Band Of Visionaries Paperback – 23 Mar 2016
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The book is a goldmine of introspection for the reader. It is Self-knowledge dynamite, really powerful stuff!
Peaceful parenting, freedom, pragmatism, self-exploration and healing from trauma. And of course, a talking cat. This book got it all!
...Well... except for boners. I remove 0,1 star for lack of boners. I round up my score from 4,9 to a whopping 5 star!
Must read for practitioners of self-knowledge!
Author Steven Franssen sets forth a set of radical (and I would say, cutting edge) ideas on therapy, parenting, relationships, purpose and the pursuit of self-knowledge in the words and actions of his characters. That said, the book is definitely a niche one, and does require a good working understanding of (or willingness to research) psychology to fully comprehend. A good chunk of the dialogue in this book is between characters with a long history of therapy and as such, both the language and the structure of the dialogue is specialized. I personally enjoyed the challenge of learning that the book presented to me.
The story is also one of the few libertarian ones out there, with anarcho-capitalist communities dotting the landscape of the future, trading in gold and cryptocurrencies and following the non-agression principle. In fact, it may be the first, or one of the first "psycho-libertarian" works of fiction out there, which sees the shrinking of government coming not through political action, or education, but through better parenting and an improvement of mental health. This aspect, however, is more of a background theme and not the focus of the book's message.
After the very dramatic and action-packed beginning, the novel becomes a good deal more introspective and philosophical and, other than a few scenes, there is not a great focus on thrills - or even story, which acts more of a backdrop for the ideas discussed than a central piece. There are, however, quiet or playful scenes that are very memorable because of their powerful emotional content - for instance, the author does a great job of connecting with the reader's inner child throughout the book.
The book suffers from what I see as a flaw in many books set in the near-future: as the characters have an advanced knowledge of both future events and the development of ideas, the author can rely on their authority to express his own views without having to go through the rigorous reasoning a book of non-fiction could not get away with. Being familiar with the work of Steven Franssen, and the authors he relies on, I know that the ideas presented have strong logical and empirical backing, however I wish some of that were presented more thoroughly in the book. The fact that the characters from the future actually interact with early 21st century characters would have created some great opportunities for such conversations. As such, the novel is more useful for the models of relationships presented, as a tool of encouragement, and as a sparker of curiosity for further exploration than a book of philosophy.
In conclusion, I highly recommend this book as it is a breath of fresh air in a world of disconnected and psychologically unhealthy fiction. It is a powerful tool for self-knowledge and exploration, if one is willing to take the challenge of growth and learning that the book presents.
Host of the Valiant Growth podcast