A viewer’s guide to the new LFS Videos page of panel discussions, podcasts, and acceptance speeches by Cherryh, Corcoran, Doctorow, Ellison, Hoyt, MacLeod, Weir, Wilson, other writers and LFS leaders

Here is a handy guide to viewing the Libertarian Futurist Society’s recorded programs – and a welcome to our new Videos page.

Below is an overview, with links and descriptions, of LFS panel discussions, podcasts, interviews and awards ceremonies over the past decade at various Worldcons (World Science Fiction Conventions) and NASFiCs (North American Science Fiction Conventions).

But first, take a look to your left – to the new VIDEOS link at the top of the left-side column of the Prometheus blog. Here is where you can go, from now on, to check out all LFS videos and podcasts, including each year’s Prometheus Awards ceremonies and related speeches and Worldcon panel discussions, as they are recorded and added each year. (The LFS is already looking forward to making plans to present our 2021 Prometheus Awards ceremony at DisCon II, the 79th Worldcon set to run Aug. 25-29, 2021, in Washington, D.C.)

In these LFS panels, podcasts and Prometheus award speeches, bestselling sf novelists and LFS members have discussed a wide variety of timely and timeless subjects that inspired their stories and novels.

Cory Doctorow (Creative Commons license)

Among the speakers: novelists C.J. Cherryh, Travis Corcoran, Cory Doctorow, Harlan Ellison, Jane Fancher, Sarah Hoyt, John Hunt, Ken MacLeod, Ramez Naam, Andy Weir, and F. Paul Wilson and LFS leaders Steve Gaalema, Michael Grossberg, Tom Jackson and LFS president William H. Stoddard.

C.J. Cherry (Creative Commons license)

Unlike typical awards acceptance speeches at the Oscars, Tonys, Grammys or Emmys, which tend to be laundry lists of names to thank, most Prometheus-Ceremony speeches tend to be wide-ranging, fascinating, thoughtful (and longer) explorations of ideas, ideals and libertarian themes, often combined with personal stories – and thus, rewarding to view even years later.

Here, in this overview of LFS videos, the most recent events are listed first, with brief descriptions of speakers and subjects,  interesting excerpts and links.

* The 2020 Prometheus Awards ceremony and post-ceremony panel discussion on “Visions of SF, Liberty, Human Rights: The Prometheus Awards Over Four Decades, from F. Paul Wilson and Robert Heinlein to Today” (Columbus NASFiC, Aug. 22, 2020)

F. Paul Wilson File photo

The North American Science Fiction Convention two-part event begins with a 30-minute Prometheus Awards ceremony, emceed by Michael Grossberg and Tom Jackson, included acceptance speeches by C.J. Cherryh and Jane S. Fancher for Best Novel (Alliance Rising) and by Astrid Anderson Bear, accepting for her late father Poul Anderson for the story “Sam Hill.”

The final 50 minutes is the LFS panel discussion, moderated by Tom Jackson, included Prometheus-winning novelists F. Paul Wilson, Sarah Hoyt, C.J. Cherryh and Jane S. Fancher and LFS leaders William H. Stoddard, Michael Grossberg and Tom Jackson.

Sample excerpt from LFS Worldcon panel discussion:
“Here is a novel (“The Lord of the Rings”) about a ring of power, ‘one ring to rule them all.’ What does Tolkien shows us about that ring?,” LFS president William Stoddard said.

Editor-writer William H. Stoddard in his library (Photo courtesy of Stoddard)

“He shows us first that it is a danger to the world, that it enables its possessor to conquer and enslave free people, to go out and subjugate and rule them, according to his vision of how things should be, with no input from anyone else. But also he also shows us, through other characters, that the ring is dangerous to have. That it is corrupting. Gandalf and Galadriel both dread the thought of having the ring because it would tempt them to use their power in ways that would destroy them. ..
“We see it has a steadily corrupting influence on Frodo. In a sense, Frodo and and Gollum are spiritual twins. Gollum is what Frodo is in danger of becoming. Tolkien shows us that the drive to power is addictive… I’m baffled myself why some people read the trilogy and don’t get a libertarian theme out of it.”

* “Freedom in SF: Forty Years of the Prometheus Awards
(CoNZealand Worldcon panel discussion, Aug. 1, 2020)
Novelist F. Paul Wilson, the first Prometheus winner in 1979, joined LFS co-founder Michael Grossberg and LFS board member Tom Jackson, the moderator. Wilson discussed what the first Prometheus Awards ceremony was like, which of his Prometheus-winning novels is a particular favorite, how he feels about being known in some circles as a “libertarian sf writer” and discussed a possible Repairman Jack movie.
Wilson and Grossberg, meanwhile, discussed why should there be a Prometheus award and what are some favorite winners. Grossberg recalled which winners were especially gracious, how the awards have evolved over the years, and whether they’ve become more literary or cosmopolitan.

For a full description of the 2020 LFS Worldcon panel, with quotes from the panel, visit the Prometheus Blog Worldcon report on it.

* The 2019 Prometheus Award ceremony at the Dublin Worldcon
(Aug. 15-19, Dublin, Ireland)
The ceremony, emceed by veteran LFS members Fred Moulton and John Christmas, presented the Prometheus for Best Novel to Travis Corcoran for Causes of Separation and the Prometheus Hall of Fame inducted “Harrison Bergeron,” a short story by the late Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Travis Corcoran

Corcoran gave a major, wide-ranging acceptance speech, while Hall of Fame acceptance statements were read by Vonnegut’s family and the Vonnegut Museum and Library.
Corcoran discussed the political and economic themes in his novel – sequel to the 2018 Prometheus winner The Powers of the Earth – about artificial intelligence, sleeper cells, open-source software, uplifted dogs, combat robots, and renegade lunar colonists fighting for independence and a free economy against an Earth-based invasion that seeks to impose authoritarian rule and expropriate their wealth.

Sample excerpt: “The Prometheus Award is not merely recognition. It’s incentive… recognition by a community is a huge incentive” Corcoran said. “Libertarianism is absolutely correct in its magisteria about the morality of freedom versus coercion…, but we need other theories to augment it. We must turn our attention to other topics, like culture formation and culture subversion.”

Check out the full Prometheus Blog Worldcon report on the 2019 Prometheus ceremony.

* 2018 Prometheus award ceremony at the San Jose Worldcon
LFS presenters Chris Hibbert and Fred Moulton emceed the awards ceremony, with Hibbert reading Travis Corcoran’s intellectually wide-ranging acceptance speech for The Powers of the Earth.
(San Jose, Calif., 76thannual Worldcon, Aug. 17, 2018)

Sample excerpt: “It was an amazing honor to be honored among so many other great writers,” Corcoran said.
“Eric Raymond (a freelance writer-reviewer and an LFS board member) said it best: ‘Hard sf is the vital part of the field. The core of hard science fiction is libertarianism, ordering an insistent individualism, veneration of the competent man and instinctive distrust of coercive social engineering,” Raymond wrote. I agree. Science fiction is best when it tells stories of free people  using intelligence, skills and hard work to overcome challenges…”

* Geek Gab Podcast with 2018 Prometheus Awards Author Cavalcade!
(Episode 138: April 14, 2018)
Prometheus Award-finalist sf authors Travis Corcoran, Karl Gallagher, John Hunt, Ken MacLeod, and Andy Weir discuss their novels with host Danny Warpig in Episode 138 of Geek Gab, a weekly podcast about books, movies, TV, comics, music, RPGs, tabletop gaming, video games, sci-fi, fantasy, etc. where “anything geekish goes.”
Along with Sarah Hoyt, the participating novelists were selected as finalists for the 2018 Prometheus Award for Best Novel for Corcoran’s The Powers of the Earth (which ultimately won), Gallagher’s linked-trilogy Torchship, Torchship Pilot and Torchship Captain; Hunt and Doug Casey’s Drug Lord: High Ground, MacLeod’s The Corporation Wars: Emergence; and Weir’s Artemis.

Sample Geek Gab excerpt “I’m on the short list for the Prometheus for the third novel of a trilogy, The Corporation Wars, set a thousand years in the future,” novelist Ken MacLeod said.
“A robot interstellar colonization is going on, and there’s the usual hand-waving post-singularity about downloading and so on, and some of the robots become self-aware and basically reinvent their Lockean property rights from the ground up, and things get sticky after that,” MacLeod said.

* 2016 Worldcon 74 interview with LFS member Steve Gaalema
(Aug. 21, 2016, Kansas City)
LFS board member Steve Gaalema, emcee of the 2016 Prometheus Awards ceremony, was interviewed about the awards and the LFS by a Worldcon staffer for their cable-TV channel during the Kansas City Worldcon.

Sample excerpt: “Our main purpose is to recognize freedom-promoting fiction, especially novels… about protagonists fighting against oppression. We also have a Hall of Fame award, a little like the retro Hugos… It’s a misconception that libertarians are rightwing.  We are in favor of freedom whether it’s economic freedom or social freedom. Libertarians can draw support from people who think they’re leftwing as well. We’re in favor of good science fiction, no matter who writes it. We give the award based on the quality of the work, not based on who the authors are.

* Harlan Ellison’s home video and home tour awards speech
(August 2015, from his Los Angeles-area home)
Legendary sf writer Harlan Ellison (1934-2018) accepted the Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction after the 2015 induction of “Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman,” his 1965 short story portraying one man’s surrealist rebellion against a repressive future society obsessed with timeliness.

The very personal and eloquent video includes a mini-tour of his home and description of many of his favorite awards, some reminiscences about his career, and a few political comments.

Sample excerpt from Ellison speech:
“I consider it to be a great honor. I take this award with considerable seriousness,” Ellison said.
“When I received the initial nomination (in 2011), I was enormously impressed….. George Orwell (Animal Farm), Rudyard Kipling (“As Easy as A.B.C.”), E.M. Forster (“The Machine Stops”)…  That’s pretty stiff competition to be in. It’s now four years later, and I’m very pleased to be getting the Prometheus Award.”
“I’ve never been a Republican, never been a Democrat, communist, socialist, fascist or anything else. If you want to call me a libertarian, I have no objections… We’ll sit down sometime and have our discussions. In the meantime,… I’m enormously pleased to be getting this award.”

* 2014 Prometheus Awards ceremony, with emcee Amy Sturgis and acceptance speeches by Cory Doctorow and Ramez Naam
(August, 2014, London Worldcon)
Emcee Amy Sturgis presented the Best Novel award to tied co-winners and Prometheus Award Best Novel co-winners Cory Doctorow (for Homeland) and Ramez Naam (for Nexus); and the Hall of Fame award to Lois McMaster Bujold’s novel Falling Free.

Sample excerpts from 2014 awards:

From Doctorow’s speech: “This is an extremely prestigious prize that I value very highly… Does information want to be free? It’s certainly true that people want to be free… and you can’t live in an information society and be free without free information.”

From Naam’s speech: “I also wrote Nexus because I was concerned about the abrogation of freedom in my country and throughout developed countries in the name of the War on drugs and the War on terror. And that abrogation continues…

Ramez Naam (Creative Commons license)

“Now I want to be clear, I’m an optimist. I believe that in the long run, humanity has become more free, that we have more freedom than we had generations ago and we have more capability than we had a few generations ago, and technology has played an important part of that. But that increase in freedom has not been homogenous… There are places in the world that have become less free and technology is playing a role in that through certain forms of surveillance and totalitarianism. I believe in the long run we will find ways to use technology to enhance our freedom, but it’s incumbent on all of us to strive to make that so.”

* 2011 Worldcon Prometheus Awards ceremony with Sarah Hoyt acceptance speech:
(Aug. 2011, Reno, Nevada)
LFS member Fred Moulton presented the 2011 Prometheus Awards at Renovation, the Reno, Nevada, Worldcon, to Sarah Hoyt (for Best Novel for Darkship Thieves,a coming-of-age saga depicting a plausible anarchist society among the asteroids and a heroic woman’s fight for her freedom and identity against a tyrannical Earth) and to the late George Orwell (for Best Classic Fiction for his 1945 novel Animal Farm.)

An excerpt from Hoyt’s acceptance speech: “I wrote Darkship Thieves because I was furious. Right about the time that cloning started being talked about, I expected and wasn’t disappointed, to see the spate of books coming out, about how cloning was a bad thing… I expected the dystopian view. What I also expected but didn’t like was the fact that the tone of all these novels was, “there ought to be a law.”

“And the fact that all these corruptions of the technology were envisioned as happening as if society were ‘free,’ and people were able to do this. And that made me furious.”

Sarah Hoyt at an sf convention (Creative Commons license)And the fact that all these corruptions of the technology were envisioned as happening as if society were “free,” and people were able to do this. And that made me furious.

“A free society is better for preventing that kind of abuse. For one, cloning an entire person, to have your brain placed in them, is incredibly inefficient. The same way that slavery is inefficient. Raising humans is very expensive. And it’s not worth it. It would be much easier to clone body parts, which in a free society is more likely to be enforced by public opinion. While if we make it illegal, it will go underground and then all sorts of abuses happen. And this connects to the fact that people tend to react to new technology – particularly technology that can enhance human life, which cloning can by allowing people to live longer and thereby lowering our risks of failing… and extending our possibilities in a thousand ways – with fear, and by saying there should be a law. Anything that’s enforced by law will get corrupted. Look at the French Revolution. Liberty, equality, fraternity. There is no way to enforce the last two, except by becoming a tyranny. And that’s why we had the guillotine.”

To read more about the 2011 Worldcon ceremony and Hoyt’s full speech, here’s a link to the article in the March 2001 issue of Prometheus.

 

Published by

Michael Grossberg

Michael Grossberg, who founded the LFS in 1982 to help sustain the Prometheus Awards, has been a writer, arts critic, speaker and award-winning journalist for five decades. Michael has won Ohio SPJ awards for Best Critic in Ohio (for theater reviews) and Best Arts Reporting (which he’s won seven times). He's written for Reason and Libertarian Review magazines, was a regional columnist for years for Backstage weekly, helped lead the American Theatre Critics Association for two decades and has contributed to six books, including critical essays for the annual Best Plays Theatre Yearbook and an afterword/essay for the first paperback edition of J. Neil Schulman's novel The Rainbow Cadenza. Among the books he recommends to inform a libertarian-futurist perspective: Matt Ridley's The Rational Optimist and How Innovation Works, David Boaz's The Libertarian Mind and Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress.

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