Volume 013, Number 4, Fall, 1995


By Victor Milán

AvoNova, September 1995, $5.50
Reviewed by Anders Monsen
September 1995

To know evil and obscenity you must embrace it, draw it close, and most importantly, survive it. Gazing into evil’s abyss—the state, as libertarians see it, and its creed of coercion—the abyss, as Nietzsche remarked, in return gazes into our souls. The characters in Victor Milán’s new novel, CLD, don’t just gaze into the state’s abyss on a daily basis, they inhabit it and live with it intimately.

CLD, or Collective Landing Detachment, is a military ‘anti-libertarian’ novel that gnaws at the reader’s sensibilities and conscience. No, Milán has not defected to the statist side. Rather, he has taken the worst evils of the state and a statist society, and stares down the barrel of a long gun to examine views of the absolute collectivist state from the inside. And it’s not pretty. If we ever needed a reminder of the mind set and reality against which we are fighting, this novel is that reminder.

Although only mentioned once, and indirectly, CLD is a distant sequel to the universe of Cybernetic Samurai/Shogun. From this earth fled a collectivist group. This group established a dark empire called the Stellar Collective, which sustains itself through conquest and internal repression.

CLD unfolds in two areas. One is a group of condemned dissidents forced to be soldiers of the Collective, and fighting a distant strategic battle that collapses and leaves them to their own fate. This group of maladjusted and often brutal individuals show little cohesion, and appear as ready to kill each other as the enemy.

The second focus of the novel is on one of the Collective’s home worlds, in the center of Machiavellian maneuverings, conspiracies, and retribution. Here the central characters are the Mir family, parents of Haakon Mir, one of the condemned CLD.

Milán display occasional flashes of bitter, mordant humor, appreciated best by anti-statists. In particular, a passage that discusses certain phrases the CLD needs in the areas they liberate, such as “Dig a pit, and line up beside it.” One remembers the SS and similar horrors in Bosnia; the imagined future is little different from our own present.

The heart of the novel sketches the travails of a unit of the CLD on an alien planet they have invaded. Sympathetic character? No, not really, with the exception of the tentative Haakon Mir. The real power, to use a painting analogy, lies in the landscape’s darkly detailed design.

We see the state from the minds and eyes of people who have known only the power of the state. There is a lack of the idea of liberty, let alone any hopes for a libertarian revolution, that gives this book an air of despair. While not uplifting, this book is a must read for those of us who have become complacent and believe that liberty will inevitably, inexorably win in the end.

Milán’s dystopia is unlike other familiar dystopias, in that there is no revolution, not even personal revelation. Zamiatin’s We and Orwell’s 1984 both contained grim endings yet also showed glimpses of freedom within. Not so with CLD’s dark collectivist hell.

CLD’s major drawback is that it seemed at times like the middle book in a trilogy. The promised sequel, New Order, may illuminate some of the history of the Collective, as well as explore this dystopian world in more detail.

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