Presented as a fiction, Thieves Emporium is a book that only loosely fits in that genre. Max Hernandez tells a story where almost every word could have been pulled from the evening news. It chronicles the growth of real tyranny, changing the names to protect the guilty and the innocent alike. The few pages that are certainly fiction leave the reader with a warning that there are precious few steps remaining before his dystopia becomes our reality.
Thieves Emporium is a technically-accurate novel that uses fast-paced fiction to examine the fight for liberty in the age of the surveillance state. Leaning heavily on the militarized police state, and the legacy of Keynes, every chapter bears a lesson perfect for Personal Liberty 101.
Using easily relatable characters, Hernandez takes the reader out of the day-to-day subjugation of showing the proper state identification, permits and permissions, and throws them into the digital anarchy of proxies and VPNs, giving them the sanctity of anonymity. The book explores how the growth of digital technologies is both empowering the government, and transforming the Internet into a “Galt’s Gulch” for the rest of us to escape to, and fight back from. Increasingly, as in today’s reality, one must prove innocence on demand.
The story follows Dancing Fawn, a single mother who resorts to prostitution under the thumb of an abusive pimp. Together with her two small girls, she rides out the shelters and dependence that accompanies their poverty. Her economic struggle can be easily attributed to government edicts that make it impossible for her to find a legitimate market solution capable of supporting her family. Inflation drains every dollar before she can touch it. She is forced to seek the safety offered online, in the only truly free market in existence: the Badlands. Leaving the violent pimp she reluctantly clung to for support, she quickly receives an education in the virtues of a culture operating on a strictly voluntary basis, and a crash course in tech safety. Just one of many people in this time of eroding freedoms, she is squeezed out of the life she knew, while the strengthening clutches of authority react to a weakening, and failing fiat currency.
Those in control of legislation, and monetary policy know the harm they cause, but console themselves with the myth of the greater good, as do all their real world counterparts.
Spanning the better part of a decade, every choice the characters make has the opportunity to produce visible consequences. The Invisible Hand of the market is illuminated by the omniscience of the author. Within the cast you’re likely to find characters that resemble someone you know. Perhaps even someone like yourself. Either way, I’m sure you’ll care to find out what comes next.
The author spins a tale that both begs for the next page, and echoes what more and more are concluding every day: that freedom is free; it’s the keeping of slaves that’s costly.
It’s a message critical for every American to hear as we enter the dangerous and oppressive era ahead. This book certainly belongs in the educational arsenal of every anarchist who has a curious reader in their circle of statist friends.