Prometheus-winning author Neal Stephenson to discuss his latest sf novel

Prometheus-winning author Neal Stephenson will discuss his latest novel Nov. 19 in an American Purpose podcast.

Stephenson, a two-time Prometheus winner for Best Novel, will discuss his 2021 novel Termination Shock at 12 p.m. Friday Nov. 19 (Eastern Time) in an online discussion with Francis Fukuyama, chairman of the editorial board of American Purpose magazine.

Widely acclaimed both within the field of science fiction and outside it, Stephenson is known for writing speculative fiction, cyber punk, and other related genres. Termination Shock is his 13th book.

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Fans respond in inspiring way to Prometheus-winning author Sarah Hoyt’s call for help during a difficult transition

By Michael Grossberg

The bonds between a novelist and her fans can become incredibly strong over the years, even life-changing.

That may be even more notable and common in the realm of literary genres like science fiction and fantasy, where fandom has played a pivotal role in supporting authors and connecting with other fans through conventions, clubs, fanzines and blogs.

Writer Sarah Hoyt. Creative Commons license)

One heartening example of that forged fellowship making a big difference in someone’s life is the support that Prometheus-winning sf/fantasy author Sarah Hoyt has been receiving recently from her fans during a personal health and financial crisis.

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Latest crop of Hall of Fame nominees reflect broad range and many types of fiction

This year’s nominees for the Prometheus Hall of Fame encompass several genres and types of fiction.

Of the eight works being considered by judges as potential finalists, one is a short story, one a song, one a TV episode, one a collection of linked stories and four are novels – plus, half are first-time nominees.

This year’s line-up of Best Classic Fiction nominees may be the freshest in years as well as the broadest, at least in terms of types of fiction, in the history of this Prometheus awards category, first presented in 1983.

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Exploring freedom on the frontiers of Free Space, the first explicitly libertarian sf anthology and first Prometheus Special Award winner

 

“Now we dare the great
Promethean sin
And bring fire back to heaven
on our rockets.”
– Robert Anton Wilson
“Free at Last,” from Free Space

By Michael Grossberg

Free Space, the first Special Prometheus Award-winner in 1998, has the distinction of being the first explicitly libertarian sf anthology.

Published in 1997 by TOR Books and edited by Brad Linaweaver and Ed Kramer, Free Space generated immense excitement among libertarian sf fans.

Today, almost a quarter century later, quite a few of its stories remain worth reading (or worth rereading) by freedom-lovers and, for that matter, anyone who enjoys interesting and imaginative sf speculations about humankind’s future in space.

The 352-page collection, dedicated to Robert and Ginny Heinlein, offers a wide range of stories and short fiction by 20 writers reflecting several generations and multiple perspectives.

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Free sf books about freedom: An Arts for Liberty recommended reading list highlights Prometheus winners and other libertarian sf fiction

Freedom isn’t free.

But a surprising amount of libertarian science fiction is free.

One freedom-loving sf fan has compiled an interesting list of 26 libertarian sf novels that are free in that other sense, of being available online without charge.

While one might appreciate the ancient truth that “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance,” freedom-lovers of all stripes certainly can also appreciate a bargain when they see it – including the pleasant discovery that the price of a surprising variety of pro-freedom science fiction is zero. Such a deal!

The list of “The 26 Best Free Libertarian Novels,” published by author J.P. Meddled on the Art for Liberty website, explicitly references the Prometheus Awards and includes several Prometheus winners.

But the list is most intriguing for its range and for how it embraces a wide variety of fiction (virtually all science fiction) that explores libertarian themes from the positive benefits of individual choice, free markets, private property and the right of self-defense to the horrors of dictatorship, authoritarian abuses of power and the perennial threats to liberty inherent in the coercive foundations of government.

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Politics undermines the purpose of art, according to an insightful American Purpose essay (but let’s agree to disagree over Atlas Shrugged)

By Michael Grossberg
Libertarian futurists dream of unleashing the potential of every person to flourish, cooperate, innovate, progress, profit and pursue their happiness in peace and freedom – both here on earth, and perhaps eventually, beyond.

Yet, the politicization of society and increasingly, of our culture and arts, threatens that goal – and in the long run, undermines civility and could destroy civilization itself if this disturbing trend approaches authoritarian extremes.

American Purpose magazine logo

In a thought-provoking article “Enslaving Art to Politics,” published recently in American Purpose magazine, writer Daniel Ross Goodman argues persuasively against the “politicization of literature.”

His essay should interest Libertarian Futurist Society members, even when Goodman makes some points about particular works and artists that we might respectfully disagree with.

“The best novelists, like all great artists, are not narrow-minded agenda-driven partisans but adventurers in the unbounded universe of the human imagination, who, through their fictions, help us better perceive vital truths about ourselves and our reality,” Goodman wrote in late September in the online magazine.

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A Prometheus milestone: a progress report on completion of the blog’s Hall of Fame appreciation series, and how to access it

The Prometheus Blog’s ongoing Appreciation series has reached a milestone -after two productive years of regularly published review-essays exploring and explaining the libertarian and anti-authoritarian themes of past Prometheus winners.

With the recent publication of an appreciative review-essay about the 2021 winner (F. Paul Wilson’s short story “Lipidleggin’), the appreciation series for the Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction is now complete – and conveniently accessible via links from our Prometheus Awards page.

Or at least it’s now as up-to-date as possible – until next year’s winner is announced.

Continue reading A Prometheus milestone: a progress report on completion of the blog’s Hall of Fame appreciation series, and how to access it

A lyrical ode to Prometheus, according to Hoyt

Award-winning novelist Sarah Hoyt has written a lovely and lyrical ode to Prometheus on her “According to Hoyt” blog.

Hoyt won the 2011 Prometheus Award-winner for Best Novel for Darkship Thieves, a Heinleinesque adventure-romance and the first novel in her exciting Darkship series about bioengineered humans, an insidious tyranny on Earth and a fully libertarian anarcho-capitalist society amid the asteroids in a future where humans have colonized our solar system.

Yet, Hoyt’s ode to Prometheus isn’t about the awards themselves, but a tribute to the mythical character that inspired their name.

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Sexuality, spirituality and reflections on the human soul in J. Neil Schulman’s The Rainbow Cadenza, the 1984 Prometheus Best Novel winner

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ history and make clear the distinctive focus of the award, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of past award-winners in all categories.

Here is another Appreciation of J. Neil Schulman’s The Rainbow Cadenza, the 1984 Prometheus Best Novel winner.

Also included below: Schulman’s Prometheus Awards acceptance speech, presented Aug. 31, 1984 before an audience of more than 2,000 sf fans at LACon, the 42nd annual World Science Fiction Convention in Los Angeles, Calif.

By Michael Grossberg

“If nothing is sacred the human body is sacred.” – Walt Whitman, “Children of Adam”

Much of the sexuality in The Rainbow Cadenza deeply disturbs, shocking readers with its graphic intensity, Yet this unusually adult coming-of-age novel, boasting some of the most scatological material to be found this side of Krafft-Ebing, arguably has no gratuitous sex scenes.

Instead, J. Neil Schulman integrates his disquieting eroticism into a complex narrative about a future Earth where birth-control advances have had a radical and damaging effect on human relationships, sexual equality and personal rights.

Given the development of such an unbalanced society, the novel’s often perverse sexuality should not surprise us. After all, the sexual act is a mirror. In reflecting consciousness and character, it offers a highly revealing glimpse of its participants’ humanity (or inhumanity).

At its best, of course, the sexual act can be a deeply satisfying expression of romantic love and spiritual intimacy, or at least a mutually enjoyable experience between consenting adults.

At its worst, the sexual act can be perverted into a neurotic and symbolic act, communicating hostility instead of affection, revenge instead of respect, dominance and submission instead of acceptance, anger and range instead of bon fide sexul passion. All this, and more, can be found in the diverse sexuality of The Rainbow Cadenza, a morality play in which those who allow themselves to be corrupted by powerlust soon find their sexual lusts corrupted as well in the inevitable workings of karmic justice.

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Liberty, evolving self-government and the Rights of Man: C.J. Cherryh and Jane S. Fancher’s Alliance Rising, the 2020 Prometheus winner for Best Novel

The Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of past Prometheus award-winners in all categories, offering review-essays that strive to make clear why each winner deserves recognition as a notable pro-freedom work.

Here is an Appreciation for C.J. Cherryh and Jane S. Fancher’s Alliance Rising, the 2020 Prometheus winner for Best Novel.

“The rights of man, in a nonfigurative sense, are what this novel is about.” – William H. Stoddard

By William H. Stoddard

Set in Cherryh’s Alliance-Union universe, Alliance Rising explores its backstory; it appears to take place at an earlier date than any other novel in the series.

Cherryh’s future history assumes that the new societies founded by outward migration will become politically dominant; its two great powers are the Alliance, based at Tau Ceti, and the Union, centered on Lalande 46650, with the whole of Earth as a less powerful backwater.

Alliance Rising, which Cherryh co-wrote with Jane S. Fancher, explores the emergence of this configuration of interstellar powers, taking place not long after the discovery of faster-than-light travel in the twenty-third century by a Union physicist, at a time when Earth is struggling to catch up and preserve its power by building a new ship at Alpha Station, in the solar system of Barnard’s Star.

The new ship’s name, The Rights of Man, offers a pointed bit of symbolism — but one that takes on an ironic quality when the ship’s first test run is a dismal failure that has to be aborted, largely because of the crew’s lack of practical experience.

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