L. Neil Smith is unique, far as I’ve discovered, in believing that almost any living creature in the universe can be, or modified to be, a sentient, sapient being. This makes all of his stories exceptionally interesting, almost always hilarious, and occasionally philosophically very challenging. In a universe like that – with an infinity of alternate universes – finding something to eat might become very difficult unless one eats rocks or plasma from the sun. The carrots and peas might just begin arguing semantics or pull a gun…
But, as Neil says so often, I digress.
Brightsuit MacBear is a story of a young man, from a less than helpful family situation, who nonetheless has the integrity and intelligence to “smell a rat” and decide to do whatever it takes to make things right, even though he is singularly unprepared physically to actually carry that out.
Along the way, with some hard lessons about trust and his father’s gun, he gains the assistance of assorted beings who join him in his travels and trials. Luckily, they have a lot of electronic and technical stuff to help them, especially with communication between the sapient entities. How DO you communicate with someone you just met who came from a planet almost nobody ever heard of? Especially one who speaks from orifices in his pseudo-knees?
The story is exceptional for so many reasons, most of which apply to everything else I’ve read by L. Neil… Humor galore, even if it is outside your experience, balanced with an almost total absence of sentimentality. The stories immediately and unashamedly illustrate and pound home the libertarian mantra of non-aggression, mind your own business, live and let live, without a single line of preaching. The characters and situations tell that tale both forcefully and humorously, without any hint of the monologue so beloved of such as Ayn Rand.
Today I saw this article at The Libertarian Enterprise and realized that the basic message for most of L. Neil’s stories is captured here. You might want to read them both. Brightsuit MacBear, The Probability Broach, and all the other stories he’s written tell it just as well, and even more enjoyably, but this is the pure distillation.
by L. Neil Smith
The fact is that every political squabble today revolves around different concepts of how individuals are to be used—what (and whose) purpose they serve—what their proper function in the universe is. Every “philosophy” offers its own assertions about that, forces invariably driving the individual from outside: God; the state; or the military will let you know just what your life is for. There is no difference between Republicans and Democrats, between socialists and fascists about this. Only libertarians will show you how your life is an end unto itself, and that you serve whatever purpose you wish to serve.
Especially if that purpose is yourself.
One word of caution: mercantilism. There are fakers who will tell you they are capitalists. There are phonies who are happy to be denounced as capitalists by leftists (like Occupy This or That). You know them, what Ayn Rand called “the Aristocracy of Pull” and illustrated with the character James Taggart. Mitt Romney, John McCain, Donald Trump. These clowns extract money, by various means, or land, licenses, or permissions denied to others, and build great fortunes upon them. They are not capitalists. They are our enemies. They’ve been a problem for centuries, when their vile predecessors were cronies of the king. They are mercantilists, and the scholar Adam Smith wrote a great book in 1776 complaining about them, Wealth of Nations. Whenever the booboisie hear the word “capitalist” these are the creatures they have been conditioned by schools and media to think of.
Buy the book, or all of them at The Libertarian Enterprise. Browse and sample the excellent writing of many other friends of TLE and liberty.
I double dog dare you.