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+9 votes
Is there a book you like that has anarchist characters or presents anarchist ideas or was written by an anarchist author? What sorts of things do you like about the book or the way it presents anarchy?

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by (1.0k points)
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14 Answers

+5 votes
"Letters of Insurgents" is really good, even if some of the letters are a bit realistically long and boring in places.

"The Dispossessed" is also pretty good, though I might like Leguin's "The Left Hand of Darkness" more.

Ann Hansen's semi-fictional but mostly autobiographical "Direct Action: Memoirs of an Urban Guerrilla" is a good read, though I don't know that it counts as fiction, strictly speaking.
by (22.1k points)
+5 votes

If on a winter's night a traveler, by Italo Calvino, is my new favorite novel by an anarchist. I loved this book, but at this moment I don't want to say why.

My favorite anarchist (graphic) novel is The Invisibles by Grant Morrison, which I can't recommend highly enough. I appreciate especially the cosmic (or magical, or psychedelic, call it what you will) portrayal of the battle between the anarchist forces and the forces of control. The way these worlds are linked is very artfully done IMO.

Things as They Are; or, The Adventures of Caleb Williams, written by the first western anarchist theorist, William Godwin, is remarkably enjoyable especially considering its age. In it Godwin tries to develop anarchist ideas in a different form than the dry political theory of his major work Enquiry Concerning Political Justice. It is also considered the first thriller... Anyway I enjoyed it.

[edited to say more about The Invisibles] [edit 2: added Calvino... and omg the new software supports italics!]

by (20.5k points)
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+7 votes
bolo'bolo. not a novel exactly, but certainly a work of fiction, or something near.
a thought experiment, perhaps.
at any rate, worth reading if only for the work out of one's imagination.
by (53.1k points)
nice call on this book. it's quite a read...
after seeing aragorn's presentation on bolo bolo at a bastard conference 10 or so years ago, i was really interested in reading it. when i finally did, i was quite disappointed. sure, some interesting ideas colliding there. but overall i found it a repetitive, somewhat boring commie manifesto of sorts.
yea, i find that pumping people up about something can lead to disappointment, so, sorry if i help anyone have unrealistic expectations of bolo'bolo.
but i absolutely maintain that it is the most thought provoking thought exercise in anarchist space, and that its refusal to assume that it has answers for everyone, and its whimsy and humor, are almost anomalous in political... fiction. i think i can accurately call it fiction.
you definitely have to bring some creativity to it yourself, though.

edited to say that it is also written by a non-anarchist, fwtw.
+3 votes
one hundred years of solitude, by marquez. by the end everything in the book is reduced down to a predicted pattern, but one that allows its components to experience everything that could be, and without setting up any type of universal grounding in the world (like morals, or history, or beginnings and endings that are portrayed to exist outside of themselves)

it also presents the rarely spotted image of a justifiable anti-civ/primitivist nostalgia
by (1.0k points)
+3 votes
Q by the Wu-Ming group under the pseudonym Luther Blisset is kinda anti-state commie more than anarchist, but even so, it was really enjoyable and interesting to read, and is basically a really well written and long millenarian excursion where many anarchists, communists, and other anti-authoritarians cross each others' paths in lutheran reformation and post reformation europe.

Dance the Eagle to Sleep by Marge Piercey was pretty good too
by (2.3k points)
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+3 votes
Treasure of the Sierra Madre? The Death Ship? B. Traven's whole Jungle novel series? No? I haven't read B. Traven's books yet, but I'm surprised no one's mentioned them. I mean, I'm not commenting on their quality but they do have staying power.
by (2.8k points)
+2 votes
Three feminist sci-fi novels that are about anarchist societies that I really like:
Marge Piercy – Women on the Edge of Time
Joan Slonczewski – A Door Into Ocean
Élisabeth Vonarburg - In the Mothers' Land (also published as Maerlande Chronicles)

Two utopian novels I love:
Charlotte Perkins Gilman – Herland
Vachel Lindasy – Golden Book of Springfield

Two classics I've been meaning to read:
John Henry Mackay – The Anarchists (from 1891)
Isabel Meredith (the pseudonym of Helen and Olivia Rossetti) – A Girl Among the Anarchists
by (420 points)
+2 votes
by (1.9k points)
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note: the following train of comments were in response to a post that the user deleted (they also deleted a comment of theirs in the train), you can tell the basic content of the post from the responses.

what is necropolis?
and why do you say the mars trilogy is anarchist? (KSR certainly is not...)

Stardust has to be one of the worst writers of any fiction, anarchist or otherwise. I couldn't even make it past the first 20 pages. I tried reading it aloud with my partner, and just about every sentence had us either laughing or gagging.
Regarding the Mars Trilogy: there are, at the very least, some anarchist characters, although I'm not sure the overall content of the trilogy is anarchist. Considering the author is some kind of social democrat, I'm sure the grand conclusion is some kind of middling "it takes all kinds" revolution that winds up being fundamentally reformist despite so much ostensibly anarchist participation. I'm still on the second book, though, so what do I know.

And, Lawrence, did you mean Starhawk? I'm about 10 pages into The Fifth Sacred Thing and kind of edging toward the same conclusion.
Yes, that's who I mean. My late mother, after reading Starhawk's essay about the Black Bloc in Quebec, couldn't remember her pagan name, and twisted it to Stardust.
there are lots of non anarchist writers in this list. i guess i asked because i know too many anarchists who give commies passes; didn't want someone confusing ksr with an anarchist. also, i haven't read the books, so was wondering if i'd missed something about that trilogy.
necropolis has an awesome name.
I think that the Mars trillogy is fairly anarchist. Certainly very sympathetic to anarchism. Besides the followers of Arkady Bogdanov (the Bogdanovists) who are basically old style anarcho-communists, there are also the Greens and the Reds, both of whom are explicitly anti-state. The Reds are sort of an extrapolation from EF!/ELF style eco-sabotage but instead attacking terraforming technologies on mars.
+3 votes
Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon!

It's not even explicitly anarchist (Thomas Pynchon is too mysterious to ever state a political stance) but it's a sort of post-modern parody set in the time period between the 1893 World's Fair and the immediate aftermath of World War I, and so many of the conflicts of the book revolve around both grand geopolitical power struggles between imperialist countries (and the actual people who get caught in the middle), and the more personal struggles of protagonists who've had their lives or loved ones destroyed by industry (or certain industrialists, in particular).
by (8.7k points)
we just read the beginning of this in our reading group and now i really want to read it.
also there is talk of a summer of reading this book, like there was an insurgent summer for letters of insurgents. i hope someone with more time/energy sets that up! (sigh)
It's obviously a huge read (1087 pages or something like that?), and it took me a few tries to actually get through it, but by the end I felt like it was completely worthwhile.
0 votes
"Distress" from Greg Egan and "The Dispossessed" from Ursula K. Le Guin.
by (140 points)