‘The Free’, original 1986 edition. now a free download

Recently  a few people have asked for  the original version of The Free in digital form so I took in the old book and the German version and had them scanned. This is the result. the scan wasn’t too good and I had to go through it all, fiercely resisting the temptation to improve the text, hopefully I haven’t missed too many typos.


The Free (original short 1986 and 1990 edition)  PDF 151 pages 

The Free (original short 1986 and 1990 edition)  Epub 1.6mb

‘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.

from   Imagining an Anarchist Revolution: M. Gilliland’s The Free

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

opening lines:
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


 Bill Whitehead .commented below on the first edition 

……”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”..


from  Bill Whitehead ..M. Gilliland’s The Free – its links to the class struggle anarchist movement

·”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.


The Free (original short 1986 and 1990 edition)  PDF 151 pages 

The Free (original short 1986 and 1990 edition)  Epub 1.6mb

The Free by M. Gilliland 1990 edition is also available in book form The Free by M. Gilliandhere from Active Distribution            This novel tells the story of The Free, spreading their Co-ops and Free Unions across the country. A tale of love, longing, anger and rebellion.     £3.00      Available     View

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