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Strip 105 - Click on page above to goto the next page. -- First Seen: 2009-02-06
Escape From Terra is updated with new pages every Monday through Friday.

Remembering L. Neil Smith

L. Neil Smith and Scott Bieser in 2009 after receiving the Prometheus Award for The Probability Broach: The Graphic Novel.

I've been having a hard time putting words down here. This is my third attempt at putting together a suitable, or at least coherent, collection of remarks about my friend who discorporated this last August 27th.

I use the term discorporated because that was a euphemism favored by Robert A. Heinlein, the grand master of classic sci-fi who was the author Neil most admired and sought to model his own work upon. It seems appropriate here. One of Neil's most-prized possessions was a letter he received, early in his career, from RAH himself, who told the younger Neil that he had found the correct balance of action, romance, and philosophy in his stories.

I've only known Neil since the late 1990s (which was HOW many years ago? Geebus) but he had a fairly large impact on my life. I found him via The Libertarian Enterprise web-magazine and presumptuously sent a graphic of The Bill of Rights bursting through the Eurostyle don't do this symbol which I'd rendered out in 3D Studio Max, and was an improvement on the low-rez drawing he had put together himself.

So we exchanged e-mails and I made some more art for him on occasion and next thing I knew we were making The Probability Broach: The Graphic Novel together and then I had moved from southern California to Cheyenne, Wyoming, partly to be closer to him as we collaborated on Roswell, Texas and Phoebus Krumm. However. after that Neil wanted to do a sequel to Roswell but I'd gotten tired of the 1950s and wanted to make stories set in the future – which I did when I embarked on my own QUANTUM VIBE series.

Were it not for Neil I don't think there would be a QUANTUM VIBE, or at least nothing closely resembling it. I learned much about storytelling by working with him, and by our association I acquired the core of an audience which sustains me to this day.

We remained friends and I continued to drive the 50 miles from Cheyenne to Fort Collins to hang out with him in the bleachers of the local ice-skating rink, where we chatted while also watching Neil's wife and daughter skating on the ice. On occasion I brought my sons down to join with them and I hope I wasn't too embarrassing as I stumbled around.

But then my wife, E.J., discorporated 40 years early and my family in Texas beckoned my sons and me home to heal, which we did. Neil continued writing stories, maintaining his optimism despite his declining health – he once told me he intended to be the world's first 400-year-old diabetic. I had hoped to return to Fort Collins once or twice to visit, but circumstances prevented me from making the trip, even for his Libertarian Futurist Society Lifetime Award acceptance in 2016.

Another friend of mine likes to speak of having an immortality project, something one does while in the world that makes an effect that continues after one has gone. Neil's immortality project, aside from his daughter Rylla, was his stories, which deserve to be remembered long after all of us have discorporated, ourselves.

-- Scott Bieser


IGG Campaign Concludes

Alyss Roaz thanks you!

A Message From Alyss

So, we fell just a few hundred short of our goal, but that's okay, because it's a "Flexible Goal" meaning we still get the funds raised (minus Indiegogo's cut) so we can and will fulfill the promised perks.

We are grateful to all who contributed, and yes you are all now founding members of the "Free Cosmos Project," with all the privileges membership entitles you thereto. (Unless you don't want the honor, we'll respect that too.) Which for now means we'll be whipping up a spiffy little Certificate for each of you, physical versions sent out with the physical books requested, and PDF versions for the rest.

Indiegogo will disburse the funds to us soon. And we've already got the ball rolling printing books, and postcards, as well as the above-mentioned FCP certificates. And we'll be talking a bit more about the Free Cosmos Project in the coming weeks.

Thanks again and click on, me hearties, click on.


The Transcript For This Page

Panel 1
Inside the Water Bros. café. Billy Rose and his friend Wally are crouching behind the counter that stands to the left of the entrance (as seen from inside the café looking towards the exit hatchway). Wally is fiddling with some small device a bit bigger than one of those Blackberry phone/PDAs, which is attached by a thin wire to a standard desktop holo-monitor.



Billy: Now what’s this supposed to do, Wally?

Wally (whispers): Shh!! It looks at people coming in the door, and projects a 3D ‘body’ of our choosing onto them.

Panel 2

Closer 2-shot of Billy and Wally. Hunched over and whispering conspiratorially.

Billy: What, for real?

Wally: No, just in the recorder. We edit and broadcast this on Tanglenet. Imagine this joint full of freak-show, Billy. We’ll go viral and become famous.


Panel 3
In this and the following 3 panels, we are seeing the action on the holo-monitor, with Wally and Billy at the far opposite edges of the frame. The monitor is showing the café entryway from a somewhat elevated point at the far end of the room (the camera is hidden in the sign above Babbette the Elder’s usual station), zoom set to provide a full-length view of whoever is passing the counter behind which the boys are hiding.

In the first frame, we see Bert coming through. But his head is on top of the body of a gorilla.

Wally (still whispering): Ape-Bert


Billy (quietly): *snort*
Panel 4

Next, a youngish-looking couple. He has a body something like the Gorn from Star Trek, she is dressed in a clown-ballerina outfit with tutu over candy-striped leggings, flower-print leotard and grotesquely oversized, sagging breasts

Wally: Lizard-man and his bozo ballerina

Billy: *chortle*

Panel 5
Next up, Neil Isher (the gunshop owner). He is wearing ridiculously exaggerated “cowboy” garb – big floppy hat, vest with the “Woody” black-and-white cowhide pattern, a pair of comically oversized cartoon sixguns slung low on his hips, bolo tie, oversized cowboy boots with very pointy toes and oversized spurs. And a rope coiled and looped over his left shoulder. Billy is visibly shaking with mirth.

Wally: Lariat Neil

Billy: *snicker*

Panel 6
Last but not least, Emily Rose. She is portrayed in a Medusa get-up, with brass brassiere, tattered skirt, and snake-hair. Billy is bursting out laughing now.

Wally: Aaaand – Emilydusa!

Billy: (losing it) HAW!!!


Panel 7
Make this panel narrow so we have more room in the last panel. The boys, in the lower foreground, are looking over their shoulders at Bert, the unnamed couple, Neil and Emily (in their true appearances) glaring down at them from across the counter.

Billy and Wally in unison: Uh-oh!


Panel 8
Exterior entry to the Water Bros. establishment. Billy and Wally are scrambling out the door, enraged Emily in hot pursuit. (Don’t forget the low gravity – these kids are really leaping.

Emily: Billy Rose! You are so DEAD!

Billy: Not if I can run fast enough!



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