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L. Neil Smith's Forge of the Elders Wins Prometheus Award

September 6, 2001


I'm happy to announce that my novel Forge of the Elders has received the Prometheus Award from the Libertarian Futurist Society, for best libertarian novel of the year.

The award was presented at the World Science Fiction Convention over the Labor Day weekend in Philadelphia. Because I was unable to attend, at my request, the award was accepted by Toni Weisskopf of Baen Books, publisher of Forge of the Elders.

At the request of the Libertarian Futurist Society, I prepared a few remarks for Toni to present on my behalf. This is what I wrote:


Ladies and gentlemen of the Libertarian Futurist Society, I'm sorry I can't be with you today. I had a previous obligation to my daughter, and I learned long ago, the hard way, that before anything else -- writer, thinker, political activist -- I'm Cathy's husband and Rylla's daddy.

Nevertheless, I'm happier and more grateful than I can say for the honor you pay me here, especially because it's for Forge of the Elders.

When I began writing Forge, the Berlin Wall had just come down and the Soviets were collapsing. I had concerns, expressed in Forge, that American socialists would try to interfere with that process. At the same time, it was my dream to reexamine Social Darwinism -- which I'd already written about in essays and speeches -- with the idea of learning lessons that a genuine understanding of evolution by natural selection might have to teach us.

It took 15 years for Forge to be published the way I wanted it to be. Endless thanks to Baen Books for that, and to Tom Knapp at for seeing in Forge what I'd always hoped would be seen.

My earliest recollection of a political idea I could wholly grasp was the story -- call it a parable -- of a butterfly emerging from its cocoon. According to the story, if, through misplaced kindness, you try to help it, you'll deny it a lifegiving struggle necessary to the process of transcending itself -- caterpillar to butterfly -- and it will die.

To this day, I don't know if the parable is true. I do know that America has had as much "help" as it can stand, and that it must be our purpose as libertarian futurists, as Prometheans, to put an end to that, so it might have a chance to transcend itself -- police state to free society -- and allow us to transcend ourselves, as well.


Forge of the Elders accomplished several things that were -- and are -- very important to me. First, it reconsiders "Social Darwinism", arriving at radically different conclusions about the ethical and political implications of evolution by natural selection than are traditionally associated with it.

Second, it continues my interest in "alternate history", taking the idea further back in time than has ever been done before; it contemplates the notion that, in other branches of reality, other species might have become sapient and dominant on Earth.

Third, it addresses my concern that while the rest of humanity is rejecting Marxism, America will embrace it, dragging the whole world back into the black hole of socialism. That process, accelerated by the Clinton Administration (nor does either Bush Administration have clean hands) continues, threatening the property, liberty, and life of every individual on the planet.

Along the way, Forge of the Elders introduces many interesting and remarkable characters (at least they're interesting and remarkable to me). Funny and tragic by turns, it begins with a murder mystery and continues with a biological mystery that expands into a cosmic mystery. Ranging from spaceship battles to a wild pig hunt, it also tells three love stories and a 15,000-year-old tale of refugees from the Lost Continent.

Forge of the Elders was also named Freedom Book of the Year" by the year it was published. But awards -- however gratefully appreciated -- aside, it needs to reach a wider audience to continue making its point for as long as that point needs to be made. Buy a copy for yourself, if you haven't yet, buy a copy for a friend, and buy a copy for an enemy. You may turn him (or her) around. If you don't, you may make his stomach churn, cost him a night's sleep, and shorten his life expectancy by a few minutes.

Such an effort will not only take care of my family (and three skating coaches), it will increase the chance that my publisher will buy the next project I offer them with and give you something new to read.

You can find Forge of the Elders at bookstores everywhere, or persuade them to order it for you if they don't currently stock it. It's also available from my old friends Laissez Faire Books at, as are many of my other books.

If you order from, please do it by clicking through my personal website at My webmaster receives a small commission when you buy this way, and that helps keep the website going.

And please remember to stop by, where you'll find The Mitzvah and Hope, two novels I wrote with JPFO's Aaron Zelman, and, where you can order my book of political essays, Lever Action.

Thanks for listening,

L. Neil Smith
Phone: (970) 484-6824


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