L. Neil Smith's
Number 367, May 14, 2006

Hi Mom!

The Big Six-OhMyGod!
by L. Neil Smith

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

There's no way to euphemize it, or sneak up on the subject gently. I was born in May of 1946. I turned 60 yesterday. I have now met the definition I've carried around in my head since I was a kid, of an Old Guy.

If you're my age, I don't have to explain it. If you're older, you probably think it's funny (and wish you were that young again, the way I feel about being 40—I even remember feeling I was old once, when I was 27!). But for all of you whippersnappers out there, I want to say that what I feel . . . well, "despondency" is too strong a word, and "depression", in addition to not saying it right, could get easily me jumped by the Therapy Squad and syringed to the eyeballs with sniper's drugs.

The point is simply that I don't want to get old and die. I've accomplished the one, now it's only a matter of a count-down to the other.

Before you say, "Nobody else wants to get old and die, either," (as if that were some kind of an answer, which it isn't) take a good look at TV, especially at science fiction, and, in particular, at Star Trek. It appears to me that the socialists who create, produce, write, direct, and act it out on TV don't feel the same way I do, at all.

A parenthetical moment here (after which I'll say, "But as usual, I have digressed"). Science fiction is a laparoscopic peep-hole into the innermost workings of socialists like that, because most of them think of it as trivial. As play. They're off-guard, and make a lot of unintended psychological confessions in what they write, direct, and act.

And from "The Original Series" to Star Trek: Enterprise, the one and only thing more villainous, threatening, and perverted than extending your "natural" lifetime was artificially enhacing your intelligence.

Why? One can only speculate.

They'll tell you, self-righteously, that Our Lovely Mother Gaia can only stand to have so many of her children around at any given time—that Mom's apple pie is always the same size and can never get any bigger—so it's an old human's duty to die and get out of the way.


My guess, as a student of history and human nature (and a novelist focused primarily on character), is that, in spite of their mansions, swimming pools, expensive cars, and private jets, that having to be who they are is such a miserable experience for Hollywood socialists, they feel anyone who actually wants to live longer must be some kinda sicko.

If, as individuals, they find themselves wanting to live longer—or they simply don't want to die—they reflexively make themselves feel ashamed of it, exactly the way they make themselves feel ashamed of all of their mansions, swimming pools, expensive cars, and private jets.

It's worth noting that they take it as axiomatic (and have stated it as such on more than one occasion) that superior intelligence is a threat. Gee, it might see right through con-men like Marx, Keynes, and Galbraith! Who knows what a superior intelligence might make of Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Jack Kennedy, or Bill and Hillary Clinton?

Yeah, I know. When we first see Spock in his very first episode of Trek, he's supposed to be 70. Longevity is fine—if you happen to belong to a species of emotionally repressed, racially bigoted snots, clutching at human vitality for dear life because their own inbred, enervated civilization is falling down around their hypertrophied ears.

There. I said it after waiting only 40 years, and I'm glad. And I was highly gratified to see everything that I'd ever figured out about the damn Vulcans from the five previous series openly admitted to on Enterprise.

But as usual, I have digressed.

My lovely and talented daughter tries to help. She tells me that "60 is the new 40". Of course she's 16 and has a brand new (to her, anyway) Camaro she's paying for, herself. Now that makes me feel old.

She could be right, though. All of my childhood memories of people 60 years old are of ancient, funny-smelling uncles, or of wizened grandmothers sitting on their porches in rocking chairs, with shawls around their shoulders. (It is getting a little chilly in here, isn't it?)

People 60, 70, and 80 play tennis these days (which is why you see defibrillators fastened to every wall like fire extinguishers). Me, I don't play tennis and never did, but I do take classes in Tai Chi (I suppose some would regard it as an old people's discipline) and my Sensei informed me the other day that he thinks I ought to switch to Kempo.

But the nicest (and most encouraging) observation on the whole deal was made to me yesterday by your editor and mine, Ken Holder, quoting some character on an old TV show: "I'm 60—my life is half over!"

We both laughed appreciatively at everything the statement manages to convey in just six words, but at this particular moment, in history as well as technology, it's probably literally true. These days I keep a highly interested eye on the advance of science. To be absolutely truthful, I always have. I started keeping a scrapbook of newspaper and magazine clippings related to space travel a few years before Sputnik.

Look it up.

I can therefore say, with some authority, that if the chimpanzee in the White House (or whatever monkey we elect after him) doesn't manage to destroy civilization and send us reeling back to a Stone Age where there is no Lantus, Verapamil, Keflex, Lanoxin, or Glucophage, I stand a pretty fair chance of seeing personally whether predictions I've made in my various writings about the 30th century come true or not.

And so do you.

You wouldn't think so, but Woody Allen said it best: "I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it by not dying."

[That old TV show is "Northern Exposure":
The Complete First and Second Seasons (DVD)
The Complete Third Season (DVD)
The Complete Fourth Season (DVD)
and the character was Holling Vincoeur.—Editor]

Four-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith has been called one of the world's foremost authorities on the ethics of self-defense. He is the author of 25 books, including The American Zone, Forge of the Elders, Pallas, The Probability Broach, Hope (with Aaron Zelman), and his collected articles and speeches, Lever Action, all of which may be purchased through his website "The Webley Page" at lneilsmith.org.

Ceres, an exciting sequel to Neil's 1993 Ngu family novel Pallas was recently completed and is presently looking for a literary home.

A decensored, e-published version of Neil's 1984 novel, TOM PAINE MARU is available at: http://payloadz.com/go/sip?id=137991. Neil is presently working on Ares, the middle volume of the epic Ngu Family Cycle, and on Roswell, Texas, with Rex F. "Baloo" May.

The stunning 185-page full-color graphic-novelized version of The Probability Broach, which features the art of Scott Bieser and was published by BigHead Press www.bigheadpress.com has recently won a Special Prometheus Award. It may be had through the publisher, at www.Amazon.com, or at BillOfRightsPress.com.


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