- L. Neil Smith
L. Neil Smith (full name Lester Neil Smith III), also known to readers and fans as El Neil, is a
libertarian science fiction authorand political activist. He was born on May 12 1946in Denver. His works include the trilogy of Lando Calrissiannovels: " Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu" (1983), " Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon" (1983), " Lando Calrissian and the Starcave of ThonBoka" (1983), and the Omnibus edition "The Lando Calrissian Adventures". He also wrote the novels "Pallas", "The Forge of the Elders", and "The Probability Broach", each of which won the Libertarian Futurist Society's annual Prometheus Awardfor best libertarian novel.
L. Neil Smith should not be confused with
J. Neil Schulman, another Libertarian science fiction writer. Smith is aware of this occasional confusion, once humorously signing a letter to Samuel Edward Konkin IIIas "Neil (L., not J.)"
Several of his works constitute the North American Confederacy series:
The Probability Broach" (1980) is an alternate history novel in which history has taken a different turn because a single word in the Declaration of Independencewas changed. The United Stateshas become replaced by an anarchist / libertariansociety, the North American Confederacy, in this parallel universe, also known to science fiction fans as the Gallatin Universe, due to the pivotal role of Albert Gallatinin the point of divergence. The villains of the series are styled Federalistsafter the historical political party of George Washingtonand Alexander Hamilton. In 2004, a graphic novelversion was released, illustrated by Scott Bieser.
*"The Venus Belt" (1981) is the next written novel from the Gallatin Universe, which takes place in outer space and discusses other settlements in our solar system. The
Federalists are attempting to base a new civilization in outer space, with a plan to someday return to take over the government.
*"Their Majesties' Bucketeers" is the third novel set in the Gallatin Universe. The story is a
pasticheof the Sherlock Holmestales by Arthur Conan Doyle, introducing the Lamviin, a trilaterally symmetrical race of aliens native to the arid planet of Sodde Lydfe. "Their Majesties' Bucketeers" introduces characters who would later interact with others in the Gallatin Universe.
*"The Nagasaki Vector" is about a time traveller who is shifted into the Gallatin Universe by the nuclear explosion over Nagasaki which ended
World War IIon August 9 1945.
*In "Tom Paine Maru", the entrepreneurs of the Confederacy travel from world to world, exploring the various kinds of messes made by the Federalists who had been shifted back in time and scattered at random over the universe at the conclusion of "The Venus Belt". The Federalists had created dozens of colonies, all of which had suffered disaster and retrogression under Federalist rule. Smith uses this device to criticize non-libertarian forms of government.
*In "The Gallatin Divergence", a time-traveling Federalist woman wants to change history but is opposed by the heroes of
The Probability Broach. As these two forces clash, history is once again altered and a third timeline is created.
*"The American Zone" (2001), the most recent entry in the series, is a direct sequel to "
The Probability Broach" concerned with the refugees from various anti- libertarianversions of the United States who take up residence in the Confederacy, and the response of the Confederacy to terrorist violence.
Another series of his works constitute the
Lando Calrissian( Star Wars) series:
*"Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu" (1983), the first novel in the series, was set in the
Star Warsexpanded universe, between the events of the Star Warsfilms and , and concerned character Lando Calrissian. When Lando heard that the planets of the Rafa System were practically buried in ancient alien treasure, he hopped aboard the Millennium Falcon, never stopping to think that someone might be conning the con man.
*"Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon" (1983), the second novel in the series, is a direct sequel to "
Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu" concerned with The Oseon, a solar system of luxury hotels catering to the underemployed filthy rich -- every gambler's dream come true. And so it was for Lando and his robot companion Vuffi Raauntil Lando broke the gambler's cardinal rule: never beat a cop at high-stakes games of chance.
*"Lando Calrissian and the Starcave of ThonBoka" (1983), the most recent novel in the series, is a direct sequel to "
Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon" concerned with how, for a year, Lando and Vuffi Raa, his robot astrogator, had roamed space. But then Lando had gone out on a limb to help a race of persecuted aliens, and now he and Vuffi were up against several sets of their own enemies.
*"The Lando Calrissian Adventures" Omnibus Edition (1994), is an omnibus collection of the three
Lando Calrissiannovels, " Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu", " Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon" and " Lando Calrissian and the Starcave of ThonBoka" .
*"Pallas" is the story of Emerson Ngu, a boy who lives in a
dystopian socialist commune in a crater on the asteroidPallas. Emerson creates a crystal radio and is astonished to learn of the world outside the commune. Escaping, he discovers that the rest of Pallas is a libertarian utopia. Unable to forget his semi-enslaved family -- whose "workers' paradise" is starving to death -- he innovates a cheap but durable gun(because the Libertarians on Pallas, to their shame, did not have a domestic firearms industry), and sets about liberating his former commune. At the same time, he must learn the skills necessary for life in the outside world. The novel thus functions both as a bildungsromanand a story of political revolution.
*Upcoming works currently in production: "Ceres" and "Ares", both set in the "Pallas" universe and being funded by private investors. The Ceres Project was organized by
Alan R. Weiss, a friend of Neil's. "Ceres" was completed on December 25, 2004and is now seeking a film and book deal.
*"The Mitzvah", which is a novel about a Catholic priest who is a pacifist and influenced by socialist values of the 1960s. His entire world is shattered when he learned the German immigrant parents he grew up with are adopted, and that his true parents were a Jewish couple who were murdered in the
In 1999, Smith announced that he would run for president in 2000 as an independent if his supporters would gather 1,000,000 online petition signatures asking him to run [http://smith4prez.freeservers.com/statement.html] . After failing to achieve even 1,500 signatures, his independent campaign quietly died. He next tried an abortive run for the Libertarian Party nomination, which ended almost as quickly when, in the California primary,
Harry Browneoverwhelmingly defeated him, 71% to 9% [http://www.politics1.com/lp2k.htm#smith] .
However, Smith did appear as the Libertarian Party candidate for president on the
Arizonaballot in 2000, although Browne was chosen by the party's national convention, due to a major dispute between the Libertarian Party's national organization and their Arizona affiliate. He and running mate Vin Suprynowiczreceived 5,775 votes. Shortly thereafter, Smith's supporters announced a new 1,000,000-signature petition drive; however, in late 2003, with the new drive once again failing to achieve even a small fraction of that total, Smith announced that he would no longer pursue political office. Smith is no newcomer to the Libertarian Party, though: he joined in 1972 (just after its beginnings in 1971), in 1977 and 1979 served on the Platform Committee, and in 1978ran for state legislature in Colorado (winning 15% of the vote with a total expenditure of forty-four dollars). His influence, and that of the "Ad Hoc Conspiracy to Draft L. Neil Smith" (which has hundreds of informal members) helped influence the 2004 Libertarian Party selection of Michael Badnarikfor President (although third-place candidate Gary Nolan's endorsement of Badnarik may have had a more immediate effect). Badnarik was profoundly influenced by "Hope", by L. Neil Smith and Aaron Zelman (Zelman founded and is Executive Director of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership). Smith endorsed the Free State Projectin 2004, and endorsed Badnarik's campaign for President in 2004. Smith is the founder of and regularly contributes essays to " [http://ncc-1776.org/ The Libertarian Enterprise] ", and his most influential essay is consideredWho|date=August 2008 to be " [http://www.lneilsmith.org/whyguns.html Why Did it Have to be ... Guns?] ".
North American Confederacyseries
The Probability Broach" (1980, unexpurgated edition 1996, graphic novel 2004)
*"The Nagasaki Vector" (1983)
*"The American Zone" (2001)
*"The Venus Belt" (1980)
*"Their Majestys' Bucketeers" (1981)
*"Tom Paine Maru" (1984)
*"The Gallatin Divergence" (1985)
**"Brightsuit MacBear" (1988) [1st in new series set in NAC universe]
**"Taflak Lysandra" (1989) [2nd in new series set in NAC universe]
Lando Calrissian( Star Wars) series
Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu" (1983)
Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon" (1983)
Lando Calrissian and the Starcave of ThonBoka" (1983)
* Omnibus edition "The Lando Calrissian Adventures" (1994)
Forge of the Elders Series
*"Contact and Commune" (1990)
*"Converse and Conflict" (1990)
*"Forge of the Elders" (2000) [comprising the previous two books plus a previously-unpublished 3rd book]
*"The Wardove" (1986)
*"The Crystal Empire" (1986)
*"Henry Martyn" (1989)
*"Bretta Martyn" (1997) [sequel to Henry Martyn]
*"Roswell, Texas" (2006) (on-line comic with art by
Timepeeper" (2008) (on-line comic with art by Sherard Jackson)
*"Lever Action" (2001)
*"The Mitzvah" (1999)
Smith's vision of a libertarian utopia, particularly in reference to the free ownership of firearms, was held up in a rather critical light in the military science-fiction novel, "
First to Fight", by David Shermanand Dan Cragg. The principal action in this novel, the first volume of the StarFist series, takes place on a planet named Elneal. David Sherman reportedly named the planet after L. Neil Smith [ [http://www.starfisthq.org/Discussions/tabid/262/mid/630/threadid/12555/scope/posts/Default.aspx "...the planet Elneal was named "in honor of" the libertarian science fiction writer L. Neil Smith"] ] .
* [http://www.lneilsmith.org/ L. Neil Smith's website]
* [http://www.thepriceofliberty.org/03/10/09/lneilsmith.htm "My Political Plans", an essay by Smith]
* [http://www.theadvocates.org/celebrities/l-neil-smith.html Advocates for Self-Government] page on Smith
* [http://www.awardannals.com/creator.php?id=2235 The book award annals] List of L. Neil Smith's award-winning and finalist books
* [http://www.bigheadpress.com/lneilsmith L. Neil Smith's blog]
* [http://www.bigheadpress.com/roswell Roswell, Texas] new on-line comic by Neil.
* [http://www.infoshop.org/sf/index.php/Asteroid Asteroids in Science Fiction]
* [http://www.librarything.com/author/smithlneil LibraryThing author profile]
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