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5.0 out of 5 stars L. Neil Smith for President!
I started with Lever Action, his first (and only I believe) non-fiction book. Lever Action led me to his science fiction works. Now I can read Heinlein or Smith when I need some intelligent fun.
peace joe silvestri
Published on May 20 2002 by Joseph P. Silvestri

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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting ideas and story, but the writing...
The story is an interesting concept, and the libertarian themes are well-presented. I can't argue with the philosophy that Smith is putting forward. However, I found myself having to re-read sentences and paragraphs because either my mind would wander or else I didn't quite catch the meaning the first time round.
The very first sentence of the of the book is a...
Published on Jan. 16 2002 by Einzige


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2.0 out of 5 stars A Slow Read, Oct. 26 2002
By 
This novel, divided into three books in one volume, took me the better part of a year to read. The problem for me was the extensive detail, especially to socio-political theory. Most of the time I felt as though I was merely observing the author talking to himself, setting up one straw man after another and then knocking each one down.
If atheism bothers you and anarcho-capitalism isn't your cup of tea, then this book won't do much for you. The science fiction aspect didn't really become interesting until the third section of the book, after already enduring seemingly endless political tirades. It was, in a word, tedious.
Though I'm glad that I can say I've now read a book by this author, I do not intend to follow up with any of his other work.
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5.0 out of 5 stars L. Neil Smith for President!, May 20 2002
By 
Joseph P. Silvestri (Las Vegas) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Forge Of The Elders (Hardcover)
I started with Lever Action, his first (and only I believe) non-fiction book. Lever Action led me to his science fiction works. Now I can read Heinlein or Smith when I need some intelligent fun.
peace joe silvestri
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4.0 out of 5 stars The message is the forte., April 15 2002
By 
Maria Folsom (East Glacier Park, Montana USA) - See all my reviews
The political and moral message of this book overcomes its less-than-excellent writing style and oversimplification of some characters. As a Libertarian, I saw this as much more than a science fiction adventure. Somewhat annoying was that LNS tells you what to think of his characters, instead of presenting them and their behavior, and letting YOU decide what to think of them.
Still, a fine read for those interested in liberty, statism, the role of government, and evolution as it applies to behavior. Others have said it better (like Ayn Rand) but not with as much fun and whimsy!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting ideas and story, but the writing..., Jan. 16 2002
This review is from: Forge Of The Elders (Hardcover)
The story is an interesting concept, and the libertarian themes are well-presented. I can't argue with the philosophy that Smith is putting forward. However, I found myself having to re-read sentences and paragraphs because either my mind would wander or else I didn't quite catch the meaning the first time round.
The very first sentence of the of the book is a perfect example: "A fountain sparkled in the broad, tiled courtyard of the hillside villa, cooling the afternoon breeze and sprinkling the sandaled feet of a lean-muscled young man seated before it."
I mean, does every noun have to have a modifier? By the time I get to the word "it" I've already forgotten what it refers to. Unfortunately there's page after page of twisted and tortured sentences following this one. I found myself scanning ahead at times trying to find their periods.
To be fair, it does settle down after a while, when there is more dialog between characters. Still, I was never quite able to just "flow" with the words, until I forgot I was reading, like I am able to do with, for example, Jules Verne, or Frank Herbert.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking, Dec 25 2001
By 
Jim Hammond (Bristow, VA USA) - See all my reviews
In this and other novels, the author portrays societies in conflict - where the people of one society live under some flavor of socialism and those of the other society live in freedom.
This book is less entertaining and is more preachy than his other books, which is fine with me because it is thought provoking, but most readers should be forewarned. For example, he has tried throughout to push the envelope on libertarian philosophy.
Even libertarians may be turned off by his attempt to preach an extremely moralistic brand of libertarianism. He seems to have been tripped up by the incompleteness of the central tenet of libertarian philosophy, which basically says to not initiate force, but which doesn't say anything about how to respond to an initiation of force.
In this book for example, you pretty much have to die if you incur "moral debt". If you accidentally kill someone, you must die. If you grab a person and shake him, then you are obligated to grant him any wish. A man can use pretty much any amount of physical force to have sex with a woman, but if she wispers "no", then he must die.
The author did make many good points (as he usually does). One example, "If voting could change anything, it would be illegal." He also included this excellent historical point on page 226, "In the 19th century, infamous Democratic party boss William Marcy Tweed said he didn't give a damn who did the voting as long as he did the nominating."
If you are looking for a good novel with a libertarian bent, then read this one eventually, but first read books like "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert Heinlein (or pretty much anything else by Heinlein for that matter). I also highly recommend "Across Realtime" by Vernor Vinge. In fact, L. Neil Smith wrote a book almost as good as these two, called "Pallas".
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3.0 out of 5 stars improbable fantasy!, Dec 5 2001
By 
Rebecca Brown "rebeccasreads" (Clallam Bay, WA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Forge Of The Elders (Hardcover)
The first thing I want to say about Forge of the Elders is that it is way out! I mean, like in way, way out there, man!
A cross between known SF & unexplored fantasy, improbable circumstances piled upon improbable dialogue & a whimsical air and as I read I found myself looking over my shoulder to make sure I was still sitting in my own chair, in my own home.
Not my cup of tea, however, hard for me to remember what went on chapter to chapter because of the unreality of what might be, what might have been & what might happen. I found myself lost as I wandered into this maelstrom of characters that absolutely bored me to tears! Don't get me completely wrong! It has some good laughs with improbable circumstances piled upon improbable dialogue & a whimsical air.
A likely stocking stuffer!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Finally! The Whole Story?, Oct. 16 2001
By 
Kevin Sarles (Bad Axe, MI United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I acquired the first two books of the trilogy (published separately) after a long search. After I had finished the second book, I was very annoyed that I had been left hanging. I even e-mailed L. Neil himself and asked about the third novel. I was very pleasantly surprised when he told me that he had just signed a deal to publish the entire trilogy as a single volume.
It was a long wait, but it was worth it. The third volume presented a number of interesting twists and ideas. The ending was satisfying but left plenty of room for sequels (To L. Neil, if you read this, hint.. hint.)
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1.0 out of 5 stars L. Neil is slipping, Sept. 5 2001
By 
Notary Tim "Cahbet" (Memphis, TN United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Forge Of The Elders (Hardcover)
I have been reading L. Neil Smith since his first novel _Probability Broach_ came out many years ago.
I LIKE pro-freedom SF&F and I used to be very active with the Libertarian Party -- so, I am no leftist or statist critic. While I agree with the politics being advanced by this novel, the story just does not hold up. There are just too many odd beings doing too many unexplained things and it is extremely difficult to care what happens to any of them.
In fact, I gave up on it and moved on to other books -- which is rare for me, as I usually slog through everything but the worst drivel and Smith does not write drivel.
Of course, Smith has tried the alien-viewpoint novel before. His series with intelligent crabs (_Her Majestys Bucketeers_ etc) was at least well-written, and, despite the wierdness of having the main characters being a species we normally think of as food, it was easy to identify with the protagonists. Alas, FORGE is full of the same sort of weird acquatic lifeforms -- but Smith has not given us enough to make the leap from their alien-ness to our shared sentience, from their other-ness to our joint people-hood.
This one suffers from "Victor Koman disease" -- making the assumption that the reader will find a Soviet-style dictatorship interesting enough to keep reading even when nothing much is happening and the characters are unlikeable. I wanted to like this one, as Smith's previous Prometheus winners and nominees were all worthwhile.
Speaking of the Prometheus Awards, the WORST book I ever read (all the way through) was _CLD_ by Victor Koman, who wasted everyone's time by spending hundreds of pages building up to a climax and then throwing it away with an ending of "Maybe." I literally threw the book across the room when I got to that and I will never buy another book by him. Unless Smith gets back to the cleanly-plotted, humans-who-love-freedom stories that he used to write, I may have to put him on that same "Don't Buy" list.
If this one shows up in paperback at a used book store and if you are an L. Neil Smith collector or fan, get it. Otherwise, I recommend you let it pass.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Must-read if you're a laissez faireist., Aug. 18 2001
By A Customer
Welcome to the whacky subgenre ... of hard-core laissez-faire sci-fi!
There's a good anthology of short stories _Free Space_, edited by Brad Linaweaver, but FORGE OF THE ELDERS is apparently the prime example of "hard-core laissez-faire sci-fi."
"Capitalist monsters from outer space!" says it all.
Smith's novel is simplistic and didactic like any other humorous political fictional tract, say _Gulliver's Travels_.
It's naive to see the novel any other way.
In the actual world around you (circa 2001) laissez faireism is rarely seen or heard, and the slightest, vaguest laissez faireist ideas are highly negativized by the mass media.
For that reason, it's really refreshing, rejuvenating!, empowering!, to read _Forge of the Elders_ for a few days...
As a laissez faireist it's good to be immersed in an "extremist" (as our socialist friends would put it) civilized environment for awhile.
Truly, the world inside Mr. Smith's head is a wondrous (laissez faire) place, and you'll pick up lots of interesting L.F.-related thoughts and ideas you may not have considered before.
(For instance, there's the nifty observation that all sapient beings, ie laissez faireist individuals, probably evolved from predator species...make a lot of sense.)
Needless to say, all environmentalists, socialists, vegetarians and the like will loathe and despise this book.
Mr. Smith, and all laissez-faireists, wouldn't have it any other way.
Since the "hard-core laissez-faire sci-fi" subgenre is so small (only a handful of books), it is probably well worth buying a copy of _Forge of the Elders_...everyone should have a copy on their bookshelf.
Again, a very "empowering" read, since, as a laissez-faireist, you are just SO bombarded with pathetic child-mind statist ideas 24 hours a day, 7 days a week...Forge of the Elders has that good clean smell of capitalism, you'll leave feeling lighter
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4.0 out of 5 stars satitical and whimsical in one neat package, June 5 2001
By 
Marxism was considered as dead as its originator, a failed economic system that also took away basic freedoms. However, when the global economy collapses into the worst depression ever, inalienable rights become unimportant, as food on the table seems more critical. Capitalism becomes dust as a desperate world returns Marxism to an even more glorious control than it had in its twentieth century hey day. Even Americans join the collective bandwagon, as earth is now the real "red planet".
However, changing economic systems fails to change the downward spiral. New hope finally glimmers when the People's Astronomers discover an asteroid with valuable minerals that might revitalize the failing planet. A desperate NASA sends ancient shuttles manned by lunatics and throw-aways to explore the seemingly rich find. However, humanity is not the first to land on the asteroid as the Elders, a "nautiloid" race of capitalist squids from a parallel Earth beats Homo sapiens there. Now the competition begins
Weird and insane - yes. Perhaps that is why science fiction fans will take great pleasure from the wild FORGE OF THE ELDERS. The plot satirizes our current society leaving it carved up as only L. Neil Smith can entertainingly do so. The story line is amusing yet provides a serious political undertone inside a strong space race novel. Characters are developed just enough to either skewer western morality or to propel the delightful story line forward at warp speed. Besides SF fans, anyone bushed from the DC gore of chained politics will find this jocular tale takes no prisoners.

Harriet Klausner
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Forge Of The Elders
Forge Of The Elders by L. Neil Smith (Hardcover - April 1 2000)
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