The Probability Broach

Another retro review, this time from October 15, 1977. It’s rather utopian which is timely since I hope to post a review of another utopian work shortly, Brian Aldiss and Roger Penrose’s White Mars, or, The Mind Set Free: A 21st Century Utopia.

Unsurprisingly, a minor political disagreement ensued from my review.

And I’ve talked about 1970s science fiction and dolphins before. Now that I think about it, Niven’s Known Space has them too.

Review: The Probability Broach, L. Neil Smith, 1980.Probability Broach

The Probability Broach is as close to a libertarian utopia as any realistic anarchist dares get. It’s also a very detailed alternate history. Most writers of alternate history are content to detail when that history deviates from ours or set their stories in the resulting world with brief references to how things change. Smith gives us a detailed timeline of how things change when one extra word is added to the Declaration of Independence and George Washington is shot in the Whiskey Rebellion.

However, Smith unsuccessfully tries for a Heinlein style. His slang is awkward. The hero’s romance reeks of bad Chandler imitations, and there is a little bit too much gun stuff even for me, a lifetime NRA member.

From 1980, this book has jarring elements of the seventies here which don’t quite work like a tyrannical America justified by an energy crisis or the talking chimps and dolphins much loved in seventies’ sf.


More reviews of fantastic fiction are indexed by title and author/editor.


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