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[from London] Law, Sci-Fi and Fantasy

I arrived back in London early Saturday morning and am again in the clutches of jetlag. Fortunately, this has meant I've gotten some Law Review work out of the way in the hours between 3AM and 8AM, but I wonder if there's enough coffee in London to keep me going through this first day of work.

One nice thing about long plane flights: it gives me a nice long stretch of time in which to read. I burned my way through a novel or two, one of which brought a question to my mind.

While science fiction invariably has science as one part of the genre, much of the interest of many sci-fi novels is the interplay of characters with future societies. Most recently I've read Gibson's All Tomorrow's Parties, but an even better example would be any of Iain M. Banks Culture novels. (Bank's future society can best be described as "a bundle of happy communists" who live in a future where the laws of scarcity have been overturned.)

What I couldn't bring to mind, though, was a science fiction novel that really dealt with the intersection between technological change and law, where the legal aspect was more than a tangent in discussing a future society. Neil Stephenson's Diamond Age came close, but again was worried much more with post-scarcity sociology. The closest thing that I could remember was Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man, a sort of extended novella about a man who plots out the perfect murder in a society in which the police can read your mind.

The more I think about it, the more I think there's room for a genre novel that deals specifically with changes to law and legal society. (Actually, I have a long-formed idea in my head about a modern fantasy novel that deals with various aspects of legal theory, but that's a thought for another time.) Before I go considering it much further, can any of my readers suggest an existing science fiction or fantasy novel that might fit the bill?


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I can't think of any - but nice idea!
Nancy Kress' books about the Sleepless might work. I think the title of one is "Beggars in Spain" or something similar...
Well, not exactly on point for your inquiry - but have you ever read "The Third Policeman" by Flann O'Brien. More of a "magical" allegory of a murder-thriller in an Alice and Wonderland mode of story telling of "new rules." You might enjoy it as a absurd entertainment. (From all the fun Legal-Beagle reading.) :-)
None of this is quite what you're looking for as an example of a genre novel focusing on changes to law and legal society, but... Minority Report also hit upon the "society in which the police can read your mind," although I've only seen the movie and watched it with a law student, so I may remember it as more law-oriented than it actually was. More, and law articles.
Larry Niven's "Gil Hamilton" short stories are the closest to what I think you're thinking of. I think that all of them are collected in The Long ARM of Gil Hamilton. Most of them deal with things like cloning and organ theft, but there're some other legal/technlogical interaction themes in there too. Haven't read them in years, but remember them fondly.
Tony ... update with a post if you can to let us know you're OK.
Forgot another book: "A Glance Backwards" - about a Utopian society (a la an early 1900" fantasy) but interesting in fashion. Don't recall the author. Might be of interest for ya and a short read too.
Greg Bear's two novels Queen of Angels and sequel Slant fit this category. Lots of consideration of how the law has to adapt to nanotech, extreme psychological and body modification, AI, etc.

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