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The Probability Broach Paperback – December 12, 2001

4.4 out of 5 stars 106 customer reviews
Book 1 of 4 in the Win Bear Series

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Contained ideas I wish could be shouted to the world, ideas that come from the American heritage of freedom and which could bring still greater individual liberty, greater technical progress.” ―Vernor Vinge, author of A Deepness in the Sky

“Pick up a new copy of the book and rediscover this exciting world, and reserve me a table at Meep's Texas Barbecue.” ―Prometheus

About the Author

L. Neil Smith is the two time winner of the Prometheus Award for Best Libertarian Fiction for his novels Pallas (1993) and The Probability Broach (1980). As founder and National Coordinator of the Libertarian Second Amendment Caucus, publisher of the on-line magazine The Libertarian Enterprise, and a Life member of the National Rifle Association, Smith is renowned for his prominence in the Libertarian movement, of which he has been a part of for more than thirty-five years. Author of more than twenty books, Smith has been hailed for his ability to combine adventure, humor, and rivetingly original political concepts to create more compellingly than any other writer, novels that embody Libertarian concepts. He currently resides in Fort Collins, Colorado, with his wife and daughter.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Orb Books (December 12, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765301539
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765301536
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #300,134 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Probability Broach is Smith's first novel. It is the story of a Denver Police Lieutenant Edward William Bear, called Win, who somehow find himself in a different continuum. This novel is followed by a direct sequel, The American Zone, which has some of the flavor but less of the excitement of this novel.

Win is on lunch break when he is called to the scene of a homicide. The victim, Vaughn L. Meiss, has been shot multiple times by a machine pistol, yet got off four shots with his own weapon, apparently to good effect. Meiss is a professor of Physics at Colorado State University and is also a card-carrying Propertarian. Since Meiss was killed in the vicinity of the Propertarian state headquarters, Win checks with the staff there and learns that Meiss was expected for an executive committee meeting. After interviewing the State Director, Jenny Noble, and other directors at the meeting, he finds that Meiss had been very excited by something and that the weapon that Meiss was carrying had been provided by the government to protect state secrets.

Win also interviews Dr. Otis Bealle, chairman of the CSU Physics department, and gets to see Meiss' office and laboratory. While he is in the lab, several men try to kill him with a machine pistol and other weapons. He accidentally hits the power switch on the gadget in the lab and then dives through an emergency exit, which happens to be an intercontinual portal. Shot, dazed and not very coherent, he stumbles out of the hole on the other side and is then blown through the air by an explosion. Looking for help, he finds a telecom booth containing a screen and a keyboard, where he enters "O" for operator, but the animated drawing that appears cannot find a listing for the Denver Police anywhere in the known solar system.
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Format: Paperback
It has been a long time since I read a book that was both fun to read as well as made me think. I haven't figured out all of Mr. Smith's underlying philosophy since I have only read one book by him (The Probability Broach). His idea of stopping air piracy (everyone carries a gun on the aircraft: the airline just checks to make sure that the bullet will not disable the plane) is great. The notion of personal responsibility is great in these days when most people think that the government is supposed to take care of them (womb to the tomb). I liked his book enough that I am going to buy some more novels by him.
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...and ends up liking them. L. Neil Smith's authoritative book, now unexpurgated, points out that not all Science Fiction has to revolve around militaristic governments where the rights of the individual exist only when they serve the state.

Detective Win Bear is pulled from a pre-apocolyptic society to a strange new place where the virtue of selfishness is readily apparent. It is so different that Det. Bear resists the idea. However, his philosophical journey is complicated by his investigation, and subsequent hijinks, so the story is less of a lecture and more of an adventure with political undertones.

The point of the book, however, is that there is always another way, especially in science fiction. When you suspend your disbelief that such a society could never form because of a subtle difference in history, then you can objectively examine the system and see if it could work. L. Neil Smith's scenarios make it work.

While I cut my teeth on Smith's The Nagasaki Vector and Tom Paine Maru, the Probability Broach remains one of my favorites
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This graphic novel did not reflect the visions I had in my head for these characters, it more than exceeded them! In fact, the whole graphic novel was a wonderful experience, and I sincerely hope they do more in the series.

The book presents a wild vision of a world where, for example, trying to collect income tax can get you shot - by the little old lady who lives next door. Subtle little things, like happy people who do not live in poverty, self repairing windows, and oh yeah - a realiable cure for cancer make the setting in this novel rather unique. I may not totally agree with all the thoughts in this novel, but you come away from it wishing you could make *our* world more like *theirs*. If the political philosophy does not get you thinking, I do not know what will!

Highly recommended!
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Format: Paperback
This is precisely one of the best books that ever existed, but it is especially important for our time period. Helping remind us of the power we have for individual responsibility.
I belive the better term would be instead of Anarchy, would be Total Self Responsibility..
This book is so awesome. It hits all the right spots, it tells us what liberty is really about, and how easy it is taken away. How Free and American are we really these days?
Viva American Revolution!
Long Live American Freedom!
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As a 20+ year collector of SF, I feel that this is a refreshing original. Having read it for the first time in 1983, I found that it is still as unique now as it was then. Mr. Smith creates a setting in which his detective gumshoe hero CAN be a hero and get the girl without the emotional baggage of a 'blade-runner'. The context of the story is that a run-of-the-mill cap in the process of solving a political murder stumbles into an alternate probability (similar to H. Beam Piper's Paratime series) that was created when a different word was used in the declaration of independence. What follows is a delightful action packed adventure that is full of understated witticisms and an occasional jab at the status quo. If you are a political partisan of a liberal or socialist bent, you will absolutely despise this book and throw it down in disgust; if you are an adult or are apolitical and don't take it as a gospel view of libertarianism but rather as what it is -- a good fiction tale that is meant to be entertaining -- you'll love it. On a scale from 1-10 I give it an 8.5
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