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Novel of Utopia
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I've just finished reading Oath of Fealty by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle written in 1981. It's a near-future utopia set in Los Angeles. Though it was crafted over two decades ago, it's not as dated as one might expect. (Or--terrible thought--I'm outdated myself).

It's the story of a utopian arcology, built on the ashes of a major urban conflagration. The city-within-a-city is in conflict with the surrounding urban mix of gangs, ecology freaks, university professors, LAPD, city administrators and just plain people.

The conflict is social and political as well as economic. As the arcology gestates its first generation, customs acquire the force of law and intelligent designs are evolved to meet changing conditions, while expectations elicit exotic enhancements.

It fitted in very nicely with the other book I'm reading, The Wisdom of Crowds which argues that given certain conditions such as independence in decision making, coordination of efforts and cooperation in aggregation of the results, the crowd will come to a more intelligent result than can be expected of any one expert. The critical issues lie in autonomy of decision making, the value of local independent knowledge and a means to collect and integrate the results.

The utopian community in Oath of Fealty seems to have encompassed those processes. The authors make a compelling argument that such a community (as would be required on a generation starship) is possible. Instead of an academic thesis, they put the assertion in fiction form and used the conflict with today's urban problems to drive the action.

If travel to another planet, to colonize and settle there, had happened in my lifetime, I would have been the first to volunteer.

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