CD Spensley’s Free the Bear! is an especially timely work of speculative fiction for the age of Trump. A novel of ideas – the creation of a self-aware Artificial Intelligence from glowing tropical fish and human neurons; a rebellion of a million gamers and one philosopher; a twenty year plot to withhold key science from the Federal government; the dream of a genuinely peaceful succession of California from the Union – all dreams on the cusp of reality until triggered by the national emergency created by the election of Donald Trump. Free the Bear is a rousing adventure story and a cautionary tale of the unintended consequences of utopian dreams.

Michael Alenyikov, author of the award-winning novel, Ivan and Misha

An AI’s exponential growth, brilliant minds steeped in both science and spirituality, and the Bay Area’s frustrated youth – these are the seeds of California’s independence. Free the Bear is a fun and smart look not only at how it could happen, but also at how the movement creates its own myths along the way.

– Jeff Liss, author of The Second Pact

Free the Bear! is a fascinating and richly detailed glimpse into a near future that might be upon us sooner than we realize. The novel is full of complex, well-rounded characters, from the Chinese martial artist and Zen student who initiates the secession to the quirky cast of youthful gamers who are its non-violent army. The evocation of the Independent Free Republic of California (IFROC) makes the speculative scenario realistic and absorbing.  Free the Bear! is both provocative and a great fun read!
-Stephen Billias, author of The American Book of the Dead and Quest for the 36

Wildly ingenious, Free the Bear follows in the hallowed footsteps of Ernest Callenbach’s 40-year old Ecotopia, but in the new breakaway nation posited by CD Spensley’s fictional West Coast exit-plan, it’s tech geeks who run the show. Might we have here a revenge of the coders and gamers scenario…or is this update on the utopian/dystopian genre a cautionary exposé of idealism gone astray? Either way, this rocking anti-gov- and sci-fi-flavored adventure could not be more timely, as real secessionist movements rear up across the globe and the US Feds threaten Blue State values. This engrossing novel regales the imagination with thought-provoking what-ifs.

-Mindela Ruby, author of the novel Mosh It Up

Believable science, fast pacing, an Ender's-Game-styled teen gamer-gang, and a tank of fish so smart it hurts. What's not to love?

This fun, sharply plotted romp through the California zeitgeist is a fever dream where the nightmare of our current political fate finds an escape for the enlightened.

CD Spensley has done his homework and the well paced, character driven tale hits all the right notes; near future AI technology, a corrupt federal government, the political long game the right wingers specialize in, the Marin County dirt biker mentality of ride hard and take no prisoners (but if you do take prisoners house them in a Lake Tahoe resort they're loath to leave).

-P. Honan Keeley, author of Strong Box