, and more than lives up to my expectations from a basically libertarian publisher.
Over the last few months, the Baen Books and Dahak's Orbit websites have had the first 14 chapters of "Freehold" up as an advance snippet of what to expect from this new author.
Kendra Pacelli, a UN peaceforce non-com, is wanted for questioning regarding a large amount of missing military supplies. Luckily, she is warned before the cops show up, and makes her escape. On the run, scared, not knowing where to go, she decides to try for the one place that absolutely denies any UN control over it's sovereignty, the "Freehold of Grainne". She crashes the gate at the embassy, and is eventually helped to escape to the freehold.
When she arrives, she goes through a massive culture shock. Earth, under the UN, is a slave state, even though she had not realized it before. The Freehold is a libertarian state, with so little government that she doesn't understand how it can exist. The very FIRST thing she notices once she arrives is that many citizens are armed, something totally incomprehensible to her. This is only the first in a long line of culture shocks that she must endure, in her journey to become a free human being. Fortunately for Kendra, she makes some good friends to help her understand her new world, and even though sometimes they don't comprehend the way she looks at things, they do help her adjust to becoming a free person.
Along the way, she has to face up to her own stereotypes of sex, religion, self-discipline, freedom, crime, punishment, and self-respect.
The first half of the book, the fourteen chapters available as snippets, are more background, but fascinating for what they teach us about being free, and what a free society IS. The second half covers what happens when the UN decides to remove this embarrassing blot from it's world view.
The combat scenes are well-done, and the inter-personal reactions are extraordinarily so. You will find yourself wondering how YOU would do, if you actually lived in a free country!
As many of you know, my all-time favorite author is the great Robert A. Heinlein. Mike Williamson is as good as the master when it comes to exploring personal relationships and alternative realities, and I hope to read much more from him later.
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