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Forge of the Elders [Kindle Edition]

L. Neil Smith
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $6.99


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Book Description

Capitalist Monsters from Outer Space!

Just when the 21st century thought it was safe to throw Marxism on the ash heap of history once and for all, a worldwide economic collapse suddenly made freedom seem less desirable than security, and the Total State turned out to be the comeback kid. In the US, where the power elite had long shown heartfelt affection for collectivism and making the trains (nationalized, of course) run on time, communism had a second coming. Which meant that Earth was now the Red Planet. The few holdouts and counterrevolutionaries would be dealt with in good time.

Of course, collectivization only made the worldwide depression worse. But then the People's Astronomers noticed an asteroid with unusual spectrographic properties, seemingly a treasure trove of valuable minerals that might rejuvenate the Earth's economy. So three aged NASA shuttles were pulled out of mothballs. crewed by a team of handpicked misfits whom no one would miss, and sent to the asteroid.

However, someone else was there first, under an airtight canopy made by genetically engineered trees. And they weren't human, even if they were from Earth. The Elders were ''nautiloids,'' like intelligent giant squids in Volkswagen-sized shells, from a parallel universe where they were Earth's dominant species. Worst of all, they were CAPITALISTS!

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Smith's latest outing combines portions of his previously published Contact and Commune and Converse and Conflict with a never-before-seen sequel. Set in the 21st century, this space opera centers on an interplanetary mission dispatched by the United World Soviet to investigate and mine 5023 Eris, an asteroid that has wandered into our solar system. No sooner do the Marxist-quoting American astronauts land than they are greeted by Ailbraugh Pritsch, one of the many aliens that live within the hollowed-out asteroid, and are dragged inside. Within the confines of the alien orb, the astronauts meet Mr. Thoggosh, the giant "nautiloid" in charge of the wandering rock (really a disguised starship). Thoggosh reveals that although he comes from another world, he is a capitalist, in search of the one venture that continues to elude his grasp: the Virtual Drive, which grants its users instantaneous faster-than-light travel. While periodic minor plot developments propel the action, the overall narrative proceeds at glacial speed on the questions of which Earth nation will wipe out the others and claim the asteroid for its own, and of whether Thoggosh & Co. will ever meet "the Predecessors," the creators of the Virtual Drive. Only Smith's less-demanding fans will likely take to this mishmash featuring tired communism jokes and frat-boy space sex. (Apr.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

A very late arrival from Smith (Bretta Martyn, 1997, etc.). In an alternate world where Marxism triumphed, astronauts from the American Soviet Socialist Republic and their Russian colleagues explore space and encounter dinosaurs, giant capitalist cockroaches, robots, nautiloids, talking dogs, etc. Seems that the brilliant but mysteriously dim-witted Elders blazed a trail in probing probability worlds and multiple realities. Smith's ideas are amusing if unsubtlewith spaceships called McCain, Hatch, Dole, etc., he wears his ideology on his sleevethough fans should find diversion here. -- Copyright ©2000, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 937 KB
  • Print Length: 640 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Baen Books; 1 edition (April 1, 2000)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #627,467 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gave me an "Aha!" moment - well worth my time May 3, 2000
L. Neil Smith was the author who first got me introduced to libertarianism, and it started a friendship with the ideas and ideals of that philosophy that never wore off. This book was a delight, not only because it finally completes the cycle "Questar" never finished, but because, about halfway through the book, I had one of those wonderful "Aha!" moments. I'll describe it at the end of the review, but that moment made my year!
The story is very well told. Smith *can* be a tad preachy, but it doesn't interrupt the flow of the story, while making sure you understand not only WHAT happens, but WHY. Smith has taken the concept of alternate realities farther than anyone else, and made it a truly living thing. In these days, when our government waves automatic weapons at terrified children, it's a comfort to think that *somewhere* in the multiverse there are people, (and sea-scorpions, and nautiloids, and ...) who HAVEN'T screwed up. This is a book I plan to re-read, and, with the limits on my time these days, I don't do that often.
As to the "Aha!" moment. One of the main characters is "Eichra Oren", a "Moral Debt Assessor" who is a combination of detective, arbitrator, judge, jury, and, if need be, executioner. It hit me about halfway through the book that *ALL* debts are MORAL debts. Money, or any other form of restitution, is simply a tangible expression of that morality. Mr. Smith, if you read this, thank you. A book which hits me like this is a rare and valuable gem.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars (3.5 stars) recommended, but not top-tier Smith work August 23, 2000
By mike b.
_Forge of the Elders_ has a lot going for it, but I can't say that it's really the best I've seen from Smith. He expands on a concept earlier explored in _Probability Broach_ and he pokes unsubtle fun at various statist ideas and people but he leaves the book on an unsatisfying note and misses a couple of interesting opportunities.
First, I should say that I am a recent fan of LNS and, politically, I enjoy the preaching as much as any member of the choir. In addition, while this may come across as a negative review, I generally enjoyed _Forge_. That said, I was a little disappointed in a few ways.
With regard to the political message of the book, I think Smith takes the easy way out by contriving such an obviously corrupt and stagnant socialist regime. Even the names were over the top: no state is ever going to be dumb enough to call itself "CountryX Soviet Socialist Republic". Even Ayn Rand, who wasn't exactly known for her subtlety, wasn't that heavy-handed. Where's the challenge in showing that a (literally named) KGB agent and his thuggish enforcers represent a corrupt system?
In my view, the real challenge in libertarian fiction lays in taking a state that's similar to what the average person sees every day, maybe advance things to a somewhat uglier but still recognizable level of statism, and then tear it apart on the basis of what it claims to do well. For example, show that liberty and its requisite free market economy are actually better and more compassionate for people, *particularly* the poor or variously disadvantaged. Perhaps, take a character who is socialist because she worries that innocent children will fall through the cracks in a truly free society and convince her that Libertaria is a better world.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More Alternate Than Thou March 31, 2000
Some readers will think _Forge of the Elders_ is L. Neil Smith's best book so far. He began revolutionizing the alternate world subgenre many years ago with _Probability Broach_. It was comparatively a mild departure from the real world in that the historical difference was the success of the Whiskey Rebellion during Washington's Presidency. A lovely book that I've read at least a dozen times. But _Forge of the Elders_ takes alternate worlds further than ever before. Not to give too much away here, but there is an _infinity_ of parallel worlds, including at least one where homo sapiens never existed, and the Earth is dominated by sapient squid. And these squid know how to travel between the universes. The story, as always with Smith, stands on its own as an adventure. Readers who dig deeper will find lots of scrumptious stuff, including thought-provoking political philosophy, as well as deeply-buried puns and jokes that will reward those who decipher them. Hint: Nero Wolfe fans will find secret messages here. As an adventure novel, _Forge_ is in a league with Tom Clancy's best. As science fiction, it is best compared with _Gulliver's Travels_ and _Mother Night_. As a work of philosophy, it reminds me of _Atlas Shrugged_ and _Moon is a Harsh Mistress_. And somehow, there is a bit of H. P. Lovecraft there, too. Smith is always full of surprises.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FORGE IS COMPLETE AT LAST! April 3, 2000
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Finally! After years of waiting, we get to learn how this story turns out. Originally to be published as a trilogy, the fianl book was cancelled by the publisher for being too radical! L. Neil Smith does his usual fine job of blending outlandish aliens, humor and political philosophy to produce a cracking good read. A fun adventure story which takes a few well-aimed shots at some of the sacred cows of today. This one is pure pleasure!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Menagerie of Weird Aliens
This book is well written, as are all of Smith's works, in the grand tradition of Robert A. Heinlein, but he out does the grand master's Methuselah's Children with the creation of... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Steven Vandervelde
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
As others of stated already, this is primarily a lecture on extreme Libertianism (ie Anarchy.....sorry, I am Libertarian...not an anarchist..the two are NOT synonymous. Read more
Published on August 15, 2007 by C. A. Grayson
5.0 out of 5 stars From the frying pan into the fire...
This is a three-in-one book, publishing Contact And Commune (renamed First Time The Charm), and Converse And Conflict (named Second To One), with the third and, maybe, final book... Read more
Published on October 8, 2005 by Michael Valdivielso
1.0 out of 5 stars Where's the story?
I can't believe this book is so highly rated, you should all be ashamed of yourselves for propping it up just because you agree with the politics. Read more
Published on September 13, 2005 by JDSX
2.0 out of 5 stars A Slow Read
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. Read more
Published on October 26, 2002 by Adam Gonnerman
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. Read more
Published on May 21, 2002 by Joseph P. Silvestri
4.0 out of 5 stars The message is the forte.
The political and moral message of this book overcomes its less-than-excellent writing style and oversimplification of some characters. Read more
Published on April 15, 2002 by Maria Folsom
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. Read more
Published on January 16, 2002 by Einzige
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking
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... Read more
Published on December 25, 2001 by Jim Hammond
3.0 out of 5 stars improbable fantasy!
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! Read more
Published on December 5, 2001 by Rebecca Brown
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