Libertarians In Hard Vacuum

There used to be a sub-genre in American SF that gleefully envisaged societies of the High Frontier where the air had to be paid for by the cubic metre. Hard vacuum served to correct a regrettable fault of the old, earthly Frontier, namely that, even if he had nothing else, a man could still breathe for free. And the pioneers of the Low Frontier used sometimes to yield to weakness and help one another. Much better if someone needing rescue had to pay for it upfront. If he only had the ability to pay after he had been rescued, then one could then let him die, to encourage the others.

This sub-genre reads like a loser revenge-fantasy; by which I mean, not the usual fantasy of revenge by losers, but rather a fantasy of revenge on losers. Oddly enough, these eructations proceeded, not from the captains of industry but from hardscrabble writers. But then again, this is the one Big Idea that America gave the world in the twentieth century: a call to arms to liberate the rich from the tyranny of the poor.

Posted on September 7, 2009 at 09:03 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink

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