L. Neil Smith

From Academic Kids

L. Neil Smith (also known by his nickname El Neil or The Sage of the High Plains) is a libertarian science fiction author and political activist. He was born on May 12 1946 in Denver. His works include the novels Pallas, The Forge of the Elders, and The Probablity Broach, each of which won the Libertarian Futurist Society's annual Prometheus Award for best libertarian novel.

Several of his works constitute the North American Confederacy series:

  • The Probability Broach is an alternate history novel in which history has taken a different turn because a single word in the Declaration of Independence was changed. The United States has become an anarchist society in this parallel universe, also known as the Gallatin Universe.
  • The Venus Belt is the next written novel from the Gallatin Universe, which takes place in outer space and discusses other settlements in our solar system. The Federalists are attempting to base a new civilization in outer space, with a plan to someday return to take over the government.
  • Their Majesties' Bucketeers is the third written novel from the Gallatin Universe. The story tells about the Lamviin, strange people on the far-away planet of Sodde Lydfe. These characters would interact with others in the Gallatin Universe in future works.
  • The Nagasaki Vector is about a time traveller who is shifted into the Gallatin Universe by the nuclear explosion over Nagasaki which ended World War II on August 9 1945.
  • In Tom Paine Maru, the continuation of The Venus belt, the Federalists are scattered over the whole universe and shifted through time during their escape from the solar system. Confederacy ships, such as the Tom Paine Maru, scour the universe searching for survivors.
  • In The Gallatin Divergence, a time-travelling federalist woman wants to change history but is opposed by other members of the federalist community. As these two forces clash, history is once again altered and a third timeline is created.

Other works:

  • Pallas is one of Smith's greatest novels, a bold yet human story of Emerson Ngu. Emerson, a young boy, lives in a socialist workers paradise/commune in a crater on Pallas, the second largest asteroid in our solar system. A bright lad, he creates a crystal radio and with astonishment learns there is a bigger world beyond his particular crater. Escaping, he wanders along a road and discovers with amazement the libertarian paradise that is Pallas. But Ngu can't forget his semi-enslaved family, whose "workers paradise" is starving to death. He creates another invention - a cheap but durable gun. The story of how Emerson Ngu helps liberate his former commune on Pallas, how he finds love, his wonderment at finding and then mastering, the skills necessary to live as a free individual, is a fine coming-of-age story as well as one of liberation.
  • Upcoming works currently in production: "Ceres" and "Ares", both set in the "Pallas" universe and being funded by private investors. Ceres was completed on December 25, 2004 and is now seeking a film and book deal. Ares is still open for investment.

Smith appeared as the Libertarian Party candidate for president on the Arizona ballot in 2000, although Harry Browne was chosen by the party's national convention, thanks to the efforts of the "Ad Hoc Conspiracy to Draft L. Neil Smith", a group of activists who obtained ballot access for him. He and running mate Vin Suprynowicz received 5,775 votes. Smith has since indicated that he will no longer pursue political office.

Smith is no newcomer to the Libertarian Party, though: he joined in 1972 (just after its beginnings in 1971), in 1977 and 1979 served on the Platform Committee, and in 1978 ran for state legislature in Colorado (winning 15% of the vote with a total expenditure of forty-four dollars). His influence, and that of the "Ad Hoc Conspiracy to Draft L. Neil Smith" (which has hundreds of informal members) helped influence the 2004 Libertarian Party selection of Michael Badnarik for President. Badnarik was profoundly influenced by "Hope", by L. Neil Smith and Aaron Zelman (Zelman founded and is Executive Director of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership). Smith endorsed the Free State Project in 2004, and endorsed Badnarik's campaign for President in 2004.

Smith continues to write for The Libertarian Enterprise in addition to his career as a novelist. Smith's strong characters, themes of liberty and tolerance, and consistent and enthusiastic use of firearms to defend liberty (Smith is a former gunsmith and is considered an expert on firearms) have won him many loyal readers, as has his personality and online interactions.

L. Neil Smith should not be confused with J. Neil Schulman, another Libertarian science fiction writer.

Published Works

North American Conferderacy

  • The Probability Broach (1980, unexpurgated edition 1996)
  • The Nagasaki Vector (1983)
  • The American Zone (2001)
  • The Venus Belt (1980)
  • Their Majestys' Bucketeers (1981)
  • Tom Paine Maru (1984)
  • The Gallatin Divergence (1985)
    • Brightsuit MacBear (1988) [1st in new series set in NAC universe]
    • Taflak Lysandra (1988) [2nd in new series set in NAC universe]

Forge of the Elders Series

  • Contact and Commune (1990)
  • Converse and Conflict (1990)
  • Forge of the Elders (2000) [contains previous two plus unpublished 3rd part]

Stand alone works

  • The Crystal Empire (1986)
  • The Wardove (1986)
  • Henry Martyn (1989)
  • Bretta Martyn (1997) [sequel to Henry Martyn]
  • Pallas (1993)

Lando Calrissian (Star Wars) series (Omnibus edition "The Lando Calrissian Adventures" 1994)

  • Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon (1983)
  • Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu (1983)
  • Lando Calrissian and the Starcave of Thonboka (1983)


  • Lever Action (1999)

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