L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 8, May 1996
[Editor's Note: This article
has been altered from the original speech.
All the ascii symbols have been replaced by english equivalents, so
that my up-and-downloading program no longer barfs on it]
Where No Libertarian Has Gone Before
By L. Neil Smith
Presented Friday, April 26, 1996, at the Colorado Libertarian Party
Special to The Libertarian Enterprise
"It is moral weakness, rather than villainy, that accounts
for most of the evil in the universe -- and feeble-hearted
allies, far rather than your most powerful enemies, who are
likeliest to do you an injury you cannot recover from."
-- Bretta Martyn
Depending on how you look at these things, I've been a science
fiction writer for 19 or 29 years. During all that time, it seems to
me there's always been some editor or agent on the phone, whining into
my ear about how bad the business is lately.
Of course, you have to accept some of this simply as bargaining
strategy on the part of editors -- or excuses on the part of agents -- for
why a writer should be happy to accept less money. That kind of
song and dance has been going on since the first copper stylus got
mashed into the first clay tablet, back in ancient Sumeria. From an
editor's point of view -- or from an agent's (they're essentially the
same no matter what they claim; these people go to lunch together
every day) -- writers should always be happy to accept less money.
But there's a particle of truth here, too. The same period of 19
or 29 years has, in fact, been marked by shrinking rack space in
grocery stores and drugstores for genuine science fiction -- rack
space incongruously occupied instead by offerings featuring dragons,
dwarves, or enchanted swords on their covers. Where I differ with
editors and agents -- to whom I've vainly tried communicating this
point for every one of those 19 or 29 years -- is in my belief that
genuine science fiction is dying from self-inflicted injuries.
Furthermore, I believe I'm uniquely qualified to pontificate on the
subject; in many respects, I'm one of the few individuals left, in the
whole wide world, actually writing the stuff; which is to say, still
writing genuine science fiction.
Science fiction editors and agents, I believe, tend to regard
their declining market as a mysterious and regrettable but
fundamentally unavoidable fact of nature -- something like the
weather, or the way Republicans look at inflation -- which can't be
blamed on anybody in particular, especially on science fiction editors
and agents. And yet the reason for this slow-motion literary
catastrophe -- and if you'll bear with me, because its relevance is
crucial to the future of individual liberty in general and that of the
Libertarian Party in particular -- the reason for this slow-motion
literary catastrophe can be established easily and inarguably.
Our civilization is unique in history and renowned the world over
for the value it's always placed, historically, on ideas, in and of
themselves -- and for the way it's always put those ideas into
action. Today, science fiction is the only literature of ideas
remaining in our civilization, and it's revealing that whenever
writers from other fields, non-fiction or so-called "mainstream",
decide it's time to say something really important -- George Orwell,
Aldous Huxley, B.F. Skinner, Margaret Atwood -- they turn, almost
reflexively, to science fiction.
Historically, since its 19th century inception, genuine science
fiction has always been driven by some kind of Utopianism, presenting
us with stirring visions of the wonderful new universe that will
"inevitably" result if all of us just buckle down and practice
whatever it is the writer has to preach. In the beginning, what the
science fiction of Jules Verne, for example, or later on, of John W.
Campbell, had to preach was simple: "Technology: Its Virtues and
Benefits". At the same time, however -- especially in the light of
two World Wars in which technology took over its own promotion and
sales -- Utopia has been politically defined, almost invariably, as
some variety of socialism.
On occasion, it's been right-wing socialism, a very
poorly-understood intellectual phenomenon (frequently misrepresented
as consistent with the libertarian philosophy of America's Founding
Fathers) in which the central concept is that the life, liberty, and
property of the average individual must be sacrificed (or at least
temporarily dragooned) for the sake of achieving certain "highly
desirable" collective goals -- such as establishing a military or
scientific base on the Moon, or slaughtering pesky aliens, or wiping
out interplanetary drug pushers, or simply moving Antarctican icebergs
to thirsty tropical consumers -- all goals traditionally advocated by
conservatives (or even outright fascists) ranging from E.E. "Doc"
Smith to Dr. Jerry Pournelle.
Most often, of course, it's been left-wing socialism, an
intellectual phenomenon (if you want to give it that much credit)
we've come to understand all too well, in which the central concept is
that the life, liberty, and property of the individual must be
sacrificed for the sake of achieving certain "highly desirable"
collective goals -- such as establishing national healthcare or
achieving universal weapons confiscation -- traditionally advocated by
liberals or even outright communists. These unworthies have dominated
science fiction more or less since the turn of the last century,
although a few decades ago they grudgingly made room for a few token
right-wing socialists -- perhaps because the real goal of both camps
(like that of editors and agents) is essentially the same: sacrificing
the life, liberty, and property of the individual for its own sake,
whatever the excuse.
Sometimes I think the lefties moved over and made room for the
righties because they became absolutely terrified of what else might
be bearing down upon them.
Well, no, not me, exactly. But somebody like me.
Only a Whole Lot Worse.
Ayn Rand scared the living shit out of these people. A Eugene
Zamiatin or a Robert LeFevre or even an Ira Levin they could suppress
or dismiss for one reason or another, which is why so few readers have
ever heard of We, Lift Her Up Tenderly, or This Perfect Day.
But little old Alice Rosenbaum was always right there in their nasty
collectivist faces, standing on their toes, her literary fists locked
into their lapels, shouting up their nostrils, stubbornly refusing
to be dismissed or suppressed, challenging their most fundamental
assumptions in the very language that socialists of both stripes
thought they had invented: "skiffy", the correct pronunciation of
But what scared the lefties even worse than Ayn Rand (if that's
possible) was the actual new universe that appeared to be resulting
(inevitably, as it turned out) from the practice of their ivory tower
theories -- theories they had been advancing since the time of Mary
Shelley, Edward Bellamy, and H.G. Welles -- by political pragmatists
like Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Lyndon Baines Johnson, and Pol Pot.
It wasn't simply that the ideas of left-wing socialism weren't
working, although that was certainly true enough even before the Evil
Empire collapsed in an unprecedented, although not exactly
unpredictable, manner. Invariably they seemed to culminate in the
demise -- from causes ranging from mass starvation to firing-squads to
simply being marched to death -- of tens of millions of the very
proletarians those ideas had been intended to benefit in the first
Which is how it came to be that all of those "traditional" science
fiction writers (that's a contradiction in terms, you understand), all
those lonely, toothless, quakey-voiced old-timers of all ages still
trying to eke out their existence in the empty philosophical badlands
and political ghost-towns that Left-Wing Utopia has become (or even
those lucky enough to be living in greater luxury off the tailings of
the statist mother-lode they and their predecessors once helped to
mine) that's why they all have nothing but bad news for us now.
They're mistaking the failure of their ideas for a failure of
humanity, or even of reality itself. As a consequence, many of them
have simply given up and become whining nihilists, neo-Luddites, and
eco-fascists. A favorite phrase of theirs is, "The future isn't what
it used to be". To which I reply, "And whose fault is that?"
Those left-wing science fiction writers who remain commercially
successful today tell us tales of interstellar military superstates
with the unquestioned and unquestionable power to quarantine whole
sectors of the galaxy because, in their infinite wisdom, they've
decided it would be bad for unsupervised adults of differing species
to meet and freely exchange ideas and articles of trade with one
another. (Although exchanges of bodily fluids seem to be okay.) In
practically the same breath, they speak lyrically of local authorities
with the technological ability to search individuals for concealed
weapons or other contraband at a distance, an everyday practice nobody
in these stories ever resists or even complains about on a humane or
Now I ask, didn't this kind of thing used to be a staple of
negative Utopias like 1984 and Brave New World? Didn't it used
to constitute the furnishings for cautionary tales about a loss of
individual liberty and self-determination that was to be avoided at
all costs? Now it's taken for granted as inevitable -- and probably
even desirable -- whatever other possibilities the future may present.
Which brings us back to the original point. Genuine science
fiction is dying today because it works in exactly the opposite way
that science fiction did in the past. Yesterday's science fiction
showed us a future in which most of today's problems had been solved.
While they would certainly be confronted with new problems, in
general, people had more reason to be happy, reflecting a general
trend of progress in the real world.
Now all that has changed. They may be interesting places to visit
for an hour once a week, and they may paint pretty pictures across our
TV screens or introduce us to individual characters we come to care
about, but who the hell wants to live in the authoritarian,
militaristic futures portrayed by Star Trek in all of its
incarnations, by Babylon 5, or by Space: Above and Beyond? Even
The Jetsons have been enlisted to serve the ends of political
correctness. The best recent science fiction -- and, naturally, the
one that received no notice at all from the media establishment -- was
Gerry Anderson's Space Precinct which offered us a future that was
worth waiting around to see, if not actively striving to bring into
So what happens to a community of shopworn left-wing Utopian
writers who for decades have continued to insist on seeing a future
that demonstrably -- to anyone who isn't tenured, working for
television, or living in Sri Lanka -- doesn't work? Enter J.R.R.
Tolkien, along with what seemed at the time like thousands of blatant
imitators, sucked into the world-swallowing vacuum in the science
fiction market created by the implosion of Marxoid idealism. Enter
the dragons, the dwarves, and the enchanted swords.
For all of its socialism, science fiction had once been a
forward-looking literature of limitless perspectives. But as
irrationality and magic began to displace reason and science as the
motivating epistemology, as the genre began looking backward to
feudalism and the Middle Ages for what it regarded as inspiration, and
as readers began to tire of narrowed horizons (not to mention the same
old thing re-rewritten over and over), the rack space -- "inevitably"
once again -- began to diminish.
It was the exceptions (don't you hate it when this happens?) that
proved the rule -- and still do today. The books that kept the rack
space open for all those parasitic and reactionary dragons, dwarves,
and enchanted swords, the only books that didn't gradually decrease in
number, were those, just like the good old days, with spaceships,
aliens, and ringed planets still on their covers, but whose subtitles
now always seemed to include the word "star", accompanied either by
the word, "wars" or "trek".
There is some truth in the idea that Star Wars succeeded partly
by co-opting medievalism; there are plenty of swords in Star Wars,
several different varieties of dwarves from Jawas to Ewoks, and if you
look carefully, in one of the desert scenes, high on a dune-crest, the
bones of a dragon exposed by the wind. And it's equally true that
Star Trek and its progeny have remained as unabashedly,
old-fashionedly socialistic as The Shape of Things to Come,
steadfastly (and this is an important secret of their success)
refusing to acknowledge the utter demise of socialism in every other
branch of the cosmos. It's still the "Progressive Era" or the "New
Deal" or the "Great Society" beyond Antares, and the War on Drugs goes
on forever, out there where no man -- uh, person -- uh, being has
But both Star Wars and Star Trek display a future (yes, I
know, Star Wars claims to be "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far
away", but, except for Darth Vader, every one of its major characters
is a pathological liar, so who believes that?) both display a future
featuring individualistic causes, violent adventures, a little sex -- very
little sex -- the triumph of the putative good over the arguably
evil, and technology almost anyone might look forward to.
Except perhaps unconsciously, viewers tend to overlook or ignore
the socialist or environmentalist or multiculturalist propaganda, in
order to see Praxis the Klingon moon blow up one more time or find out
if Deanna's really going to wind up in the sack with Worf. Hence the
remarkable success of movies and programs like these in a period when
science fiction generally lies dying, killed by the bankruptcy of its
underlying ideas and by a craven retreat from a future it knows it can
no longer predict, create, or control.
The fact is, we may be seeing the first signs that even Star
Trek can't go on lying to itself indefinitely, as irrationality and
primitive mysticism begin more and more forceably to supplant even its
rationalistic foundations. For my part, if I see one more story about
Chakotay and his animistic "spirit guides", I think I'll puke.
There's a cure for this, although it'll be a bitter pill for the
right-wing socialists, obsolete leftists, dragonpushers, dwarfmongers,
and enchanted sword salesmen to swallow. Science fiction, as the
world once knew it, is dying because its self-contradictory dreams
died first, murdered by its own advocates and representatives in
places like the Soviet Union, Dachau, the Cambodian "killing fields",
Tienanmen Square, and Waco, Texas. Science fiction's only hope for
survival now is to usher in an alternative literature, offering
humanity a fantastic yet credible future worth believing in, worth
working for, and therefore worth reading about.
That literature doesn't have to be created, it already exists.
I'm happy to say I had a hand in its creation nearly 20 years ago,
along with a dozen other novelists of my approximate age and outlook.
Even better, I know of at least half a dozen more science fiction
manuscripts by other, mostly younger writers with the same viewpoint
as ours, languishing at the moment for lack of proper editorial
I predict now that if New York publishing doesn't make a place for
them soon, they'll make a place for themselves, and on their own
terms. The last time something like that happened, New York got Rush
Limbaugh. This time, it'll get a dozen Limbaughs (with both halves
of their brains operational -- which automatically makes them
libertarians) and it'll lose not just its hold on science fiction
publishing, but on publishing in general.
But I digress. You'll recall I said earlier that what I called a
"slow-motion literary catastrophe" is crucially relevant to the future
of individual liberty in general and that of the Libertarian Party in
particular, and that, "except perhaps unconsciously, viewers tend to
ignore socialist propaganda".
On the other hand, it's been pretty well established that if you
were to stand in front of a full-length mirror for an hour every day
and sing "I Feel Pretty" over and over again, it might change the way
you look or it might not, but by speaking directly to your unconscious
mind, which is slow to learn and even slower to forget, it would
change the way you carry yourself and the way you wear your face.
Before long, regardless of how you look objectively, people would find
that they enjoy being with you and begin looking forward to it. If
they're especially perceptive, they might notice that they have an
impression that you're prettier than you really are. Then again, they
might just think you're pretty.
In the same way, if you were to stand before the same mirror for
the same hour every day and say, "I'm mean, stupid, craven, and
dishonest" over and over again, how long do you think it would be
before you started acting -- and being -- mean, stupid, craven, and
The media -- its books and plays, its poetry and music, its movies
and TV -- are a civilization's mirror; writers in those media are the
ones deciding what's going to be said, over and over again, every hour
of the day, every day of the week, speaking directly to your
unconscious mind, and the unconscious minds of everyone around you,
from the day you're born until the day you die. Like drops of water
gradually shaping a stone, they decide -- perhaps not what you think
of yourself, unless you're the weak-minded sort of individual who
votes for Democrats and Republicans -- but what a civilization thinks
of itself. And of all the media, science fiction alone shapes
civilization's expectations regarding what it will become.
The question is, do we really want somebody else standing in
front of the mirror for us, deciding for us what we're going to say to
ourselves over and over again, deciding for us what we're going to
become? Do we really want to grant, either to Lucasian neofeudal
mysticism or to Roddenberrian military socialism, a monopoly on the
future by default? Depending on how you look at these things, 19 or
29 years ago, my answer to that question was "No!" I saw even then
what those among us -- those who haughtily proclaim that they don't
read fiction -- fail to see even today: you can't fight a cultural
war if you ain't got any culture.
Ten years before the American Revolution, human life expectancy at
birth in the most culturally and technologically advanced city on the
planet was 20 years, four months. The highest velocity attainable by
human beings was the 40 miles an hour that can only be sustained for a
quarter of a mile on the back of a galloping horse. A simple,
single-shot rifle necessary to feed and defend a family required a
year's work by a skilled craftsman and represented an investment
greater than the family car does today.
Two and a tenth centuries after that Revolution -- and the
unprecedented peace, progress, and prosperity it offered our species
simply by setting us free as individuals to create peace, progress,
and prosperity for ourselves -- human life expectancy at birth
approaches four times that figure, people commonly travel at
sixteen times that velocity (and occasionally move at twenty-five
thousand miles an hour) and a state-of-the art weapon, where we
haven't shamefully allowed government to tell us what we can and
cannot do about such things, may be obtained for less than a week's
Depending on how you look at these things, 19 or 29 years ago, I
decided that my mission in life was to acquaint people with all of
that, and with the additional fact that each and every one of has a
chance to live another two and a tenth centuries, long enough to see
our lifespans increase geometrically again, to travel at speeds
approching -- if not transcending -- the velocity of light itself, and
to exist absolutely free of harm or even interference by that
cancerous growth civilizations acquire, which is a major reason we
need state-of-the-art weapons, and which we all know as
Freedom, immortality, and the stars.
Or, just to put it in what may seem like everyday, more practical
terms, half of everything we make -- to be precise, 47% or our income -- is
taken from us in the form of income taxes, sales taxes, property
taxes, and so forth. To add insult to injury, half of what we spend
evaporates the same way, not spent on the quantity or quality of the
goods and services we think we're paying for, but wasted on corporate
taxes, inventory taxes, and that sort of thing.
What's even worse, according to economist Arthur Laffer, the
burden of complying with socialist regulations doubles the price of
everything again, so that we're spending eight times as much as we
should need to, to acquire life's necessities and luxuries. Every
day, we run on one eighth of our real capacity, while right-wing and
left-wing socialists greedily gobble up the remaining seven eighths of
our substance, not to mention our opportunities, our futures, and our
To get the merest glimmering of what it would be like were that
not so, in a tax-free, regulation-free civilization, without
changing anything else, we would immediately have eight times the real
wealth that we presently enjoy. In the most direct of terms, this
means that the Rocky Mountain News I used, in part, to write this
speech would have cost me 4 cents instead of 35 cents (6 cents "in
designated areas" instead of 50 cents), or for the same 4 cents I
could have bought a package of Jell-o or a can of Bush's Baked
beans -- he may have been a lousy President, but his beans are terrific.
I could have had a Klondike bar for 6 cents, two liters of Coke
to wash it down for 11 cents, 32 ounces of Gatorade for 12 cents, two
rolls of paper towels to tidy up (I'm a messy eater, what can I say?)
for 13 cents, and almond cookies for dessert, eighteen for 16 cents.
In a tax-free, regulation-free civilization, a Budget Gourmet
dinner costs 19 cents, Eggo waffles are 22 cents a box, hamburger is
23 cents a pound, and bacon is 24 cents. Coke products -- a 12-pack
is 35 cents, Tyson boneless chicken is 36 cents, a 64-ounce carton of
orange juice is 36 cents, Oscar Mayer wieners are two packages for 38
cents, and top sirloin steak is 49 cents a pound. Tylenol caplets are
24 for 55 cents.
A little more generally, in a tax-free, regulation-free
civilization, an electronic telephone beeper will cost you 62 cents,
a disposable 35mm camera, 75 cents, .45 automatic ammunition is $1.28
per box. Disposable diapers are 72 for $1.49, just like the latest CD
album. Unlimited internet access is $1.50 a month, the latest VHS
cassette is $1.87, and a pair of mink earmuffs are on sale today at
Dick Kaye's for $1.88.
In a tax-free, regulation-free civilization, ski lift tickets are
$2.63, golf shoes are $3.63 a pair, cell phone service is $3.74 a
month. A four drawer chest from American Furniture goes for $4.75,
orchestra tickets to Miss Saigon for $5 (front balcony seats are
$2.50) and a glass-top dinette, 5 pieces, costs $12.38. A white
metal daybed and mattress are $17.38, a round-trip ticket from
Denver to Mazatlan is $18.63, and a complete set of golf clubs (to go
with those shoes) is $22.38. A Remington Model 870 shotgun is $27.48,
a "traditional" sofa goes for the very untraditional price of $36,
and a Glock 21 9mm pistol is $53.74.
In a tax-free, regulation-free civilization, a 133 mhz Pentium
w/color monitor, 1.6 Gbyte hard-drive and 6X CD ROM will cost you
$299, a '96 Neon, $1112.25, and a '96 Plymouth Voyager is $2111. The
average American home goes for $12,500, and that Winnebago -- a 37'
'96 "Luxor" you thought you could never afford -- will set you back
$19,862. (I had no idea the damned things were so expensive!)
Some items, in a tax-free, regulation-free civilization, beer,
for example, or whiskey or cigarettes, are harder to calculate because
of the excise taxes levied against them. For Japanese cars, for
example, you'd have to subtract an average of $4000 import duty before
dividing what's left over by eight. I think gasoline would cost about
11 cents a gallon, in a tax-free, regulation-free civilization.
Another way to look at this is to take your present income,
multiply it by eight, and think about the lifestyle that would make
possible. (Within the constraints of an action-adventure plot, I
tried doing this in 1979 with my first novel, The Probability Broach
and will make rather more of it in 1999 with The American Zone. ) If
you earn, say, $20,124, which is what the average Coloradoan makes,
that will give you the real-wealth equivalent of $160,992 to spend
every year. If you make $35,306, which is what the average federal
bureaucrat in Colorado makes, think about an equivalent income of
$282,448. I have friends who make about half that, and (at least from
the viewpoint of an impecunious novelist) in terms of their houses,
their cars, vacations, and other everyday concerns, they might as well
live on another planet.
I'd like to try living on that planet, myself. How would you
like to make more than a quarter of a million dollars a year? How
would you like to live in a civilization where everybody does, and
as a result, splendid new things happen every day, and nobody can
predict what wonders tomorrow will bring? Space elevators, nerve and
limb regeneration, a cure for cancer, a transatlantic tunnel
(hurrah!), anything. The possibilities are absolutely endless.
This is not speculation.
This is not wishful thinking.
This is not fantasy.
It is an absolute, pragmatic certainty, securely rooted beyond
the power of anybody's reasonable ability to doubt it, in the
principles of individual liberty, the laws of economics, and the
history of America's first 200 years.
But none of this will ever happen under the administration of
Bill Clinton, Bob Dole, or even of Phil Gramm or Steve Forbes,
dedicated merely to reducing taxes by a half dozen percentage points.
There is a price for the next quantum leap in peace, prosperity, and
progress, just as there was for the first. It is that we may not
falter, we may not temporize, we may not compromise -- we may not give
an inch, even for a minute; we may not give an Angstrom unit, even for
a picosecond -- we must stand fast by the principles of liberty we
claim to believe in.
And we must be unafraid to proclaim them, in no uncertain or
ambiguous terms, from the very housetops.
Or we will lose, not just everything we have, but everything we
might have had, and we will have nothing left, neither liberty, nor
property, nor even life itself.
The choice is the sky above or the mud below.
The choice is everything or nothing.
If you doubt that, then consider: 11 days ago, you and I and
every other member of America's productive class were forced at
bayonet-point to pay to have medals of valor struck for the jackbooted
thugs who murdered Vicky and Sammy Weaver -- and for the ammunition
Lon Horiuchi and his fellow federal gang-bangers did it with. The
same 11 days ago, you and I and every other member of America's
productive class were forced to pay for the bulldozers, and wrecking
balls, and the gasoline to run them, that were used to bury the
evidence of what really happened near Waco and in Oklahoma City.
The sky above or the mud below. Everything or nothing.
If it's ever occurred to you to wonder why I take the stance I do
on issues or on personalities, now you know. There's vastly more at
stake here than any conventional politician or his handlers or
followers have proven themselves capable of comprehending.
We're all accustomed to hearing about the "democratic" virtue of
compromise -- over and over and over and over again, ad nauseam, ad
infinitum. A "reasonable" and "decent" willingness to accept
compromise, which has been brutally programmed into the productive
class by those -- the public schools, the media, the government, all
of whom, just like muggers, basically regard us as groceries -- is
ultimately responsible for every mess in which we who value liberty
find ourselves today.
The other side has never had any illusions about decency,
reasonableness, or compromise. We begin at "A", say, for example,
"the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be
enfringed". The enemy demands "Z", the confiscation of everything in
the country that goes "bang", when he isn't even entitled to "B", the
time of day. He then generously allows us to talk ourselves into
"compromising" by settling for "M", the 1968 Gun Control Act.
Whereupon the process begins all over again. Having conned and
bullied the weakest among us into accepting "M" -- for themselves, as
well as for us -- the enemy immediately renews his demands for "Z".
This time, the moral cripples on our side are more than willing to
accept "S", the Brady Bill and the Bill Clinton ban (originally
proposed by Bill Bennett) on rifles and magazines.
And so it goes, in this instance with the poisonous "help" of Bob
Dole, the Republican National Committee, and the world's oldest and
largest gun control -- no, make that, "victim disarmament"
organization, the National Rifle Association.
Until the American productive class finally learns that matters of
morality are not negotiable, until we learn to stick with "A" no
matter what -- or better yet, to demand a "Z" of our own until the
enemy begins to accept a fatally destructive series of
compromises -- we will continue losing ground, one "reasonable" and "decent"
compromise after another, until nothing -- nothing -- remains of our
liberty, our property, or of us.
In my chosen political speciality, The "Z" I strive for is the day
when any 12-year-old kid can walk into a hardware store, slap $62.50
in gold down on the counter, and walk out with a Thompson
submachinegun without having signed a single piece of paper -- or even
having identified herself. And at $1.28 a box for ammunition, she'll
be able to afford an awful lot of practice.
The sky above or the mud below. Everything or nothing.
Think about that mirror I mentioned. Between verses of "I Feel
Pretty", you might try asking it: "Mirror, mirror, on the wall, which
will it be -- none or all?"
L. Neil Smith is the Prometheus Award-winning author of 20 books
including The Probability Broach, The Crystal Empire, Henry Martyn,
The Lando Calrissian Adventures, Pallas, and (forthcoming) Lever
Action and Bretta Martyn. An NRA Life Member since 1973, founder of
the Libertarian Second Amendment Caucus, and publisher of The
Libertarian Enterprise, he has been active in the movement for 34
years and is its most prolific and widely-published living writer.
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