The Weapon Shops of Isher

August 30th, 2010 | by Sqotty |

There is only one problem with writing a review of an out of print book, and that’s for anyone interested in reading the book. These days, however, it is a bit easier thanks to the Internet.

The Weapon Shops of Isher
by A. E. Van Vogt is a fine read. It is in this novel that Van Vogt immortalized the phrase “the right to buy guns is the right to be free” and it is hard to think of truer words. It plays well with what James Burgh wrote in Political Disquisitions, that “the possession of arms is the distinction between a free man and a slave.”

The story is, in many ways, a political novel. On one side we have the weapon shops are an organization that provides high quality defensive weapons to the people so that they can resist a tyrannical government. On the other side is the Princess Innelda Isher, who rules the Empire and wishes to be rid of the weapon shops.

The events of the story revolve around the current attack by Isher against the weapon shops using a time-energy weapon that accidently brings a man from 1951 7,000 years into the future, and he is then used as a means to counter Isher’s attack on the shops.

The story focuses mainly on Cayle Clark, a young ne’er do-good citizen of Isher, as the empire is referred to, who has one last falling out with his father and leaves the small town for the big city. He has many trials along the path to joining Imperial service, and the fact that the weapon shops are interested in his succeeding in joining the army is something that is concealed from him.

Cayle’s father, Fara, learns more about the weapon shops as a result of Cayle’s failures along the path. Fara is swindled out of his business and life savings; dejected and depressed, he turns to the weapon shops to buy a weapon with which to kill himself, and learns more of the inner workings of the shops than he suspected. The weapon shops, as it turns out, also runs an alternative court system where good people can go when the Imperial courts fail to met out justice.

The Weapon Shops of Isher is a fine example of Libertarian Science Fiction, which is why it is a recipient of the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award in 2005. An excellent novel well worth looking for on the used book shelves. Maybe it will be back in print soon, along with its sequel, The Weapon Makers.

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