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Book Note: Michael Z. Williamson, Freehold

I read this book about 3-Sep-2006. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 2004. This note was last modified Saturday, 23-Sep-2006 20:47:26 PDT.

This note contains spoilers for the book.


Big, thick, paperback. Baen Books. Both military and Libertarian. But pretty good.

Set some few hundred years in the future. There's a "gate" type very fast FTL system, and a number of colonized planets. No aliens, though on Freehold there's a strong native ecosystem including large animals. Earth is ruled by a single UN government, and most of the other inhabited systems are affiliated or controlled by it; except for the Freehold of Grainne, which is libertopia.

Our Hero is in the UN forces in logistics, and gets out just ahead of a corruption scandal that she helped investigate and did not condone or participate in, but is still being blamed on her. The only place she can go is Freehold. So she goes there, makes friends, starts working, and eventually ends up enrolling in their military; just in time to be at war with the UN, and eventually to be a major MAJOR infantry hero (Medal of Honor type, though they don't call it that).

As usual, there's no discussion of where streets come from (in a city) or how education is financed. There's an "indenture" mechanism that isn't too much different from a loan that it's hard to default on (and which is handled through the government, not by private enterprise). Prostitution and weapons are legal and common. And there are a couple of real schmucks, who come to bad ends.

There are various sections that seem to me to be intended to show mutual incomprehension between the two sides. Some UN officers are shown as concerned to really improve the situation on Grainne, thinking that government control of health care and retirement is a good thing. Still, it's very very obvious which side the author's sympathies are on.

The Freehold guerillas sometimes don't take prisoners, and slap people around to get information from them (and apparently always get valid information that way, amazingly). Our Hero discusses this with a top psychiatrist later, and gets it all rationalized as "good" and "right", merely sometimes "illegal", so she shouldn't feel bad about it. Meanwhile, the UN forces rape people repeatedly, for no apparent reason. In case you were in any doubt who were the bad guys.

The war part, where Our Hero functions as a guerilla leader and then as an infantry Corporal, is fairly extensive, and didn't raise my hackles or annoy me badly (I'm not a combat vet, or any other kind, myself, so my info is all second-hand or so).

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