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THE PROBABILITY BROACH [Mass Market Paperback]

L. Neil Smith
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 12 1979
In a riveting, thought-provoking, libertarian fiction novel, Congress is in Colorado, everybody carries guns, there are gorillas in the Senate, and the idea of free enterprise is "king." Reprint.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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"Contained ideas I wish could be shouted to the world, ideas that come from the American heritage of freedom and which could bring still greater individual liberty, greater technical progress."--Vernor Vinge, author of A Deepness in the Sky

"Pick up a new copy of the book and rediscover this exciting world, and reserve me a table at Meep's Texas Barbecue."--Prometheus
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

L. Neil Smith is the two time winner of the Prometheus Award for Best Libertarian Fiction for his novels Pallas (1993) and The Probability Broach (1980). As founder and National Coordinator of the Libertarian Second Amendment Caucus, publisher of the on-line magazine The Libertarian Enterprise, and a Life member of the National Rifle Association, Smith is renowned for his prominence in the Libertarian movement, of which he has been a part of for more than thirty-five years. Author of more than twenty books, Smith has been hailed for his ability to combine adventure, humor, and rivetingly original political concepts to create more compellingly than any other writer, novels that embody Libertarian concepts. He currently resides in Fort Collins, Colorado, with his wife and daughter.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Portrait of the Libertarian Ideal Nov. 23 2003
Format:Paperback
Oh, the story is silly and the writing is just OK, but the portrait painted of the Libertarian ideal is pretty well done. One can read this book and almost imagine living in a world where there are *really* no laws, except for those that *individuals* collectively enforce.
Actual Libertarians tend towards two camps: Limited Government and No Government. Smith is in the latter camp.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Intercontinua Chase and Shootout Jan. 21 2003
Format:Paperback
Probability Broach is Smith's first novel. It is the story of a Denver Police Lieutenant Edward William Bear, called Win, who somehow find himself in a different continuum. This novel is followed by a direct sequel, The American Zone, which has some of the flavor but less of the excitement of this novel.
Win is on lunch break when he is called to the scene of a homicide. The victim, Vaughn L. Meiss, has been shot multiple times by a machine pistol, yet got off four shots with his own weapon, apparently to good effect. Meiss is a professor of Physics at Colorado State University and is also a card-carrying Propertarian. Since Meiss was killed in the vicinity of the Propertarian state headquarters, Win checks with the staff there and learns that Meiss was expected for an executive committee meeting. After interviewing the State Director, Jenny Noble, and other directors at the meeting, he finds that Meiss had been very excited by something and that the weapon that Meiss was carrying had been provided by the government to protect state secrets.
Win also interviews Dr. Otis Bealle, chairman of the CSU Physics department, and gets to see Meiss' office and laboratory. While he is in the lab, several men try to kill him with a machine pistol and other weapons. He accidentally hits the power switch on the gadget in the lab and then dives through an emergency exit, which happens to be an intercontinual portal. Shot, dazed and not very coherent, he stumbles out of the hole on the other side and is then blown through the air by an explosion. Looking for help, he finds a telecom booth containing a screen and a keyboard, where he enters "O" for operator, but the animated drawing that appears cannot find a listing for the Denver Police anywhere in the known solar system.
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3.0 out of 5 stars For Your Libertarian Library Dec 19 2002
Format:Paperback
Heavy on its political agenda, and more than a little indebted to Phillip Dick and Sam Spade, "The Probability Broach" is entertaining but message-heavy. If you want a pure sci-fi alternate reality read, try Huxley's classic "Brave New World" - Smith's book won't survive the test of time quite as well.
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5.0 out of 5 stars What being an American is all about! June 7 2002
Format:Paperback
This is precisely one of the best books that ever existed, but it is especially important for our time period. Helping remind us of the power we have for individual responsibility.
I belive the better term would be instead of Anarchy, would be Total Self Responsibility..
This book is so awesome. It hits all the right spots, it tells us what liberty is really about, and how easy it is taken away. How Free and American are we really these days?
Viva American Revolution!
Long Live American Freedom!
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Format:Paperback
I read The Probability Broach in 24 hours this past weekend. It was an entertaining read, but somewhat awkward and dated. Written in the late 70's, the awful fate awaiting mankind in the next 20 years was government oppression in the name of energy conservation. Obviously this never came to pass, invalidating the author's argument as to why his alternate universe (the other side of the Probability Broach) is superior.
The alternate world is strictly libertarian. George Washington was killed in that universe for proposing taxes, and the Whiskey Rebellion succeeded. Everyone wears guns, has flying cars, and the monkeys and dolphins talk and vote. It's interesting, but not particularly convincing. There's almost a complete lack of government, and no taxation, but Smith never explains where the money to pave the streets comes from, or how the fire department is funded. I can appreciate some libertarian viewpoints, but this is just a little too absurd.
The book does pay homage to Robert A. Heinlein a great deal though, in the alternate history he's an Admiral, never having caught the tuberculosis he was stricken with here in the real world. There's a "Heinlein City" in Alaska too. The most subtle homage was in the name of the mathematician who discovers the broach. Her name is "Deejay Thorens" and is an extremely thinly veiled version of "Dejah Thoras" from Heinlein's "The Number of the Beast". Unfortunately for Smith, his work doesn't hold up well against Heinlein's, on a pure storytelling level.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Forget the politics! This is a FUN book! April 19 2002
By Rick
Format:Paperback
... I love it. It made me think. Not too many novels do that.
Sure, The Probability Broach is a little heavy handed at times and the characters could have stepped out of a Heinlein novel. And I don't think that anarchy is the perfect solution for any civilization.
But within those boundaries, Smith has crafted a world similar to ours but with a society whose viewpoint is at right angles to ours (well, maybe 45 degrees, since I tend to agree with Smith on a lot of his points about personal rights and personal liberties.)
We all get a mindset from our parents, our friends, our religion, and, of course, our government. In the extreme that has led to atrocities like the Nazi party and the current terrorist threats. But what if these people had been brought up to learn to 1) think 2) respect others by staying out of their lives 3) depend on themselves to support and defend themselves 4) think that what they earn is theirs 5) let competition flourish?
The world might be just a wee bit different.
Not everyone will like this book. I happen to. It made me examine some of my convictions - and where I got them from. They didn't change, but I'm sure that Smith would argue that that's my right.
So, buy the book. Read it. Don't worry too much about my personal bete noire of limited characterization. This is a thinking Science Fiction book. It may make you angry or it may make you giggle with glee, but it WILL make you think.
By that criterion, this is a very good book. And don't forget that some books discussing or praising a different political or social outlook have turned out to be classics. Ever read Utopia, Gulliver's Travels, or Atlas Shrugged? If not, you should.
So, read The Probability Broach with an open mind. Agree with its philosophy or don't agree with it.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Good Propaganda - Bad Prose
Let's get one thing out of the way: I agree with every idea that L. Neil Smith espouses in this book. Read more
Published on March 22 2002 by John Perich
4.0 out of 5 stars A great book, with lots of nice ideas...
Lieutenant Edward W. Bear, of Denver lives in a world where energy reserves are 'dwindling', unlicensed air conditioning could get you in more trouble than hoarding silver and... Read more
Published on Feb. 25 2002 by Michael Valdivielso
1.0 out of 5 stars Nothing but pipe dreams and propaganda
It was so bad I couldn't finish it. It falls more in the category of fantasy rather than sci-fi in that you're asked to accept the situation at face value without any explaination... Read more
Published on Feb. 10 2002 by Jeff Cross
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be required reading for every American
L. Neil Smith introduces the average man-on-the-street to true American liberty, care of that trustiest of science-fiction plot devices: a parallel universe. Read more
Published on Dec 27 2001 by Peter Vinton Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars The SF candidate for President
The Author was on the ballot in Arizona, in November 2000 as their Libertain Party candidate for President {rather than Mr Browne}. Read more
Published on Dec 19 2001 by John K. Wilson
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful alternate historical base
In Denver homicide detective Win Bear begins to feel his age after years on the force dealing with all kinds of vermin. Read more
Published on Dec 2 2001 by Harriet Klausner
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Important Book
Some reviewers love L. Neil Smith's hommage to Raymond Chandler, Mike Hammer, and Robert Heinlein (not to mention Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard). Read more
Published on June 23 2001 by Alan R. Weiss
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