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Forge Of The Elders Hardcover – April 1, 2000

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Baen; 1st edition (April 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671578596
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671578596
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.7 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #807,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Customer Reviews

Mr. Smith's books (and this one in particular!)
H. Ray Spitz
In this book.....Smith set out to lecture and he did just that...seemingly writing the lecture first and then fitting bits and pieces of story here and there.
C. A. Grayson
A lovely book that I've read at least a dozen times.
Rex F. May

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Oso Blanco on May 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
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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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Rex F. May on March 31, 2000
Format: Hardcover
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 By William Howell Jr. on 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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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By mike b. on August 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
_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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