Volume 15, Number 02, Spring, 1997


Free Space, the first libertarian sf anthology ever, is a milestone. One of the many questions this anthology is sure to raise, is what exactly is libertarian science fiction? Brad Linaweaver, co-editor of Free Space, attempts one definition in his introduction, as fiction that takes economics and politics seriously.

Libertarian sf is all this and more. Few have said it better than Robert A. Heinlein. Free trade, free travel, common citizenship, common currency, and a minimum of imperial laws and restrictions. The big, bold visions of libertarian sf are based on one simple tenet: that no individual can initiate force against another individual.

If any genre of sf has been abused and dismissed by critics, libertarian sf is that genre. By dealing with serious issues, by questioning authority everywhere, libertarian writers are dismissed simply as mindless polemics with an axe to grind. Nothing could be further from the truth. Libertarian sf is the celebration of individualism and individuality: it is the true desire to see humans into space, and beyond, in our lifetimes, despite governments damndest attempts to stop us.

If you think government care about getting real space travel, look at the pathetic simpering of NASA. Instead of cashing in on the surge of popularity around the Pathfinder expedition to Mars, through huge licensing efforts that could raise billions of dollars, NASA collects mere pennies.

In the previous Prometheus Øyvind Myhre wrote that there are no libertarian utopias. We beg to differ. By his definition of a libertarian utopia as a place where libertarian would like to live, I can easily see libertarians settling down in L. Neil Smiths Confederate America in The Probability Broach, Robert Heinlein’s world in Beyond this Horizon, and James P. Hogan’s planet in Voyage from Yesteryear [thanks to Tod Casasent for pointing out a couple of these.]

But, in reality, those libertarian world are utopias. They are, if I may coin a word, metatopias. Rather than statist world where we all are forced to live by someones single vision, a libertarian metatopia, enforcing its sole rule of non-agression, allows all individuals the scope to create their own utopias.

What is utopia but a place where you have your life and liberty to pursue happiness? As Aristotle wrote, fiction is more interesting than history. For while history only can show what men have done, fiction shows what they can and should do.

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