The corruption of absolute power vs. the largely stateless Shire: J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the 2009 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history, the Libertarian Futurist Society since 2019 has been publishing a series of Appreciations of all past award winners that make clear why they were recognized.

Here is an Appreciation for J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the 2009 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction:

“Power tends to corrupt; and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” – Lord Acton (1834-1902)

“One Ring to rule them all,
One Ring to find them,
One ring to bring them all,
and in the darkness bind them.”
– The Ring inscription in The Lord of the Rings

By Michael Grossberg and William H. Stoddard

The Lord of the Rings is not only one of the great works of fantasy but also a powerful libertarian cautionary fable about the inevitable temptations of power.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1954-1955 three-part novel (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King) charts a social, political, personal and partly supernatural struggle between freedom and absolute tyranny.

Continue reading The corruption of absolute power vs. the largely stateless Shire: J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the 2009 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

Burgeoning tech options of modern publishing – online, audio and print – made possible the Prometheus Award slate of 2021 Best Novel finalists

By Michael Grossberg

The 2021 Prometheus Awards slate of Best Novel finalists, just announced, reflects an interesting first in the four-decade-plus history of the award.

See if you can identify this first – hint: a reflection of a long-term trend in modern publishing – from scanning this list of the finalist novels, their authors and publishers:

Who Can Own the Stars?  by Mackey Chandler (Amazon Kindle)
* Storm between the Starsby Karl K. Gallagher (Kelt Haven Press)
* The War Whisperer, Book 5: The Hook, by Barry B. Longyear (Enchanteds)
* Braintrust: Requiem, by Marc Stiegler (LMBPN Publishing)
* Heaven’s River, by Dennis E. Taylor (An Audible Original, print and ebook editions The Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency)

Continue reading Burgeoning tech options of modern publishing – online, audio and print – made possible the Prometheus Award slate of 2021 Best Novel finalists

Freedom and free will in a dystopian welfare-state: Anthony Burgess’ darkly humorous A Clockwork Orange, the 2008 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ impressive and diverse four-decade track record, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of all of our award-winners. Here’s an Appreciation for Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, the 2008 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction:

“When a man cannot choose he ceases to be a man.” – Anthony Burgess

By Michael Grossberg

A Clockwork Orange may not be remembered or read as widely today as some other dystopian novels, but it arguably ranks among the best-written, most shocking and most plausible works of that seminal 20th century genre.

Today, British writer Anthony Burgess’ 1962 novel is far better known from director Stanley Kubrick’s vivid 1971 film. Yet, the nightmarish novel rightly was included on Time magazine’s 2005 list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923.

Even if you’re a fan of the controversial film version (as I am), Burgess’ novel is well worth reading for its own sake – especially for its imaginative style, dark humor, inventive slang language, and insightful portrait of a disturbing future in a culture corrupted by a bloated and obtrusive welfare state.

Continue reading Freedom and free will in a dystopian welfare-state: Anthony Burgess’ darkly humorous A Clockwork Orange, the 2008 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

Tyranny? in America? Sinclair Lewis imagined it in his cautionary 1935 tale It Can’t Happen Here, the 2007 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as a notable pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian work, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of all past award-winners.

Here is an Appreciation for Sinclair Lewis’ novel It Can’t Happen Here, a 2007 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

By Michael Grossberg

“It can’t happen here.”

That common American comment, widely uttered in the 1920s and 1930s as the rest of the world seemingly was going crazy or descending into tyranny and barbarism, became the resonant title of Sinclair Lewis’ cautionary 1935 novel.

First published during the dark era of 1930s collectivism marked by the rise of fascism in Italy and Hitler’s National Socialism in Germany, It Can’t Happen Here offers a semi-satirical tale and timely warning about the potential rise of similar totalitarianism within the United States.

The central character Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip is a demagogue who incites fear while promoting traditional patriotism and ends up elected U.S. President. Windrip takes complete control of the government by exploiting a ruthless paramilitary force, outlawing dissent, ending women’s and minority rights and eliminating the influence of the U.S. Congress.

Continue reading Tyranny? in America? Sinclair Lewis imagined it in his cautionary 1935 tale It Can’t Happen Here, the 2007 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

A vivid graphic novel about resisting a totalitarian future: Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V for Vendetta, the 2006 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

The Libertarian Futurist Society’s Appreciation series offers review-essays of past award-winners that make clear why each deserves recognition as a pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian work. Here’s an appreciation for writer Alan Moore and artist David Lloyd’s graphic novel V for Vendetta, the 2006 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

“People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.”V for Vendetta

By Michael Grossberg
V for Vendetta dramatizes and illustrates a horrific cautionary tale about the loss of freedom and identity itself in a chilling totalitarian future.

The 1989 graphic novel, created by British writer Alan Moore and artist David Lloyd, has been widely acclaimed as a defining work within the medium of comics and the emerging art of graphic novels – and deservedly so.

Like some of the best dystopian novels, this vivid fusion of word and image chronicles the debilitating and soul-crushing impact of living in an authoritarian police state. That’s a nightmare that few understand who haven’t experienced it, but V for Vendetta makes it palpable.

Happily, V for Vendetta isn’t just harrowing but also inspiring – for it also highlights the power of the human spirit to resist tyranny. The graphic novel earns our sympathy for a few valiant if damaged souls who find the courage to rebel against the excesses and norms of truly unlimited government.

 

Continue reading A vivid graphic novel about resisting a totalitarian future: Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V for Vendetta, the 2006 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

The right of self-defense and the limits to tyranny: A.E. Van Vogt’s The Weapon Shops of Isher, the 2005 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of all past award-winners. Here’s an Appreciation for A. E. van Vogt’s The Weapon Shops of Isher, the 2005 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

By Michael Grossberg
A. E. van Vogt, celebrated as one of the masters of science fiction’s Golden Age, is perhaps best known for The Weapon Shops of Isher.

Imaginative and ingenious, van Vogt’s 1951 novel dramatizes the power of self-defense to sustain personal freedom.

Moreover, the novel introduced one of the most famous political slogans in science fiction: The Right to Buy Weapons is the Right to Be Free.

A classic and superior example of hard sf blended with sociopolitical SF during the early golden age of science fiction, the novel imagines a future dominated by a dictatorial Empire of Isher whose authority is  challenged by some mysterious Weapon shops.

Continue reading The right of self-defense and the limits to tyranny: A.E. Van Vogt’s The Weapon Shops of Isher, the 2005 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

Smart self-defense in an anarcho-capitalist society: Vernor Vinge’s “The Ungoverned,” the 2004 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

The Libertarian Futurist Society is celebrating the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade-plus history by publishing an Appreciation series of review-essays that strive to make clear why each award-winner deserves recognition as a pro-freedom work.

Here’s an appreciation of Vernor Vinge’s story “The Ungoverned,” the 2004 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

By Michael Grossberg

“The Ungoverned” is one of the rare sf stories to portray a plausible and fully libertarian society. Moreover, Vernor Vinge does so with intelligence, subtlety, vision and enjoyable narrative twists.

Set in the ungoverned lands of a recovering future Kansas after a social collapse, Vernor Vinge’s 1985 novella focuses on what happens when New Mexico’s statist government tries to invade anarchist-libertarian Kansas with unexpected results.

Continue reading Smart self-defense in an anarcho-capitalist society: Vernor Vinge’s “The Ungoverned,” the 2004 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

Back issues of Prometheus, the LFS quarterly journal, offer a treasure trove of gems and libertarian insights

If you haven’t browsed through back issues of Prometheus, you should.
You’re missing out on a lot of fascinating and insightful stuff – with ideas and insights that often remain timely and surprisingly timeless.

A treasure trove of articles, essays, reviews, interviews, debates, acceptance speeches, con reports and letters was published between 1982 and 2016 in Prometheus, the journal of the Libertarian Futurist Society. (The Prometheus blog, launched in 2017, replaced the printed quarterly.)

The Prometheus page of the LFS website is being updated and made more accessible – thanks to the efforts of Chris Hibbert, Anders Monsen and other past Prometheus editors.

In an ongoing effort, Hibbert and other veteran LFS leaders have been volunteering their time to steadily digitize the Prometheus back issues. Most are now available to read free, either with direct HTML links to each article or with a PDF link to the entire issue.
Check out all the back issues and articles on the Prometheus Index page.

WORLDCON SF AUTHORS ON LIBERTY, LIBERALISM AND LIBERTARIANISM

To whet your appetite, here is a fascinating and still-relevant excerpt from one of the earliest Worldcon reports ever published in Prometheus, which sheds light on sf, liberty and the complex relationship between libertarianism and liberalism.

Continue reading Back issues of Prometheus, the LFS quarterly journal, offer a treasure trove of gems and libertarian insights

Power, empire, time travel and liberty: A review of The Collected Short Stories of Poul Anderson, Volume 1

By Anders Monsen

book cover

Between 2009 and 2014 NESFA press published seven volumes of short fiction and poetry by Poul Anderson in handsome hardcover editions for around $30 each.

These volumes were still available from the NESFA website, at least when I purchased them years ago, with volume seven released in 2017 as the final volume in the series. The stories do not appear chronologically.

Anderson, who has won several Prometheus Awards for best novel, four Hall of Fame awards, and a Lifetime Special Award, was a prolific writer who published his first science fiction story in 1947, some months before his twenty-first birthday.

He wrote fiction for more than half a century, so while these six volumes by no means collect all his short fiction, they contain a treasure trove for any fan of his fiction.

Continue reading Power, empire, time travel and liberty: A review of The Collected Short Stories of Poul Anderson, Volume 1

LFS judges weigh slate of Best Novel nominees

Eleven novels have been nominated by Libertarian Futurist Society members for the 2021 Prometheus Award for Best Novel.

These novels, published 2020, reflect a wide range of subjects, styles and settings – from the day after tomorrow to the distant future, and from right here on Earth to far-flung solar systems.

Yet, each novel in some way illuminates the value and meaning of freedom, explores the ethics and benefits of cooperation over coercion, and/or dramatizes the dangers of tyranny, aggression, war and authoritarianism in its myriad forms of the Left or Right.

Continue reading LFS judges weigh slate of Best Novel nominees