THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 649, December 18, 2011
"Congress has declared war upon the American people."
Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
From time to time I wonder, after all these years, whether it might be good to reacquaint myself with folks who know me and my work, as well as introduce myself to people who are only just discovering it. I hope that you will pardon me if the need for brevity makes very straightforward statements necessary.
Consider this an abstract of what follows: first and foremost, ahead of anything except being a husband and father, I am a writer. I tried to write my first book in third grade. I even finished it. I am 65 years old at this writing and have no intention of retiring. Ever.
Mostly I write science fiction; political, "but with enough sex and violence to interest the most apolitical reader." I've won a number of literary awards. I've been a libertarian activist since 1962 and joined the Libertarian Party in 1972, the first whole year it existed. My first novel was published in 1979.
Along the way to #33, so far, I've made predictions, including the collapse of the Soviets, the failure of Japan, and the mess we find ourselves in now. I knew China was no economic threat, well before the cracks began to show. I was undisturbed by Y2K, and know that global warming is a hoax. I've predicted lots of technology and was among the earliest to advocate a "polite society" in which everybody carries weapons, whichas I said it would decades agohas drastically reduced violent crime on everybody's part except the government.
Thirty-three books, also hundreds of speeches, essays, articles, and columns. I've taught writing and shooting. I publish a weekly journal with a dozen writers, appear on FaceBook and blogs all over the Internet. I've written party platforms, an experimental social contract, and run for office in groundbreaking campaigns. I've been a musician (professional at times) and composer since high school.
I'm a retired competitive shooter, gunsmith, and ballistician. I haven't hunted in a while, but I'd like to; I have lived with another species of predator I admireEgyptian housecatsall my life.
Lester Neil Smith was born in Denver, Colorado on May 12th, 1946. With a father in the Air Force, he grew up all over North America in places like Waco, McQueenie, and Laporte, Texas; Salina, Kansas; Sacramento, California; and Gifford, Illinoisall before 5th gradethen St. John's, Newfoundland and Ft. Walton Beach, Florida, where he graduated from high school.
Along the way, he acquired a deep interest in science and history, studying Latin and German. He began shooting when he was 11, through a joint program of the National Rifle Association and the Boy Scouts of America. Ultimately, he won the rank of Eagle and "more sharpshooter bars than I can remember".
Musicprimarily guitar and banjohas long been a part of Neil's life. (Lyrics to some of his songs may be found in his novels Tom Paine Maru and The WarDove.) During the "folk era", in high school and college, he led small groups like the Shady Grove Singers, The Roughriders, and the Original Beautiful Dreamer Marching Jug Band. His first "real" job was as a banjo player at a pizza parlor.
Preferring science fiction to other literature, Neil's boyhood favorites were Arthur Clarke, Theodore Sturgeon, Isaac Asimov, Richard Wilson, Robert Scheckley, and especially, Robert Heinlein. It was through this interest that he encountered the works of Ayn Rand in 1962, when he read Anthem, and Atlas Shrugged, and knew he had found the worldview that would guide him the rest of his life. Recognizing the unique way the ideas of Rand and Heinlein compliment each other, it was this direction he began to take philosophically and politically.
Neil joined the Libertarian Party in 1972, serving on its national platform committee in 1977 and 1979, and running for public office twice. He became a Life member of the NRA about the same time. It was in 1972 that he met the great libertarian teacher Robert LeFevre. In 1977, frustrated by the course America was taking, Neil began work on a polemic novel, originally titled The Constitution Conspiracy, which he hoped would do for libertarianism what Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin did for Abolition or Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward and various works of H.G. Wells did for socialism.
The novel was published in December, 1979, by Random House, under the more familiar title The Probability Broach. Still in print after 30 years, it has been acclaimed as "the definitive libertarian novel". It was the first of 32 libertarian-themed L. Neil Smith books (so far), mostly science fiction, including The Crystal Empire, Henry Martyn, Pallas, Bretta Martyn, Star Wars: The Lando Calrissian Adventures, Forge of the Elders as well as The Mitzvah and Hope, with Aaron Zelman. Highly prophetic, Neil's writings have predicted, among other things, the collapse of the Soviet Empire, the Internet as we now know it, .40 caliber automatic pistols, the laptop computer, the iPad, computer-aided forensics, the digital watch, and the ultimate economic impotence of Japan, Inc. and mainland China. He predicted that Y2k was a joke, and that global warming is a hoax.
Neil has also written non-fiction, including Lever Action, a collection of 87 essays covering four decades of activism from 1962 to 2001, "The Covenant of Unanimous Consent", a proposed social contract with signatories across the world, and the forthcoming Down With Power, a comprehensive treatise on libertarian policy. His work includes five graphic novels for Marvel Comics and BigheadPress.com, and a movie treatment for an independent company, in progress.
A two-time candidate for public office, winner of four Prometheus Awards, and publisher of The Libertarian Enterprise, an online opinion journal now in its 16th year, Neil is widely regarded as one of the foremost experts on the ethics of self-defense.
A retired gunsmith and ballistician, and a recognized firearms expert, for many years, Neil was an enthusiastic competitive shooter, favoring NRA Hunter's Pistol (he used a S&W 10mm revolver and shot in the mid-20s) and NRA Falling Plates (where he used a Colt's Gold Cup .45). He plans to resume competition when he can. At present, and for the foreseeable future, he lives in Fort Collins, Colorado with his wife Cathy, a student archaeologist, his daughter Rylla, a student and actor, and three cats, Ambrose, Paolo, and Strider.
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