Sunday, August 16, 2009

B.W.'s Book Report: Alongside Night

Reading J. Neil Schulman's Alongside Night last week was a surreal experience. I found myself unable to distinguish whether I'd heard about certain world events from the news media or if they were plot points from Schulman's novel.

It is an undetermined near-future. The U.S. government's policy of printing money to pay its debts has resulted in rampant inflation and political unrest, and the entire economy is on the brink of complete collapse. A well-known economist who opposed the policy and warned of the collapse learns he is on a list of dissidents who will be arrested shortly, and he makes plans to take his family into hiding.

The novel is told from the perspective of the economist's teenage son, who is separated from the family and has a series of adventures and coming-of-age experiences before various matters are resolved. I'm being vague because I've already told you more about the plot than I knew before I picked up the book. All I knew was its reputation as perhaps the only purely agorist novel ever written, and so it was on my to-do list to obtain a copy someday. Schulman helped that process along by making it available as a free download — click here for more information and to get the .pdf (top of the page).

It's a terrific page-turner that portrays how a vibrant countereconomy might work. I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good yarn that portrays where today's economic politics are inevitably leading. And hey, it's free. A Prometheus Hall of Fame honoree at that price is, well, golden.

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