An experimental community forms a society from scratch in this speculative political novel.
The rules of Microcosm are simple: Its 30,000 residents decide for themselves how to live. There’s no set government; every person has equal resources and opportunities, and they can use them as they see fit: “No longer could people complain that they’d had an unfair disadvantage—people would either sink or swim by their own abilities and decisions, or lack thereof.” This doesn’t work well for everyone, but it seems to work fine for 45-year-old Patton Larsen, who lost his wife and three kids in a car accident and came to Microcosm—or Blue Creek, as the community later comes to be known—to hide away from the world. However, when the lack of laws leads to anxiety and instability, there’s pressure to form a government, though the more libertarian-minded residents, like Patton, vehemently oppose the notion. People tell him that he’s just being paranoid, and eventually, he concedes to working with his neighbors to form the best (and smallest) government possible. Even so, three citizens who rise to power—Charlie Henry, David Asher, and Anna Radinski—quickly implement dictatorial policies that are characterized as socialist. Patton and a small group of like-minded citizens resist the machinations of these would-be tyrants and work to guarantee the liberties of the people of Blue Creek—even if the price is blood. Debut author Hansen offers an intriguing premise in this novel. However, unlike the researchers running the experiment, he’s no impartial observer to the events that he describes; he acknowledges his own disdain for progressivism in his introduction, and the book has a clear and intended libertarian bent throughout. In the end, however, Hansen curiously undercuts his own argument, as the libertarian Utopia of Microcosm is revealed to be structurally unsound, and it falls quickly into a state of instability that, in turn, gives rise to a new regime. The characters are also disappointingly one-dimensional, and Patton, in particular, seems almost like a parody of self-righteous American masculinity.
A didactic dystopian tale that lacks self-awareness.