Imagining Liberty, Part 1: The Coals Burned Low — Our 2016 first place winner, this is a powerful, subtle story set in modern-day Egypt during the turmoil in Tahrir square.

Imagining Liberty, Part 1: The Coals Burned Low

Our first place winner, this is a powerful, subtle story set in modern-day Egypt during the turmoil in Tahrir square.
 From the streets of Cairo in the midst of the Arab Spring to rebellions on distant planets, and from a daring rescue on a seastead-studded ocean to the gallows and grimy streets of 17th century London, here are ten short stories of liberty and revolution.
 Imagine…a world where independent seasteads and private airship companies keep the peace on the high seas.
 Imagine…a dying planet ruled by a rigid caste system, but with one last chance to be free.
 Imagine…a journalist investigating the fate of a government program to match individuals with their perfect mate.
 These stories are the winners of the Libertarian Fiction Authors Association’s first short story contest, following the prompt, “Write a short story that illustrates the positive role of freedom in human life.” With 169 total submissions these ten (three winners and seven runners-up), stood out as the top entries from a very broad, and talented field.
 These original works are as exhilarating as they are thoughtful and imaginative.
 Tags: libertarian, libertarianism, anarchism, anarchy, libertarian short stories, libertarian science fiction, libertarian fiction, libertarian sf, anarchocapitalism
 J.P. Medved, Ahmed Khalifa
 Aarden Authors
 Publication Date
 Jan. 30, 2016
 J.P. Medved
 BCRS Rating

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Imagining Liberty

Imagining Liberty

Volume 1 — Part 1

Geoffrey Allan Plauché, J.P. Medved, Matthew Alexander

Cover image courtesy of the Seasteading Institute, licensed under Creative Commons

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From the Editors

This anthology is the result of a short story contest run as a collaboration between the Libertarian Fiction Authors association (LFA) and Students for Liberty (SFL). It couldn’t have happened without the hard work of our fellow editors, the generous donations of LFA members for prize money, and the promotion and organizational help of SFL. Additionally, a wide variety of other people and organizations helped promote the contest and bring in some great entries. From Jeffrey Tucker, to Freedomworks, to AFF, and Robert Murphy, we were fortunate in all the enthusiastic support and assistance we received.
 The contest was conceived as an experiment in unapologetically libertarian fiction and was also run in as libertarian a way as possible (prize money was even paid out in Litecoin, in one instance). We hoped that such a contest would attract high-quality writers, with powerful stories to share, that also carried a strong explicit or implicit libertarian message.
 In this it was an unqualified success.
 The following prompt inspired over 169 authors to submit stories ranging across genre, style, and voice:

“Write a short story that illustrates the positive role of freedom in human life. Whether it’s a galaxy-spanning space epic or an introspective contemporary character piece, we want to see stories that paint the benefits and possibilities of human freedom in sharply compelling brush-strokes.”

From epistolary shorts made up of fictional news pieces, to tales of rebellion on distant planets, submissions were marvelously varied. In fact, the only thing they really held in common was a love of, and even yearning for, political liberty (and a high standard of writing quality).
 What you’ll find in this collection are the ten winners (first, second, and third place, and the seven runners up) that managed to deftly combine the universal value of freedom with just plain good storytelling.
 We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did editing and selecting them.

— The Editors

About the Author

Ahmed Khalifa is an Egyptian student at Columbia University and graduating soon. He hopes this whole writing thing will work out.

Afterword: The Importance of Libertarian Fiction

By J.P. Medved

“Politics,” Andrew Brietbart famously said, “is downstream from culture.”

Libertarians all want to live in a more free world, where the life, property and unique dreams of the individual are respected and inviolable. But to get from here to there, far too many libertarians focus on making political arguments. They write position papers, explain statistics in economics essays, and argue the nuances of gun control online.

And this political focus, while necessary to make our societies more free, is not sufficient. It may not even be all that effective.

Study after study has shown the most effective way to convince people of your position is not through argument or detailed, logical explication, but through stories. Through connecting with people’s belief systems directly, on an emotional level.

When presented with a sympathetic main character on the screen or the page, we more easily accept their beliefs as plausible and understandable, because we tend to project ourselves into the protagonist’s thoughts and feelings as we experience the story. Chip and Dan Heath, authors of the seminal business book Made to Stick, reference a study in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and conclude that “attitudes formed by direct experiences are more powerful, and stories give us the feeling of real experience.” There’s a reason accomplished businessmen and politicians pepper their speeches with anecdotes.

But for a movement that owes so many converts to a single story (Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged), libertarians have been remarkably slow to adopt fiction as a technology for spreading their message.

There’s no reason this should remain the case.

And, thankfully, there are signs it’s changing. With organizations like LFA, Liberty Island, and the Agorist Writer’s Workshop popping up, and with the growing success of self publishing as a method for circumventing the statist cultural gatekeepers of the traditional publishing houses, a genuine ecosystem of libertarian fiction is starting to develop.

Through new works like LFA member Matthew Alexander’s Withur We, Mike DiBaggio’s Ascension Epoch series, or my own Granite Republic, we’re not only inspiring existing libertarians to envision and work for the freer world of the future but also, hopefully, reaching new readers with a message of liberty that resonates with them on a visceral, emotional level.

For libertarians to have success politically, they first need to engage with the deeper values and beliefs individuals have culturally. Stories and fiction are our own first step into that wider conversation. We hope you’ll join us.

Join the LFA for free.

More Great Libertarian Fiction from LFA Members

Withur We by Matthew Alexander

Salamander Six by Michael DiBaggio

Defiant, She Advanced edited by George Donnelly

Indivisible by Troy J. Grice

Higher Cause by John Hunt, MD

Granite Republic by J.P. Medved

Homecoming by Jaylan Phoenix

High Desert Barbecue by J.D. Tuccille

Seamus Tripp & the Empire City by Richard Walsh

For even more see the full list of libertarian fiction at:


A great many thanks go to everyone who helped us throughout the process of promoting the contest, selecting, editing, and finally publishing these stories. A special thanks to Geoffrey Allan Plauché for his creation of the LFA with all the wonderful collaboration that has made possible. Thank you as well to the members who donated for the contest’s prize money, and to our SFL counterparts who were so involved in promoting and managing the contest and entries, David Deerson, Monica Lucas, Nicole Lough, and Kara LaRose.

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