Tom Paine Maru
by L. Neil Smith

The title is the name of a gigantic spaceship that houses other huge spaceships that house other large spaceships. The ships in this fleet all have Tom as their first name. They travel to planets that have intelligent life and intervene in various ways to prevent rival civilizations from destroying each other through war.

The philosophy of the people in the Tom fleet is anarcho-capitalist and “selfish” in the Randian sense. They are part of the Confederacy. Some of them are chimpanzees, gorillas, porpoises, and coyotes, but most are human. The hero is soldier from a planet that has not been discovered by the Confederacy. He is rescued from a prison on a planet with a medieval level of civilization that he had been sent with a team to explore. Aboard Tom Paine Maru he learns about the Confederacy and he doesn’t want them to interfere with his home planet. He remains loyal to the chain of command on his home planet, and he is suspicious of freedom. Inexplicably he and the most militant anarchist female are sexually attracted to each other. It has a happy ending.

Year Read: 2001

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