“Robert, reading Sisyphus Shrugged and enjoying it greatly, though it scares the hell out of me. Every day, politics gets closer to the reality you project . . . ”
—Bob Cone, inventor of photographic emulsion Liquid Light, used on the World’s largest photograph; successful businessman; and political liberal
Robert Peate and Bob Cone, June 14, 2015
“My favorite discovery with Sisyphus Shrugged is the very philosophy it advocates, a refutation of the rule of free-market capitalism that doesn’t retreat automatically into communism. In my mind, both are just opposite sides of the same evil coin. Peate doesn’t take the easy route of painting the world exclusively in black and white with an either-or choice as to which extremist side is which color. He takes the much more difficult road of sifting through the shades of grey and rainbow colors that make up the real world and challenges us to assemble our own coin in a way that works best. Not perfectly, but better than the simplistic formulas that characterize so much of the political right and left.
“Also refreshing is Peate’s nuanced and realistic exploration of the role of force and violence in revolutions and social change. Rather than automatically retreating to the white robe of pacifism, he incorporates the violence that is inevitably committed by the adherents of both sides and explores the difficult path of situational ethics in the midst of activism. It’s this very lack of self-righteousness and simplistic prescriptions in the story that distinguishes it from Rand’s opus. People run the gamut from heroes to flawed and misguided humans to psychopathic monsters and don’t always stay neatly in a single category. In the personal as well as the political, Peate’s characters’ task is to move from a dystopian status quo without falling into the opposite extreme, to create traction on the slippery slopes and find compromise and middle ground. And while the result is a location definitely left of center, it avoids simplistic solutions and paper-doll worlds that too often characterize political fiction.
“It is for these reasons that I believe the Left just as much as the Right needs to read Sisyphus Shrugged.”
—Beverly Garside, author of Objectivist dystopia I and You
“What you are doing is great.”
—Levi Asher, author of Why Ayn Rand Is Wrong (and Why It Matters)
“This is not the sort of story where you’re meant to lose yourself in its world and take a mental vacation from your everyday existence—this is meant to be relevant to you, it is meant to make you think about ideas and their impact on your real life. . . .
“Even if you haven’t read Atlas Shrugged this novel stands on its own, and everything necessary to understand the plot and its characters is there. To be honest, I read the whole thing in a day. I found it to be entertaining and an interesting take on a bit of intellectual territory that includes philosophy, economics, politics, and ethics.”
“Yes, the protagonist, Evelyn Riley, is one of the strongest female leads in the game–more Peggy Carter than Isabella Swan, no doubt about it. But her XX status isn’t used to bolster the plot—if anything, her character transcends gender by making decisions based on possible outcome, rather than loyalty to an image generated for either other characters or readers. She’s not TRYING to be a role model or a heroine . . . she just is one. What truly sets Evelyn apart from her current literary peers, in my opinion, is she doesn’t lead with her ego, which isn’t to say she was written without one; it just takes a backseat to what truly motivates her in this corporate dystopia.”
—Danielle Ophelia Southcott
“Wednesday Talk Radio on KBOO this morning had about 30 percent more callers than usual, all wanting to talk about Ayn Rand and Robert Peate’s new novel taking off from her book Atlas Shrugged. Wild!”
—Lisa Loving, KBOO-FM
“Overheard in the bookstore, from a person holding Sisyphus Shrugged: ‘Wow, this is intriguing. Daunting, but intriguing.’
“We chatted about Ayn Rand and Fiction of Ideas. Book gone.”
—Néna Rawdah, Saint Johns Booksellers
“If you have ever read Atlas Shrugged, whether you liked it or not, you really should read this book.
“I was fortunate to completely avoid the writings of Ayn Rand during my formative years. I slogged through Atlas Shrugged painful page by painful page so that I would have the background from which to read this book. Rand’s bible for the greedy and narcissistic self-styled Libertarians of present-day politics has too much influence to be ignored. After nearly drowning in the utter ‘wrongness’ of Randian philosophy for 1,000 pages, I expected Peate to take the easy path of ridicule and humor to demolish her childish and naive ideas. Instead, he treats her and her protagonists with respect, at times elucidating her own points more effectively than she did. Then he turns around and eviscerates her logic at every turn using the reason and the hearts of his own characters (it is important to note that Rand’s characters appear to completely lack the latter. Even sex is about power for Dagny). Peate has some anachronistic grammatical rules that he follows, and he leads the reader a bit much by the hand, but he is a far better writer than Rand, and tells a good story, while effectively rebutting her entire philosophy. This book is a must-read for not only those who already reject Rand but also for those who embrace her.”
—David Scott Moyer
“I really like your quote ‘I live for Humanity, and I ask Humanity to live for me (and for everyone else).’ That’s the way it should be.”
—Paul Buchheit, DePaul University
“This is a work of fiction and is on the same believability level as Atlas. Your willing suspension of disbelief will get a workout, but no more than reading Ian Fleming, Dan Brown, or Ayn Rand. The story is well written, the plot is well thought out, the characters are believable, and the reading was very enjoyable. And well, it was a great book to read this Labor Day weekend.
“Happy Dagny came out of it smarter too.”
“I showed it to wife Linda, and she screamed so loudly she hurt my ears (my left ear is particularly sensitive, and she keeps forgetting this).”
—David E. Block
“Adding Ayn as a character in your book is brilliant, even if I’m having a little trouble wrapping my head around it at the moment.”
“I’m almost to the end of chapter four, and I swear to you, I want to start screaming at John Galt (via your book), but that would look like I was crazy as hell. Evelyn—you are doing one hell of a job. Much thanks! I need to see rational thought spoken after talking with some of my family about politics. I think that’s why I want to scream at Rand/Galt right now. I have some in my own family that have bought into the Libertarian crapola. Dealing with them today has been most taxing, and I’m pretty certain they know it too. Reading your book today has helped make it better . . . and in an odd way worse somehow. The almost seething anger I feel [toward] Ayn Rand and her fiction is almost palpable. Never could read any of her other works. If it’s not telling a good story and/or making a rational conclusion and statements . . . I’m not interested. Not sure why I read AS as many times as I did, but I’m glad now. I can argue that book from any ‘premise’ anyone cares to start at. That book makes me loathe to even use the word ‘premise’.
“That you studied the thoughts and actions of your/our opponents is quite clear from your books. I must say, I’m being reminded of your books all too often in the real world for my liking. Seriously, all too often.”
—Denise Johnson, Money’s Men beta reader
“It is confrontational – you are meant to respond to what is happening in the novel, to take a side. Indeed, recent events in the US seem to show how people’s ‘philosophy’ can impel them to act out in ways that impact all of us.
“Sure, Peate takes a stand—or, as some might say, ‘has a bias’—but likewise so does Rand in her book. Don’t take it too seriously; this is just part of a dialogue: Rand expounds, Peate counters.”
—Amazon user “Able Baker”
“Giving labor input in business decisions is a great idea; after all, those closest to the manufacture of a product/service, i.e., the workers, have a big impact on productivity and quality, both necessary for the success of the business. Granted, management is responsible for organizing the work efficiently, but the laborers have to make the process succeed, so I would think their input and improvement suggestions would be valuable to the management. Hopefully, consensus by commitee wouldn’t be too slow or cumbersome.”
“I’m all in favor of innovative business structures being tested in the actual world. Employee ownership has been tried and in some cases worked well; e.g., some of the companies here.”
—Michael Brown, head of the Ayn Rand community on Facebook
“[Evelyn Riley]’s a character thoroughly enough developed by twenty pages in that I want to be friends with her. . . .
“We were at the doctor’s office today and they’ve installed these new tablets on a stand and television screens. Both with the sole purpose of advertising pharmeceuticals. It reminded me of the constant advertising you mention in SS. I even mentioned to the nurse, ‘Really? This is how far capitalism has come. Can we please shut these off?’
“Her response, to my absolute horror, was that they cannot turn them off because they’re contracted with the company who sent them and that the screens send a signal to that company if they’re shut off. ‘We get a call within fifteen minutes of shutting one off, even in an empty room,’ she said. It’s happening.
“Bet you didn’t figure on SS becoming prophetic. At least, not this soon.”
“I’m halfway through. I think it moves just fine, only the occasional page or two of economic talk, but don’t we normally read characters discussing their views? I like that you get enough Galt to set up the counter argument. I don’t think it’s a straw man. Mostly, I like lots of extras, the people who are affected by the main themes. That was sorely lacking in Rand.”
“This should be one terrific book. I look forward to reading it.”
—Paula Friedman, Pushcart Prize nominee
“I have read Atlas Shrugged at least a dozen times over the years, and Robert Peate gives a compelling rebuttal to what most of the worshipers of Rand seem to take away from AS. He also manages to give us a vision of one way that we ought to consider replacing the present paradigm of how capitalism works. I always enjoyed Rand for the fiction, knowing that she didn’t describe how societies can function properly, or how they did in reality. Take away the CEO and we have a thousand people who could do his job as well, just didn’t have the inherited wealth or social connections. Harder to replace the guy who is expert at troubleshooting a widget.
“Robert is more realistic, and we get to revisit Galt and Dagny, and we even have Rachel Maddow for fun. He makes the case for enlightened self interest, that doing good for others is good for society and therefore benefits you, so actually doing good IS the most selfish thing you can do.”
“There is no doubt in my mind that it will one day be on a list of must-read classics.
“This is one of those books that makes you wish you could read faster and that it lasted longer. While it might be a rebuttal to Rand, it can easily stand alone as an insightful look at today. On my top ten of good reads and I recommend it highly. It’s eerie how much it seems to have looked into the world of Trump and his cronies even before they came to power. Now we need Evelyn and Ryan to show up and take them out.”
“How do you not lose your grip, having accidentally predicted the future? So surreal. . . . I know you weren’t TRYING to warn us about Trump, but the book IS a warning!”
“It’s not all political speeches, but Robert weaves in some scenes of politicians debating. You get an education while being entertained.”
“Communist utopia . . . hard-left propaganda.”
—Ken V. Krawchuk, author of Atlas Snubbed
“The [Objectivist] position is irrefutable.”
“Honestly, I’m sort of thinking that this book will display such a bad ideal that Objectivism, though I don’t even agree with it entirely through identifiable and specific aspects, will have yet another nice contrast to shine against in comparison.”
“Your ‘agree with us or starve (or walk or whatever)’ extortion is so fucked up as to be truly sick, jackass.”
—James Stevens Valliant, author of The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics: the Case Against the Brandens
“I’ve read propaganda before (in a political science class), but most of the stuff from the Axis powers puts this tripe to shame.”
—Amazon user “Mr. Grim”