I admire Ayn Rand and enjoyed reading Atlas Shrugged and other bits and pieces. People will obviously decry the approval of selfishness but I think she justifies selfishness rather well. Rand's view in regard to the concepts of selfishness/selflessness go against a fundamental philosophy that is the cornerstone of Christianity (and probably most other religions). I would suggest carefully that this conflict is over before it has begun for many.
In regard to artistic merit, I don't think there is any reasonable doubt to suggest that her works are of great value. Within the boundaries that she has set, her arguments hold firm and that for a philosphically charged novel is paramount! Alot of this thread seems to revolve around her political opinions and world view. These are irrelvent to the art she has created! My opinion of what makes a good piece of art is my own and Ayn Rand's work are enjoyable to read irrespective of her world view. To anyone who has not finished (or started) Atlas Shrugged... do not give it up, it is very exciting!