"Give Me Liberty" tells the story of young Martha Washington, a precocious african-american girl growing up inside of the horror of public housing - "The Green" (a hideous development of the "Carbrini Green" projects of Chicago). At the dawn of a new century, a fascist president helms an America that features everything evil we can expect of the "New World Order" - including domination by corporations and an insurmountable gap between rich and poor. Abolishing term-limits (with each succesiive inauguaration, the crowds of supproters seems to be inversely proportional to the armed guards) the President spends most of his time reminding us how happy we should be thanks to him. At first trapped in Cabrini, Martha's savage misfortunes provide her an odd escape - first institutionalization, then (because it will clean her record) enlistment with PAX, a sort of corporate backed citizen's army. As a soldier on every one of America's frontlines, Martha witnesses how America's new empire is born, even as its dying. The enemies of course are not the Russians, but competing corporations (mostly theme parks and fast-food companies). In case you haven't caught on, "Give Me Liberty" is all about an advanced American state slowly disintegrating under its own weight. The country is soon gripped in civil wars - rather than a single conflict, the fighting is disorganized, along state, muncipal and corporate lines, and further complicated by various non-aligned factions, like the amazon women of the "First Sex Confederacy" and tribes of Native Americans armed with their own missiles. Even the left-wing administration that (briefly) suceeds Rexall is overwhelmed by the evil that is the new century.
While the story of America is compelling, "Give Me Liberty" actually suceeds because it never abandons Martha. Rather than some empty-headed figure upon whom "Give Me" can stamp its story, Martha is strong-willed, convincingly intelligent and surprisingly sympathetic. We never pity Martha nor can we condemn her for the ends she must take (which are violent - there's a fair amount of gore in the story). The future landscape of America is compelling, yet the story appears heavy-handed in some spots (the orbiting laser cannons are overtly phallic; the fst-food wars are fought by robots styled after the avatars of many Fat-Boy restaurants; genetic engineering creates an army of hyper-intelligent mutants used as living computers - like the "Pre-Cogs" of "Minority Report"; other clones include an army of beautiful but super-strong blondes who manage to escape the billionaire who bred them; then there's a mysterious surgeon general who seems patterned on Darth Vader - always masked, speaking in short sentences and never leaving any doubt of his homicidal mania). Still, the story can rely on our being continually focused on Martha. In that respect, "Give Me Liberty" does not dissappoint.