Memories of Lester "L. Neil" Smith, Iii | Ever Loved

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In memory of Lester "L. Neil" Smith, III

Memories & condolences

Ice Skating Club Banquet
Rylla Smith2002 Ice Skating Club Banquet
Chris Nold

Neil will be missed by me for the rest of my life.     Wish he had written more.  I remember our first email exchange, I signed my name L. Christopher Nold, he replied back with "Another person whose name parts on the left!!!"    His sense of humor and his sense of honor knew no end.   The biggest life lesson he taught me was "never believe everything you read, even if it is in a school textbook."   That has served me very well over the years.  I wish I had been even more in contact with him.

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Cathy Smith
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Chris Nold
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Chris Nold
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Chris Nold
Rylla Smith Saturday, September 11 at 5 p.m. MDT, Cathy and Rylla Smith will join Ernest Hancock for Declare Your Independence With Ernest Hancock for a podcast. Please tune in if you can. https://podcasts.apple.com/us…
Manuel Miles I'm at a loss.  I sent an article to TLE in tribute to my dear friend, El Neil.
Rylla Smith “1964”... The Tribute concerts at Red Rocks every August. Beatles Day at the Senior Center in 2004 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Ed Sullivan appearance. Bluegrass jam sessions at Avogadro’s Number in Fort Collins. Late nights reading aloud from our novels. Karaoke nights at the Office in Loveland. Road trips to Arizona as a kid. Playing in the snow as an even smaller kid.
In response to "What was the most fun you ever had with L. Neil?"
Rylla Smith One day, back in December of 1989, I got born, and this curly-haired guy was there with my mom. ❤️😊
In response to "How did you first meet L. Neil?"
Valorie and Joe LeFebre Neil was uniquely talented, and a man treasured by his wife and daughter. It was a genuine honor to have known him.
A illustration by Bobby Campbell for an article about El Neil that ran in the fanzine New Trajectories 2,  available as a PDF at <a target=Maybeday.net.">
Tom Jackson2021 A illustration by Bobby Campbell for an article about El Neil that ran in the fanzine New Trajectories 2, available as a PDF at Maybeday.net.
Charles Curley One of the better pieces on El Neil I've seen, from the inimitable Claire Wolfe:  https://www.clairewolfe.com/b…
Libertarian Futurist Society presents Lifetime Achievment award to L. Neil Smith
Cathy Smith2016, Mile Hi Con, Aurora Colorado Libertarian Futurist Society presents Lifetime Achievment award to L. Neil Smith
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Cathy Smith
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Fran Van Cleave
Michael Murray Mr. Smith changed my life with his writing, and for that I owe him my thanks. Even though we never met, I will miss him.
Neil with (maybe rep from LP?)
Kent Van Cleave2004, Freedom Summit 2004 Phoenix Neil with (maybe rep from LP?)
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Cathy Smith
The Smiths with Mike Dugger and Mark (?)
Kent Van Cleave2004, Freedom Summit 2004 Phoenix The Smiths with Mike Dugger and Mark (?)
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Rylla Smith
Angela Keaton One of my favorite people to interview back in the day. May his work be eternal
Kent McManigal

For days I've struggled with what to say. I guess I'll just say this:

I wish solace for his family and friends. I am so sorry for your loss!He is a very large part of who I am today; such an inspiration to me. I owe him more than I can explain. He always made me feel like I mattered-- that my opinions mattered. I miss him.

I also notice he was quite the collector of "Kent"s.

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Kent Van Cleave
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Kent Hastings
James Woosley

How does one acknowledge a person whom you've known of and respected for 40 years, been an online friend and correspondent of for 10 years, but never met in person?

Cathy and Rylla, it's been a pleasure to get to know Neil through correspondence and TLE since I found and sent him an interesting quote from Albert Gallatin (the one on our side of the Probability Broach). Thank you for sharing him with the world and keeping his legacy alive, And please, don't be strangers.  My prayers and condolences are with you.

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Paul Koning
Fran Van Cleave I've been thinking for 2 days what I'd like to write about  L. Neil. Beyond how much I loved his novels, and how funny and thoughtful he was, and his wonderfully simpatico spirit.  As a newbie writer of SF short stories, I remember how shocked I was when he said he never expected to win a Hugo because of his politics.  It seemed to me a prediction that the Left would become more powerful in the SF world over the years, and sadly, it was spot-on. Book agents will tell you (as they told me) that there is nothing so hard to sell as books with truly far-reaching ideas. Though Neil is an heir of Heinlein, his stories somehow became ahead of their time, swept under the tidal wave of Leftism now drowning our country. Neil was and will always be a true writer of science fiction  and the future of humanity. His courage inspires me daily.
Kent Van Cleave I love the thought expressed in some of the condolences here to the effect that Neil deserves an immediate "transfer" from his earthly life to a new life in one of the fictional worlds he so carefully crafted, enjoying the boundless benefits of the sociopolitical principles he taught, along with the thrills of exploring and developing new frontiers! As one of the great stars of the libertarian expansion into online and other alternative media, he deserves no less. I treasure my memories of our times together. And, while I may never understand why he (more than once) chose to model a fictional character on me,  I have no doubt the honor will outlast me! I'll miss you, Neil!
Paul Koning

I read all of Neil's books, as far as I know.  And I corresponded occasionally.  Regret never meeting him, but no doubt he was an amazing man.  I will miss him, and I know you will miss him far more.

On Sarah Hoyt's blog I wrote this: There are lots of excellent writers, and many of those excellent writers are SF writers. But I can think of only three in the past 100 years that are really good writers consistently able to wrap a message for freedom in such a good story that the reader is thoroughly entertained while quietly absorbing the message along with it. Those three are George Orwell, Robert A. Heinlein, and L. Neil Smith.

Thomas Knapp Best wishes to the loved ones of a great man and a great libertarian. I'm far from the only one who learned a great deal from Neil, and enjoyed doing so in the pages of his novels, in his essays, and personally.
Kent Hastings L. Neil Smith spoke to our Long Beach, California Albert J. Nock supper club about his current projects back in the day, and helped found the Libertarian Futurist Society, which gives the Prometheus Award. Their missions may have drifted apart, but Neil stayed true to his beliefs.

L. Neil and his family hosted my late friend J. Neil Schulman and me during the Alongside Night movie tour and organized a local group to see Schulman's film. J. Neil joked that "the libertarian science fiction author named Neil who writes non-fiction about guns" wasn't enough to distinguish himself from "El Neil."

There are probably "L. Neil Schulman" and "J. Neil Smith" variants confusing the multiverse timeline enforcers. Both will be missed.
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Rylla Smith
J. Eric Andreasen Many years back I was at the edge of a tree-line South of Bill Williams Mountain, in Northern Arizona.  Suddenly, shots rang out.  In a meadow was a huge, old, bull elk, dieseling toward the safety of a tree-line far away.  As he continued, he fell out of range of the shooter, and into that of a second.  More shots.  Out of range, again, and yet closer to that distant tree line, his front legs gave way.  Down he went.  Then, back up on his feet. He kept for his tree line.   Two more shots, and he fell for the last time.  Mere yards from those trees.  Tines chipped and broken. Scars of battle in his hide.  Teeth worn down to the gums.  A valiant warrior, living on his own terms.   Neil was, to me, that giant, tough, bull elk in the meadow.  He almost made the tree line.
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Fran Van Cleave
In June of 2014, I produced and directed a production of the musical 1776, in which my dad played John Hancock. His only prior theatrical experience was a school production of Anastasia, and he never liked acting. The role of Hancock is fairly demanding, but he delivered, and I know that he did it for me. It was a huge expression of love and I’m grateful every day to have shared the stage with him.
Rylla Smith2014, Fort Collins, CO, USA In June of 2014, I produced and directed a production of the musical 1776, in which my dad played John Hancock. His only prior theatrical experience was a school production of Anastasia, and he never liked acting. The role of Hancock is fairly demanding, but he delivered, and I know that he did it for me. It was a huge expression of love and I’m grateful every day to have shared the stage with him.
The Phantom I never met or spoke to Mr. Smith, but he spoke to me. I have all his books from over the years. I will miss him.
Brian Wilson No words worthy. Great memories cherished - letters, phone calls, recording "Down With Power" and our one radio 'interview'.  Sincerest heartfelt condolences. 
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Rylla Smith
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Brian Wilson
Roberta Ecks My condolences to L. Neil's family and all of his other fans.  I always enjoyed his books.  He leaves a gap that cannot be filled.
Jim Roberts
Shared a heart Red heart
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Jim Roberts
Ken Hulme I think the last time I spent time with Neil, he  and Cathy and baby Rylla came to Salt Lake City for a conference (1990? '91?), and we met at the pool in the downtown Marriott Hotel.
Eric Oppen I only got to meet L. Neil a few times in person, but we corresponded frequently over the years.  I really enjoyed his books, and hope the ones he was putting the final touches on will be coming out.  A lot of my friends also liked his work.  He'll really be missed.
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Rylla Smith
Kent McManigal
Shared a heart Red heart
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Ken Hulme
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Cathy Smith
Joe Buchman
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Joe Buchman
Joe Buchman
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Joe Buchman
Joe Buchman I'm confident Clarissa Olsen has returned Neil to full vitality and youth in Neil's alternate universe, one I too hope to visit. I'll have a copy of PROBABILITY BROACH with me.
Elisheva Levin I will miss L. Niel’s firm and strong stance for Liberty and his irascible and insightful commentary through the Libertarian Enterprise. I frequently read and re-read his Sci-Fi and consider Down with Power a must read.
He was truly one-of-kind. Independent-minded libertarians will miss him more than we could know. Rest well, L. Niel. Your memory will be a blessing to many.
Dave Beers I met Neil back in 1973 at Fort Collins first science fiction club. He was working on The Probability Broach at the time.  He later became my political mentor, introducing me to Libertarianism. By 1978 I had left the Democrat party. For several years, I had the privilege of dropping by Neil's home, and was always made to feel welcome. We'd discuss politics, science fiction, and whatever else happened to to be of current interest. I'm sad to say life came along, and my interests and focus stopped those visits. However, I was always proud to call Neil my friend! When we'd bump into each other in town, we'd always say hello. I am so terribly sorry to hear about his passing. My thoughts are with Cathy and Rylla at this time.
Angus McGeorge This deeply saddens me. He will be missed by many. Take solace in the fact that his words will live on, inspiring new generations forever.
Arion Canniff THEY say, "never meet your heroes", and as usual, THEY don't know what THEY are talking about.  On November 30th,1980, when I turned 15, my dad gave me a copy of an exciting new novel by a guy named L. Neil Smith, who was touted as the next Robert Heinlein.  It was called The_Probability_Broach and I, as a die hard speculative fiction fan, dove in like a gannett chasing cod.  It was a defining moment in my life, it was the first time in my life someone was saying what I thought but couldn't say, that I own my life and the fruits of my life; that no one has the right to tell me how to live or steal my property.  Everywhere, outside my home, that I had expressed these principles I had been contradicted or called a fool.  In L. Neil's world(s) there were people who espoused the things I felt in my heart, that I was a personal sovereignty, with rights that cannot be abridged or infringed.  He then went on to write even more and I bought them up as quick as I could and devoured them with the fervor of a 1950's girl waiting to see the Beatles. 
I wrote him a couple times and received replies that not only helped me on my journey but treated me as an adult, respecting my viewpoints and offering new directions of thought.  Later, after the introduction of the internet I reintroduced myself and we had more in depth discussions about morality, ethics, and the continued destruction of the country we both love.  He always made time in his busy life to write to me or, even more importantly, talk to me on the phone.  We had long conversations on subjects ranging from music to religious topics, never a dull moment or a lull, and no matter how much pressure he felt to get back to his prolific work, it was always ME who had to stop the conversation to go to work.  I like to believe that I had a positive influence on him, from discussing how I used physical therapy to learn to walk again after a terrible accident that should have killed me.  I promised him that if he could persevere and get to a point where he could get around with only occasional need for a cane and get his arm to the point that he could aim a rifle again I would pull some strings and take him to hunt whatever prey he wanted from a helicopter.
In 2016 Neil was selected to receive a Prometheus lifetime achievement award (he won many awards but this was a special one) and I decided that I wanted to be there in person to see this man that I held in such esteem being acknowledged for his contributions to mankind.  I immediately got in contact with his unbelievably wonderful family, his smart and beautiful wife and his intelligent but engagingly elven daughter to start planning.  I wanted to set down a meal for them and all their friends, I wanted to meet his other fans who were coming to see this moment, and I wanted to meet the (I am completely sure about this) fictional character Roger Owen.  We finalized our plan and I created a multi-course banquet, (to be prepped a 1,000 miles away from where it would be consumed) and work began between his daughter Giovanni, her handsome sidekick Shane, and myself to actually pull off this audacious plan.  We managed to get it all arranged (in very little time, the date and place for the award had just been released) and I flew to Denver (which I couldn't actually afford to do) with one change of clothes and two bags filled with equipment and ingredients.  The original plan was to have the inerrant and esteemed (but also, as I pointed out, fictional) Roger Owen himself would be picking me up, but that plan fell through due to his unfortunate physical limitations (being fictional as previously indicated) so I found an alternative and soon (for a given meaning of "soon" as Denver is the only place I know of with an airport located 2 states away which is guarded by a demonic, red-eyed stallion that already consumed the soul of its creator) I was there.  We met up and I got to meet a different (and unrelated) Neil Smith, known as "Bones" and a wonderful young lady names Iris.  The rest is a kind of blur with moments of great clarity and all too soon it was time to prepare the banquet.  It went quite well, with the assistance of Gio and Shane, and soon we were washing dishes and having a few simultaneous conversations when it became time to start heading back to our hotel rooms.  It was at this point that Cathy Smith discovered that their vehicle was gone, apparently stolen from the "secure" parking structure.  It was decided that Cathy would get to the bottom of the situation while Gio and Shane took Neil and I back to the hotel.  At this point Neil had suffered a stroke and was paralyzed on one side so getting around could be challenging but between Iris and I we managed to get Neil back up to his room and it was decided that we would stay with Neil until Cathy got back.  We spent the next 7 hours in such intense conversation that we kept waking up the people in the next room (which I feel bad about to this day).  It was one of the most exciting and satisfying time of my life, hours discussing the trials and obstacles that homosapiens face on its way to the next evolutionary step.  Eventually it turned out that the dipshit owners of the "secure" parking structure had towed the Smith vehicle illegally, so we all stumbled off to our own rooms to pass out.  The award ceremony was only a few hours away.  Somehow we all made it to watch Neil receive an honor that had only been presented to one other writer, Robert A. Heinlein.  All too soon I had to take off back to my neck of the woods, then realizing that apart from the tasting necessary to put out the meal I hadn't eaten for 3 days and slept a total of 5 hours, far too caught up with meeting my hero, and completely overjoyed by the whole experience.
We continued with frequent phone calls and emails, discussing everything from his current works to any other bizarre subject we could imagine.  I sent him a bottle of whiskey made with ingredients used to make sarsaparilla and root beer, because we had discussed our mutual love for those beverages.  I talked to him, not too long ago, and we still discussed his current novel and those still in the pipeline.  I had become his proofreader for a while and had been privy to several works that have yet to be published, even appearing in a couple books in alternate dimensions where I still ply my artistry.  While we spent many hours discussing how he felt he had failed, his book sales were never high enough to make him satisfied, I also talked about how he was simply a man born out of time, that he hadn't failed, mankind had failed to grasp the issues, he was a man writing messages in bottles that were being tossed into the sea of time to be recovered by those.mature enough to understand.
So, here is what I am trying to say, go meet your heroes!  I am so incredibly thankful that I did, my life is so much richer for having met mine.  He was even greater as my friend than he was as my hero, not because he was some kind of superior man, unassailable in some ivory tower of intellect, but because he was a man, born with the foibles and weaknesses of all men but still rose above it all as a prophet of a future world, a world where every sentient entity will be free to live as they will, without interference or intrusion from any source, whether that source be another entity or some make-believe boogeyman called "government". 
My friend and hero L. Neil Smith passed away on Friday, 27th of August, about 5:15AM and I am destroyed, as heartbroken as when I lost both my little brothers so close together.  Although his body was breaking down rapidly over the last few years, his mighty mind and indomitable soul were just as sharp and indestructible right to the end.  He was so hopeful that the medical breakthroughs he had foreseen might come to his aid (I know, human Longevity is 20 years away and always has been), and I can't help but feel that WE all let him down in this.  I write this through tears and runny nose because the end always comes too soon, too many things unsaid, and we never seem to learn this lesson.  Please, go meet your heroes, tell them how important they are to you, how they have changed your life forever; because someday either one or both of you will find comfort in that exchange, life is short and despite what slow-thinking people say, you only DIE once, but you LIVE every day granted to you by the Universe, make those days count, they pass faster every day you live, they seem a blur to me now.  I wish I could have become Neil's friend so much earlier, it just seemed there was sooo much time and so many other things to do.
I miss you, Neil, selfishly and unabashedly, I miss talking to you, I miss reading your latest work, and I miss giving you joy with my skill, feeding your body as.you have fed my mind.  Rest in Peace, my friend; I know if there does turn out to be an afterlife you're already drunk with RAH and RAW, fighting about something and having a great time.
Kira Russ

We'll miss you, Neil. The cause of liberty will ever benefit from your wit and wisdom. 

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