By Michael Grossberg Almost three quarters of a century after the publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four, the influence and prophetic power of George Orwell hasn’t faded.
Quite the contrary.
With the rise of “cancel culture” and various online-sparked mob panics increasingly common in our so-called enlightened modern era and with such dystopian experiments as the recent failed roll-out of the current administration’s “Disinformation Governance Board,” it’s become virtually impossible to read informed commentary across a broad spectrum of opinion magazines and columnists without coming across Orwellian references and warnings these days.
Author Karl K. Gallagher, a frequent Prometheus Awards nominee and Best Novel finalist, is keeping busy and catching up with an ambitious writing schedule – including a new novel just published: Captain Trader Helmsman Spy.
This is the fourth novel in the Fall of the Censor series for the Texas-based writer, currently a 2022 Best Novel finalist for two different novels (the second and third) in that series.
Captain Trader Helmsman Spy, published May 9, 2022 by Kelt Haven Press, focuses on an exploratory mission to gather more information about the authoritarian Censorate in the ongoing series about a complex interstellar conflict between two long-separated but newly connected sets of human-colonized solar systems – one relatively free and peaceful, blending diverse cultures through mutual trade, and the other near-totalitarian in its murderous control of many planets and Orwellian cancellation of history and culture.
Libertarianism and science fiction have been closely connected since their early history, a rich topic often explored here on the Prometheus Blog.
Libertarian sf fan Tom Jackson explores their connections anew in his recently published essay “Heinlein’s Children: Libertarians in fandom.”
Published in “Amazing Storage,” William Brieding’s sf fanzine, Jackson’s interesting and historically knowledgeable article offers a very readable introduction to the subject for the fanzine’s “The Great Sercon Issue Part One.”
Maverick American-British writer Lionel Shriver has been recognized – again – in the Prometheus Awards.
First nominated in 2017 for The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047, which went on to become a Best Novel finalist, Shriver has been recognized as one of five 2022 Best Novel finalists for her novel Should We Stay Or Should We Go.
Wil McCarthy has developed a reputation as one of today’s most imaginative, zestful, pro-science and realistic science-fiction writers.
His 11 novels and additional stories blend a Heinlein-esque flair for action and adventure with hard-science extrapolations, plausible futuristic scenarios and interesting characters.
And yet, McCarthy has never been recognized or nominated for a Prometheus Award – until this year.
McCarthy was nominated for the first time for Rich Man’s Sky, recently named by Libertarian Futurist Society judges one of five Best Novel finalists. The fast-paced 2021 novel dramatizes a near-future space race led by a group of four quite different billionaires.
For the first time in the four-decade-plus history of the Prometheus Awards, a Nobel-Prize-winning author has written a novel chosen as a Best Novel finalist – a notable and interesting intersection of two literary awards with quite different focuses.
Japanese-British author Kazuo Ishiguro, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, writes mostly “mainstream” fiction that often conveys a wistful sense of loss and missed connections.
Klara and the Sun, Ishiguro’s latest novel about the ambiguous status of an intelligent and curious A.F. (Artificial Friend), was recently named by Libertarian Futurist Society judges as one of five 2022 Best Novel finalists.
Even after building up a relatively consistent track record over 43 years, the Prometheus Awards can surprise by venturing here and there into new territory and new authors.
This year’s interesting and varied slate of five Best Novel finalists, selected from 16 nominees by LFS members serving as judges on the Best Novel finalist-selection committee, happens to reflect several intriguing “firsts” or rarities in the history of the awards.
Here are the five finalists, all published in 2021 and contenders for the 2022 Prometheus Award, to be presented online in August at a time and place to be announced:
• Between Home and Ruin, by Karl K. Gallagher (Kelt Haven Press, 227 pages) • Seize What’s Held Dear, by Karl K. Gallagher (Kelt Haven Press, 244 pages)
• Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber and Faber, 321 pages) • Rich Man’s Sky, by Wil McCarthy (Baen Books, 291 pages)
• Should We Stay Or Should We Go, by Lionel Shriver (Harper Collins, 266 pages)
Just from looking over the finalists list, can you guess any of those “firsts?
As a sort of fun “pop quiz,” why not take a moment to ponder that – before clicking over to the jump page of this blog, which has the answers.
Libertarian Futurist Society leaders are remembering Bruce Sommer, a stalwart West Coast science-fiction fan and left-libertarian who helped sustain the Prometheus Awards for many years.
Bruce made a big difference as one of the earliest LFS members – and one of the few Life members – who remained active year after year, reading potential award candidates, weighing the pros and cons of nominees and serving for years as a board member.
Yet, even after disability and ongoing health issues began to limit Bruce’s energy and ability to work full-time, he expressed his love of science-fiction fandom and his libertarian ideals of a better and more just, peaceful and cooperative world by reading widely and diligently year after year to find science fiction and fantasy novels that might fit the distinctive pro-liberty and anti-authoritarian focus of the Prometheus Awards.