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And Then There Were None

And Then There Were None is a short excerpt from the novel The Great Explosion written by deceased British author Eric Frank Russel in 1951 and first published in the long running Astounding Science Fiction periodicals. It has been shared here once before by user WalterKavenaugh in late 2012. I thought it deserved a fresh post - as it is a rather entertaining story.

For a moment, picture in your mind a crew of military astronauts from Earth landing on a planet that turns out to be populated with peaceful anarchists. What happens? Well, you'll just have to read it yourself.

[The ambassador] went silent as the ship closed in and the planet’s day-side face rapidly expanded. Then followed the usual circling and photographing. A lot of villages and small towns were to be seen, also cultivated areas of large extent. It was obvious that this planet—while by no means fully exploited—was in the hands of colonists who were energetic and numerically strong.

Relieved that life was full, abundant and apparently free from alien disease. Grayder brought the ship down onto the first hard-standing he saw. Its enormous mass landed feather-like on a long, low hump amid well-tended fields. Again all the ports became filled with faces as everyone had a look at the new world.

The midway airlock opened, the gangway went down. As before, exit was made in strict order of precedence starting with the Ambassador and finishing with Sergeant Major Bidworthy. Grouping near the bottom of the gangway they spent the first few moments absorbing sunshine and fresh air.

His Excellency scuffled the thick turf under his feet, plucked a blade of it grunting as he stooped. He was so constructed that the effort came close to an athletic feat and gave him a crick in the belly.

‘Earth-type grass. See that, Captain? Is it just a coincidence or did they bring seed with them?’

‘Could be either. Several grassy worlds are known. And almost all colonists went away loaded with seeds.’

‘It’s another touch of home, anyway. I think I’m going to like this place.’ The Ambassador gazed into the distance, doing it with pride of ownership. ‘Looks like there’s someone working over there. He’s using a little motor-cultivator with a pair of fat wheels. They can’t be very backward, it seems.

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User dabooda's comment below:

"And Then There Were None" is just the last third of a really fine novel, The Great Explosion, by Eric Frank Russell. You can download the whole book for free, here, in several formats. It's one of the best anarchist novels around, one of my all-time favorites.

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And then there were none

I kind of like it for some reason.

ChristianAnarchist's picture

This is great. I read the

This is great. I read the whole thing before realizing that it was written in 1951! I thought while reading it that it was a new piece. Wasn't aware that we had this kind of thinking back when I was a child. In the 60's we did have the "peace" movement which had some "anarchist" overtones but unfortunately tainted with socialism. Which I'd read this in the 60's...

Beware the cult of "government"...

This fight goes back a very long time...

Boetie wrote:

It gives me pleasure to recall a conversation of the olden time between one of the favorites of Xerxes, the great king of Persia, and two Lacedaemonians. When Xerxes equipped his great army to conquer Greece, he sent his ambassadors into the Greek cities to ask for water and earth. That was the procedure the Persians adopted in summoning the cities to surrender. Neither to Athens nor to Sparta, however, did he dispatch such messengers, because those who had been sent there by Darius his father had been thrown, by the Athenians and Spartans, some into ditches and others into wells, with the invitation to help themselves freely there to water and soil to take back to their prince. Those Greeks could not permit even the slightest suggestion of encroachment upon their liberty. The Spartans suspected, nevertheless, that they had incurred the wrath of the gods by their action, and especially the wrath of Talthybios, the god of the heralds; in order to appease him they decided to send Xerxes two of their citizens in atonement for the cruel death inflicted upon the ambassadors of his father. Two Spartans, one named Sperte and the other Bulis, volunteered to offer themselves as a sacrifice. So they departed, and on the way they came to the palace of the Persian named Hydarnes, lieutenant of the king in all the Asiatic cities situated on the sea coasts. He received them with great honor, feasted them, and then, speaking of one thing and another, he asked them why they refused so obdurately his king’s friendship. “Consider well, O Spartans,” said he, “and realize by my example that the king knows how to honor those who are worthy, and believe that if you were his men he would do the same for you; if you belonged to him and he had known you, there is not one among you who might not be the lord of some Greek city.”

“By such words, Hydarnes, you give us no good counsel,” replied the Lacedaemonians, “because you have experienced merely the advantage of which you speak; you do not know the privilege we enjoy. You have the honor of the king’s favor; but you know nothing about liberty, what relish it has and how sweet it is. For if you had any knowledge of it, you yourself would advise us to defend it, not with lance and shield, but with our very teeth and nails.”

Only Spartans could give such an answer, and surely both of them spoke as they had been trained. It was impossible for the Persian to regret liberty, not having known it, nor for the Lacedaemonians to find subjection acceptable after having enjoyed freedom.

We're not fighting a new fight. However, on the whole, we're making significant headway these days. Those guys didn't have the internet.

Loved it!

Dang I wish I knew it was a whole book and I'd just read the end. Oh well, I'll have to do it Tarantino style I guess and skip back. Thanks for posting.

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign: that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. ~J. Swift

The Great Explosion

"And Then There Were None" is just the last third of a really fine novel, The Great Explosion, by Eric Frank Russell. You can download the whole book for free, here, in several formats. It's one of the best anarchist novels around, one of my all-time favorites.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose

reedr3v's picture


one of my favorites also.


I'll put it in the post.