Big Head Press


L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 566, April 18, 2010

"One way or another, the next three years could
end the 200-year struggle against socialism."


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Hey, did'ja ever read...?
by Neale Osborn
nealebooks@hotmail.com
With Remarks by Richard Bartucci
bartucci01@verizon.net

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

Today, I finished a great new book ("Live Free Or Die", by John Ringo). So now, with my book empty, broke, and the bookstore over 30 miles away, I went up-stairs to poke through my boxes of books to find something to re-read. I sure did! I found some I haven't read in years, and others I re-read every year. So I thought to myself "Dude! Maybe some of my Smithian friends and others won't have read some of these. You should put out a list of a few, with a short review!" Well, when an intelligent guy like myself gives me a suggestion like that one, I just have to do it. So here they are, in no particular order. If you've read them, great, give up YOUR opinions on'em. If you haven't, some may require trips to used bookstores, E-Bay, or Amazon.com. But it will be worth it, I promise!!

"The Compleat Werewolf", by Anthony Boucher. A collection of short stories, some horror ("They Bite" is one of them), some sci-fi, a few about magic, and the title story (no, it isn't horror) about a guy who learns he is a werewolf, and how he uses it to get a cooler job and a girl. As best I can tell, out of print, but still in the used bookstore near here, one copy in sci-fi, another in horror.

"Four Day Planet" and "Lone Star Planet" by H.Beam Piper. Yeah, I know everybody reads Piper's Fuzzy books, Lord Kalvan, and Paratime books, but many Piper fans I know never read this one. My copy is an ACE double book, but they were also available as single novels. NOTE: "Lone Star" Planet was originally published as "A Planet For Texans". Four Day Planet is reminiscent of Heinlein's juveniles, and LSP is a good western set in space, with diplomats and alien dog-like bad guys.

The Earliest Flinx and Pip novels by Alan Dean Foster. I have some problems with Foster, he writes too many movie novelisations, but I loved this series. He finally finished it up, (I think), but he's one of those I wait for the paperback, so I haven't read the conclusion. A boy and his telepathic flying alien snake, 'Nuff said.

The Horseclans series, by Robert Adams. Post-apocalyptic nomads, fighting everything from each other to Greeks, mutant environmentalists, and everything in between. The horses and sabertooth cats mind-speak to the clansmen. A lot of fun, and people into SCA will love these as well.

"Casca, The Eternal Mercenary" by Barry Sadler. It ain't exactly great literature, but it is fun. It kinda-sorta fits the sci-fi genre, the action/adventure genre, and the historical fiction genre as well. Casca Rufio Longinus is the Roman legionary who stuck Jesus with a spear on Mt Golgotha. Christ said to him "Soldier, you are content with what you are, so that you will remain until we meet again!" We first meet him in Viet Nam, and he tells his story to an army doctor. the series is him telling bits of his history in various eras, with various historical figures. Brutal, but good fun.

Well, this is enough to get some of you started on some books I like to re-read. If you've read them and forgotten (for a while) about them, this may spark some memories. If you have a list like mine, shoot me some ideas for ones I missed. Maybe I haven't ever read them, and I'll have to go to Granny's Attic and see if the girls have a copy of that one. Have fun!

Remarks by Richard Bartucci
bartucci01@verizon.net

Most of H. Beam Piper's opus has been allowed to go out of copyright, and recently even his Little Fuzzy has shown up on the Project Gutenberg Web site. Go to http://www.gutenberg.org/browse/authors/p#a8301 and find not only that novel but also both Lone Star Planet (http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/20121) and Four-Day Planet (http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/19478) available for download.

Back in the days before the Internet, I recall having come across a battered paperback edition of the sequel to Little Fuzzy (properly Fuzzy sapiens, but titled for some insane reason The Other Human Race) in a Salvation Army junk store.

Most people do not know that Lone Star Planet (aka A Planet for Texans) was (to quote from the Wikipedia entry, which I bloody well wrote):

...a clear and obvious tribute to H.L. Mencken's classic essay "The Malevolent Jobholder" (see [LINK] from The American Mercury, June 1924), in which Mencken proposed "...that it shall be no longer malum in se for a citizen to pummel, cowhide, kick, gouge, cut, wound, bruise, maim, burn, club, bastinado, flay, or even lynch a [government] jobholder, and that it shall be malum prohibitum only to the extent that the punishment exceeds the jobholder's deserts. The amount of this excess, if any, may be determined very conveniently by a petit jury, as other questions of guilt are now determined."

In 1999, the novel won the Prometheus Award Hall of Fame Award for Best Classic Libertarian SF Novel. This tongue-in-cheek tale features a planet of Texans whose dinosaur-sized cattle have to be herded with tanks, and whose system of government derives its character from Mencken's essay. The protagonist is an insubordinate junior diplomat who is appointed as ambassador to this cantankerously independent planet in the hope that he will be assassinated (as the previous ambassador had been), thereby justifying the forcible invasion and conquest of the Texans. The crux of the story is the trial of the previous ambassador's assassins—actually paid killers hired by an alien empire also planning invasion—under a legal system that considers the killing of a practicing politician to be justifiable homicide.

And now this Hall of Fame novel is an online digital freebie. Such is the estate of a writer when it falls into the hands of a contumaciously-divorced ex-wife.


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