Monday, May 8, 2017

The Girl Who Owned a City, by O.T. Nelson

I have wanted to read O.T. Nelson's The Girl Who Owned a City for a long time.  It was nominated last year for the Libertarian Futurist Society's Prometheus Hall of Fame, after all.  Key word there is nominated.  It didn't win, or even make the finals, which seems reasonable to me.  It's neither a very good book nor a particularly libertarian story.

In this future world, a plague has killed everyone over the age of 12.  Why?  Who knows.  Doesn't matter.  Lisa lives with her little brother in their family's home.  She seeks out food and supplies in nearby houses, but the sources are running thin.  She decides to organize the kids in her neighborhood to defend themselves against roving gangs, eventually leading them to relocate to the local high school, of which she declares herself the owner.

Nelson showed some early promise, as Lisa tried to get the children to work for incentives rather than mere communal ownership and reliance on the older children.  When they begin to organize their defense, I thought she might forge alliances for trade, like a good libertarian would.  But no, it's just might versus might.  And with her self-declared ownership, she sets herself up as the dictator of her city.  The other kids have little option for self-direction or self-governance, other than leaving to live somewhere else.

More disappointing than the lack of principles was the plot and story telling.  The story is rather shallow and predictable.  I know a post-apocalyptic world of all children would be chaotic, but I just don't see the scenarios Nelson lays out happening.  Besides, why is Lisa the only kid in the world who can figure out how to drive a car?

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