An Author on Literature

Mars Pirate Radio Interviews J. Neil Schulman on The Fractal Man and Multiversal Living

Mars Pirate Radio Episode 142

Mars Pirate Radio Episode 143

Mars Pirate Radio Episode 142 Logo

Mars Pirate Radio Episode 143 Logo

Episode 142 and 143 of MPR feature Parts One and Two of Doug Turnbull’s July 16th interview with J. Neil Schulman.

During this interview Turnbull and Schulman discuss The Fractal Man, his newest SF novel.

They also discuss at some length, the concept of the multiverse that is an important feature of the novel, and how this concept fits into Schulman’s personal experience.

It is quite a spirited discussion and Turnbull thinks you will enjoy both parts.

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Mars Pirate Radio Interviews J. Neil Schulman on The Fractal Man and Multiversal Living

Mars Pirate Radio Episode 142

Mars Pirate Radio Episode 142 Logo

Episode 142 of MPR features Doug Turnbull’s July 16th interview with J. Neil Schulman.

During this interview Turnbull and Schulman discuss The Fractal Man, his newest SF novel.

They also discuss at some length, the concept of the multiverse that is an important feature of the novel, and how this concept fits into Schulman’s personal experience.

It is quite a spirited discussion and Turnbull thinks you will enjoy it.

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Now a $0.99 Amazon Kindle: The Fractal Man!

My fourth novel, The Fractal Man, was just published by Steve Heller Publishing as an Amazon Kindle selling for $0.99! And it’s free to read if you’re a member of Kindle Unlimited!

Click here or on the cover to go to the Amazon page.

The Fractal Man book cover

You can also use the link

Here’s the publisher’s description:

J. Neil Schulman’s fourth novel, The Fractal Man, could only be penned by a writer who wrote scripts for The Twilight Zone.

It’s a fictional autobiography of lives he never lived.

The story begins when David Albaugh is awakened by a phone call from his best friend, who’s been dead for nine years, telling him they’re late for a science-fiction convention panel.

David’s alternate realities only start there.

If only his abstract photography recommended to New York’s Museum of Modern Art by a photographer for Mad Magazine had been exhibited; if only General Electric had taken up his idea for a practical jet belt when he was 11; if only he’d had the money to execute his own business plan and corner the market on eBooks a decade before Jeff Bezos.

David’s journey to parallel timelines takes him to a world where people and cats can fly but dogs can’t; commissions him as a battlefield general in a war between totalitarians and anarchists; as the bringer of music to a world that’s never heard it; as the head of a movie studio making the Superman/Spider-Man movie; as the explorer of a dead world and the real-estate developer of a new one.

What if there was a war where a loved one can be dead in one world and alive in another? What if different systems of social order were dominant in different universes resulting in extreme conflicts when they met? What if parallel lives could be fused into a melding of personalities and talents?

What if some of your favorite celebrities have entirely different lives in parallel worlds?

The Fractal Man asks and offers speculative answers to these questions.

A stand-up narrative establishes a central flow-through yet many vignettes can be read as stand-alone short stories.

Redefining theoretical physics into possible cosmologies, Schulman employs intrigue and suspense to rewrite everything we think we know about the rules of existence.

This is what science fiction was made for.

Early Praise for The Fractal Man:

“J. Neil Schulman’s The Fractal Man takes MetaFiction to a new level. It’s a wildly entertaining collision of the 20th and 21st Centuries. There is something new under the sun.”
— Brad Linaweaver, Author, Editor, Publisher, Filmmaker, Teacher

“Assuming you know what ‘space opera’ is, this is “timeline opera” done with the exuberance of a Doc Smith novel.”
–Eric S. Raymond, “Armed and Dangerous”

If you are interested in writing a review of The Fractal Man for publication and want a review copy in PDF format, please contact Steve Heller at

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Now Available Complete Audio: The Robert Heinlein Interview

Just in time for Christmas!
Available for the first time ever!

The Complete Audio Interview
J. Neil Schulman’s The Robert Heinlein Interview
Foreword by Brad Linaweaver

Heinlein Complete Audio Cover
Click Cover to Listen to Sampler

“I’ve been encouraging Neil for years to bring out his interview with Robert as a book. To my knowledge, this is the longest interview Robert ever gave. Here is a book that should be on the shelves of everyone interested in science fiction. Libertarians will be using it as a source for years to come.”
–Virginia Heinlein

Audio Contents:

Robert Heinlein Interview: Brad Linaweaver Foreword
Robert Heinlein Interview Audio Part 1
Robert Heinlein Interview Audio Part 2
Robert Heinlein Interview Audio Part 3
Robert Heinlein Interview Audio Part 4 to End of Interview

Bonus PDFs:

Complete Book: The Robert Heinlein Interview and Other Heinleiniana
Pulpless.Com, 1999

Note from Bill Patterson

Buy Now for only $35.00!

Download Page link will be emailed

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Why Jeff Bezos is a Billionaire and I’m Broke

Evidently nobody remembers Xerox PARC and how the lack of IP protection made Bill Gates rich. So nobody got the joke in my title, which said “Bill Gates” instead of “Jeff Bezos.”

Do I think I have ownership in an idea? Nope. I’ve already written endlessly that “Ideas can’t be owned.”

But, damn. My idea can be used without any compensation just because it’s unsolicited?

Stephan Kinsella’s screeds to the contrary, that just ain’t right.

“No compensation is offered for unsolicited business ideas.” —

Subject: From an author of 11 Kindle books
Date: Mon, 8 May 2017 23:00:06 -0700
From: J. Neil Schulman
To: Jeff Bezos
CC: Justin Ptak, Friends of J. Neil Schulman, Ken Holder, Editor, The Libertarian Enterprise

Dear Mr. Bezos,

I’m author of eleven Kindle books currently on sale via Amazon, producer/writer/director of two feature films currently streaming on Amazon Video/Amazon Prime, plus additional hardcover and paperback books, and an Audible audiobook, also on sale via Amazon.

Back in 1989 I was one of the earliest distributors of downloadable books by best-selling authors, SoftServ Publishing, and in 1995 was the founder of Pulpless.Com which marked up additional publishing milestones.

I predicted almost all of what has come to pass in publishing in a 1987 article titled “Here Come the Paperless Books,” and I taught a graduate course called “Book Publishing in the 21st Century” for the New School/Connected Education in 1991.

Book Publishing in the 21st Century

Being as immersed in writing and publishing as I’ve been I note the superiority of digital book editions to printed books in all ways but one: the direct personal contact between author and reader that used to take place in bookstore author readings, Q&A, and book signings.

I propose we now enhance the Kindle experience by introducing the Virtual Kindle Author’s Personal Appearance.

The VKAPA would be a scheduled and publicized Amazon Kindle Bookstore online event where an author speaks by live video-conference to Kindle readers, reads a portion of one of the author’s Kindle books, answers live questions from the on-line audience, then personally inscribes and autographs readers’ individual Kindle editions using an app that affixes the personal inscription/autograph to that reader’s individual Kindle edition.

I propose that Kindle authors participating in the VKAPA not be charged for this service by Amazon but instead be treated as honored guests and share in the additional revenue generated by the Amazon VKAPA event.

As originator of this idea I ask that Amazon respect my authorship of this proposal and that Amazon publicize me as the first author to be given a VKAPA, and that I be given a small percentage of revenue from all future VKAPAs, to help me survive in my impending old age.


J. Neil Schulman
Kindle Author and originator of commercial downloadable books

Reply from

Subject: Kindle Direct Publishing – Executive Customer Relations
Date: Wed, 10 May 2017 20:49:15 +0000
To: J. Neil Schulman

Hello Mr. Schulman,

My name is Abbey Washington with Kindle Direct Publishing Executive Customer Relations. Mr. Bezos received your business proposal and I’m responding on his behalf. I have shared it with the appropriate department. If the team has any questions for you or interest in the proposal, we will contact you. No compensation is offered for unsolicited business ideas. Thank you for taking the time to share your proposal.


Abbey Washington
Executive Customer Relations
Kindle Direct Publishing

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The Paranoid Thriller

This article is adapted from an Amazon reader’s review I wrote in June 2010 of Glenn Beck’s novel The Overton Window. A lot of people who are not Beck fans likely didn’t read it so I’ve decided to publish it as a stand-alone essay. — JNS

It’s probably no surprise to anyone who’s read my books, but I’m a long-time fan of what might best be called the Paranoid Thriller.

“Paranoid Thriller” isn’t a book publishing category. You won’t find such a classification in the Library of Congress, or in the shelving system of Barnes and Noble. has the most cross-referenced indexing system of any bookseller I can think of and even it doesn’t seem to have that as a sub-category of fiction.

Technically — because these stories are often set in the “near future” or “the day after tomorrow” or sometimes in an alternate history — the Paranoid Thriller is a sub-genre of science fiction. But usually, beyond the element of political speculation, there are none of the usual tropes of science fiction — extraterrestrials, space, time, or dimensional travel, artificial intelligence, biological engineering, new inventions, scientists as action heroes, virtual realities, and so forth.

I’m sure even this list shows how outdated I am when it comes to what’s being published as science-fiction these days, which within the publishing genre has abandoned all those cardinal literary virtues of clarity, kindness to the reader, and just good storytelling in favor of all those fractal fetishes that previously made much of “mainstream” fiction garbage unworthy of reading: dysfunctional characters, an overwhelming sense of helplessness and despair, and of course hatred of anything ever accomplished to better the entire human race by old dead European-extraction white men.

The Paranoid Thriller is an atavistic throwback to earlier forms of literature. There are suspense plots, adventure, a focus on characters driven to make decisions by intellect rather than addiction, and — God bless them! — often enough a happy ending after you’ve ploughed through the wreckage caused by the miserable wretches who actually make life decisions based on the gulf oil sludge that passes for literature in those committees who for the last few decades have been passing out once-worthy awards to writers who if they tried to tell a story around a campfire would soon find themselves alone, talking to the coyotes.

And with some poetic justice eaten by them.

The Scream by Edvard Munch
The Scream by Edvard Munch

The Paranoid Thriller is not actually based on any emotion, much less fear. The Paranoid Thriller is specifically a type of intellectual libertarian literature, the purpose of which is to sound a clarion call to wake up the sleepwalkers among us who have been hypnotized by government-run schools, socialist-dominated universities, misanthropic organs of popular culture, and cynical destroyers of all sense of public honor or decorum for fun, profit, and sick love of power.

The Paranoid Thriller is the literature of liberation — and often enough, the cinema of liberation as well.

The Paranoid Thriller is step-brother to the Dystopian novel, such as Yvgeny Zamyatin’s We, Ayn Rand’s Anthem, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and George Orwell’s Nineteen-eighty-four, and brother to the espionage novel — everything from Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels to John Le Carre and Tom Clancy’s spy novels; and at least kissing cousin to alternate history thrillers like Brad Linaweaver’s 1988 Prometheus Award-winning novel, Moon of Ice, about a Cold War not between the United States and the Soviet Union but between a non-interventionist libertarian United States and a victorious Nazi Germany.

Some good examples of the Paranoid Thriller?

In books, let’s start with Sinclair Lewis’s 1935 novel It Can’t Happen Here, the story of an American president who rises to power by enforcing a Mussolini-type fascism in America, published three years after the movie Gabriel Over the White House enthusiastically endorsed such a presidency, well into the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt who did it for real, and a year after Adolf Hitler became the Führer of Germany.

Three years before Jack Finney’s novel The Body Snatchers was serialized in Colliers, Robert A. Heinlein’s 1951 Doubleday hardcover novel, The Puppet Masters crossed genre between futuristic science-fiction and the Paranoid Thriller — in effect creating an entire new genre of Paranoid Science-Fiction Horror — in which unlike H.G. Wells’ invaders from Mars in The War of the Worlds who had the decency to exterminate you, the alien invaders instead jumped onto your back and controlled your brain making you their zombie.

But then again, Heinlein had already created the Ultimate Paranoid Thrillers in his 1941 short story “They” and 1942 novella “The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag” — over a-half-century before The Wachowski Brothers’ 1999 movie The Matrix — in which the entire world is a vast conspiracy to convince one man of its reality.

Jumping two decades forward I’ll use as my next example Ayn Rand’s 1957 epic Atlas Shrugged, in which the Soviet-refugee author warned how the United States — by following the path of a kindler, gentler socialism — could end up as the fetid garbage dump that had devolved from her once European-bound Mother Russia.

The Cold War gave us several classic Paranoid Thrillers about either attempts at — or successful — Soviet communist takeovers of the United States.

We had Richard Condon’s 1959 brilliantly ironic novel — adapted into a wonderful movie in 1962 — The Manchurian Candidate, about a Soviet agent who controls both her son — a brainwashed assassin — and her husband, an anti-Communist United States Senator loosely based on Joseph McCarthy who comes close to securing his party’s nomination for president.

Less well known were the pseudonymous Oliver Lange’s 1971 novel Vandenberg, about a Soviet takeover of the United States, or In the Heat of the Night author John Ball’s 1973 Soviet takeover novel, The First Team, in which a single undetected American nuclear submarine holds the hope for forcing the Soviets out of their occupation of America.

Likewise, fears of appeasement of the Soviet Union led to Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II’s 1962 novel, Seven Days in May, about a Pentagon General’s attempt to overthrow the President — which two years later Rod Serling adapted into a Burt Lancaster/ Kirk Douglas movie directed by John Frankenheimer, who two years earlier had directed Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh, and Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate.

Television gave us the classic Patrick McGoohan 1967-1968 paranoid thriller TV series, The Prisoner, granddaddy to all the knock-offs of people kidnapped by mysterious forces and transported to gilded cages and danger-filled islands.

Movies gave us:

  • The Parallax View (1974)
  • Twilight’s Last Gleaming (1977)
  • Rollover (1981)
  • Red Dawn (1984)
  • JFK (1991)
  • Absolute Power (1997)
  • Wag the Dog (1997)
  • Murder at 1600 (1997)
  • The Siege (1998)
  • Arlington Road (1999)
  • Josie and the Pussycats (2001)

Yes, Josie and the Pussycats — though played as a comedy — eminently qualifies for the genre.

I could go on and on — Wired-magazine-founder Louis Rosetto, Jr.’s pre-Watergate-written Paranoid Thriller novel of President Nixon’s coup d’etats, Takeover — published in January 1974 just six months before Nixon was forced from office; John Ross’s 1996 post-Waco/post Oklahoma City bombing novel Unintended Consequences.

In that sub-genre of the Economic Paranoid Thriller we have financial writer Paul E. Erdman’s 1976 Paranoid Thriller The Crash of ’79 (Erdman had good reason to be paranoid — he’d served time in a Swiss prison for financial fraud); and Nixon-administration economic mavens Herbert Stein and his son Benjamin Stein’s 1977 novel of America suffering from hyperinflation, On the Brink.

My own 1979 novel, Alongside Night, just misses being in the Paranoid Thriller category only because hyperinflation and government conspiracy is only the launching point for a novel which is mostly an exploration of how the principles of the Declaration of Independence might be implemented by a “new guard” other than re-upping the Constitution of the United States after its failure to maintain a limited government — as is the endgame of Atlas Shrugged.

Let me start by saying everything the mainstream critics say about a novel in this genre is usually true. They’re talky. Critics use the words “preachy” and “didactic” a lot. There are long speeches — even by the villains, who like many destructive people are disappointed idealists. Events of the novel often seem to have been picked not because they advance the plot but because they’re popular topics in the news. Characters and the narrator often quote the Founding Fathers as if they’d written the Bible.

Screw these critics all to hell. These are what make a novel worth reading.

Why in the name of God would anyone waste a moment of their precious reading time on a novel that doesn’t have ideas, doesn’t have characters who are capable of making coherent speeches, doesn’t have an author who thinks he knows something worthwhile and has a passion to gift you with them?

What the mainstream literary critics use to condemn novels in this genre are the very virtues that makes them literature.

Think I’m sounding defensive here?

No, I’m on the offense, and have been ever since these same bogus standards were used by uncreative drones to make lame attacks on my novels, decades ago.

Here’s how I answered them in my article “There Are Two Sides to Every Review” published August 10, 1980 in the Los Angeles Times Book Review:

1. “The writing is heavy-handed.”

The author says things explicitly.

2. “The story is melodramatic.”

The book is strongly plotted.

3. “The plot is contrived.”

The plot is original and intricately logical.

4. “The novel is polemical.”

The novel has a discernible theme.

5. “The novel is preachy.”

The theme phrases a moral proposition.

6. “The book’s intent is didactic.”

The plot demonstrates practical consequences of the theme.

7. “The author manipulates characters.”

The characters do things that fit into the plot.

8. “The characters are two-dimensional.”

The characters are only shown doing things that fit into the plot.

9. “The book is Pollyannish.”

The author finds things in life that make it worth living.

10. “The story depends upon coincidence.”

Events in the story logically coincide.

11. “The book is a roman à clef.”

The characters are so realistically drawn, they can be confused with real people.

12. “The characters are unrealistic.”

The characters are shown being heroic, moral and intelligent, while the critic views his own character as cowardly, amoral and stupid.

13. “The author has no feeling for his subject.”

The author portrays things differently from what the critic thinks they are.

14. “The characters give speeches.”

The characters are capable of expressing a coherent viewpoint.

15. “This character is the author’s mouthpiece.”

This character makes more sense than the others.

16. “The book is utopian.”

The author thinks things can get better.

17. “The book is an exercise in paranoia.”

The author thinks things can get worse.

I find myself here — as both a novelist myself and a critic — having to be didactic, myself. I have to teach you the very standards that need to be used when criticizing a work of literature. I have to arm you with the very tools necessary to understand what it is that critics are trying to steer you away from — and why.

Critics who are not themselves practitioners of the art they are writing about are — with rare exceptions, caused by a dedication to reason and honesty above all else — the enemies of art. Without the ability to create it themselves, they are wannabes sitting on the sidelines envious, spiteful, and on a mission to destroy that which they, themselves, do not have the power to create.

The failed artists — the one who gave up — tend to be the most dangerous of all.

Adolf Hitler was a failed painter. His hatred of Jews likely started because a Jewish art teacher had the strength of character to point out his failings.

Saddam Hussein was a failed novelist. As dictator of Iraq he self-published his novels and his minions forced people to buy them.

The Roman Emperor Nero played the lyre while Rome burned.

And Bill Clinton was either a failed saxophonist or someone who didn’t have the perseverance to find out if he could spend his life supporting himself doing it.

The critics who were never artists and the critics who are failed artists don’t like art that clearly communicates. They thrive on murk and obscurity. They shrink from any sort of standards. They hide behind a doctrine they’ve invented called deconstructionism, which when you strip away the academic veneer of respectability means that a work of art has no objective meaning at all, but means only what an audience member imagines it means.

Sonny boy, I did not go through eight drafts of my first novel — and more recently fourteen cuts of my first movie — because I don’t think I am capable of refining what I’m trying to communicate to my audience down to the subatomic level. Screw Heisenberg and his uncertainty principle when it comes to the business I have chosen to be in.

If my art does not communicate precisely and absolutely what I intend it to mean, either I have failed as an artist or I have failed to find an audience worthy of me.

My father did not practice the violin for hours every day for over half a century because he was satisfied with being sloppy in front of an audience without an ear to tell the difference. He heard the difference — and on that day when his strength and agility and hearing had failed him and he could no longer perform to the lofty standards he had set for himself, on that day he began to die.

Ayn Rand told her readers that an author’s job is to present facts instead of predigested conclusions, and let the reader make up their own minds.

I’ve given you my standards for judging a work of literature.

Use them, or don’t use them, to make up your own mind.

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Me Versus Me

I’m the author of twelve books, articles, essays, poetry, and screenwriting.

I’ve written, produced, and directed two feature-length movies.

I’ve blogged, commented, Facebooked, texted and tweeted, starting in small print publications, later in computer network chats and bulletin boards, and still later when the World Wide Web took over channeling messages.

These days, contrary to the predictions of science fiction, full voice and live video two-way communications are widely available yet paradoxically more people than ever communicate in short-burst texts like the old telegrams.

My point is I’ve been communicating to audiences small and wide for my entire professional life, going back to the early 1970’s, and there’s a well-preserved record of my opinions.

I’ve been on both sides of several major issues, depending on the time.

I’ve been pro-war and anti-war, depending on whether I was writing as an advocate of individual natural rights or writing as a pragmatic utilitarian analyst.

I’ve written on both sides of whether voters rather than courts should determine the legal status of same-sex marriage and whether voters or courts should even get to define the word “marriage” by putting the word in a legal speech code — in a society that invades private contracts by licensing marriage in the first place.

I’ve written that animals don’t have human rights then argued that animals which reach certain behavioral and cognitive thresholds should be considered for legal rights currently afforded only the human species.

I’ve written on the rights of “law abiding” gun owners then turned around and argued for the right to keep and bear arms of law-breakers.

And, most profoundly, I am an atheist who because of personal experiences has been convinced of the existence of God.

I wrote my first novel, Alongside Night (Crown, 1979), when I was a young atheist. I adapted that novel into a motion picture later in life when I was a believer in God. Both tell virtually the same story.

My second novel, The Rainbow Cadenza (Simon & Schuster, 1983), features dialogue debating the existence of gods and goddesses versus the atheistic view held by the novel’s author. Yet certain of those pro-theistic arguments I wrote for my characters were still in my head when personal experiences challenged my atheism.

Escape from Heaven

My third novel, Escape from Heaven (Pulpless.Com, 2002), was written after I’d had what I already considered personal proof that God existed. Yet the novel is written with a viewpoint narrator who like the writer begins telling his story as an atheist. Unlike my first two novels published by major New York publishing houses my third novel was published by an independent press I, myself, own, that had already published books by two dozen other authors. As opposed to the tens or hundreds of thousands who read my first two novels, and the millions who watched on CBS prime time the Twilight Zone episode I scripted, only hundreds have read my third novel, which is my favorite of the three.

The Heartmost Desire

I’ve written several non-fiction books on topics ranging from the criminology of guns to the criminology of the O.J. Simpson trials, some of them read widely.

My latest book is The Heartmost Desire comprising two books published chapter by chapter on my blogs. Part 1 of this book is “Unchaining the Human Heart — A Revolutionary Manifesto” and consists of chapters arguing specific cases where individual liberty is a precondition of human happiness. Part 2 is “I Met God — God Without Religion, Scripture, or Faith” and gives the details of my personal journey from atheist to believer — like the title says, without religion, scripture, or faith.

I’m the same rationalist skeptic that I was when I was an atheist. Yet The Heartmost Desire is usually read as its original two books, not one, with readers commonly reading only one of them and ignoring the other.

I’m writing this essay, now, to say it’s one book, and it’s not one of those cases where I’m arguing with an older version of myself. Both books in this volume were written by the guy who believes in God, even though both parts are written from the viewpoint of the same rationalist skeptic I was when I was an atheist.

The Heartmost Desire has been called a religious, mystical, or New Age book. For marketing reasons I’ve consented to those labels.

But if you ask me which shelf in the remaining bookstores and libraries I’d want The Heartmost Desire on I’d want it shelved next to Richard Dawkins’ books. The Heartmost Desire is a work of philosophical examinations intended for hardbitten open minds yet who are willing to pay attention, also, to the longings of their heart.

As Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling said, Submitted for your approval:

Escape from Heaven and The Heartmost Desire — my two least-read books — to those of you who have shown interest in my better known work.

Note later in the day and added to the next day: Before Brad Linaweaver interviewed me for what became I Met God in The Heartmost Desire I did a number of appearances discussing my experiences and analysis of them with the late Jack Landman on his radio program, CyberCity. The audio of interviews are online for free listening linked from here but if you’re interested in the technical specifics of how as an atheist I overcame my skepticism about the existence of God — getting past Occam’s Razor and natural cosmolology — it’s here. Also my talk at the Karl Hess Club on September 15, 2003 “Why Ayn Rand and George H. Smith Never Disproved the Existence of God” and as I said both at the beginning of my talk and repeated to Jack Landman, please take note that I never said that they even tried. — JNS

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Schooling the Academics

As I write this Cinemax is running the 1986 comedy Back to School.

The movie stars Rodney Dangerfield, the brilliant stand-up comic whose theme was always, “I get no respect.”

The theme of Back to School is Dangerfield’s, who co-wrote the story, about a successful self-made multi-millionaire whose only schooling is the School of Hard Knocks, versus snobbish and entitled academics with no real-world accomplishments who give the real-world achiever no respect. As Dangerfield’s movie portrays, the feeling is mutual.

Back to School poster

I dropped out of college, the only community college that would accept me based on a certificate of completion from a private tutorial academy, in my second semester. It wasn’t only that I was bored by instructors who couldn’t write or argue as well as I already could from what I’d learned in my own reading and teenage entrepreneurial pursuits, but the academic atmosphere itself offended me. A psychology course expected me to share my personal life with other students, all strangers, as if this were group therapy. I’d already undergone several years of private psychiatry which had been personally beneficial and knew what issues were mine to resolve, but nobody else’s business.

As well, after years of sitting in classrooms that taught me far less than days reading books I’d chosen from visits to libraries, I was impatient to test myself in the real world. I’d already achieved minor success as a photo-journalist who beginning at age 14 had sold photography to local newspapers and portrait photography to individual clients. Now, pursuing writing as my new profession, I was more interested in making sales to newspapers, magazines, and book publishers. Delaying this by sitting in classrooms that had nothing to teach me that I couldn’t teach myself more efficiently had no appeal to me. The social approval of others who would judge me not on my actual work but on academic degrees struck me as remnants of an aristocratic Old World that I thought the American Revolution was fought to disestablish.

Today, after decades in the real-world marketplace, I can acknowledge lost opportunities because I didn’t pursue academic degrees. I wasn’t entirely allergic to classrooms and audited Murray Rothbard classes in economics he taught in Brooklyn. I’ve taken extension courses in subjects that interested me at UCLA. I achieved a certificate from college courses in police work that qualified me to become a California peace officer, though I never was offered employment in the field. And I even taught a graduate course in digital publishing for the New School, based on my own early entrepreneurship in the field, to students seeking a Masters degree. One of my students was a vice-president at Prentice-Hall publishing.

Nonetheless, when in the 1990’s I applied for a full-time editorial position at Reason Magazine after having been published in Reason, National Review, the Orange County Register, the Los Angeles Times Book Review, the Los Angeles Times Op-Ed page; had two award-winning novels published by major New York publishers; and had written for prime-time network television, Reason editor Virginia Postrel told me in a phone follow-up to my job application that I didn’t even make her top-ten for the position because I didn’t have a Bachelor’s degree.

The only paid editorial office position I ever scored in my career was working for a soft-core porn pulp magazine published by Screw Magazine’s Al Goldstein.

Today — even having achieved endorsements and praise on my writing from numerous doctorate-wielding university professors — academics with no publishing credits nearing my own in both popular media and academic journals, dominate conferences from the Independent Institute, Students for Liberty, CATO, the Reason Foundation, and conferences like PorcFest leaning to the left and FreedomFest leaning to the right — and I haven’t received a main-program-track speaking offer at any of these events for years.

I have friends like Brad Linaweaver — who holds a Masters Degree in English from the ivy-league Rollins College — who has real-world publishing credits as long or longer than my own. Academic achievement does not preclude real-world results.

But my disgust and contempt for supposedly libertarian publishers, conference organizers, and organizations that give out grants and awards for writing, publishing, and producing serious works encompassing free-market and libertarian ideas — preferencing academics over marketplace achievers like myself — makes me want to aim projectile vomit over their revanchist Old World Class.

This, alone, loses the libertarian future, and don’t think this autodidact doesn’t hate their guts because of their discriminatory lack of respect.

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Making Liberty Go Viral

In the 1970’s, as a young radical-libertarian fiction writer, I had the thought: What If — instead of setting the struggle for liberty in the past, or on another world, or in a parallel dimension or alternate timeline or post-apocalyptic future — I played that story on streets barely changed from ones outside my own window?

I didn’t write Alongside Night to be another Atlas Shrugged or The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. I wrote it to say that you didn’t need to go to the Land of Oz if you wanted to see the wizardry of freedom. It could be right on the sidewalks you walked every day and you didn’t need any ruby or glass slippers.

I believe that in seeking liberty stories are far more important than either elections or marches. Ideas without the imagination to visualize them remain stillborn.

I knew right from the beginning that Alongside Night would have to be more than a novel. I wrote my first draft of a screenplay adaptation before the first book came off the printing press.

Today, Alongside Night is the novel which was its first expression; but it is now also a movie, a graphic novel, an audiobook, and a song. All versions tell pretty much the same story.

I tried and failed to get the major film festivals and Hollywood studios to put my movie onto hundreds or thousands of movieplex screens. They didn’t want it. Knowing their politics, in which sugar and safety rank much higher than liberty, that should not have been a surprise … but I’m always an optimist.

More disappointing to me were people whom I thought prized liberty as much as I do only to discover their conventionality and timidity when courageous imagination was needed.

I did meet some heroes along the way, too — both old friends and some new ones.

We who love liberty, whoever we are, have to get the word out ourselves and if they’re to be deeply ingrained not just words, but pictures, voices, music, and ideas.

Alongside Night is already in distribution as a novel, graphic novel, and audiobook. You can find all of those for sale on if nowhere else. In a few months the Blu-Ray and DVD of the movie will be just as available — we’re aiming at Amazon, iTunes, Netflix, and Redbox.

If you’re a blogger, a podcaster, or just have Facebook friends or Twitter followers — hey, maybe you even have a face, voice, or byline in the Big Media — you don’t have to wait. I just made a secret web page with links to watch the full Alongside Night movie, to read the movie edition of the novel, to read the graphic novel, and to listen to the audiobook.

If you want to write or talk about Alongside Night in any or all of these versions you just need to email me (jneil[at] or send me a Facebook message promising me you’ll keep the page and its links secret and I’ll give you the secret URL.

Yours in liberty,

J. Neil Schulman

Alongside Night The Movie

Alongside Night The Movie Edition

Alongside Night The Graphic Novel

Alongside Night The Audiobook

It’s the near future and America is in trouble. Hyperinflation and disorder reign in the towns and cities of the nation. The government doesn’t have money to pay the military. A revolutionary group inspired by the Declaration of Independence is fomenting a second American Revolution and the director of a futuristic FEMA is arresting political enemies without court-issued warrants and imprisoning them in a secret prison.

This is the nonstop action and suspense in award-winning indie filmmaker J. Neil Schulman’s latest production, Alongside Night, based on his award-winning 1979 novel endorsed by Nobel-laureate Milton Friedman, A Clockwork Orange author Anthony Burgess, and Dr. Ron Paul.

Starring Kevin Sorbo (Hercules: The Legendary Journeys), Said Faraj (Green Zone), Contact and Starship Troopers’ Jake Busey, Star Trek Voyager’s Tim Russ and Garrett Wang, Alien Nation’s Gary Graham, Men in Black 3’s Valence Thomas, Parks and Recreation’s Mara Marini, Lady Magdalene’s Ethan Keogh, Adam Meir and Susan Smythe, Kevin Sorbo’s real-life wife, actress Sam Sorbo, singer/songwriter Jordan Page, and real-life activist Adam Kokesh, as well as up-and-coming actors Christian Kramme, Reid Cox, Kyle Leatherberry, Rebekah Kennedy, Charlie Morgan Patton, and Eric Colton, this is a film far more current than The Hunger Games or Divergence series.

This is the story of Elliot Vreeland (Kramme), son of Nobel Prize-winning economist Dr. Martin Vreeland (Sorbo). When his family goes missing and while being shadowed by federal agents (Faraj and Leatherberry), Elliot, with the help of his mysterious companion Lorimer (Cox), explore the underground world of the Revolutionary Agorist Cadre to find them. It’s a story of romance, intrigue, action, adventure, and exhilarating science fiction thrills.

“J.Neil Schulman’s Alongside Night is at the forefront of libertarian cinema.” — Josh Bell, Las Vegas Weekly

“I’d like to mention to the viewers, hopefully when you get the chance take a look at this movie, read the book. Neil’s worked hard in the libertarian movement. And we’d like to move it along and get it a lot of attention because that’s exactly what we want to do on this program, on this channel, is to promote the cause of liberty and I believe Alongside Night will do that.”
–Dr. Ron Paul, Ron Paul Channel, June 16, 2014

“The story is, by turns, touching, suspense-filled, violent when violence was called for, highly polemic, and altogether satisfying.”
L. Neil Smith, The Libertarian Enterprise

“A movie dedicated to promoting liberty and warning about a too powerful government.” — Coos County Democrat

“Abundant professional talent …supported the making of this fine movie. The result is visually bright and stunning, laced and layered with great music and pregnant with the theme of the unquenchable human spirit seeking liberty.”
–Jerry Jewett, Mondo Cult

Alongside Night has been recognized as an important projection of near-future crises on such diverse mass media as Fox News’ Red Eye, ABC’s On The Red Carpet, The Ron Paul Channel, Alex Jones’ Infowars, Reason.TV, the Larry Elder Show, Las Vegas Weekly, the Libertarian Republic, the Sam Sorbo Show, and many blogs, local TV and radio shows, and podcasts. With recommendations from Ron Paul and Alex Jones to their millions of listeners and viewers this movie has a fan base eagerly awaiting it.

Alongside Night has had successful paid ticketed theatrical screenings in Santa Monica, CA; Las Vegas, NV; Dallas, TX; Austin, TX; Columbus, OH; Scottsdale, AZ; Spokane, WA; Apple Valley, MN; Schaumburg, IL; Lansing, MI; Okemos, MI; and Lehi, UT.

Official Movie Website

Official Facebook

Official Twitter

YouTube Short Video Play List

Alongside Night Freedom Poster

Las Vegas Weekly article by Josh Bell

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Libertarian Success versus the Academic Mindset

In lengthy conversations I’ve been having recently with fellow libertarian Brad Linaweaver — whose novel Moon of Ice you see my character reading in the Alongside Night movie coming to a theater near you in a few months — we’ve been discussing the single-most important reason libertarians do worse than statists in gaining popular support for libertarianism as an overall approach to human relations.

Not to put too fine a point on it, way too many libertarians have their heads stuck up their asses.

Moon of Ice in Alongside Night
Moon of Ice in Alongside Night

It’s not that libertarians are unintelligent or anti-intellectual. Quite the contrary. Libertarians are readers. A lot of the time they’ve even read what C.S. Lewis would call “the right books” — books by great libertarian economists like Ludwig von Mises, F.A. Hayek, or Murray Rothbard; revisionist historians like James J. Martin; journalists like H.L. Mencken; and proto-libertarians like Frédéric Bastiat, Lysander Spooner, or Benjamin Tucker. Merely by giving this short list of examples a lot of libertarians would chide me for all the names that they think should be on this list, in addition or instead.

But – with one obvious exception that I’ll get to in a moment — the culture of libertarians reminds me of the 2009 Ricky Gervais comedy The Invention of Lying, where the idea of a popular movie is some guy in a chair narrating an historical event to the movie camera. Historically, libertarians are academic in their intellectual pursuits to the exclusion of most anything else.

The one prominent exception over the last half century has been the fiction of Ayn Rand, and that only because she gives her characters lengthy speeches that could pass as non-fiction in between the bodice-ripping sex scenes.

Yes, yes, yes. There are exceptions. There are libertarians who love science fiction — particularly by authors like Robert A. Heinlein, A.E. Van Vogt, Ray Bradbury, and more recently L. Neil Smith, Neal Stephenson, Brad Linaweaver and myself.

But being on the mainstream English lit department classic reading lists — authors including George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, or Kurt Vonnegut — would tend to attract many libertarians far more than any libertarian who made his reputation in pulp magazines, paperback anthologies, or — Galt forbid — writing primarily for commercial movies or network television.

Brad Linaweaver
Brad Linaweaver

Libertarians are too often academic snobs, and that’s true even of many of the auto-didacts.

This doesn’t mean there aren’t academics who are popular writers themselves.. Brad, for example, has a Masters degree from an ivy-league college and has taught high-school English; but Brad is as comfortable watching a monster movie or reading a comic book — and publishing the magazine Mondo Cult, devoted to pop culture — as he is on a panel at a scholar’s conference.

But academic snobbery is the death of libertarianism. I can’t tell you how many libertarian conferences I’ve been at where an economist has a room busting at the doors but a room featuring an award-winning novelist or filmmaker is lucky to fill the front row.

Back when the Laissez Faire Books catalog hadn’t been overwhelmed by and was still a primary source of libertarian books, non-fiction was regularly on the catalog’s cover. Unless you were Ayn Rand, a libertarian novel wasn’t — and the catalog didn’t even favor science fiction by libertarians over popular non-libertarian works by authors like Marion Zimmer Bradley.

This is a mistake the left never made, including the Communist Party, itself. They thought the Writers Guild — the men and women who wrote movies for the major Hollywood studios — was a union worth taking over because they knew — as Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels knew — movies were just as important as books or rallies when it came to reaching the “masses.”

Libertarians, like conservatives, spend their time bitching and moaning about the statist content in movies and TV shows — but when a libertarian who has studied the great libertarian thinkers and learned the issues presents these ideas in art rather than treatise or speech — the academic snob pretending to place libertarian values at a pinnacle is more likely either to ignore the libertarian artist entirely or attack the artwork as not sufficiently exalted. It’s a form of aristocratic establishmentarianism that shows up many so-called libertarians as movement scabs.

Most people reading this need to know that Brad Linaweaver and I are libertarian authors and filmmakers who have decades of success pushing libertarian ideas into the mainstream — most recently, me with my new movie Alongside Night, and most recently Brad with his web series, Silicon Assassin. We’ve made our entertainment products using professional crews and name actors. Between us we have over a century of experience studying our crafts, first as consumers, later as producers. We have received fulsome praise for our work from world class superstars. So neither us is going to suffer fools gladly who take a dump on our entertainment products because they’re too cloistered — and with the hubris of the solipsist — to know what’s good.

I have high hopes of using existing libertarian organizations and institutions as an opening market for my movie, but if the libertarian movement acts as it has done so for most of my career — and sticks its nose in their air — you can expect that the long list of Special Thanks to movement libertarians and organizations that I’ve put into the end credits of Alongside Night will be the last you hear from me. I just watched a documentary on J.D. Salinger. I know as well as he did how to disappear.

Now is the time for all good libertarians to come to the aid of their Movies.

In a few months — in Spring, 2014 — you’ll be invited to use your talents as entrepreneurs and organizers to set up movie-theater screenings for Alongside Night also showing episodes of Silicon Assassin and either make a profit for yourself by selling movie tickets, or using the ticket sales as fund raisers for your groups, campaigns, and causes.

This is your best hope in the near future to learn what your enemies have known forever: well-told stories presented in popular media are what change people’s lives and pivot the world.

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