‘This short, original version is the same tale but darker and more violent, focusing less on revolution and more on guerilla struggle’.
.Dr Daniel P. Jaeckle, author of ‘Embodied Anarchy in Ursula K. Le Guin’s ‘The Dispossessed’ said this of the first version of The Free
I should add that the 1986 version has its own interest. It does not often engage in ideological statements, it ends with the more realistic deaths of some characters as opposed to the more romantic ending of the 2007 version, and the speed of the narrative is compelling. I encourage those who can find the 1986 version to read it as well.
REVIEWS of original version
from Active Distribution Great tale of revolution in the UK, first published by Hooligan then redone by Attack International
The blurb on the back: .. ‘This most astonishing new book is one of the most enjoyable reads that I have experienced for a long time. I feel sure that this up and coming author is a strong contender for the Booker Prize if not canonisation.’ – Graham Greene
‘This is a book bursting with zest and vitality. I heartily recommend it.’ – John Le Carre
‘An absolute beginner he may be, an absolute certainty he is. I urge you to buy it!’ – Colin MacInnes
I should have known what he was up to all right but I hadn’t a clue. It was easy enough to see what he fancied in her, that Janice was a real beauty. Besides being a stuck up bitch….
First things first: the atmosphere of this book is fantastic. Those quotes on the back, the ‘free to shoplifters’ price tag, the publishing information ‘©1986 (except to anarchists)’ – it’s all great.
And the story ain’t a bad idea: a clash between a self-organized working class (within a loose syndicalist union) defending a CoOp against the armies of the Establishment, with a style that aims more for the apocalyptic feel of Mad Max than the considered precision of Orwell or even the documentary tone of The Angry Brigade. … If the British film industry had any balls, it’d be optioning this book. ……. from Active Distribution
……”The Free is what Susan Suleiman calls an ideological novel, that is “novels that seek through the vehicle of fiction, to persuade their readers of the ‘correctness’ of a partic
She defines ideology for this purpose as “a recognised body of doctrine or system of ideas”. It could equally be defined as a propagandist device or as Ellul says an “enterprise for perverting the significance of events”.
The events that are being examined in the novel are of the building up of a parallel illegal money-less economy based on co-operatives and syndicalist unions. This is all set within the failing economy of what appears to be, (although it is never named as such), a future Northern Ireland.
The resulting bloody revolution and NATO backed counter-revolution are portrayed as forced upon the revolutionary organisations, (The Free), by the forces of capitalism and state power. A liberal capitalist interpretation (as given in the book as an example of state propaganda) would be of terrorists overthrowing a democratically elected government by force.
There have been many attempts by anarchists and libertarian communists to produce ideological novels. Examples include: William Morris’ News From Nowhere, (which was originally serialised in the late Nineteenth Century, Socialist League publication Commonweal); Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed; J. Daniels’ Breaking Free; and G. A. Matiasz’s End Time. These novels are all very different, the thing that unites them (and The Free) is the positive way in which they portray anarchist aspirations”..
·”The Free. An unbelievably exciting book, not because of its stupendous pace and action filled plot, but because of the depth of character holding us breathless as we explore one after another of these amazing people”. Gerry McCullough-
“This book is truly unique. The characters and plot flow like water, and are tasty like chocolate”. A.A.