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.
THE PROMETHEUS HALL OF FAME FINALISTS
Over the past four decades, LFS members have nominated all kinds of works for the Hall of Fame – from novels, novellas, novelettes, stories, trilogies, anthologies and series to poems, plays, songs, musicals, operas, movies, TV shows and TV series – some of which first appeared in the world decades or even centuries ago.
Yes, it’s true in the global village of the Internet-linked 21stcentury that just about anything can now be found just about everywhere online – at a price – often in multiple, affordable formats, including hardback, paperbacks, reprints and various ebooks (from Amazon Kindle Mobi files to ePub and pdf files).
Why, it’s almost as if free women and men, cooperating for mutual benefit and profit in a free market (or relatively free markets, with only limited censorship, other prohibitions or regulations in different parts of the world), can solve their own reading-access problems without the “help” of governments!
But supply is to some meaningful extent based on demand, and a few of this year’s older Hall of Fame finalists can be a bit harder to find – especially if they are stories typically published in collections with different titles.
So here’s a case-by-case list of convenient reading-access options for the Hall of Fame finalists, with the availability listed after a brief description of each work:
“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.
* “Sam Hall” has been widely published over the years in quite a few collections, including:
Going for Infinity (TOR, 2002, a retrospective collection with autobiographical notes)
Machines That Think, ed. Isaac Asimov, Martin H. Greenberg, Patricia S. Warrick (Holt, Rinehart, Winston, 1984)
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)
“As Easy as A.B.C.,” a story 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 dissident group’s demands for revival of the nearly forgotten institution of (note: non-liberal, majoritarian-tyranny) democracy.
• Kipling’s story – available as an Amazon Kindle ($4.99) – has been reprinted in many collections over the decades, including:
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, edited by David G. Hartwell (Tor, 1997)
“The Trees,” a song by Rush (released 1978 on their album Hemispheres), presents a fable of envy, revolution, and coercive egalitarianism among the different kinds of trees that make up a forest.
• The song can be heard and seen as performed by Rush in this Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnC88xBPkkc
Here is an excerpt from the lyrics:
“There is unrest in the forest
There is trouble with the trees
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleas
The trouble with the maples
And they’re quite convinced they’re right
They say the oaks are just too lofty
And they grab up all the light…
… There is trouble in the forest
And the creatures all have fled
As the maples scream, “oppression”
And the oaks just shake their heads
So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights
“The oaks are just too greedy
We will make them give us light”
Now there’s no more oak oppression
For they passed a noble law
And the trees are all kept equal
A Time of Changes, a novel by Robert Silverberg (first published 1971), the autobiography of a rebellious prince on a planet with a repressive human culture where the first-person singular is forbidden and words such as “I” are considered obscenities, composed in hiding while he awaits capture as leader of a revolution that threatens the State. He shares his story of dawning self-awareness, sparked by a new telepathy-inducing drug. This cautionary and romantic fable dramatizes the desire for freedom, individualism, self-determination and liberation from oppressive social norms and laws.
• This novel is available as an Amazon Kindle: $9.99, used paperback: $9.44, and new paperback: $15.71)
“Lipidleggin’,” a story by F. Paul Wilson (first published 1978 in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine), takes a humorous look at a future United States where saturated fats have become controlled substances.
• The story was published in the anthology The Survival of Freedomand was reprinted in recent editions of Wilson’s novel An Enemy of the State(2001 and 2005 editions.)
• Wilson’s story can also be read free online at this link:
- YouTube video adaptation of Wilson short story can be viewed at this link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xUfocxS-T8PROMETHEUS BEST NOVEL FINALISTSFinally, although the Best Novel finalists are generally more available, here is a list of the five 2020 works and what formats they can be found in on Amazon and elsewhere, with prices listed as of June 18, 2020:The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood (Random House: Nan A. Talese): (Hardcover $17.28, used $10.80; Paperback: $13.59; Audiobook CD, unabridged: $18.99, used $17.89; Kindle: $14.99)In this long-awaited sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale (a 1987 Prometheus Award finalist), oppressed women and others struggle valiantly for freedom. Some face mortal risks undermining the Gilead dictatorship, struggling with thorny moral complexities and working within the halls of power while taking covert steps to subvert tyranny. Poignantly and with sly humor, Atwood weaves three narrative threads exploring enduring questions about liberty, power, responsibility, and resistance. An “Underground Femaleroad” network (much like 19th-century libertarian Abolitionists) smuggles women into Canada while intelligence provided to the wider world’s free press promotes re-establishment of a free United States. Atwood references the “eternal verities” about “life, liberty, democracy, and the rights of the individual” that remain at the heart of libertarian ideals.Alliance Rising, by C.J. Cherryh and Jane S. Fancher (DAW, The Hinder Stars Book 1): (Hardcover: $19.79, used $7.82; Paperback: $12.19, used $7.51; Kindle $12.99)Set in Cherryh’s Alliance-Rising Universe (before her novel Downbelow Station),this interstellar saga of technological upheaval, intrigue and romance explores the early days of the Merchanter Alliance. Independent spaceship families ally during complex, multisided political-economic rivalries to defend established rights and promote the common good through free trade. In one of the better fictional treatments of a complex economy, characters maneuver to prevent statist regimes from dominating space lanes, resist Earth’s centralized governance, and investigate the mysterious purpose of a ship, The Rights of Man, undergoing construction on an isolated space station. Classic libertarian themes emerge about what rights are and where they come from (often to resolve conflicts), and how commerce and property rights promote peace and prosperity as humanity spreads among the stars.Ruin’s Wake, by Patrick Edwards (Titan Books): (Paperback: $14.99, used $1.99; Kindle $8.99)This dystopian debut novel, set within a totalitarian world that emerged from catastrophe 500 years ago, weaves narrative threads from different sympathetic characters fighting for identity, love, and revenge amid repression. A young woman finds hope in an illicit love affair with a subversive rebel while trapped in an abusive marriage with a government official. An exiled old soldier searches desperately for his dying son, and a female scientist-archeologist discovers a mysterious technology that exposes the vulnerability of her world. A dictatorial government threatens their pursuit of happiness, knowledge, and family in a world recovering from ruin. This state has erased history and individual identity – a plausible scenario modeled by the author to evoke parallels to Stalinist Russia and today’s communist North Korea.
Luna: Moon Rising, by Ian McDonald (TOR Books, Book 3 of 3 in continuing sage of the Five Dragons): (Hardcover: $13.99, used $7.50, Kindle $14.99)
In the sequel to the Prometheus-nominated novels Luna: New Moon and Luna: Wolf Moon, McDonald dramatizes the struggle for independence and sovereignty as feuding lunar factions unite against a threat from Earth. The trilogy’s thrilling finale builds on McDonald’s intricate future of moon colonization, buoyed by somewhat free markets marred by violence, corporate espionage, and political marriages as the Five Dragons family dynasties control the main lunar industrial companies. Characters empowered by personal freedom and individual/social achievement in a society where contracts with others define people. Rendering a more positive view of a free society than earlier novels, McDonald offers justifications for freedom and markets while showing more negative aspects of politics and human behavior dealt with by people addressing inevitable problems in more voluntary ways.
Ode to Defiance, by Marc Stiegler (LMBPN Publishing): (Available in paperback: $18.99, Kindle: $4.99)
The forces of enlightenment, science, liberty, and truth battle factions of statism, bureaucracy, ignorance, superstition, and deception in this lighthearted, explicitly libertarian and occasionally satirical sci-fi/adventure novel, set in Stiegler’s BrainTrust Universe. To escape a United States impoverished by socialist bureaucracy, people live and work on innovative technology on a BrainTrust fleet of independent seastead ships. The story explores how a libertarian society can work and engage with rivals without violence and, ultimately, in peaceful co-existence (though some opponents receive the sharp end of the BrainTrust’s characteristically pointed violence.) This world-encompassing sequel to Stiegler’s Prometheus-nominated Crescendo of Fire and Rhapsody for the Tempest explores bio-engineered diseases and biological warfare – especially timely during the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.
Note: July 4, 2020, is the voting deadline for LFS members to rank the finalists in each category and help choose the 2020 Prometheus Award winners.
The awards ceremony, with Prometheus Lifetime Achievement winner F. Paul Wilson presenting the Best Novel category, will be presented live online during the Aug. 21-22 weekend of the Columbus 2020 NASFiC.
The convention organizers in May canceled its in-person event because of the pandemic, but are now planning a series of online panel discussions, special events, including the Prometheus Awards ceremony; and other activities, such as a virtual-reality dealer’s room and hallway exhibits and organization tables.
* Read “The Libertarian History of Science Fiction,” an essay in the June 2020 issue of the international magazine Quillette that favorably highlights the Prometheus Awards, the Libertarian Futurist Society and the significant element of libertarian sf/fantasy in the modern genre.