The Good Walk Alone


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I read this science fiction story about police and lawyers in Laissez Faire City, Costa Rica, fifty years in the future. The work is plainly incomplete, a collaborative weblog effort, probably fueled through the long hours of crash writing by espresso and chocolate.

This story about patrol officers and jurists is clearly the work of a barrister not a security guard.

I was confused about the place of action and thought it was set in Vancouver only to discover that it took place in Costa Rica.

DeVoon is arguably an anarcho-capitalist who prefers rule of law with monopoly on force (delivered by an agency whose name ends in "Inc.") yet who fears structural problems with arbitration in lieu of benchmade law.

I have known some women who are cops and more who are security guards and none of them act like this. Perhaps it is a heisenberg problem with my own presence.

I do agree that women make better cops.

I was disappointed that the citizens of Laissez Faire City devolved into a condition of armed chaos once the physically conditioned and effective police were kicked out by the corrupt and lazy Special Forces.

That's the problem with novellas: they give you just enough to wonder about.

All of that aside, the book was worth the time invested in the reading. The work follows in the traditiion of Alongside Night and the Probability Broach alternate universe. As a novella, it has a great deal of potential and I look forward to Rev. 2.0.

(more later)

Edited by Michael E. Marotta
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  • 1 month later...

The book has remained in my head all this time. I keep thinking about this aspect or that scene. Devoon writes powerfully. Fiction dramatizes ideas. "If you think your wife is unfaithful and she is not, you could be damaging the relationship by not trusting her." Somehow, that lacks the impact of Othello.

I would like to have several people here buy the book so that we can discuss its ideas in context. I googled DEVOON GOOD WALK ALONE and found the book for sale from Barnes & Noble and from Tower for $15 or $16.

Fiction brings philosophy to life. Having read this book, I understand Devoon's ideas here better. I believe that much of the argumentation back and forth comes from people making assumptions about his views because he claims to be an anarchist. Perhaps the label "anarcho-legalism" might help: to Devoon, law precedes government; government is just one solution to the problem of applying the law. Arguable though that may be, there is no point in hashing it out unless you have the context. Therefore, I recommend The Good Walk Alone.

It is not great fiction. (Now, I'll discover that "Wolf Devoon" is the pseudonym of Orson Scott Card or Stephen King) There are many glosses, continuity problems, and loose threads. This is a novella in book form. So, there are some unanswered questions. We say in criticism that it is not fair to denigrate the book he did not write. In other words, "It would have been better if..." is not criticism, it is just a cover for saying "If I wrote this, I would have..." But you did not; he did. So, I am aware of the pitfalls here, but I will try to dance around them.

The book opens with an apparent multiple murder. The apparent mulitple perpetrators are Special Forces, but the cops get the drop on them. (Then what? Who knows? Action proceeds apace!) At the end of the story, the city cops face resistance from outside forces, global capitalist arbitration agencies are losing patience with the city government, which still maintains its political power to arrest and compel appearance in court. (Arbitrators never deal with the unwilling. Everything can be negotiated. In other words, they have no principles.) So, we have the old-style constitutionalist cops of Laissez Faire City, the shady underworld commandos of LFC's own Special Forces and the capitalist arbitrators. I would like to have more interactions among the players to show their choices when faced with challenges. Ultimately, for the story to conclude, this has to be done because when the book closes, Laissez Faire City has been invaded and the cops are in hiding.

Our heroine's fiance and husband (one guy; not two) is outed to her by another cop as being an undercover Special Forces commando. Nothing comes of that.

I said above that I was confused about the setting. I thought it was Vancouver BC, but it is Costa Rica. Costa Rica is a credible location for Laissez Faire City. For at least a generation now, it has been a retirement haven for Americans. As The Good Walk Alone is set in 2053, there is plenty of time for Laissez Faire City to come about. More of how that happened could be filled in. On the downside, California is in the midst of a multi-sided civil war. That seemed incredible in the absence of powerful social forces in the previous generation. What they were is not even hinted at. The same problem concerns the rest of the USA, or whatever is left of it. Why the rest of the world is so poor or poorly organized -- or if that is true at all -- is not clear.

Most of the people are handsome and strong. (The exceptions are people of especially deep character and wisdom who are so ugly that they are beautiful.) How did that come about? I would at least like to see the cops coming from the gym. Otherwise, I'll have whatever they ordered, because they are in great shape without effort... must be those Durk & Sandy preparations...

Basically, I when reading this, I often wanted to write more of it myself, GWA 2.0.

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  • 2 months later...

At my childhood home, on a lake outside Atlanta, the window in the door that leads to the patio is almost three stories above the ground. Looking out towards the lake, you would be looking across a long stretch of lawn dotted with several large trees. In late June and July the fireflies on that stretch of lawn are so numerous that, as twilight deepens, you see a cloud of bllinking lights. Because of the distance, I suppose, you don't see the individual blinks, rather the cloud sparkles softly. Also, the cloud sort of "breathes" upward. The inevitable downward movement of individual fireflies isn't apparant, only a pulsing expansion of the cloud of lights. It's very special.

Lightening Bugs

Buggy little lanterns,

Wafting through the air,

Sometimes you're not,

And sometimes you're there.

Summer-nighttime miracles,

Oblivious to me,

Making light of making light,

For anyone to see.

Optimistic opticals'

Spectacular surprise,

Your glowing, gliding guideposts,

Shine only when you rise!

Mindy Newton

I do welcome criticism.

I myself feel it is too "cute." Perhaps it's the anthropomorphisization? I'm addressing the fireflies...

Perhaps the "Optimistic opticals" and "Spectacular surprise" are forced? It's a play on optical, does 'Optimistic' relate too trivially to "optical?" Does "Spectacular" and spectator, the visual motif, come through?

I would actually like to hear all criticism, including such as: "Utterly stinks."

--Mindy

Edited by Mindy
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