Smith, L. Neil The Probability Broach

ISBN 13: 9780345285935

The Probability Broach

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9780345285935: The Probability Broach
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Denver detective Win Bear, on the trail of a murderer, discovers much more than a killer. He accidentally stumbles upon the probability broach, a portal to a myriad of worlds--some wildly different from, others disconcertingly similar to our own. Win finds himself transported to an alternate Earth where Congress is in Colorado, everyone carries a gun, there are gorillas in the Senate, and public services are controlled by private businesses.

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About the Author:

L. Neil Smith is the two time winner of the Prometheus Award for Best Libertarian Fiction for his novels Pallas (1993) and The Probability Broach (1980). As founder and National Coordinator of the Libertarian Second Amendment Caucus, publisher of the on-line magazine The Libertarian Enterprise, and a Life member of the National Rifle Association, Smith is renowned for his prominence in the Libertarian movement, of which he has been a part of for more than thirty-five years. Author of more than twenty books, Smith has been hailed for his ability to combine adventure, humor, and rivetingly original political concepts to create more compellingly than any other writer, novels that embody Libertarian concepts. He currently resides in Fort Collins, Colorado, with his wife and daughter.

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The Probability Broach
I : The Moonday Gun ... would cease operations early next month. In a joint press release, executives of the other networks regretted the passing of America's oldest broadcasting corporation and pledged to use the assets awarded to them by the federal bankruptcy court to continue its tradition of operation "in the public interest." In a related story, TV schedules will be cut back by an additional two hours in eighty cities next week. Heads of the FCC and Department of Energy, officially unavailable for comment, unofficially denied rumors that broadcast cutbacks were related to recent media criticism of the President's economic and energy policies. --KOE Channel 4 Eyewitness News Denver, July 6, 1987 TUESDAY, JULY 7, 1987 Another sweltering Denver summer. A faded poster was stapled crookedly to the plywood door of an abandoned fast-food joint at the corner of Colfax and York: CLOSED BY ORDER OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT The Secretary of Energy Has Determined That This Unit Represents An Unjustifiable Expenditure of Our Nation's Precious And Dwindling Energy Reserves. DOE 568-90-3041 Through its soot-grimy windows, I could see them stirring sluggishly--panhandlers keeping out of the sun. Me, I was roasting in the parking lot, my battered department-issue Plymouth settling slowly to its hubcaps in the hot asphalt. Pushing a flavorless brown-bag lunch into my face, I wished vainly for a cigar and rehearsed my vast repertoire of excuses. Things had started out rotten, breakfast interrupted by a call to a dilapidated Emerson Street garage. Somebody had strungup a corpse from the rafters, gutted and skinned it like a deer. The carcass had bled into a galvanized bucket on the floor and the skin was folded neatly over a straight-backed kitchen chair, the kind you usually find in garages, missing two rungs and held together with picture wire. The morning air had that breathless, anticipatory feel, promising a hundred degrees or more. It had made a fair start in that garage, the usual cobwebs and motor oil rapidly losing out to a cloying slaughter-house odor. This afternoon would be even more fun, explaining to the News-Post and assorted microphones--not to mention my division chief--why the patrolmen who had found the body during a routine curfew bust had puked all over the evidence. Shit, I'd almost done it myself. I looked down at my sandwich and shuddered. My stomach was giving me hell, anyway. Twenty-seven years on the force, and now the pain was creeping down my left arm into the wrist. Maybe it was the crummy hours, the awful food. Maybe it was worrying all the time: cancer; minipox; encountering an old friend in a packet of blackmarket lunch meat. Maybe it was a depression they wouldn't call by its right name, or seeing old folks begging in the streets. Maybe I just watched too many doctor shows. Forty-eight was the right age to worry, though, especially for a cop. Oh, I'd tried keeping in shape: diets, exercise, vitamins before they got too risky. But after Evelyn had split, it just seemed like a lot of trouble. I did manage to stay off coffee, quite a feat in a line of work that revolves around a station-house urn. Nineteen years in homicide and the sight of human intestines piled on a gritty concrete floor could still turn me inside out. Well, it's better than getting callous. Now as the sun baked my car top, fumes from a beat-up city bus were ruining what little appetite I had left. I missed my mealtime cigars, and couldn't quite tell whether the little carton of milk in my hand was starting to sour. Somehow it's worse, not knowing. Most of all I longed to take off my sodden jacket, but the public's supposed to panic at the sight of a shoulder holster. I knew that sweat was eating at the worn, nonregulation Smith & Wesson .41 Magnum jammed into my left armpit. The leather harness was soaked, the dingy elastic cross-strap slowly rasping through the heat rash on the back of my neck. If it were only--hell, make that five years ago. A man could enjoy a sanitary lunch in an air-conditioned booth. Now, CLOSED BY ORDER signs flapped on half the doors downtown; the other half, it seemed, had been shut by "economic readjustment." And unlicensed air conditioning was a stiffer rap than hoarding silver. The bus at the corner gasped to a start, filling my car with blue smoke. Shouldn't have parked so near the street, damn it. I'd had my choice in the empty, litter-strewn lot. I gave up on lunch, wadding up the wrappers, when the radio, its jabber ignored until now, began talking about me: "Five Charlie Nineteen, respond Code Three, possible homicide, southwest corner of Sixteenth and Gaylord." That's me, of course, better known to everybody but dispatchers as Lieutenant Edward W. Bear. The W is for William, but thanks to that son-of-a-bitch A. A. Milne and a world full of funny-people, I settle for Win. "Five Charlie Nineteen ..." I threw the papers on the backseat and started the engine. It coughed asthmatically and a surge of adrenalin washed through me as it caught. Horn honking, I dipped and scraped into Colfax, spilling the half-empty milk carton on the floor. I cut across sparse traffic--squealing brakes and cursing bicyclists--roared an illegal hundred yards the wrong way up York, swerved left through a parking lot to Gaylord, and tore away in a wake of siren wail and swirling red light. It was only another block. Four scuffed black-and-whites straddled the street, their lightbars blinking round and round by a littered curb fronting a crumbling neighborhood mosquethat had seen previous duty as a Mexican Catholic church. Short of wind, I shrugged out of the car. A body lay half-propped against the wall, blood streaming across cracked cement into the gutter. "What do we have here?" I asked the patrol sergeant. "Another VN-Arab rumble?" He shook his head and I remembered with embarrassment that he was an Arab himself. "Sorry, Moghrabi--just a bad day today." "Worse for him, Lieutenant." The victim--late twenties--lay clutching his middle, as if to keep his guts from falling out. He had good reason to try, stitched from hip to shoulder the way he was. A gap in the closely grouped pockmarks on the wall above said he had fallen where he'd been shot. In one outstretched hand was a stainless-steel snubbie. No punk's gun, anyway. A Bianchi holster identical to mine was exposed by his blood-soaked jacket. I looked down at the curb. Sure enough, a brassy glittering in the windblown trash: two dozen spent cartridges. I levered one onto the end of a pencil: .380 Auto. That'd make it an Ingram machine pistol. Very fancy. Lab people were arriving with evidence kits and VCR, uniforms herding up potential witnesses. I'd see their reports later, not that it would do much good: this wasn't as down-and-out as Denver neighborhoods get, but the stiff against the wall was Mr. Collegiate Affluence, despite the gun in his hand, and that meant silence from the citizens. Or lies. Moghrabi had been keeping busy, supplying translations. He nodded at a patrolman and jogged over. "We've got something, a late-model white station wagon, Brazilian make. Want an APB?" "Better wait. Probably dozens of station wagons still running in this town. Anything else?" "The car's about the only thing they all agree on. You know witnesses. What about the victim?" I shrugged. "They're still preserving everything for posterity over there. Let me know if you get anything else." He nodded, heading back where uniformed officers were trading broken Arabic for broken English. I got an okay from the video techs, bent over the body, and gently pried the revolver from its stiffening fingers. Ruger Security Six, like I'd figured. I opened the cylinder; dimples in four of the primers twinkled up at me. Four shots fired, Norma .357 hollowpoints. If any had connected, we'd be finding another corpse, possibly in worse shape than this one. "Hey, Lieutenant?" A probationer hailed me from the middle of the street. On the other side, a meat wagon had joined the laboratory van. "Look what we found! We were measuring tire marks and spotted all this stuff ..." I rose stiffly, trying to ignore my knees. "Hey, Lieutenant, do you think--" "Not when I can avoid it." It took an effort not to add "son." His fresh-scrubbed eager-beaver looks clashed with the patched and faded department-issue hand-me-downs. I bent forward, grunting under my breath. Why does evidence always fall down? Then I remembered this morning's ornament, hanging from a garage ceiling, and almost lost my spoiled-mayonnaise sandwich. The sight in the street didn't help: scattered glass; blood all over the fragments, splashed. Those hollowpoints had connected, all right. Might even be some brains scrambled into this mess if I looked hard enough. I resisted the urge. "Moghrabi!" I gestured that he should avoid walking through the evidence. "Sarge, you can have your APB, now. That station wagon'll be missing windows." He nodded, heading for his radio. I went back to the body again, with a little more respect. His travel permit said he was one Meiss, Vaughn L., from Fort Collins, sixty miles to the north. His work assignment: Colorado State University As a Ph.D. on the Physics faculty, he rated his own wheels and the fuel to rollthem. Car keys and parking lot receipt I handed to the sergeant, who would hand them to a patrolman who would dig up the heap and hand it to the lab people. It's called "channels." They'd find candy wrappers, Kleenex, an ashtray full of illicit butts or roaches, probably not much else. They always had hopes, of course: half a ton of Laetrile or Ever-Clear. Presumably Meiss had parked nearby There was never any shortage of space these days, and it was too damned hot to walk very far...

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780974381411: The Probability Broach: The Graphic Novel

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ISBN 10:  0974381411 ISBN 13:  9780974381411
Publisher: BigHead Press, 2004
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9780765301536: Probability Broach

Tor Books, 2001
Softcover

9780812538755: The Probability Broach

TOR Book, 1996
Softcover

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