In Escape from Terra, a libertarian utopia grows on Ceres

Should we tax the asteroid belt? In the future, the dwarf planet Ceres has attracted ruggedly individualist settlers who set up an anarchist paradise. When two Terran tax agents show up and to bring Ceres into the universal government, the Ceresians must try to win the tax agents to their side, or risk war with Earth.

In Escape from Terra's future, Earth is completely ruled by the United World government, a vast nanny state that requires citizens to wear helmets in the shower while corrupt government officials line their pockets with citizen taxes. Meanwhile, the settlers of Ceres are getting rich from mining the dwarf planet. Guy Caillard, an agent for the United World Revenue Service, is charged with the important task of collecting Ceres' taxes. He selects beautiful fellow agent Fiorella Stellina to accompany him, with hopes their working relationship will turn into something more.

But where Guy expects to find a backwater cow-town (or cow-planet), he finds that the anarchist society on Ceres is thriving. And when the Ceresians (who call themselves Belters) realize Guy and Stellina's plan, they fear the planet's salad days are over. So, while they try to find a way to outwit the UWRS they plot to win the tax agents over with hockey, happy capitalists, and the right to bear arms.

That's the first of many stories set on the Ceres imagined by creators Sandy Sandfort, Scott Bieser, and Lee Oaks. While there's a backdrop of the looming conflict between Ceres and Terra, many of the stories center around the challenges and triumphs of an anarchist society. In this way, Escape from Terra is Star Trek's bizarre twin: it takes an opposite tack on humanity's ideal future, but it is no less optimistic about basic human nature. Ceres has no governing body, but it's hardly lawless; established settlers happily lend a helping hand (and a little money) to new arrivals looking for work; immigrants of all abilities, races, religions, sexual orientations, and gender identities are welcomed into the fold; and Ceresian believe there are few, if any, bad apples beyond rehabilitation.

As people across the United States debate the appropriate role of government and money in our lives, Escape From Terra's anarcho-capitalist philosophy is sure to be a controversial one. Its protagonists are monomaniacally anti-government with a sometimes comedic effect (when one character claims to have pulled off the greatest scam in history, another can't help but quip, "Not counting government, I think you succeeded."), and anyone involved with government is at best a spineless collaborator and at worst a greedy rapist. But, if you aren't put off by Escape's politics, many of its stories have a certain cowboy appeal and an interesting perspective on the future frontier.

It is, however, a somewhat unbalanced future. While the creators frequently go into great detail on how society and culture have changed over the decades, the characters still reference Alien, quote Katy Perry, and obsess over Han Solo. Escape From Terra's characters may be strong and self-reliant, but their pop culture is firmly frozen at the turn of the millennium.

[Escape From Terra]