Sunday, April 6, 2014

Schulman’s Alongside Night Released

J. Neil Schulman’s Alongside Night is modern myth of liberation.  First published in 1979, in 1989, libertarian science fiction fans granted the novel their Prometheus Hall of Fame award.  After more than two years in production, it finally became a movie.  

(This review is based on a post intended for April 2, 2012, as I exchanged emails with Schulman about the script. He asked me to not write about the movie until it was finally released.  The March 5, 2014, issue of Liberty's Outlook from the Liberty Coin Service of Lansing, Michigan, made that announcement. The film was shown nationwide. It ran here in Austin, on June 18, bringing the author to the screening and to dinner with fans.

In the world of the present future, inflation is rampant.  The federal government has issued emergency scrip and vending machine tokens circulate as a convenience.  The pan-European currency is backed in gold; and the Europeans are unwilling to underwrite the U.S. Treasury.  Among the architects of Europe’s money is Dr. Martin Vreeland.  As the crisis deepens and the U.S. government becomes more desperate, Dr. Vreeland is among thousands targeted for round-up and perhaps execution.  Only his international status cushions him and his family, however briefly.  The Vreelands plan to escape. 

Our viewpoint character is high school senior Elliot Vreeland.  The family is separated.  Elliot is on his own in New York City with about 30 ounces in gold coins and some thin contacts with the underground economy of gypsy cab drivers and adult bookstores.  Elliot then discovers a literal underground, a free market utopia including comfortable hotels and luxury malls that sell whatever you want.  He also discovers a naked girl in a swimming pool.  Then, the federal government raids the place.

Evacuation is orderly, thanks to the firm but polite private security guards who know that the customer is always right. This scene and a couple of others were inspirational to me over the years, and still provide parameters for me when I work as a security guard. 

Later, Elliot finds his father in conference with the chief of federal security, but his mother and sister are still held hostage and must be rescued.  The Revolutionary Agoric Cadre comes to their rescue, though not without losses.  

Schulman was kind enough to share the present version of the movie script.  Written by the author of the book, the cinema adaptation is crisp and concise, a faithful translation from one medium to another.  Of course, there are updates:  Elliot has an iPod.  But very little needed to be changed because very little has improved for the federal government since 1979. 

Alongside Night is a worthy story and a craftsman's work.  Schulman was inspired when he wrote it in 1979; and his dedication has not slackened. 

The theory behind the book is more radical than Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.  Based on the works of Murray N. Rothbard, “Agorism” is attributed to Samuel Edward Konkin III.  Agorism holds that free market alternatives are so vastly superior that even building a secret city beneath an existing metropolis can be done for gold pennies on the hyper-inflated dollar.  When it was written, the theory that private security could replace the public police was unsubstantiated by evidence that we now accept.  (Generally, in the USA today, there are two private guards for every police officer; in California, three.)  In Atlas, the heroes hole up in a Colorado valley.  Here, they build and rebuild physical undergrounds which could be anywhere. At one point, Elliot quips to his new girlfriend that from what he has seen so far, they could be under the National Mall.  Actually, they resurface at Elliot’s private school in Manhattan. 

For over 30 years, Alongside Night has been an escapade for libertarians, a diamond flash to offset the sable of Atlas Shrugged.  If you have not read it – or not read it in a while – you deserve the reward.

In addition to Kevin Sorbo, the movie features Tim Russ and Garrett Wang (Star Trek: Voyager), David D. Friedman as the King of Sweden, and Dr. Ron Paul as himself. 

The newest trailer on YouTube is here.
The official trailer (2:25) on YouTube is here.

Alongside Night (movie) near-mirror site here
Or buy the Kindle Edition at Amazon.
Find Alongside Night t-shirts, coffee mug, etc., at Cafe Press.
From the Liberty Coin Service Liberty's Outlook newsletter:In the movie, Liberty Coin Service has a cameo appearance as a kiosk store in an underground free market mall, staffed by LCS Senior Numismatist Tom Coulson. Four other LCS people have bit parts in the film.The private issue Gold Liberties used in the movie (and in real life) were provided by Liberty Coin Service. Lansing television station WILX NBC 10 and Lansing radio station 1320 WILS get credits in the film for services they contributed to the production. LCS General Manager Pat Heller is an Executive Producer. Alongside Night author J. Neil Schulman wrote the screenplay, acted in the film, and served as director and producer. Schulman’s daughter, Soleil O’Neal-Schulman sings the haunting theme song, which you hear when you view the trailer.

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