I’ve been away from the net.
The quick summary: the new house (well, it’s my age, but it’s new to us) had some issues that home inspection failed to reveal. Or IOW we came in and turned a tap on and acquired a pet wall geyser.
We’re still mostly in Colorado, but had to be here for the plumbers, today. (Note this is not our first rodeo, and the seller bought us a home warranty at our request.)
So Friday and Saturday we were loading a second truck while I nailed down painting in the Colorado house (done) and then yesterday we spent 12 hours on the road. (LONG story.) Most of it without net access.
Today, first time I connected to the internet in the new house, I found out that L. Neil Smith had died.
This is not how I wanted to start the week… Or– Well, I knew he was having health issues, but I assumed he was as immortal as the Republic. (Yeah, I know, I know….)
I can’t remember when I met Neil. I’ve been cudgeling my noggin, and I just can’t remember. I know it was sometime before I won the Prometheus for Darkship Thieves.
But in my mind, it’s as if I’d always known him. (Probably because I’d read him before we met, and we emailed back and forth before we met in person.)
We didn’t agree on everything (I don’t agree on everything with myself, frankly. There are issues on which I have at least four opinions.)
I know we were exchanging emails encouraging the other on by … 2010?
The one thing we both agreed on is that we had each other’s back. That we agreed on, always. And after that we agreed pretty consistently on individual Liberty. There was a fight for individual liberty going on, and we were comrades at arms, even if mostly we fought with words.
I think everyone here knows that my decision to vote for Trump in 2016 was the joint work of L. Neil Smith and Jerry Pournelle in the week leading up to the election. For one thing if those two could agree that hard on something, and work that hard to change my mind, I had to examine their arguments and consider them.
Jerry, alas, left us shortly after.
And this year, since November, L. Neil Smith and his optimism “well, then we’ll work for Liberty harder” were one of my touch points to remain sane.
I won’t insult his disbelief by positing an afterlife for him. (Yeah, maybe he’s already found out differently, and if so, G-d is probably being asked some pointed questions… And is probably highly amused.)
But if he has one, I hope it’s something like the last time we met in person: when he received the Prometheus for lifetime work. Afterwards we were “kidnapped” for a party thrown by his fans, in which he got to speak at length and receive admiration for his work. And where the rest of us could bask in not feeling out of place for once and being able to bandy intellectual arguments without crying or denounciations.
I know this isn’t particularly coherent.
All I can say is I feel as though the guy next to me in the trenches had just been shot.
I’m going to miss his encouragement and his optimism, but most of all I’m going to miss him.
Rest in peace, old friend. Even indefatigable warriors get their rest in time.
Those of us who remain must fight on. But you won’t be forgotten.