Volume 16, Number 4, Fall, 1998

Dear LFS,

For years I have been nominating James Clavell’s Tai-Pan and Noble House novels for the Hall of Fame Award. Recently I understand someone questioned their libertarian nature; that dumbfounded me as they are obviously libertarian in nature—ask me a hard question like their connection with science fiction (will Alternate History do?). I have it: it qualifies under the single change definition of Science Fiction: what would be the effect of a single change in political science and economics, the establishment of a Free Trade port in a safe harbor in a portion of the world where arbitrary dictatorship and corruption is the usual order of things?

Unlike Clavell’s Shogun, which deals with the power politics behind the rise of Toranaga (Tokugawa) shogunate, Tai-Pan and Noble House deal with private entrepreneurs, even if they interact with government officials (and advise them). These are heroic novels about free trade and personal responsibility—what else is there to libertarianism? Nicholas van Rijn has nothing on the Tai-Pan of the Noble House.


Robert E. Sacks

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