personal freedoms

A Libertarian Objects to “Nemo’s World”

Nemo's World: The Substrate Wars 2

Nemo’s World: The Substrate Wars 2

Nemo’s World at Amazon.

I just read an interesting (if somewhat negative) review of Nemo at Amazon:

3 Stars out of 5

Wow, this book was dissonant. Jeb Kinnison hands his protagonists the ring of power on a silver platter (Steve Duong’s de facto omnipotence through “root access” to the world), and, unfortunately, these originally Libertarian minded protagonists end up becoming almost as totalitarian as their opponents.

Nevermind what these people talk about amongst themselves philosophically, nevermind their misgivings about how they end up using this unanswerable power: Look at what they do with it! Rather than spreading this knowledge and power to others, they hoard and restrict it. Rather than letting seven billion minds figure out what to do with this power, they set themselves up as Olympian gods, and play political power games with the current nations of Earth. They hold back the truth about their abilities in an attempt to control how people can use their technology, not trusting anyone but themselves with control. They even try to manipulate the uses people will put their nerfed ‘replicators’ to by playing games with what they will allow it to produce. Eventually they begin making vast sweeping decisions in the name of all of ‘civilization’, like exiling people to other planets where presumably they will be prevented from ever trying to reproduce the technology that put them there. (Not killing someone in self defense, not keeping someone away from them personally, but deciding for every human extant to imprison these personal enemies of theirs – cutting them off from everyone’s association in a stunning violation of the will of others). In the end, these protagonists control a surveillance and force apparatus infinitely more detailed and invasive than anything the authoritarian Earth governments could produce.

Maybe part of this was authorial intent. If so, this book can be read as a chilling cautionary tale. If not, it is an awe inspiring exercise in “it’s okay if our guys do it!” On one level, there are the words the characters say, the libertarian philosophy they ostensibly believe, and on the other level, there are the things they do in exercising omnipotent control over the people of Earth.

It is normally a bad idea to respond to reviews, but it’s notable that the two less-than-stellar reviews are from people disappointed because they feel the books aren’t ideologically pure enough, especially another review from an Ayn Rand admirer who trashed Red Queen for dissenting from orthodoxy. So here’s a response.

“…while the Constitution protects against invasions of individual rights, it is not a suicide pact.” This is from a court ruling discussing the conflict of basic rights and pragmatic needs under unusual circumstances like war which threaten survival. The review above very perceptively notes that our rebels act in what amounts to wartime to limit information and technology for reasons of survival and to prevent what they see as likely catastrophe if they release their technology too quickly or without restrictions.

As a thought experiment, suppose I develop a multi-kilotonne, nuclear-equivalent bomb which can be easily built out of items purchased at a hardware store and fit into a coffee can. Am I violating others’ rights by keeping that technology to myself? The consequences of release are obviously deadly for millions and perhaps the entire species. Similarly, the rebels reasonably foresee economic disaster and dislocation starving millions if instant transport and replication are uncautiously introduced into the world as it is. As the reviewer says, the rebels talk a good libertarian game but aren’t foolish enough to endanger themselves or innocents by acting according to simplistic principles when the consequences are so dire.

The point of their many discussions is how to reach what they envision as the desirable end state of freedom and universal prosperity from their current world of shortages and political controls. They are dealing with the world and the population and governments it has, not those they might wish it had, and trying to steer a dangerous course between acting for their own survival only and acting to better all of humankind, in the long run. Because they have powerful and immoral enemies, they must keep control of their technology themselves, until such time as the power of their enemies ebbs away; because they want to share the benefits with everyone, they release less dangerous and more beneficial limited versions as circumstances allow. And they try their best to limit harms to others while they remove threats to themselves.

Our reviewer is noticing the conflict that motivates the next few books in the series — the power they have rationally reserved to the only people they can currently trust, themselves, corrupts. Some choose to keep it for themselves when the reason for such controls has passed. Those who enjoy a privileged position are tempted to rationalize as needed to justify holding onto it. This question is reflected in our current world of surveillance and the soon-to-be one of nanobots, drones, and global data collection: what does it mean to freedom when every public event is observed and recorded? Is it possible to limit access to “necessary” uses? What if it isn’t, and we realize the only way to limit the power of large organizations like governments to do harm is to open access to everyone so that governments and private organizations can themselves be watched?

The series could be viewed as a thought experiment: what would happen if you gave freedom-oriented, libertarian-ish people the ability to change the world? The specific instance of the American occupation of Iraq is mentioned as a cautionary tale: in toppling existing repressive power structures, the occupiers freed all the repressed tribal groups to use violence and terror to contend for power and graft. The global version of that would be horrific. The US founders knew their proposed system was only workable with an enlightened and independent population, and only fools would try to overthrow an existing repressive system without providing enforcement tools to assure that bullies and warlords would not immediately take over.

Indiereader Review: “Nemo’s World: The Substrate Wars 2”

Nemo's World: The Substrate Wars 2

Nemo’s World: The Substrate Wars 2

Nemo’s World at Amazon.

I go to IndieReader for formal reviews, since I’ve discovered legacy reviewers like Kirkus apply ideological prejudice to their reviews — notably for Bad Boyfriends, where the reviewer downgraded the book because I mentioned the need for children raised with expectations of entitlement to adjust to reality to find a true partnership. IndieReader does a much better job of fairly reviewing indie and small publisher works.

NEMO’S WORLD is the second installment in Jeb Kinnison’s The Substrate Wars series. The action takes place in the near future where the United States has become a one-party oligarchy opposed by a group of rebel scientists and humanity is poised to destroy itself in the name of “security.” Fortunately, a group of idealistic scientists and engineers use their intelligence to address the damage and offer a true taste of freedom to humanity.

The scientists, primarily quantum physicists, possess breakthrough technology that allows them to travel across vast distances as well as monitor others remotely through their gateway technology. The superpowers, especially the USA and China, are trying to capture the technology and the leaders of the group so they can dominate the planet. Justin Smith, a rebel leader, becomes the face of the opposition and the Americans (as well as other powers) are trying desperately to capture him. Fortunately, the rebels used their gateway technology to escape to an earthlike planet 50 light years away. The chief scientist of the rebel group, Steve Duong, used the gateways to capture every nuclear warhead on the planet to warn the superpowers to stand down and negotiate a lasting peace for their populations. The war goes on as the US and China try to duplicate the technology and end the rebellion.

The science is accurate and is footnoted so the reader can delve into the actual science behind the plot. There is conflict in the plot, especially in raids from US Seals and Islamic terrorists but the resolution is tempered with justice. NEMO’S WORLD does not have the melodrama of a space opera or of bloody fanged aliens attempting to wipe out humanity. It is a thought-provoking plot where each scientific breakthrough is analyzed for its effect on humanity and even the forces opposing the rebels rationally sort out their plans to capture the technology. The action is set against a background of intelligent discourse ranging from the effects of the technology on third-world farmers to the noosphere, the realm of human thought, and how it is affected by artificial intelligence. Even the title, NEMO’s WORLD, is a translation from Latin meaning “nobody’s world”, a reference to the loss of hegemony by the world powers. This is the level of discourse in the novel from its first pages. The book leaves several topics open, like the possibility of alien contact and the development of AI, but these seem to be hooks to be used for later in the series.

Good science fiction is usually about humanity rather than deep space or death rays. NEMO’S WORLD is well-written science fiction that harkens back to the golden age of Heinlein and Asimov.

~IndieReader.

Review here.

If you haven’t read the first in the series, Red Queen: The Substrate Wars 1, it’s best to start there.

New Review: “Red Queen: The Substrate Wars 1”

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

Excerpt from a long new review by book blogger Ashley Tomlinson:

I liked Justin, there’s nothing quite like a smart guy to wrap your arms around. I liked Samantha too, having a smart female character without making her look like a stereotypical nerd girl is always great. There were so many smart characters, I don’t think there was anyone at my level of intelligence –I guess I mean average.

Sometimes it felt less like a fiction book and more like I was watching these peoples lives before my eyes. Maybe it was more film like than fiction book but it really painted a picture for me.

I don’t think this book is for everyone but it’s definitely for people that enjoy science and physics. If you like books with very intelligent characters, so smart they can debate with Stephen Hawking, then you’ll love this book. This is only book one so there is a lot more to come from this series and from Jeb Kinnison.

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars 1.

Review: “Nemo’s World: The Substrate Wars 2”

Nemo's World: The Substrate Wars 2

Nemo’s World: The Substrate Wars 2

Now available from Amazon as a trade paperback in lavish (and kinda pricy) 6″x9″ format.

Kindle format here.

A new review by book blogger Chris Pavesic
:

5.0 out of 5 stars

There is an interesting line in Jeb Kinnison’s new novel, Nemo’s World: The Substrate Wars 2: “The reward for succeeding is more work.” KInnison wrote a terrific sci-fi dystopian novel, The Red Queen. His reward for this success was writing the next novel in the series, Nemo’s World. Kinnison’s hard work paid off in the form of a wonderful and engaging sequel that anyone who is a fan of speculative fiction, particularly science fiction/dystopian fiction, will enjoy.

***Spoilers Ahead***

The novel picks up immediately after the events of The Red Queen. The students, along with a few older advisors, have escaped Earth, but the major governments on the planet are working to duplicate the technology and create more quantum gateways. They need to hunt down the rebels to stop the spread of the new technology. The governments are afraid that readily available gateways will open up a million habitable planets for colonization. Once people leave the Earth, the established governments will lose control (and power).

As the US government draws ever closer to making its own gateway, it fights the rebels with a propaganda campaign designed to make them appear to be terrorists. But the rebels are not without resources of their own, and soon the President and the security agents find themselves under surveillance by the very technology they created.

I read this novel in one sitting—something I do not always do—but every time I thought about putting it down, I wanted to find out what happened next. It is the type of book where you start thinking “I’ll just read a few pages more,” and then realize that another hour has passed and you are almost at the end, so you can’t quit now. I really wanted to find out about the wedding between two of the main characters, the baby in the works (so to speak), and the results of the court case as well as the outcome of the rebellion, the near civil war, and if the new colonies will succeed or if the attacks from Earth will destroy them.

I think that everyone who enjoyed The Red Queen will agree that Nemo’s World is just as interesting as the first novel. (You can read my review of The Red Queen HERE.) Like the first novel, I really enjoyed the A.I. (artificial intelligence) chapters and laughed out loud where they start using humor. There is something wonderful about one A.I. “dissing” another one with the expression “your momma.” This is a five-star enjoyable read!

If you haven’t read the first in the series, Red Queen: The Substrate Wars 1, it’s best to start there.

Reviews, New Paperback: “Nemo’s World: The Substrate Wars 2”

Nemo's World: The Substrate Wars 2

Nemo’s World: The Substrate Wars 2

Now available from Amazon as a trade paperback in lavish (and kinda pricy) 6″x9″ format.

Kindle format here.

Two more reviews today:

5.0 out of 5 stars
A thrilling continuation of the Red Queen.
March 19, 2015
By M. Cunningham

Red Queen left me wanting more – especially wanting to find out if the young, idealistic rebels win out over the existing government. Nemo’s World answered my desire and more. I found it an engaging read that had plenty of action but also well-thought-out details of what might make an ideal system of governance which would grant the most freedom to the most people and really allow the human race to reach its fullest potential. We can only hope that the future will bring us young rebels as envision by the author’s wonderful tale.

5.0 out of 5 stars Red Queen on Steroids March 19, 2015
By Donald W. Campbell
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

A great sequel. Action starts right off, and doesn’t stop until the last page. Often times the sequel is a little less, and frankly, when I started this one, my thought was after all the clever ideas in Red Queen, there couldn’t be a lot left, just plot/character development…

I was wrong. This volume takes off from the ending of Red Queen, and fully fleshes out the skeleton of ideas from the first volume. You start out wondering how they could possibly make things work, and they succeed. Great expansion of both the hard science and the social science, epic struggle between Darkness and Light, and just enough teases to make you eager for the next installment.

Must read!

If you haven’t read the first in the series, Red Queen: The Substrate Wars 1, it’s best to start there.

First Review: “Nemo’s World: The Substrate Wars 2”

Nemo's World: The Substrate Wars 2

Nemo’s World: The Substrate Wars 2

It makes me nervous waiting for the first review, which often sets the tone for others that follow. So I’m happy to see someone stepped forward to toss me this bouquet:

5.0 out of 5 stars
Exciting, Well Detailed, More than a Space Opera
March 17, 2015
By Akiva
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

The Substrate wars continue! Will Justin, Steve and Samantha’s breakthroughs succeed in leading humanity to a new age and spreading throughout the galaxy, or will Dylan and the existing government complex – a United States that takes current trends to their logical conclusions of a hyper-tech-enforced surveillance state and politically correct state where deviant opinions, even in science facts, are criminal – will they nuke our freedom and liberty minded heros and regain control? The author includes some Heinlein style cultural and political moralizing, but keeps it short enough and sufficiently within the story context to not be overbearing.

The story moves along at a nice pace, keeping me interested enough to lose some hours of sleep. The tech details are well fleshed out and detailed, which might be slightly off-putting to those without a tech or science background, but as someone who works in hi-tech I thoroughly enjoyed.. Cool that the author actually provides footnotes with references at the end of the book to explain science and tech concepts and details that are important ideals in the story. Really puts the Sci in SciFi. The story definitely is more than your average space opera.

The story reaches a solid conclusion, but then includes a few surprises…the openings for the next book. I’m eagerly looking forward to the next volume in the series.

If you haven’t read the first in the series, Red Queen: The Substrate Wars 1, it’s best to start there.

“Nemo’s World: The Substrate Wars 2” – Now on Amazon

Nemo's World: The Substrate Wars 2

Nemo’s World: The Substrate Wars 2

Nemo’s World: The Substrate Wars 2 is now available in Kindle format on Amazon.

In Red Queen, student rebels discovered quantum matter transmission and used it to escape US Homeland Security. Nemo’s World has them battling the governments of the Earth to dismantle the doomsday devices and police states that are suppressing freedom and endangering humanity’s future.

Marketing blurb:

In this thrilling sequel to 2014’s Red Queen, the student rebels have escaped Earth, but the US and Chinese governments continue to try to copy their discovery of quantum gateways to find them and destroy the threat they represent to security interests. The rebels hold off Earth government attacks and continue to develop the new technology, which will change life for everyone and open a million habitable planets for colonization.

Samantha and Justin are the romantic couple at the center of the rebellion, and their fellow rebels include anarchist cyber-geeks from the Grey Tribe and some of their former professors. The rebels recruit a PR specialist from London, Daniella Pink, and begin a campaign to fight the propaganda governments have used to paint them as dangerous terrorists. When the US effort to copy their technology, led by Samantha’s former boyfriend Dylan, gets too close to success, the rebels destroy his multibillion dollar secret lab carved into a Colorado mountain. The Homeland Security surveillance the rebels suffered under in Red Queen is reversed, and the US President and security agencies discover they must go to great lengths to avoid the rebel’s listening ears.

Nemo’s World continues the cat-and-mouse game with the governments of the world as young rebels learn to use the weapon that will change the world, and unlock the universe for mankind. If they live long enough to use it!

Progress, and a Review of “Red Queen: the Substrate Wars”

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

I’ve been plowing through the sequel and I’m about two-thirds done, but that means I’ve been neglecting the web site and keeping readers updated on progress. I hope they forgive me when the next one comes out faster as a result!

In the meantime, a new Amazon review of Red Queen: The Substrate Wars caught my attention. I can now start telling people to read the first book now because the second will be out in a few weeks….

5.0 out of 5 stars
Great Beginning of a Series!
By Joseph F. Collins (Davenport, Iowa, USA)
(REAL NAME)
Verified Purchase(What’s this?)

I just sort of tumbled into this buying it because it looked interesting. I write and read books about government shattered futures and it looked quite different than many of the badly written, horribly plotted and generally horrid screeds.

I almost couldn’t put it down. Dystopian future, young people trying to make a difference, heavy handed government, college politics and stupidity, really cool science (I’m not a physics nerd but can hum along with the tune once in a while), all within a believable world filled with complex, realistic, fully developed characters told in excellent writing. The author knows his stuff yet doesn’t do an info dump but bringing it to the reader gently and with enough information to make everything hang together right.

I honestly believe that Mr. Kinnison is a writer that we should all be watching to see what he will be doing in the future as it sure looks to be interesting!

“I Felt Like Penny in Big Bang Theory…” – “Red Queen: the Substrate Wars”

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

A new Amazon review of Red Queen: The Substrate Wars gives it the lowest rating so far, 3 out of 5 stars. But it’s pretty funny, and while the reviewer felt the high-level physics content was too much, he or she does seem to have enjoyed it. Which brings up the interesting question about high-level hard science fiction: are sales of fantasy and standard space opera better because all of the elements are familiar to mainstream audiences, and if you want lots of readers, do you have to dumb it down?

It’s long so I edited it down:

3.0 out of 5 stars
I felt like Penny in Big Bang Theory…. No clue what the guys were talking about, February 3, 2015

…The language is highly technical, way too much complex for a fiction book and you need to be well versed in the field of Physics or rather quantum physics to understand the things being talked about. I suspect even then you would not be able to understand the logic as it starts at the toughest level and never lowers itself to make the readers grasp the basic string of the story.

I guess what they say about geniuses is true. Talking to them is tough because even their lowest level of communication is way too alien for the average brain and for someone like me it would be a complete catastrophe

Now the good part

It was by the middle that the author explained what is Red Queen Effect and that was when i actually started appreciating the basic theme of the book. I think it was a brilliant theme to tackle in form of fiction and the basic story was actually pretty brainy but i guess that is where it went wrong… Being too brainy.

for the sake of people like me… Red Queen effect is when one organism is required to step up their game in order to stay in the competition. The author itself uses a brilliant example of this in our modern world where each country is acquiring weapons in order to have an edge over other countries and this tug of war is basically Red Queen Effect

The idea and the concept is brilliant and there are actually so many powerful elements that are discussed about the world we live in, a whole new set of ideologies are brought forward and the book gets its pace only towards its last run. The satirical mirror of our governing bodies and the countries around, pointed out in the book was good too.

Unfortunately you require a higher functioning of brain and patience to sit through and brush everything else to find out the deeper good

The Book is not for everybody as its not even fiction and more on the lines of Science journal and that is why i say that this book is for those who are connoisseurs in the field of quantum physics or whatever field the book was based on (see i am dumb even to know which field it was talking about). The language is pure science. The whole theme and concept was brilliant but i wish the author had stooped down to our levels to make us understand what he meant to say as he definitely had a lot of wonderful concepts to share which got lost somewhere in the science land.

Somebody needs to explain this book to me

More Reviews of “Red Queen: the Substrate Wars”

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

More reviews of Red Queen: The Substrate Wars.

From Amazon, a random reader says:

5.0 out of 5 stars
Excellent!, January 30, 2015
By A. Shibley (Philadelphia)
Verified Purchase

I bought this Kindle book on a whim after seeing it on Instapundit. It was really a fun read! Too often, independent books like this are poorly edited, clumsily written, and hardly thought out. This is not one of those books. Indeed, I recently read a “big name” series (not Hunger Games) that was objectively less well-written and entertaining. Looking forward to the next one.

Also from Amazon:

5.0 out of 5 stars
A good read which is hard to put down, January 28, 2015
By John Stephens (Guerneville, CA USA)
Verified Purchase

I really enjoyed this book; I read it on vacation and I didn’t want to stop reading it. There were a couple of sections where the dialog was a bit stilted and it was reminiscent of Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon in being somewhat didactic, but that’s just nit-picking – it had engaging characters and the plot moved along quickly. I liked the emerging universe he created and feel that the stage has been well set for a good series. I actually thought Samantha was going to be a government agent but happy to be disappointed 😉

I look forward to book number 2!

Like didactic is a bad thing! And “stilted dialog?” — argh! 😉

Book blogger Christina DeVries (whose native language is Norwegian, so bear that in mind) has a review at Geek Heaven:

4 stars out of 5
This is a science fiction thriller set in the US in the not too distant future. The country is run by a Unity Party, combining the worst of both the Democrats and the Republicans. The Bill of Rights is being ignored and people are being monitored by the government. Terrorist attacks results in more restrictions on people’s freedom and privacy.

The story follows a group of young people who are tired of their countries censor, stagnant economy and no jobs for young educated people. And when one of their favored professors suddenly disappears after being contacted by Homeland Security who suspects that he’s staying in touch with a former student who now runs a rebel group.

These young students discovers a new kind of technology that could ever free mankind or be the ultimate weapon to control or destroy us if it falls into the wrong hands. What are they to do with it? And they have to work fast before Homeland Security arrests them all and get their hands on the technology. Who can they trust? How do they know that they’re not being watched already?

***

I was very intrigued by the synopsis when I was contacted about this book and it did not disappoint me. It was fast-paced and exciting. The characters were really well made but I would have loved to have gotten to know them a little bit better. In the beginning of the story some of the writing could get a bit too technical for my taste, but it definitely picked up and got easier to follow as the story progressed.

I can’t say that I’ve read anything quite like this before so I went into this with a very open mind and was definitely pleasantly surprised!

I’m really looking forward to seeing where this series goes and I definitely recommend this if you like political thrillers and science fiction.