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THE PROBABILITY BROACH Mass Market Paperback – Dec 12 1979


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey (Dec 12 1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034528593X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345285935
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 10.4 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 113 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,716,391 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Murphy on 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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A good read for fans of bureaucracy bashing. The author's story-line is reminiscent of the late Robert Heinlein but without the subtlety, though the social lessons are, likewise, the central theme. His America has both degenerated and been impoverished further than today with government controlling all aspects of life. His alternate world, a world of unbounded freedom, is chanllenged by an invasion of the ideas that strangled the USA. Following the twists and turns he constructs in resolving the dilemma make the book well worth the price.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
L. Neil Smith's universe would be a wonderful place to be. It is too bad human nature wouldn't let it actually exist. This book, a relatively unknown gem, introduces us to an alternate Universe where people and other intelligent species, live and play in relative harmony. They have a common enemy, which our Universe shares with them. Fun and good feelings abound, seasoned with a liberal dose of danger and threat. It is a feel-good novel, and worth reading to see what a Libertarian could possibly be. The binding of the book is not great, and does not promise to hold together for many readings... for you will want to read it more than once.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Arthur W. Jordin on 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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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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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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