Back to the Moon

By William H. Stoddard

Robert Heinlein’s The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress is a classic of libertarian science fiction; along with Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, it was the first winner of the Libertarian Futurist Society’s Hall of Fame award in 1983. Many science fiction fans, and not only libertarians, regard it as one of his best novels. But for nearly half a century after its original publication in 1966, it inspired no obvious imitators. Now, that’s started to change, with the appearance of multiple novels that explore the idea of a “free Luna” in the near future.

In 2015, Ian McDonald published Luna: New Moon, followed in 2017 by Luna: Wolf Moon; as of the time this is written, a third volume, Luna: Moon Rising is shortly to appear. In 2017, Travis Corcoran published the first volume of his Aristillus series, The Powers of the Earth, winner of the Prometheus Award for best novel, followed in 2018 by Causes of Separation. Also in 2017, Andy Weir, the author of The Martian, published Artemis. All three novels or series have important elements in common with each other and with Heinlein’s novel — but at the same time, they develop them in significantly different ways.

What did Heinlein do that these later writers have found worthy of imitation? He portrayed the lunar environment as harsh and indeed potentially lethal (his original title was The Moon Is a Harsh Schoolmistress). Despite this, he showed it as having potentially permanent human communities of some size, including Lunar-born inhabitants. He envisioned these communities as multiethnic and culturally hybridized. He imagined them as supported by a largely unregulated economy. His storyline focused on a lunar struggle for political autonomy against Earth’s much larger states and population. A further element was the presence of a fully self-aware computer that became involved in the human struggles.

Heinlein’s lunar environment was potentially threatened by vacuum, and offenders against its customary law were likely to be thrown out an airlock without a space suit; but his characters were much more hindered by having adapted to low gravity, to the point where returning to Earth left them disabled and at risk of death. McDonald picked up on this point in a major way, with visitors from Earth carefully monitoring how long it would be before they couldn’t return. But he also makes a point of confrontation with vacuum, both in a brilliant early scene where lunar teenagers show their bravery by walking on the surface without vacuum gear, and in a later one where two young lunar inhabitants make a desperate journey with the air in their suits running out—one that recalls another Heinlein novel, Have Space Suit—Will Travel. Corcoran also emphasizes vacuum in multiple scenes, starting with a tourist from Earth taking foolish risks in exploring the lunar surface. And Weir’s dramatic climax involves both a journey on the Moon’s surface and a threat to the lunar air supply.

Only Corcoran picks up on Heinlein’s having a self-aware computer as a character. His character Gamma carries forward Heinlein’s effort to show how such a being’s mentality might differ from a human one, with the benefit of decades of advances in both artificial intelligence and cognitive science to inform his portrayal. He also provides a vehicle for Corcoran to acknowledge Heinlein’s work — and argue with it — because Gamma has read Heinlein and has opinions about why some of his ideas wouldn’t work; the scene where he explains to Max, an uplifted dog, that “throwing rocks” will only make the situation worse is both well reasoned and hilarious.

Heinlein’s Luna was a prison colony for the major nations of Earth, and thus multiethnic, with such cities as Novy Leningrad and Hong Kong Luna, and his viewpoint character’s descent was racially mixed: white American, Hispanic American, black South African, and Tatar. One minor incident has him jailed in North American because he’s revealed that his Lunar marriage includes spouses of diverse races — Heinlein wrote only two years before <i>Loving v Virginia</i> did away with American miscegenation laws, and assumed they would still be in force a century later. Corcoran shows major American, Chinese, and American populations, and one of his best drawn characters is a preadolescent Nigerian girl. McDonald goes even further, with the five corporations that dominate the Moon’s economy being Australian, Brazilian, Chinese, Ghanaian, and Russian. <i>Artemis</i> has a viewpoint character of Arabian descent, a colonial administration established by Kenya, and the air supply controlled by a Brazilian firm. None of these authors envisions a purely American future in space!

However, all of them portray a relatively unregulated economy that reflects libertarian ideas about free markets; and most of them also envision stateless legal systems—<i>The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress</i> was one of the main inspirations for the anarchocapitalism of David Friedman’s <i>The Machinery of Freedom</i>. (The exception is <i>Artemis</i>, in which there’s an appointed “city administrator,” an arrangement somewhat like Hong Kong under British rule.) Heinlein’s Loonies are left free largely because of the general indifference of the Lunar Authority to most of what they do, and their arrangements tend to be small-scale and informal. McDonald’s lunar society is governed entirely by contract law, having no criminal law and no government capable of imposing it; it reads like an attempt to envision the kind of society Friedman wrote about in anthropological terms — in many ways it’s the most alien of the various fictional worlds — with an emphasis not on ethical principles but on the grungy realities of how markets actually work. Even so, he portrays a society that has both freedom and opportunity, as well as hardship and conflict. Corcoran’s Aristillus is more focused on ethical and legal principles in its portrayal of a society founded by a libertarian visionary; however, he doesn’t hesitate to explore its failure modes, from difficulties in establishing clear title to real property to the challenge of funding collective goods such as military defense. Taken all together, these four authors thoroughly explore the idea of a free lunar society —and the challenges of defending it.

One of the appeals of science fiction, for many decades, has been its character as an ongoing dialogue about ideas. After a long gap, we are now seeing <i>The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress</i> inspire such a dialogue — explicitly for Corcoran, implicitly for the other two. Happily, Heinlein has found worthy successors: All of these books were worth reading. Having them all come out close together was a fortunate coincidence—or, possibly, a reflection of a new hope of establishing a human presence in space.

Prometheus Award winning James Hogan novel on sale

The ebook version of James Hogan’s novel The Multiplex Man, which won the Prometheus Award in 1993, has been put on sale for $1.99. The sale is only through Monday, so if you want it, act fast. I’ve just grabbed my own copy.

Details here.

Each week, Publisher’s Pick offers three deals on SF books, often for big name authors (the other two authors this week are Mike Resnick and Kevin J. Anderson.) You can sign up for an email bulletin on the latest sale, sent out every Wednesday.

New Heinlein novel announced

(Here is the press release from Phoenix Pick)

Phoenix Pick recently announced that, working with the Heinlein Prize Trust, they have been able to reconstruct the complete text of an unpublished novel written by Robert A. Heinlein.

​Heinlein wrote this as an alternate text for The Number of the THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST. This text of approximately 185,000 words largely mirrors the first third of the published text, but then deviates completely with an entirely different story-line and ending.

​This newly reconstructed text also pays extensive homage to two authors Heinlein himself admired: Edgar Rice Burroughs and E. E. “Doc” Smith, who became a good friend. Heinlein dedicated his book METHUSELAH’S CHILDREN to Smith, and partially dedicated FRIDAY to Smith’s daughter, Verna.

​The alternate text, especially the ending, is much more in line with traditional Heinlein books, and moves away from many of the controversial aspects of the published THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST.

​There has been speculation over the years about a possible alternate text, and the reason it was written, particularly since one book is not just a redo of the other ─ these are two completely different books.

​It is possible that Heinlein was having fun with the text as THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST and the new book both deal with parallel universes. Given his sense of humor, it would not be surprising for Heinlein to have written two parallel texts for a book about parallel universes.

​The new book was pieced together from notes and typed manuscript pages left behind by the author. It is currently under editorial review by award-winning editor, Patrick LoBrutto .

​Phoenix Pick expects to publish both THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST and the new book, tentatively titled SIX-SIX-SIX, just ahead of this year’s holiday season.

​A limited number of digital advance copies will be made available for purchase by fans prior to actual publication. Fans may sign up for more information about this and other news and offers related to the new book at www.arcmanorbooks.com/heinlein

​The Heinlein Prize Trust manages most of Robert A. Heinlein’s literary assets and is purposed to encourage and reward progress in commercial space activities. It also publishes the deluxe 46 volume collectors set of the complete works of Robert A. Heinlein known as the Virginia Edition.

​Phoenix Pick is the science fiction and fantasy imprint of Arc Manor Publishers. It publishes some of the top names in science fiction and fantasy including Larry Niven, Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint, Harry Turtledove and many others. It also publishes the bi-monthly magazine GALAXY’S EDGE.

 

Where you can find the 2019 Prometheus Hall of Fame finalists

Now that the Libertarian Futurist Society has announced its 2019 finalists for the Prometheus Hall of Fame (Best Classic Fiction) and posted the news on our lfs.org website and on this Prometheus blog, LFS members (and all interested sf fans) might be curious about where you can find and read them.

That’s especially a question that might arise this year, when for the first time within memory, almost all of the Hall of Fame finalists are short stories or novellas (with only one novel as a finalist.)

As a happy result, most finalists should be quicker and easier to read this year. Yet, stories are harder to look up and find than novels at the bookstore or library. So here is a helpful guide to all the books and story collections that have included each 2019 finalist, based on a search of the Internet Science Fiction Database and Amazon websites.

Each Hall of Fame finalist is listed below, with its original publication and year and capsule description; plus, collections of the specific author’s work, or omnibus volumes by the author, that include it; and also any anthologies that include it, with their editors. Each part is in chronological order.

To make global computer searches more effective, the list follows the style of the title of each source that’s currently available directly through Amazon with an asterisk (*) (not counting old/used copies that are available from resellers who sell through Amazon). In many cases, electronic “ebook” versions are available, too.

  • “Sam Hall,” by Poul Anderson (a short story first published 1953 in Astounding Science Fiction): A story set in a security-obsessed United States, where computerized record-keeping enables the creation of a panopticon society. The insertion of a false record into the system leads to unintended consequences. Anderson, the first sf author to be honored with a Special Prometheus Award for Lifetime Achievement, explores political implications of computer technology that now, decades later, are widely recognized.
    Published:
    The Best of Poul Anderson (Pocket Books, 1976)
    The Saturn Game, by Poul Anderson (NESFA Press, 2010) (subtitle: The Collected Short Works of Poul Anderson, Volume 3)*
    Science Fiction Thinking Machines, ed. Groff Conklin (Vanguard 1954/Bantam 1955)
    Machines That Think, ed. Isaac Asimov, Martin H. Greenberg, Patricia S. Warrick (Holt, Rinehart, Winston, 1984)

  •  “As Easy as A.B.C.,” by Rudyard Kipling (first published 1912 in London Magazine), the second of his “airship utopia” stories, envisions a twenty-first century world founded on free travel, the rule of law, and an inherited abhorrence of crowds. Officials of the Aerial Board of Control are summoned to the remote town of Chicago, which is convulsed by a small group’s demands for revival of the nearly forgotten institution of democracy.
    Published:
    A Diversity of Creatures (Doubleday, 1917*)
    17 X Infinity, ed. Groff Conklin (Dell, 1963)
    John Brunner Presents Kipling’s Science Fiction (Tor, 1992)
    The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories, ed. Tom Shippey, *Oxford University Press, 1992*)
    The Science Fiction Century, ed. David G. Hartwell (Tor, 1997*)

  • “Conquest by Default,” by Vernor Vinge (first published 1968 in Analog), Vinge’s first exploration of anarchism, offers a story about human civilization being overwhelmed by a superior alien force, told from the point of view of an alien sympathetic to the underdogs, who finds a way to save the humans by breaking up governments into much smaller components. The alien culture uses a legal twist to foster extreme cultural diversity, as characters draw explicit parallels between the plight of humanity in the face of superior alien tech and the fate of Native Americans faced with European invaders.
    Published:
    Collected Stories, by Vernor Vinge (Tor, 2001*)
    Republic and Empire, ed. John F. Carr, Jerry Pournelle (Baen, 1987)
    Threats . . . and Other Promises, a Vinge collection
  • “Harrison Bergeron,” by Kurt Vonnegut (first published 1961 in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction), a dystopian short story, set in a United States where constitutional amendments and a Handicapper General mandate that no one can be stupider, uglier, weaker, slower (or better) than anyone else, satirizes the authoritarian consequences of radical egalitarianism taken to an extreme that denies individuality and diversity. Vonnegut dramatizes the destruction of people’s lives and talents and the obliteration of basic humanity via a denial of emotions and knowledge that leaves parents unable to mourn a son’s death.
    Published:
    Welcome to the Monkey House, by Kurt Vonnegut (Delacorte Press, 1968/Dell, 1970*)
    The Best from Fantasy and Science Fiction, 11th series, ed. Robert P. Mills, (1962)
    The Golden Age of Science Fiction, ed. Kingsley Amis (Penguin, 1983)
    The World Treasury of Science Fiction, ed. David G. Hartwell (Little, Brown, 1989)
    The Very Best of Fantasy and Science Fiction: 60th Anniversary, ed. Gordon Van Gelder (Tachyon, 2009)
    Complete Stories, by Kurt Vonnegut (Seven Stories Press, Sept. 2017)

* Schrödinger’s Cat: The Universe Next Door, by Robert Anton Wilson (first published 1979 by Pocket Books), a parallel-worlds novel, draws upon theories from quantum mechanics to explore themes about the evil of violence, particularly political coercion and the carnage of the Vietnam War. The speculative fantasy features alternate versions of characters from the Illuminatus! trilogy by Wilson and Robert Shea, which won the Hall of Fame Award in 1986.
Published:
Schrödinger’s Cat: The Universe Next Door (Pocket Books, 1979)
Schrödinger’s Cat Trilogy (Dell, 2009*)

Hall of Fame finalists: Kipling, Anderson, Vonnegut, Vinge and Wilson

Rudyard Kipling

The Libertarian Futurist Society has selected five finalists for the 2019 Prometheus Hall of Fame award.

This year’s finalists are:
•  “As Easy as A.B.C.,” by Rudyard Kipling (first published 1912 in London Magazine), the second of his “airship utopia” stories, envisions a twenty-first century world founded on free travel, the rule of law, and an inherited abhorrence of crowds. Officials of the Aerial Board of Control are summoned to the remote town of Chicago, which is convulsed by a small group’s demands for revival of the nearly forgotten institution of democracy.

• “Sam Hall,” a short story by Poul Anderson (first published 1953 in Astounding Science Fiction): A story set in a security-obsessed United States, where computerized record-keeping enables the creation of a panopticon society. The insertion of a false record into the system leads to unintended consequences. Anderson, the first sf author to be honored with a Special Prometheus Award for Lifetime Achievement, explores political implications of computer technology that now, decades later, are widely recognized.

• “Harrison Bergeron,” by Kurt Vonnegut (first published 1961 in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction), a dystopian short story, set in a United States where constitutional amendments and a Handicapper General mandate that no one can be stupider, uglier, weaker, slower (or better) than anyone else, satirizes the authoritarian consequences of radical egalitarianism taken to an extreme that denies individuality and diversity. Vonnegut dramatizes the destruction of people’s lives and talents and the obliteration of basic humanity via a denial of emotions and knowledge that leaves parents unable to mourn a son’s death.

• “Conquest by Default,” by Vernor Vinge (first published 1968 in Analog), Vinge’s first exploration of anarchism, offers a story about human civilization being overwhelmed by a superior alien force, told from the point of view of an alien sympathetic to the underdogs, who finds a way to save the humans by breaking up governments into much smaller components. The alien culture uses a legal twist to foster extreme cultural diversity, as characters draw explicit parallels between the plight of humanity in the face of superior alien tech and the fate of Native Americans faced with European invaders.

• Schrödinger’s Cat: The Universe Next Door, by Robert Anton Wilson (first published 1979 by Pocket Books), a parallel-worlds novel, draws upon theories from quantum mechanics to explore themes about the evil of violence, particularly political coercion and the carnage of the Vietnam War. The speculative fantasy features alternate versions of characters from the Illuminatus! trilogy by Wilson and Robert Shea, which won the Hall of Fame Award in 1986.

In addition to these nominees, the Hall of Fame Committee considered nine other works: “The Man Who Sold the Stars,” by Gregory Benford; “ILU-486,” by Amanda Ching; The Mirror Maze, by James P. Hogan; That Hideous Strength, by C.S. Lewis; A Mirror for Observers, by Edgar Pangborn; A Time of Changes, by Robert Silverberg; Daemon and Freedom, by Daniel Suarez, as a combined nomination; The Once and Future King and The Book of Merlyn, by T.H. White, as a combined nomination; and “Even the Queen,” by Connie Willis.

The Prometheus Award, sponsored by the Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS), was established and first presented in 1979, making it one of the most enduring awards after the Nebula and Hugo awards, and one of the oldest fan-based awards currently in sf. Presented annually since 1982 at the World Science Fiction Convention, the Prometheus Awards include gold coins and plaques for the winners for Best Novel, Best Classic Fiction (Hall of Fame), and occasional Special Awards.

For four decades, the Prometheus Awards have recognized outstanding works of science fiction and fantasy that dramatize the perennial conflict between Liberty and Power, favor private social cooperation over legalized coercion, expose abuses and excesses of obtrusive government, critique or satirize authoritarian ideas, or champion individual rights and freedoms as the mutually respectful foundation for peace, prosperity, progress, justice, tolerance, mutual respect, and civilization itself.

All Libertarian Futurist Society members are eligible to nominate, vote on and help select this year’s inductee into the Prometheus Hall of Fame. After the final vote, by mid-2019, the award will be presented at the Dublin Worldcon.|

For more information or to nominate a classic work for next year, contact Hall of Fame judging committee chair William H. Stoddard (halloffame@lfs.org) at any time. Nominees may be in any narrative or dramatic form, including prose fiction, stage plays, film, television, other video, graphic novels, song lyrics, or epic or narrative verse, within the realm of science fiction and fantasy.

The Libertarian Futurist Society also presents the annual Prometheus Award for Best Novel and welcomes new members who are interested in science fiction and the future of freedom. More information is available at our website, www.lfs.org.

New Neal Stephenson book in 2019

Many libertarian SF fans enjoy the fiction of Neal Stephenson. He has won the Prometheus Award twice, in 2016 for Seveneves and in 2005 for The System of the World. He also was awarded the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award in 2013 for Cryptonomicon.

So it’s welcome news for many of us that Stephenson will have a new novel, Fall; Or, Dodge in Hell out on June 4, 2019.

From the publisher’s blurb:

In his youth, Richard “Dodge” Forthrast founded Corporation 9592, a gaming company that made him a multibillionaire. Now in his middle years, Dodge appreciates his comfortable, unencumbered life, managing his myriad business interests, and spending time with his beloved niece Zula and her young daughter, Sophia.

One beautiful autumn day, while he undergoes a routine medical procedure, something goes irrevocably wrong. Dodge is pronounced brain dead and put on life support, leaving his stunned family and close friends with difficult decisions. Long ago, when a much younger Dodge drew up his will, he directed that his body be given to a cryonics company now owned by enigmatic tech entrepreneur Elmo Shepherd. Legally bound to follow the directive despite their misgivings, Dodge’s family has his brain scanned and its data structures uploaded and stored in the cloud, until it can eventually be revived.

In the coming years, technology allows Dodge’s brain to be turned back on. It is an achievement that is nothing less than the disruption of death itself. An eternal afterlife—the Bitworld—is created, in which humans continue to exist as digital souls.

But this brave new immortal world is not the Utopia it might first seem . . .

Fall, or Dodge in Hell is pure, unadulterated fun: a grand drama of analog and digital, man and machine, angels and demons, gods and followers, the finite and the eternal. In this exhilarating epic, Neal Stephenson raises profound existential questions and touches on the revolutionary breakthroughs that are transforming our future. Combining the technological, philosophical, and spiritual in one grand myth, he delivers a mind-blowing speculative literary saga for the modern age.

Prometheus winners rank high on the Great American Read list – including Tolkien, Orwell and Rand

By Michael Grossberg
Several Prometheus-winning novels rank high in the Great American Read, suggesting that at least some significant aspects of individualist and libertarian/classical-liberal values remain at the core of popular American and worldwide culture.
The nationwide PBS competition invited Americans in communities across the country to rank and vote for their favorite novels – contemporary and classic, in all genres.
To Kill a Mockingbird recently was announced as the No. 1 winner. Although it’s not science fiction or fantasy, and thus ineligible for the Prometheus Award, Harper Lee’s classic courtroom drama (and the Oscar-winning film version starring Gregory Peck, not to mention the upcoming Broadway adaptation of the novel) eloquently uphold basic principles of civility, due process and the presumption of innocence as well as the vital importance of personal integrity, truth and courage that libertarians and classical liberals (but unfortunately fewer and fewer of today’s leftwing progressives) champion and uphold as part of our vital modern foundation for civility and the rule of law against mob rule, racism, false accusations and prejudice.

The posting of the PBS final rankings is the culmination of a lengthy and populist process in which the 100 previously selected popular favorites were whittled down to a set of five finalists (including the Outlander series, the Harry Potter series, Pride and Prejudice and Lord of the Rings.)


J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy trilogy was inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame a in 2000. The Lord of the Rings, ranked No. 5 on the Great American Read list, offers a cautionary fable about the unbridled pursuit of power, how power corrupts and absolute power (symbolized by the Ring) can corrupt absolutely, leading to vast evil and tyranny threatening civilization itself. (If the great British classical liberal and Catholic historian Lord Acton, who famously wrote that “Power corrupts and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely,” had written a fantasy trilogy, The Lord of the Rings might well have been it, because it perfectly embodies his cautionary themes.)


George Orwell’s novel 1984, an early Prometheus Hall of Fame inductee (coincidentally, in 1984) for its perceptive dramatization and dissection of horrific socialist/communist/fascist tyranny and how dictatorships undermine and deny facts and truth and reality itself through indoctrinating and intimidating people in a group-think mob hysteria, ended up ranked at No. 18 on the Great American Read.


Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, one of the first two Prometheus Hall of Fame winners in 1983, also ranked high at No. 20. Rand’s magnum opus is a suspense-mystery philosophical thriller about the crucial role of the free mind in human civilization. (Note: Under the rules of the Great American Read series, only the top-ranked novel by each author could be eligible for inclusion in the top-100 list – or else Rand’s The Fountainhead likely would have ranked high, too.)
Ready Player One (ranked No. 76), by Ernest Cline, won the 2012 Prometheus Award for Best Novel.
Among the other science fiction or fantasy classics that also ranked on the top-100 list include The Chronicles of Narnia (No. 9), the children’s fantasy series by the great Christian libertarian C.S. Lewis; Stephen King’s The Stand (No. 24); Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (No. 34), Frank Herbert’s Dune (No. 35), Douglas Adam’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (No. 39), Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (No. 43), Isaac Asimov’s Foundation (series) (No. 49), Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park (No. 52); The Martian (No. 61), by Andy Weir (whose Artemis was a recent Prometheus finalist for Best Book); and The Sirens of Titan (ranked No. 87), by Kurt Vonnegut (whose short story “Harrison Bergeron,” nominated in the past two years for the Prometheus Hall of Fame, offers an implicitly libertarian satirical critique of coercive egalitarianism carried to extremes.)

Of course, many if not most of the 100 novels on the list are well worth reading and quite a few offer great stories and great wisdom about the human experience. So the list (despite the occasional inclusion of recent favorite bestsellers destined to fade over time) can be used as a welcome guide to further reading – or re-reading.
For the full ranked list of the 100 most popular novels in the PBS competition, visit http://www.pbs.org/the-great-american-read/results/

Some love for L. Neil Smith at Tor.com

As part of a “bi-weekly series reviewing classic science fiction and fantasy books,” Alan Brown writes an appreciation of The Probability Broach by L. Neil Smith for Tor.com. (Smith won the Prometheus Award for the book in 1982.)

Brown writes, “Smith’s writing voice is witty, snarky, and entertaining, and there is always plenty of action to keep the story moving.”

Brown’s take on Smith’s libertarian philosophy: “In the early 1980s, I worked in a variety of jobs in Washington, D.C., and it was here that I encountered Smith’s work. During that time, spending an evening here and there reading a book set in worlds of free-wheeling anarchy was often a refreshing break from the sluggish bureaucracy I worked in during the days. While I am a political centrist myself, I always enjoy reading works that advocate different points of view, especially when they do so in an entertaining manner.”

 

 

Finding free ebooks by Robert Shea

By Tom Jackson

Writer Robert Shea (1933-1994) was a member of the Libertarian Futurist Society, a Playboy magazine editor and the co-author of Illuminatus!, which won the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award in 1986.

He also wrote several entertaining historical novels, and his literary executor and son, Mike Shea, has decided to concentrate on distributing them as widely as possible. You can purchase them as used books and as ebooks, but Mike Shea also has made them available as free ebooks under a Creative Commons license. Here is a guide to what is available.

All Things Are Lights 

Set in the 12th century, All Things Are Lights is about a knight and troubadour named Roland. He gets himself into many adventures, including participating rather against his well in Crusades against the Cathars in southern France and the Muslims of Egypt, and also has a complicated love life.

As I’ve implied, All Things Are Lights can be read as a straightforward action novel. But as I’ve written elsewhere, “there is rather more material than I expected about secret societies and secret occult teachings. The Templars and Cathars feature prominently in the book, and Gnosticism, paganism, sexual tantra and the Assassins also are referenced. The book’s hero, Roland de Vency, has a skeptical attitude toward authority and an agnostic attitude toward religions.”

Simon Moon in Illuminatus! explains Shea’s title: “”An Irish Illuminatus of the ninth century, Scotus Ergina, put it very simply— in five words, of course —when he said Omnia quia sunt, lumina sunt: ‘All things that are, are lights.’ ”

I’ve read quite a few historical novels, and All Things Are Lights is one of my favorites. You can download it as an HTML file, which formats nicely on a Kindle ebook reader. The opening of the book draws you in.

Shaman

A frontier novel that focuses on Native Americans. Available as a free download in various formats from Project Gutenberg.

Saracen: Land of the Infidel and its sequel Saracen: The Holy War

The son of the main characters in All Things Are Lights is one of the characters in these two related novels. Available as free ebooks at Project Gutenberg.

Shike: Time of the Dragons and Shike: Last of the Zinja

Both of these books are set in medieval Japan.

Although it isn’t publicized on BobShea.net, the Wikipedia article on the Shike books has a link to a Creative Commons version of the two books.

(From a similar post at RAWIllumination.net, which has other articles on Shea).

“With Folded Hands …” Hall of Fame Award received by Williamson Collection

The Hall of Fame award for  “With Folded Hands …” by Jack Williamson has been received by the Jack Williamson Science Fiction Collection at the Eastern New Mexico University library. They just moved into a newly remodeled building, and will add it to their permanent display when they get more settled. For now, it’s comfortably resting between Williamson’s two Nebula awards.

The Encylopedia of Science Fiction has a long entry for Jack Williamson.