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Strip 868 -- First Seen: 2012-01-13
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
Group shot of our heroes sitting around the coffee table. Focus is on Bert, who is speaking. Drenkowski is sitting somewhere to the right of Bert. Arana is close to his left side.
Bert: Okay, let's recap:
Bert: Mac, Nisa, Ernie and I will be transported to the Groom Lake facility by Commander Drenkowski in his almost-invisible spaceplane.
Drenkowski: The Free Bird.

Panel 2
Closer shot on Bert, angled so we can also see a smiling Arana.
Bert: Yeah, great name suggestion, Arana.
Bert: The Commander will keep the motor running, while the rest of us go in to get Neanne and Nowra.

Panel 3
Medium close-up on Bert.
Bert: The rest of Nowra's family were shipped home a couple of decadays ago.
Bert: That simplifies things, but it also tells us we may not have a lot of time.

Panel 4
High angle shot of the whole group again, Bert gesturing as he speaks.
Bert: Ernie and I will act as lookouts and provide suppressing fire – but only as a last resort.
Bert: We want to waltz in and out with nobody being the wiser.

Panel 5
Shot including Tobi, flanked by Nisa and Mac, listening to Bert.
Bert (OP): Nisa and Mac will go in and locate Neanne and Nowra, and escort them out.
Bert (OP): We'll comm Nowra when we land so they'll be ready.

Panel 6
Final group shot, lower angle, focus on Bert. Some of the characters will have to have their backs to us.
Bert: Ernie and I will cover the rear, then Drenkowski will fly us out.
Bert: Easy peasy, lemon-squeezy.
Caption (at bottom): 'No campaign plan survives first contact with the enemy' – General Helmuth Graf von Molktke



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