eBook versions are also available:
And there is a new CommWealth interview on Smashwords.
Introduced six months ago, the CommWealth system has outlawed private property. As the story opens, playwright Allan Larson is walking in the rain, spies a new Porsche, and demands the owner relinquish the car. By law, the owner must comply. Everything is free in this society. You just ask for it. To avoid subtle retaliation, there’s a thirty-day waiting period before the former owner can ask for anything from the new owner. People do try to hide as much of what they’ve got as possible, but they’re castigated as Hoarders, and surprise inspections of homes, and publications of people’s inventories, are common. Often you’re called up at night and asked for several of your items, with instructions on where to leave them for pickup.
Allan has adjusted well to this new society, easily claiming umbrellas, mansions, and motorcycles from fellow citizens. Still obsessed with his ex-girlfriend Lisa after their breakup, Allan invokes the laws of CommWealth to demand ownership of her. Meanwhile bicycle mechanic and fledgling actor Richard Stapke seduces Jill Constantine, co-owner with her husband Steve of the Cup of Fog coffee shop, headquarters of the theatrical troupe Forensic Squad.
After a drunken Richard discloses that he’s secretly been writing novels and plays for years, Allan incautiously spreads the word that Richard’s a genius. But an official CommWealth claim is made of Richard’s entire literary output, and the resulting five-volume Stapke Intimacies not only reveals Jill and Richard’s affair, but brings to light a twisted history of betrayals, double agents, and murder that propel Steve Constantine and other Forensic Squad members into a suicidal revolution.
The concept of property touches us all in deep psychological ways we often don’t want to think about. Just think about “your toothbrush,” for example. The exaggerated ideas in CommWealth nevertheless encompass real ethical concerns:
Theft, greed, unconsciousness, hiding, cowering, power-lust, political intrigue, manipulations, danger, courage.
Insinuations, hoarding, unfairness, envy, demands for pity, demands for others to share, obligation, guilt trips.
Copyright 2020 by Michael D. Smith