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The Probability Broach by L. Neil Smith
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The Probability Broach (1980)

by L. Neil Smith

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268642,397 (3.46)11
  1. 00
    Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (fulner)
    fulner: The probably broach is like Atlas Shrugged meets inter-dimensional time travel.
  2. 00
    The Overton Window by Glenn Beck (fulner)
    fulner: Political Thriller to the max
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This is the first Ficton work I have read by L. Neil Smith, and I highly recommend it to EVERYONE.

If you like mysteries, it's for you, if you like, Science Fiction, its for you, if you like Political Thrillers, its for you, if you like Libertarian policies, its for you.

This book was written in 1980 and takes place in the "near future" in a community where the EPA has regulated A/C to being not allowed for private use, to forcing most competiive businesses to close etc.

Our lead Character, Detective Win Bear, is called to the scene of the crime when yet another gang shooting. When he fins some strange coins and a strange membership card. When he investigates he ends up being in a large explosions at the University and Win is shipped, somewhere, its not clear at first whether there is an elaborate hoax, time travel, or what.

He's gunned down and ends up finding his identical self. They spend the rest of the book fighting for what is his, standing up to the news of nuclear war coming because he got here, and really, I don't want to go into too much, the desk jacket itself gives away far too much of this,and you really REALY need to read this. ( )
  fulner | Apr 25, 2016 |
I agree with the reviewer who said this book is for niche tastes (although given I do to some extent fit the niche, my rating is correspondingly higher.) This is libertarian science fiction--indeed it could be described as libertarian porn: that kind of book where you, if you're inclined that way politically, rather revel in the rare experience of seeing your ideas (or at least the ideas you've debated with fellow libertarians) brought to life. There are works of libertarian science fiction, or works labeled as such, I think mainstream readers can enjoy--and not even notice the political tilt. I would describe myself as having been politically a typical liberal in my teens when I discovered Robert Heinlein, but I loved his The Moon is a Harsh Mistress completely oblivious to any libertarian message until I found it listed as libertarian science fiction when I became involved in the movement. Similarly there are works by Poul Anderson, Vernor Vinge and James P. Hogan called libertarian science fiction which I'd recommend to non-libertarian friends as good yarns, imaginative and well-written, that don't hit someone as overly polemical.

I can't imagine that being the case with The Probability Broach as much as I personally enjoy it. The book reads to me as one big in-joke in its alternate history and its anarcho-capitalist armed society. I can't see this book as sparking off a conversion experience. I can't imagine anyone who wasn't already exposed to these ideas taking them seriously enough to enjoy them--or even lightly enough to enjoy them. Nor do I think the uninitiated are even going to "get" such things as William F. Buckley and Ayn Rand's cameos in this book. As it is, this book ascribes to a version of libertarianism even most self-described libertarians would consider extreme. That said, did I find it fun? I admit I did. Except darn it, my city of New York didn't get where it did because of political pull--Alexander Hamilton's or anyone else's. I have three words for you: Deep water port. ( )
2 vote LisaMaria_C | Apr 8, 2013 |
The Probability Broach is as close to a libertarian utopia as any realistic anarchist dares get. It's also a very detailed alternate history. Most writers of alternate history are content to detail when that history deviates from ours or set their stories in the resulting world with brief references to how things change. Smith gives us a detailed timeline of how things change when one extra word is added to the Declaration of Independence and George Washington is shot in the Whiskey Rebellion.

However, Smith unsuccessfully tries for a Heinlein style. His slang is awkward. The hero's romance reeks of bad Chandler imitations, and there is a little bit too much gun stuff even for me, a lifetime NRA member.

This book was originally published in 1980, and there are jarring elements of the seventies here which don't quite work like a tyrannical America justified by an energy crisis or the talking chimps and dolphins much loved in seventies' sf. ( )
  RandyStafford | Oct 8, 2011 |
ZB13 ( )
  mcolpitts | Aug 15, 2009 |
L. Neil Smith's first book, a science fiction novel with an alternate history in its alternate world. This book is as goofy as all get-out (my father's term), but still a lot of fun. The book shows the radical, free-wheeling, mind-blowing aspect of libertarianism as a perfect fit for popular science fiction. What more can be said?

Oh, gotta love the apes toting guns. Nice touch.

Yes, liking this would have to qualify as a Guilty Pleasure. ( )
  wirkman | Feb 28, 2007 |
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Epigraph
My movement to the Chair of Government will be accompanied by feelings not unlike those of a criminal who is going to the place of his execution.
--George Washington
Feruary 4, 1789
Dedication
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... would cease operations early next month.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Please do not combine "The Probability Broach" with "The Probability Broach: The Graphic Novel". The graphic Novel is a derivative work by L. Neil Smith and Scott Biester, very different from the original.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765301539, Paperback)

Denver detective Win Bear, on the trail of a murderer, discovers much more than a killer. He accidentally stumbles upon the probability broach, a portal to a myriad of worlds--some wildly different from, others disconcertingly similar to our own. Win finds himself transported to an alternate Earth where Congress is in Colorado, everyone carries a gun, there are gorillas in the Senate, and public services are controlled by private businesses.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:51 -0400)

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