An Appreciation of F. Paul Wilson’s Sims, the 2004 Prometheus Best Novel winner

Introduction: To highlight the four-decade history of the Prometheus Awards, which the Libertarian Futurist Society began celebrating in 2019, and to make clear what libertarian futurists saw in each of our past winners that made them deserve recognition as pro-freedom sf/fantasy, we’re continuing in 2020 to present a series of weekly Appreciations of Prometheus Award-winners, starting with our first category for Best Novel.

Here’s the latest Appreciation for F. Paul Wilson’s Sims, the 2004 Prometheus Best Novel winner:

Paul Wilson’s 2003 novel Sims, set in a plausible near-future, explores the struggle of the sims, a genetically engineered cross between humans and chimpanzees, for freedom and respect.

After impressive advances in genetics research that have made possible the elimination of many genetically transmitted diseases, the SimGen Corporation has created the transgenic species of sims or Humanzees (human-chimp hybrids).

Bred for docility and a small amount of intelligence in order to be rented out for domestic and manual labor, the sims are gradually freeing up humanity from the drudgery and danger of physical labor.

But the company, which owns the patent on the sims and claims them as its property, has sinister secrets that it will go to great lengths to preserve. When a lawyer agrees to take on the challenge of getting legal recognition for a labor union for the sims, he stumbles over some secrets that prove dangerous. The lawyer also joins forces with an activist and a mysterious man called Zero to stop the corporation and end the creation of sims.

In Wilson’s signature style, there is plenty of action and suspense, and a serious exploration of what characteristics divide those for whom we would fight from mere creatures.

Should such genetically enhanced creatures be viewed as animals, to be owned, or as human, with basic rights?

Wilson explores such basic libertarian issues with gripping drama in this scientific thriller.

Note: Wilson also won the first Prometheus Award in 1979 for Wheels Within Wheels, while winning the Hall of Fame award twice, for related novels (Healer, in 1990, and An Enemy of the State,in 1991) in his LaNague Federation series.

F. Paul Wilson. Photo credit courtesy of author

Wilson, a previous guest of honor at the first two LFScons at Columbus’ Marcon in 2001 and 2015, will be the Prometheus Awards Guest of Honor at the Columbus 2020 North American Science Fiction Convention, which will include the mini-con LFScon III. For more information, see the recent Prometheus blog news update about the LFScon and NASFiC plans.

* Coming up soon on the Prometheus Blog: A 40th nniversary Celebration and appreciation of the next novel to be recognized with a Prometheus Award: Neal Stephenson’s The System of the World, the 2005 winner for Best Novel.

* See related introductory essay about the LFS’ 40thanniversary retrospective series of Appreciations of past Prometheus Awards winners, with an overview of the awards’ four-decade history.

* Other Prometheus winners: For a full list of winners – for the annual Best Novel and Best Classic Fiction (Hall of Fame) categories and occasional Special Awards – visit the recently updated and enhanced Prometheus Awards page on the LFS website.

* Join us! To help sustain the Prometheus Awards, join the Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS), a non-profit volunteer association of libertarian sf/fantasy fans and freedom-lovers.
Libertarian futurists believe cultural change is as vital as political change (and often more fun!) in achieving universal individual rights and a better world (perhaps eventually, worlds) for all.

Published by

Mike 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. Most recently, Michael won the 2019 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, David Boaz's The Libertarian Mind and Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress.

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