by Sean Gangol
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
Itry to give writers who are lesser known to the public some form of spotlight whether it is review on this platform or a short review on Amazon. In this particular case, I discovered this author who goes by the name of Gen LaGreca, who had written three novels with libertarian themes, yet I hadn’t really heard her name mentioned in libertarian circles except for the brief mentions made by the late Milton Friedman and the late Walter E. Williams. I have given each of her three books reviews on Amazon, but I think she deserves mention on a platform that will appreciate her work the most. Instead of doing a separate article for each book, I am going to give a quick overview of each novel.
I have to admit that I have had her first book, Noble Vision sitting idle on my Kindle for six years before I got around to reading it. What happened was that I had originally bought Noble Vision in Kindle format before I even owned a hand-held reader. I had created a kindle format to read on my laptop, but it wasn’t the most practical way to read a book. Once I got a Kindle Fire, I started buying E-Books like crazy and Noble Vision got shoved to the back of my Kindle library. When I finally read it, I was blown away. It seemed as if Ayn Rand had risen from the grave to write about the dangers of socialized medicine. The main protagonist in the novel is a doctor who constantly has to fight New York officials who have taken over the medical establishment in that state, just so he can give his patients the proper treatment that they need. He also has to fight state bureaucrats to perform experimental surgeries that could help restore eyesight to those with optic nerve damage. As one would expect to see in an epic novel about freedom and individualism, the good doctor decides to defy the authorities and risk everything to follow his dreams. LaGreca also manages to throw a love story into the mix, when the doctor falls head over heels for a ballerina who loses her eyesight in a bad accident. Some may find this book a little dated since it was published before Obamacare was passed, but I believe the book’s message and story are timeless.
I didn’t think that LaGreca could surprise me more than once, but she did once again with A Dream of Daring, a historical novel that takes place in the Antebellum South. On top of the Ayn Rand style story of an innovator who defies societal norms to follow his dream of creating the first tractor with an internal combustion engine, we have a murder mystery that actually involves this very invention. What I love most about the novel is that it actually showed the real reason behind the South clinging onto slavery as long as it did. It was the plantation class who felt that they had to preserve the status quo, even though slavery was a system that was both costly and inefficient. That was why the plantation owners in the novel feared that their way of life would be undone if a tractor with an internal combustion engine was to ever come to fruition. LaGreca also accurately shows the apathy that slaves showed towards their daily tasks, since they had no real motivation to do their best work. The novel’s protagonist notices this from the slaves that he inherited from his father and it isn’t until he encourages them to find trades of their own that he actually sees their apathy transform into passion. Some would say that the ending wasn’t particularly believable, since it involved a forbidden love story that would have likely ended in tragedy if it actually occurred in the Antebellum South. Don’t get me wrong, I am a sucker for a happy ending, but the ending was a bit of a stretch. Regardless, this is an excellent book that shouldn’t be missed by libertarians and lovers of historical fiction alike.
What I find the most amazing about LaGreca’s writing is that it has so much depth that it can’t be pigeonholed into one genre. In Fugitive from Asteron, LaGreca decides to take a crack at Science Fiction and like her previous work she doesn’t disappoint. La Greca never fails at capturing the human spirit no matter what genre she chooses to write under. The story is about a man who spends most of his life in a totalitarian hell-hole called Asteron that makes North Korea look like the libertarian society envisioned in L. Neil Smith’s North American Confederacy series. In Asteron people have little to no possessions and they are forced to live on food that is heavily rationed. At least it’s rationed for the common man. As they say in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, some animals are more equal than others. Also reminiscent of George Orwell is the perversion of words such as compassion, which leads to people being publicly hanged for offenses that include food hording or having a pregnancy that hadn’t been approved by state officials. When our protagonist finally decides to get out of Dodge for good, he comes to Earth, a place that is the polar opposite of the nightmare he had grown up in. LaGrega realistically shows her main character having a culture shock when he sees the people of Earth living in a state of freedom that he could never have imagined during his years on Asteron. She also shows how a tyrannical regime can not only rob somebody of his individuality, but can also deprive him of his humanity. When our protagonist makes a new life on Earth, he finally understands concepts such as happiness and love. Unfortunately, he finds out that everything that he has come to love about his new life on Earth is now in danger of being eradicated by the very society that he had escaped from. Our protagonist is actually stuck in a position where he can’t tell anybody, otherwise he will have to reveal that he is from the very planet that everybody hates. Once again, LaGrega hits it out of the park with a sci-fi novel that is not only entertaining, but also moving in the way it depicts how individual freedom can bring the best out of people.
I also want to point out that Gen LaGrega’s work is a prime example of how you can create a story with a message without beating somebody over the head with it. LaGrega does this through strong characterization and good storytelling. All aspiring fiction writers in the freedom movements should take note.
Gen LaGrega has also published a piece of non-fiction titled The Pioneer vs The Welfare State: Essays on Liberty in Peril, which contains pro-liberty articles previously published in various magazines. The book was relatively short, but the articles were well written and definitely worth the .99 it cost to download it.
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