Prometheus Awards 40th anniversary panel set with F. Paul Wilson, LFS leaders, for online-only New Zealand Worldcon; Sarah Hoyt and Wilson to lead LFS panel and awards ceremony at North American Science Fiction Convention

The Libertarian Futurist Society will raise its visibility online and around the world this summer with events and Prometheus-winning speakers and LFS leaders at both the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) and the North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC).

Everything will take place safely during these “virtual cons,” set up to protect online participants and viewers during the pandemic – which means that LFS members and the public will be able to watch, participate and ask questions from the comfort of their own homes via computers, smart TVs, tablets or smart phones.

WORLDCON PROMETHEUS PANEL
Bestselling, Prometheus-winning novelist F. Paul Wilson (An Enemy of the State, Sims, Healer, Wheels within Wheels, Repairman Jack series) will headline the LFS’ Worldcon panel on “Freedom in SF: Forty Years of the Prometheus Award.”

Celebrating the recent 40thanniversary of the awards, the Worldcon panel will explore the distinctive focus and impressive track record of the many diverse winners of one of the oldest continuing fan-based awards in the sf/fantasy field after the Hugo and Nebula awards.

(To find out who has won the 2020 Prometheus Awards, read the LFS press release posted on the LFS website.)

Continue reading Prometheus Awards 40th anniversary panel set with F. Paul Wilson, LFS leaders, for online-only New Zealand Worldcon; Sarah Hoyt and Wilson to lead LFS panel and awards ceremony at North American Science Fiction Convention

Rationality, objectivity, science, markets, politics, individual rights, a mysterious new motor and civilization collapse: An Appreciation of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, the first co-winner of the Prometheus Hall of Fame in 1983

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as notable pro-freedom sf/fantasy, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing a series of Appreciations of past award-winners.
With the series of Best-Novel appreciations now completed after a 10-month weekly run, the LFS has begun its next series of appreciations of each of our Hall of Fame winners for Best Classic Fiction – a Prometheus Awards category first presented in 1983.
If you’ve missed any of the weekly Best-Novel appreciations, all are available to read now with links from the Prometheus Awards page of the LFS website (lfs.org). Just click on the word “Appreciation” next to each winning title.
Alternatively, on the Prometheus Blog itself, just scroll down the left side of the page past the list of most-recent blog posts, the daily update of the most-popular posts read each day and our comprehensive Archives of monthly posts to the Categories (which includes handy access to Interviews, Essays, Award Standards, Best of the Blog, News, Reviews, Tributes, Obits, Author Updates and much more). Then click on Appreciations (or the Best Novel subhead) to access all past blogs in that category in one scroll.
Happy reading!

Meanwhile, here is our first Hall of Fame appreciation, by William H. Stoddard, of our first Hall of Fame co-winner: Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, which was inducted in 1983 along with Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress:

By William H. Stoddard

If any novelist was central to the emergence of the libertarian movement, it was Ayn Rand. She wasn’t simply an adherent of ideas such as strict adherence to the Constitution or economic freedom, which were common among adherents of the “old right” at the time. She was also the source of such distinctive formulations as the concept of being a “radical for capitalism” (rather than a conservative) and the principle of noninitiation of force, which have been defining elements in libertarianism for half a century. And those ideas first came to widespread attention in her last and largest novel, Atlas Shrugged.

Was Atlas Shrugged “science fiction”? It certainly was received as such; it was reviewed in Astounding Science Fiction not once, but twice, by P. Schuyler Miller (who saw little value in it) and by John W. Campbell, the editor of Astounding (who praised it—particularly for its insight into the cultural and psychological mechanisms that make political repression work).

It influenced some science fiction writers; in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, for example, the self-aware computer Mycroft is described as the “John Galt”of the Lunar revolution. It’s filled with marvelous inventions; not just the central ones, Rearden Metal and John Galt’s motor, but half a dozen ingenious minor devices, any one of which might have been the basis for a story in Astounding – and the Xylophone, a weapon of mass destruction based on new principles of energy transmission that plays a crucial role at the novel’s climax. And if Rand doesn’t go into detail on the scientific principles behind these inventions, or into the unexpected side effects of their use, a lot of science fiction doesn’t either.

Continue reading Rationality, objectivity, science, markets, politics, individual rights, a mysterious new motor and civilization collapse: An Appreciation of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, the first co-winner of the Prometheus Hall of Fame in 1983

Anarcho-capitalism on the Moon, predatory Earth government, lunar resistance, flawed humans, intelligent nonhumans and libertarian science fiction: An Appreciation of Travis Corcoran’s The Powers of the Earth and Causes of Separation, the 2018 and 2019 Prometheus Award winners for Best Novel

With this combined Appreciation for the past two Prometheus Award winners for Best Novel, the Libertarian Futurist Society’s weekly Appreciation series of all our past winners in that category is complete – providing a handy reference guide for members and the public that highlights the Prometheus Awards’ diverse history while making clear what makes each winner deserve recognition as pro-freedom or anti-authoritarian sf/fantasy.
This series, launched in 2019 on the 40th anniversary of the first Prometheus Award in 1979, will continue soon with Appreciations of each winner in the next awards category to be established: The Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction.
Meanwhile, here is William H. Stoddard’s combined Appreciation of Travis Corcoran’s The Powers of the Earth and Causes of Separation, the 2018 and 2019 Prometheus Award winners for Best Novel:

By William H. Stoddard
In 2017, Travis Corcoran funded the publication of two books through Kickstarter, and released the first, Powers of the Earth, which won the Prometheus Award for Best Novel. In 2018, he released the second, Causes of Separation. The two volumes are described as the first half of a planned four-volume series, Aristillus (named for a lunar crater), but they actually make up an integrated and self-contained story: Had they both appeared the same year, they could have been nominated as a single work.

It’s long been the policy of the Libertarian Futurist Society to give awards to “the work, not the author”: A book can win Best Novel even if its author doesn’t self-identify as a libertarian, so long as its theme is pro-liberty. A corollary of this is that “pro-liberty” doesn’t mean adhering tightly to a specific interpretation of libertarianism.

If a novel illuminates the meaning of individual rights and a free society, or suggests a way to establish them, or explores the functioning of such a society, or warns against the evils of authoritarianism, or critiques or deconstructs an ideology opposed to liberty – then it can be considered for an award. Nonetheless, books whose vision is wholeheartedly libertarian are welcome discoveries, and the Aristillus novels were such a discovery.

Continue reading Anarcho-capitalism on the Moon, predatory Earth government, lunar resistance, flawed humans, intelligent nonhumans and libertarian science fiction: An Appreciation of Travis Corcoran’s The Powers of the Earth and Causes of Separation, the 2018 and 2019 Prometheus Award winners for Best Novel

A handy guide for LFS voters: Where to find all the finalists in the 2020 Prometheus Awards for Best Novel and Best Classic Fiction (Hall of Fame)

The 2020 Prometheus Awards are now in the final weeks of voting by Libertarian Futurist Society members across the continent – but where can you find and read each of the finalists?
That’s commonly not a problem with the annual Best Novel category, since all five finalists are widely available, typically published in the preceding year.
Yet, it can be challenging to find some of the older finalists in the Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction.
That’s because the Prometheus Awards’ other annual category is wide open to any work of fiction first published, broadcast, staged or screened 20 or more years ago.
But this year, for the first time, two Hall of Fame finalists – a story and a song – can be found in full online and for free!

So accessibility of this year’s Prometheus  award finalists is in some ways easier than ever – and this guide should help LFS Members find and consider every finalist before voting.

Continue reading A handy guide for LFS voters: Where to find all the finalists in the 2020 Prometheus Awards for Best Novel and Best Classic Fiction (Hall of Fame)

The Libertarian Futurist Society, Prometheus Awards, LFS writers hailed in Quillette article about the persistence of libertarian sf as a key strand in mainstream science fiction

By Michael Grossberg
Libertarian science fiction has always been a seminal strand in the ever-evolving genre of science fiction and fantasy – and in significant and honorable ways, that socially conscious and liberty-loving subgenre continues as a force today, even amid regressive and reactionary forces flirting with the perennial temptations of statism, authoritarianism and centralized, institutionalized coercion on the Left and Right.

Libertarian futurists – within and outside the Libertarian Futurist Society (not to mention other organizations within the far broader libertarian movement, from Reason and Liberty magazines to the Cato Institute)  – have understood that for a long time.

Yet, it’s salutary and newsworthy when our understanding of the broader intellectual and artistic currents that have helped shape the four-decade-plus history and diversity of the Prometheus Awards is shared and appreciated by an international, cosmopolitan publication outside the libertarian movement.

The cover illustration of the Quillette article on Libertarian Science Fiction Photo: a Quillette illustration, copied here to help people find the article on their website

Such a relatively rare occasion has materialized this month (June 2020) with a fair-minded, open-minded, rich and rewarding essay on “The Libertarian History of Science Fiction” published in Quillette, an influential web-magazine that embraces what modern libertarians might generally recognize as classically liberal principles.

According to its mission statement, Quillette offers “a platform for free thought. We respect ideas, even dangerous ones. We also believe that free expression and the free exchange of ideas help human societies flourish and progress.”

Indeed, LFS members might say as much, using virtually the same words, to uphold important Bill of Rights aspects of our libertarian vision of a fully free future in which people strive to respect other people’s rights and live together through the voluntary cooperation and enterprise of a free society and a free market while steadfastly abjuring violence, the initiation of force or fraud and the institutionalized coercion of the unchecked State.

Continue reading The Libertarian Futurist Society, Prometheus Awards, LFS writers hailed in Quillette article about the persistence of libertarian sf as a key strand in mainstream science fiction

Libertarianism, feminism, chili peppers, drugs, desire, dictatorship and dystopia: An Appreciation of Johanna Sinisalo’s The Core of the Sun, the 2017 Prometheus Award Best Novel winner

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history, and make clear what makes each winner deserve recognition as notable pro-freedom sf/fantasy, the Libertarian Futurist Society is continuing to present weekly Appreciations of past Prometheus Award-winners. Here’s the latest Appreciation for Johanna Sinisalo’s The Core of the Sun, the 2017 Best Novel winner:

By Michael Grossberg
The Core of the Sun, by well-known Finnish writer Johanna Sinisalo, is both feminist and libertarian in its evocative themes.

In the quirky and imaginative 2016 novel, translated by Lola Rogers from the Finnish language and published by Grove Press/Black Cat, Sinisalo vividly imagines a dystopian alternate history of Finland in which a patriarchal and authoritarian government enforces a social system, a War-on-Drugs Prohibition of individualistic pleasure and a eugenics program that breeds and virtually enslaves compliant women.

Set in 21stcentury Finland after a century of male-dominated government breeding and cultural reinforcement of its women to be slower-witted and more childlike, the fast-paced story unfolds in short chapters with epistolary and personal interludes that evoke a struggle of women within an alternate-reality Finnish culture somewhat evocative of The Stepford Wives (a cautionary feminist novel by Ira Levin, the Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for his dystopian novel This Perfect Day.)

Social stability and public health, along with a War-on-Drugs Prohibition, are strongly enforced and favored over social change, creativity, personal expression, self-fulfillment, curiosity and diversity – the latter, of course, all part of the constellation of values and attitudes that we know flourish much more under a classical liberal/libertarian polity.

Continue reading Libertarianism, feminism, chili peppers, drugs, desire, dictatorship and dystopia: An Appreciation of Johanna Sinisalo’s The Core of the Sun, the 2017 Prometheus Award Best Novel winner

Reason, voluntary private cooperation and entrepreneurship versus politics, irrationality and power-lust in facing apocalypse and extinction: An Appreciation of Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves, the 2016 Prometheus for Best Novel

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as notable pro-freedom sf/fantasy, the Libertarian Futurist Society is presenting weekly Appreciations of past award-winners. Here’s the latest Appreciation for Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves, the 2016 Best Novel winner:

By Michael Grossberg
Seveneves, an epic hard-science-fiction novel, focuses on a cataclysmic event that threatens human civilization and the planet Earth, and its long aftermath.

Neal Stephenson’s sprawling 2015 novel avoids ideology while dramatizing how a lust for power almost wipes out our species.

More impressively and much less common in such fiction these days, Stephenson also shows how the courage to face reality and tackle overwhelming problems through reason, individual initiative and the voluntary cooperation of private enterprise help tip the balance towards survival.

Especially inspiring, for advocates of reason and liberty, are Stephenson’s portrayals of the heroic efforts against terrific odds by a small group — including some of Earth’s bravest and richest entrepreneurs — who spend their fortunes and risk their lives to save humanity from extinction.
Continue reading Reason, voluntary private cooperation and entrepreneurship versus politics, irrationality and power-lust in facing apocalypse and extinction: An Appreciation of Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves, the 2016 Prometheus for Best Novel

Innovation, new technology, transparency, secrecy, government control and the totalitarian temptation: An Appreciation of Daniel Suarez’s Influx, the 2015 Prometheus Award winner for Best Novel

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear what makes each winner deserve recognition as notable pro-freedom sf/fantasy, the Libertarian Futurist Society is presenting a series of weekly Appreciations of past award-winners.

Here’s the latest Appreciation for Daniel Suarez’s Influx, the 2015 Prometheus Award winner for Best Novel:

By Michael Grossberg
Influx dramatizes the evils of totalitarian government control over people’s lives.

The central theme is close to libertarian and classical-liberal hearts and minds: the terrible and potentially totalitarian dangers of government control of information, and its libertarian corollary about the tremendous value and necessity of transparency in an open society.

Daniel Suarez’s sci-fi-laced techno-thriller depicts a government so concerned about politically destabilizing and potentially dangerous innovations after the moon landings of the 1960s and early 1970s that it created a secret Bureau of Technology Control to manage and limit the introduction of new technologies into public awareness and society.

Continue reading Innovation, new technology, transparency, secrecy, government control and the totalitarian temptation: An Appreciation of Daniel Suarez’s Influx, the 2015 Prometheus Award winner for Best Novel

Big Brother, Little Brother, hacking, high-tech tyranny, civil liberties and abuse of power: An Appreciation of Cory Doctorow’s Homeland, a 2014 Prometheus Award winner for Best Novel

Introduction: To highlight the four-decade history of the Prometheus Awards, and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as notable pro-freedom sf/fantasy, the Libertarian Futurist Society is presenting weekly Appreciations of past Prometheus Award-winners.

Here’s the latest Appreciation for Cory Doctorow’s Homeland, a 2014 Prometheus Award winner for Best Novel:

Cory Doctorow’s 2014 novel offers a timely drama about an ongoing struggle for civil liberties against the invasive National-Security State.

Homeland follows the continuing adventures of Marcus Yallow, a government-brutalized young leader of a movement of tech-savvy hackers who previously had been detailed arbitrarily and brutalized by the U.S. government after a terrorist attack on San Francisco.

This sequel to Doctorow’s Prometheus-winning and best-selling Little Brother  is set several years later after California’s economy has collapsed while the government’s powers have only grown.

Nineteen-year-old Yallow and his fellow hackers, all tech-savvy teen-agers, are still fighting against the high-tech tyranny of the intrusive Big Brother-style federal government.

Continue reading Big Brother, Little Brother, hacking, high-tech tyranny, civil liberties and abuse of power: An Appreciation of Cory Doctorow’s Homeland, a 2014 Prometheus Award winner for Best Novel

Artificial intelligence, bioengineering, brain drugs, nanites, espionage, self-determination and mind control: An Appreciation of Ramez Naam’s Nexus, a 2014 Prometheus Award winner for Best Novel

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear what makes each winner deserve recognition as notable pro-freedom sf/fantasy, the Libertarian Futurist Society is presenting a series of weekly Appreciations of past award-winners.
Here’s the latest Appreciation for Ramez Naam’s Nexus, one of two 2014 Prometheus Award winners for Best Novel:

By Anders Monsen and Michael Grossberg

Nexus offers a gripping exploration of politics, international espionage and new extremes of both freedom and tyranny while imagining how artificial intelligence might pave the way for a post-human future.

Ramen Naam’s ingenious and multi-leveled 2013 novel is set in a plausible near future on and around the Earth where emerging technology opens up unprecedented possibilities for mind control as well as personal liberation and interpersonal connection.

The fast-paced suspense thriller – the first in an exciting and imaginative trilogy that includes the Prometheus-finalist sequels Crux and Apex – centers on a young scientist caught up in danger and ranges from academia to government bureaucracy and from underground San Francisco parties to a secret Shanghai lab.

Continue reading Artificial intelligence, bioengineering, brain drugs, nanites, espionage, self-determination and mind control: An Appreciation of Ramez Naam’s Nexus, a 2014 Prometheus Award winner for Best Novel