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O Mighty Ship of State

Liberty’s Daughter

By Naomi Kritzer 

2 Nov, 2023

Everything Is Worse With Libertarians


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Naomi Kritzer’s 2023 Liberty’s Daughter is a near-future fix-up novel.

Beck Garrison lives on a seastead community located comfortably outside the limits of American waters. Founded almost fifty years earlier, the cluster of seasteads is a glorious celebration of true liberty, which is to say the right of rich people to do whatever they want and for poor people to make that possible.

Beck’s father Paul is one of the local elites. That does not mean Beck is sitting on her hands, waiting for bondservants to feed her bonbons. The teenager has sought out gainful employment, eventually landing on the role of finder.

But first! A word about where the seasteads fit into the economy of the future.

While no government has as yet seen fit to annex or sink the seasteads, the seasteads are not formally recognized as a legitimate nation-state. Furthermore, a large fraction of the residents was motivated to move offshore to escape criminal charges. Accordingly, getting merchants to deliver goods to the seastead can be tricky. Beck has a knack for saving people the bother of ordering from the US by finding whatever it is they want on one of the seasteads.

It is a short step from finding objects to finding people. Debbie Miller’s sister Lynn vanished after her bond was sold to cover medical expenses. Debbie wants to know what happened to Lynn. She hopes that Beck will be able to provide answers.

This is just the first step on a career best described as Beck pokes her nose into affairs rich people would prefer remain unexamined, in the process discovering the limits of the protection her surname provides.” Perhaps she will become the seasteads’ premier (also only) PI. Perhaps she will be grounded for life. Perhaps someone will be sufficiently vexed to weigh her down with chains and toss her overboard. Life will be an exciting journey.

Life may also be very short. Having survived half a century, the movers and shakers on the seasteads launch innovative research programs so bold and disruptive that the seasteads and all on them may well be doomed.


Beck’s father is a piece of work but at least he’s a better father than the father from Catfishing on Catnet. Barely. I wonder if terrible fathers are to Kritzer what orphans were to Tanith Lee?

The seasteads fill one useful niche: a place to carry out illegal (and extremely dangerous) research. Still, it’s not clear to me how that has attracted enough investment (and profits) for the community to have survived as long as it has. Not only have governments traditionally been hostile to this sort of community1, but among the criminal residents are people who stole from rich Americans. That seems like the sort of thing that would inspire the US to come up with a justification to raid the place2.

Indeed, the idea that libertarians could run a community for a year, let alone almost fifty, without devolving into homicidal violence, cannibalism, and public readings of Atlas Shrugged seems a little implausible. However, SF authors get their one impossible premise. In this case, it’s a libertarian community that somehow manages to avoid the obvious pitfalls for decades.

While this fix-up is a November 2023 release, the stories themselves date to almost a decade ago, which is to say that the author could not have known about recent libertarian triumphs , triumphs that would have inspired even more outrageous turns of plot. Nevertheless, Kritzer is canny enough to see the obvious ways in which libertopia would fall short of utopia from the perspective of people at the bottom of the ladder. For that matter, even people fairly high up, like Beck, can easily find themselves subject to the whims of the ruling oligarchs, as Beck discovers when she annoys her father.

Beck is informed enough about the hazards of the seasteads to survive playing PI, while being cosseted enough by her father’s status that the harsher realities still come as a surprise. Happily, for readers, Beck does not suffer from affluenza; instead, she is someone with whom the reader will want to spend time.

Liberty’s Daughter is available here (Amazon US), here (Amazon Canada), here (Amazon UK), here (Barnes & Noble), and here (Kobo).

I did not find it at either Apple or Chapters-Indigo. The second is another example where the book is available from Kobo, so should have turned up in a Chapters-Indigo search … but didn’t.

1: One of the seasteads, New Minerva, takes its name from the short-lived Republic of Minerva.

2: The seastead also seems an ideal target for pirates.