ALONGSIDE NIGHT by J. Neil Schulman


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Another doomsday book, economics division--with America in the 1990s buried in rationing and inflation (2000 new-currency ""blues"" for a taxi ride), saturated with black markets (Fifth Avenue is an illegal-goods carnival), and on the brink of a total police state. So, when economist Martin Vreeland (who saved Europe with his ""limited-government, laissez-faire-enterprise system"") learns that he's about to be arrested, he fakes his own death and prepares to flee with his family--but somehow they get split up, with teenage son Elliot stranded on his own. Who will help him? The Revolutionary Agorist Cadre, that's who; it's a grand-scale, non-violent anti-government force with an elaborate underground Utopia called Aurora, where free enterprise reigns supreme. (No drugs are prohibited: ""Another counter displayed LSD 25. . . THC. . . Mescaline. . . Sweet & Low. . ."") Elliot soon acquires a new girlfriend--a dirty-talking lass who turns out to be the runaway daughter of the FBI chief; and, with the help of the Cadre's vast intelligence system, he learns that his mother and sister are political prisoners and that his father is free, hiding out at the Hilton, and ready to make a sell-out deal with the U.S. government--which will topple unless Vreeland persuades Europe to accept the New Dollar. At the busy climax: a disastrous attempt to free the political prisoners, the collapse of the government, and the ascendancy of the Cadre, vowing to remain a non-government: ""we are agorists, propertarian anarchists. . . . Why would we abandon market principles we have found efficacious in favor of hegemonic ones that have led society after society into ruin?"" Yes, Schulman's message comes through loud and clear (he led the ""Nobody for President"" campaign in '76), though without much impact--the half-thriller narrative is too giddy to be effective propaganda, getting lost in technical, economic, and sci-fi-ish details that don't add up. Amusing here and there, then, and generally painless; but a small pamphlet would probably have made a better case for propertarian anarchy.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1979
ISBN: 1584451203
Publisher: Crown