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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars political philosophy
Contrary to the previous review by B. Adams, this novel is not a propaganda piece. The point of this story is to explore one, or maybe two, distinct ideas about how society might operate, through the eyes of a figure from the modern day. The protagonist, Justin Cord, does seem like a Heinlein hero, but he is not an Ayn Rand figure: the figures populating her books are...
Published on 3 Dec. 2010 by A Reader

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars pro-capitalist pro-market apologist
The starting point is not new, a man from the past wakes up in a distant present. Here the twist is that the market now extends to "incorporation" of human beings from birth.

The idea is not un-interesting, but the writing is lifeless and the whole feels like a long pro-market pamphlet, and a boring one. The book felt of my hands page 128.

If you...
Published on 9 Feb. 2013 by Roger Jay


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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars political philosophy, 3 Dec. 2010
This review is from: The Unincorporated Man (Paperback)
Contrary to the previous review by B. Adams, this novel is not a propaganda piece. The point of this story is to explore one, or maybe two, distinct ideas about how society might operate, through the eyes of a figure from the modern day. The protagonist, Justin Cord, does seem like a Heinlein hero, but he is not an Ayn Rand figure: the figures populating her books are one-dimensional, because her books are indeed deliberate propaganda (as she always admitted). The Kollins' hero, like those in Heinlein, has two dimensions: a few complications, but not enough to give him a fully realized character. Instead, though he has his moments of self-doubt, his inner conflicts exist mainly as a vehicle for the authors to consider their new idea. The antagonist, Hector Sambianco, is an even thinner character, and initially feels like a true comic-book villain, with no real motive beyond his desire to do harm to the hero. However, though he never really comes into his own, he is gradually revealed to be a bit more than that: he is simply a true-believer in the value of the society which the hero opposes.

Indeed, it's hard to believe B. Adams really read, or at least understood, this book. What makes this book interesting, and worth reading despite its literary shortcomings, is that while it is rooted in this clash of conflicting ideologies, it refuses to act as propaganda for either. The big idea here is "Personal Incorporation" - it takes the current curiosity in which corporations are considered legal persons, and inverts it to present us with a world in which persons are legal corporations. This world has a unitary world state, which is a minimal state with no power of mandatory taxation. To make up for this, the state has a 5% share in each person's income. The other 95% can be traded on the open market, with parents initially owning 20% and the individual retaining the rest, and can never own less than 25% of their own stock. People sell their stock to get funds, for education, to buy insurance, and so on. The resulting world is divided into a class system with "penny stocks" owning only a quarter of themselves at the bottom, and owning "self-majority" a major transition like coming of age, which many people never reach. Our hero, Justin Cord, is a billionaire frozen cryogenically in the 20th century, who wakes into this world, and who has never been incorporated. The essential conflict of the book lies in the attempts of the rest of society, personified by Hector Sambianco, to get Justin to incorporate and sell off part ownership of himself, as against Justin's unwillingness to sell ownership in himself, which he feels is tantamount to a kind of slavery.

In other words, this is different from Ayn Rand's parables of indiviualistic capitalism confronting collectivist communism. This story contrasts individualism and freedom with a kind of corporatist capitalism. The essential fact about this society is that because everyone is accountable to their shareholders - especially those lower-class who don't own a majority of themselves - it is a highly conservative society that stifles risk-taking and personal freedom. The villain, Hector, sees this as a form of stability - an aspect of society created after the so-called "Grand Collapse" in which the economy fails after fully immersive virtual reality leads to a general loss of interest in reality, and in (in the language of libertarianism) personal responsibility.

If there is a polemical point here - and there is - it seems to have more to do with pointing out the contradiction in the argument that equates the corporatist form of capitalism with the libertarian idea of personal freedom. True, this is essentially framed in the language of American right-wing politics, but it takes the form of the opening of a debate within that culture which has mostly been ignored. It does this by incorporating criticisms of corporatism which have previously only been taken up by the left.

The sociological debate is the driver of the plot, and the main interesting thing about this book - the tacked-on romantic subplot, and the thinly drawn character of a terrorist inspired by Justin Cord, seem to exist only to give a backdrop to his motivations and self-doubts. I rate this book with four stars with the caveat that you should enter it expecting political philosophy in fictional form, not great literature - but this form has a long and perfectly respectable history dating back to Plato and giving us the word "utopia". The setting is familiar from Heinlein or Asimov or any number of SF books - a high-tech society with tall buildings, easy space travel, and other predictable advances, but with its sociology as far removed from ours as ours is from the world of 300 years ago. There are political machinations and occasional action sequences, all rendered in Hollywood-style, and perfectly satisfactory if that's all you expect from them, and set the shortcomings aside as basically beside the point of the book. If you have ideological commitments that prevent you from accepting the premise that a minimal state might be able to function at all, or a distaste for individualism, you won't find this interesting. If you're able to entertain these ideas, without necessarily committing to them, this is one of the best explorations in fictional form of the tensions within modern ideas about political economy in several years.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not entirely a Dystopian view of a journey from now to then, 4 July 2014
This review is from: The Unincorporated Man (Paperback)
The Plot, the Characters and the Writing have all been taken out and examined in other Reviews - or one may even say eviscerated, it being Science Fiction and some reviewers going at it with a metaphorical blunt knife. The Publisher's blurb gives a good enough brief of the story line and the idea of a man from the past being resurrected after some time is hardly a new idea. The premise of the unincorporated man from near enough our era awakening in the all-incorporated future (which may or may not be what is in store for humanity) holds the promise of a good story. The book mostly delivers and is for Science Fiction fans quite satisfying with a Solar-System wide scope and room for development.
There is some awkwardness of style - one of the obvious pitfalls of co-authorship - and why can't SF writers do love ? Why do they even attempt to write about it ? Romance is possibly more at home in Science Fantasy stories along with magic swords, faery Princesses and the like.The unincorporated man is fortunately bereft of such flummeries though near miraculous events are not ruled out.
"They don't write Science Fiction any more" is a Truism oft heard since the Good Old Days of SF, possibly that is why book lists are crowded with Goblins, Goblets, fabled Trinkets, Mists of Magic and other Juvenilia. Perhaps the unincorporated saga will help re-dress the literary balance. I like the book, I enthused about it so much I was bought the remaining three books of the Saga and I look foreward to reading them in sequence. DJG
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars pro-capitalist pro-market apologist, 9 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: The Unincorporated Man (Sci Fi Essential Books) (Hardcover)
The starting point is not new, a man from the past wakes up in a distant present. Here the twist is that the market now extends to "incorporation" of human beings from birth.

The idea is not un-interesting, but the writing is lifeless and the whole feels like a long pro-market pamphlet, and a boring one. The book felt of my hands page 128.

If you like the concept, just read the Economist.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A glimpse of the future ?, 19 Oct. 2012
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This review is from: The Unincorporated Man (Sci Fi Essential Books) (Hardcover)
This book was great. It took me ages to read, but that's because it made me stop and think.

It's set 300 years in the future. Books about the future that I've previously read seem to be a little bit overly fanciful and works of pure fantasy.I think that the authors did a really good job when it came to writing about things that could possibly be around in 2300. The explanations of the technologies were in-depth enough for me to understand how science could possibly create such things in 300 years, but were not too shallow thus allowing for artistic whimsy. It was this kind of writing that made me stop, think and look things up. There were seeds of real science that are evident now which shone out in the writing and I found myself believing in the technology of it all.

All this would be enough for me ;-) But the technology was intertwined with an interesting and thought-provoking story of it's own.

Basically, this book takes the reader upon a little jaunt through, history, futurology, technology, economics, space science and philosophy !!! I found all of it really interesting and though I normally baulk at economics I found myself engrossed in the mechanics of how the futuristic system of Incorporation works. Again, it's all well thought out and presented and almost, just almost believable. I just don't think that the human race will ever get on well enough with the various tribes, sects, religions, races, etc to make something like that work. But an interesting concept nonetheless.

I'm now looking forward to reading the next book.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Twist on "You awake in the future and...", 12 Jun. 2013
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Mr. J. P. Atherton "mr_road" (London, UK.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Unincorporated Man (Paperback)
The concept of Incorporated Persons raises some disturbing ideas. It is thought provoking book and well worth reading. It has kept me turning the pages and made a 5 hour flight delay fly by.
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5 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A very bad book featuring a very bad idea, 13 Oct. 2009
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B. Adams (Belfast, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Unincorporated Man (Sci Fi Essential Books) (Hardcover)
The Unincorporated Man is what you'd call a concept book. It's a novel written for the sole purpose of explaining a concept, an idea that the writers believed would be most properly expressed in fictional form.

In this case that's an entirely accurate belief, as the idea itself is so stupendously dumb that the only place for it is in a work of fiction. The idea is 'personal incorporation'. In this novel, set roughly 300 years in the future, every individual is incorporated at birth, becoming a publicly traded corporation complete with stock. Parents get 20%, the government gets 5%, and you are free to trade the remainder for things like education. The end result is that you trade most of your stock in your early years and then work for decades, or even centuries thanks to nanotech-enabled longevity, to gather the wealth required to buy back a majority of your stock and become a truly free, self-owned person.

Now if to you this idea sounds like a good one, you're probably one of those people that believes a totally free and unregulated market is a good thing, that the collapse of the financial industry was to blame on too much government interference, and that the corporation is the greatest entity ever invented by man and governments are the source of all evil.

In other words, you're a lobotomised Fox News viewer.

For the rest of us, those grounded in reality-based reality, this concept of personal incorporation sounds like a horrendously bad idea that will only fuel the worst aspects of human nature: greed, ruthlessness, selfishness, and more of such unpleasantness.

The authors of The Unincorporated Man, however, see the concept of personal incorporation as a Really Good Idea, and the whole book is written in service of it. The plot is pretty much non-existent - everything that happens only happens because it allows the writers to put the main characters in positions where they can expose different aspects of their Brilliant Idea. The characters themselves are so lacking in depth that a TPS coversheet looks positively Himalayan in comparison, and they suffer from serious motivational flaws - they say and do what they say and do not because it makes sense, but because the authors think it helps to explain the Idea.

And to top it off, the world in which these non-characters engage in their non-events and have their non-conversations is laughably simplistic: a science fiction utopia devoid of any realism, emerged from a conveniently underexplained apocalyptic Grand Collapse, with technological 'advancements' a seven-year old could've dreamed up, rife pseudo-scientific terminology strewn about at random to make it seem futuristic but instead succeeding only in making the book look like a glossy marketing brochure written by ignorant corporate marketing executives.

Which is really what The Unincorporated Man is - a poorly written piece of pro-capitalism, pro-market, pro-corporate libertarian propaganda. The book shamelessly proclaims the USA to be the greatest nation in the history of mankind (where any historian would be hard-pressed to even rank it third, after the Roman and British empires), brands the ACLU as misguided (since when is free speech misguided?), wastes no opportunity to warn of the evils of big government (yes, small government really saved our behinds during the recent economic meltdown, didn't it? Oh, wait...), and is ridiculously America-centric (which leads me to suspect its authors have done very little global travelling indeed, if any).

This inane drivel is unworthy of your time and most certainly unworthy of your money.
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The Unincorporated Man (Sci Fi Essential Books)
The Unincorporated Man (Sci Fi Essential Books) by Eytan Kollin (Hardcover - 2 April 2009)
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