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Saturday, October 03, 2009


This is a book by Stuart Fairney who, like me, regularly comments on JR's blog.

Ted Kennedy wouldn't like it. The villain bears more than a passing resemblance to him, being a United States Congressman who is kingmaker to Presidents, immensely wealthy through his connections, a strong "liberal" supporter of welfarism which he doesn't use & pretty disgusting libertine. Perhaps Kennedy is not the only model. On the other hand there are moments when his pathos shows through.

The protagonist, Halle is a Lara Croft of high finance. The novel is set in what purports to be an alternate universe where the Confederacy succeeded though like the moon settlement in LeGuin's The Dispossesed, this is mainly a literary vehicle to create a libertarian society. Though where LeGuin is a "left wing" anarchist (ie one who doesn't work through the free market) Fairney is a "right wing" one who does. Both authors have views they are keen to promote which either elevates them or interferes with the action according to taste.

The plot involves an attempt by Halle, as CSA representative, to sell the South's economic freedom to the Northern people using methods, including the net, used in this world too Though I think in the real world broadcasters are not quite as easily fooled into letting people speak we have since seen, subsequent to publication, Sarah Palin using the net equally successfully. One nitpick is that economically free economies grow significantly faster than over regulated ones (eg Hong Kong's rise from one of the poorest countries in the world to one of the richest in 60 years). The people of the Confederacy should thus be many times richer than those of the North which would make Halle's task much easier. In Britain we are seeing the beginning of that effect where Ireland, which adopted some comparatively minor economic freedom (mainly cutting business taxes) 20 years ago has gone from 2/3rd Britain's standard of living to 4/3rds. However a tale where an entire population was many times richer than any in our world would have made an entirely different book.

But Fairney has created an interesting heroine caring, frighteningly competent, able to beat up muggers, but much too serious for her own good. Did I mention she is black.

The title is a quote from Thomas Jefferson
“Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of a day; but a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period and pursued unalterably through every change of ministers, too plainly prove a deliberate, systematic plan of reducing [a people] to slavery.”

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