L. Neil Smith (1946-2021)

L. Neil Smith

Author L. Neil Smith, a well-known advocate of libertarianism in the sf genre, died August 27.

Smith created the Prometheus Award – originally conceived as a one-off award when it was given for the first time in 1979. The Libertarian Futurist Society was organized by other fans in 1982 to continue the Prometheus Awards program. Smith became a perpetual favorite, nominated 15-times for the Prometheus Award and winning four times — for The Probability Broach (1982), part of his seven-book North American Confederacy series, Pallas (1994), The Forge of the Elders (2001), and a Special Award given to him and illustrator Scott Bieser for The Probability Broach: The Graphic Novel in 2005.

With 28 books to his credit, Smith may actually be most widely-known for three Star Wars novels featuring Lando Calrissian, all published in 1983.

He also wrote the nonfiction books Lever Action (2001) and Down with Power: Libertarian Policy in a Time of Crises (2012).

He was an early member of the Libertarian Party and twice mounted unsuccessful attempts to secure its Presidential nomination (for 2000 and 2004).

Sarah A. Hoyt wrote a farewell: “Goodbye, My Friend”. The family has set up a place to leave remembrances, “Lester ‘L. Neil’ Smith, III’s Memorial Website”.

[Thanks to Dann for the story.]

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11 thoughts on “L. Neil Smith (1946-2021)

  1. I read the Probability Broach during a heavy Alt history kick.

    I went on to read his Pallas, a story set on an asteroid, and didn’t like it at all.

    Didn’t read further into his work.

    Requiescat in pace.

  2. I enjoyed several of his novels (“Enemy of the State,” “Healer,” “Probability Broach”). Notably, he took the name of a political party in the Gallatin universe (The Propertarian Party) from Ursula LeGuin.

  3. Confusing L Neil Smith with F Paul Wilson, who wrote Healer and Enemy of the State.

  4. Cathy LZ Smith: Filers can get emailed copies of subsequent comments on a post by clicking a box in the form for leaving a comment. But a comment needs content — for Liz, sometimes it’s “clickety.”

  5. @Cathy LZ Smith–

    What, exactly, does “Clickety” mean, Lis?

    Traditionally followed by Clackity, but since I type it when I have nothing to say or no energy to say it, but don’t want to miss the comments, I’m lazy and limit myself to Clickity.

  6. I may disagree with the man, but I did like much of his work. Starting with “The Probability Broach” and others.. I read a few others I kept. However his 3 Lando books I do have a special place for them on my book shelf.

    I am sorry for his loss of life.

  7. What I have always loved about Libertarianism is the freedom to disagree, a thing that science fiction used to hold dear to its squabbling heart, before we got rigidly divided into politically correct armed camps on opposing sides of the aisle. Three Libertarians will always hold at least four views on a subject. And it is supposed to be that way. Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.

    It is not nearly so important that one agree or disagree with a writer, or even like the stories the writer tells, but that the publishers allow the writers a chance to present their case. In this, Libertarian writers share the niche with Feminist writers, in that science fiction editors of the past gave them a chance to present their views and their stories.

    In this the importance of magazines cannot be stressed enough. A magazine has traditionally been a mixed bag of nuts written by a mixed bag of nuts. One is offered the opportunity to read writers of many differing views and styles and subjects, and one understands that one will like some and not others, but one will have been exposed to the differences.

    Of course Sturgeon’s Law always applies.

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