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The Probability Broach: The Graphic Novel, by L. Neil Smith and Scott Bieser

I imagine there are few fiction-loving pro-freedom readers who aren't familiar with L. Neil Smith's novel The Probability Broach. It's a classic of pro-freedom science fiction, winning the Prometheus Award in 1982. It remains a highly popular novel, in large part because it realistically portrays how a free society might work. As such, I didn't really think there was any way to improve the book.

Scott Bieser may have proven me wrong. His graphic novel interpretation of The Probability Broach, undertaken with Smith's approval and assistance, offers a fresh look at the action-packed, exuberantly pro-freedom novel. Just as with movie adaptations of popular novels, anything that follows is often found lacking ... and I was steeling myself for that kind of reaction as I viewed Bieser's rendering of Smith's often larger-than-life characters. It never came.

Of course, others may quibble with what scenes were included in the graphic novel and which were dropped, or how Bieser depicted the well-known characters. As a curmudgeonly proof-reader, I did find the Microsoftish blocks in the text that apparently indicated some special character or symbol that didn't render properly a bit bothersome. But those were few and far between, and in between them is a lot of action, and very nicely done artwork. To my mind, Bieser did a fine job of keeping true to the story, while also tightening it to a length acceptable for the graphic-novel format. An especially nice touch is the different palettes used to portray Win Bear's home world and the alternate reality he finds himself plunged into.

I've generally considered the graphic novel genre to be little more than an expanded comic book. Since I didn't much care for comic books as a child, it's no surprise that I've not explored it much. V for Vendetta was my first foray, at a friend's urging, and it didn't grip me in the way he probably hoped (very possibly due more to my closed mind than any shortcoming of that book). I found myself reading The Probability Broach: The Graphic Novel, and enjoying Smith's creation anew. So, perhaps I should reconsider my proclaimed lack of interest in graphic novels. If they're well done, as Bieser did in this case, a graphic novel can be every bit as compelling as a full-length novel. Scott, or any other freedom-minded graphic artist out there: anyone up for a go at a Repairman Jack novel? F. Paul -- would this be doable? This fan -- and likely many others -- wants to know!

I consider The Probability Broach: The Graphic Novel a worthwhile addition to my freedom library (as is its full-length parent); and another valuable outreach tool for those who might read it and see the importance of liberty for human flourishing. For those raised on television, video games, and other fast-paced, graphically-oriented information, Bieser's rendering of Smith's hardcore prose may strike the right chord to help awaken them to the importance of individual liberty. We can never have too much of that.




Sunni graphic

More by Scott Bieser and/or L. Neil Smith: Scott Bieser.com; BigHead Press; L. Neil Smith.com; and The Libertarian Enterprise.

F. Paul Wilson's Repairman Jack web site

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