Sexuality, spirituality and reflections on the human soul in J. Neil Schulman’s The Rainbow Cadenza, the 1984 Prometheus Best Novel winner

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ history and make clear the distinctive focus of the award, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of past award-winners in all categories.

Here is another Appreciation of J. Neil Schulman’s The Rainbow Cadenza, the 1984 Prometheus Best Novel winner.

Also included below: Schulman’s Prometheus Awards acceptance speech, presented Aug. 31, 1984 before an audience of more than 2,000 sf fans at LACon, the 42nd annual World Science Fiction Convention in Los Angeles, Calif.

By Michael Grossberg

“If nothing is sacred the human body is sacred.” – Walt Whitman, “Children of Adam”

Much of the sexuality in The Rainbow Cadenza deeply disturbs, shocking readers with its graphic intensity, Yet this unusually adult coming-of-age novel, boasting some of the most scatological material to be found this side of Krafft-Ebing, arguably has no gratuitous sex scenes.

Instead, J. Neil Schulman integrates his disquieting eroticism into a complex narrative about a future Earth where birth-control advances have had a radical and damaging effect on human relationships, sexual equality and personal rights.

Given the development of such an unbalanced society, the novel’s often perverse sexuality should not surprise us. After all, the sexual act is a mirror. In reflecting consciousness and character, it offers a highly revealing glimpse of its participants’ humanity (or inhumanity).

At its best, of course, the sexual act can be a deeply satisfying expression of romantic love and spiritual intimacy, or at least a mutually enjoyable experience between consenting adults.

At its worst, the sexual act can be perverted into a neurotic and symbolic act, communicating hostility instead of affection, revenge instead of respect, dominance and submission instead of acceptance, anger and range instead of bon fide sexul passion. All this, and more, can be found in the diverse sexuality of The Rainbow Cadenza, a morality play in which those who allow themselves to be corrupted by powerlust soon find their sexual lusts corrupted as well in the inevitable workings of karmic justice.

Continue reading Sexuality, spirituality and reflections on the human soul in J. Neil Schulman’s The Rainbow Cadenza, the 1984 Prometheus Best Novel winner

Liberty, evolving self-government and the Rights of Man: C.J. Cherryh and Jane S. Fancher’s Alliance Rising, the 2020 Prometheus winner for Best Novel

The Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of past Prometheus award-winners in all categories, offering review-essays that strive to make clear why each winner deserves recognition as a notable pro-freedom work.

Here is an Appreciation for C.J. Cherryh and Jane S. Fancher’s Alliance Rising, the 2020 Prometheus winner for Best Novel.

“The rights of man, in a nonfigurative sense, are what this novel is about.” – William H. Stoddard

By William H. Stoddard

Set in Cherryh’s Alliance-Union universe, Alliance Rising explores its backstory; it appears to take place at an earlier date than any other novel in the series.

Cherryh’s future history assumes that the new societies founded by outward migration will become politically dominant; its two great powers are the Alliance, based at Tau Ceti, and the Union, centered on Lalande 46650, with the whole of Earth as a less powerful backwater.

Alliance Rising, which Cherryh co-wrote with Jane S. Fancher, explores the emergence of this configuration of interstellar powers, taking place not long after the discovery of faster-than-light travel in the twenty-third century by a Union physicist, at a time when Earth is struggling to catch up and preserve its power by building a new ship at Alpha Station, in the solar system of Barnard’s Star.

The new ship’s name, The Rights of Man, offers a pointed bit of symbolism — but one that takes on an ironic quality when the ship’s first test run is a dismal failure that has to be aborted, largely because of the crew’s lack of practical experience.

Continue reading Liberty, evolving self-government and the Rights of Man: C.J. Cherryh and Jane S. Fancher’s Alliance Rising, the 2020 Prometheus winner for Best Novel

Free will, self-ownership and the foundations of humanity: Lois McMaster Bujold’s Falling Free, the 2014 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade-plus history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as a pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian work, the Libertarian Futurist Society has been publishing since 2019 a series of Appreciations of all past award-winners.

Here is an Appreciation of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Falling Free,
the 2014 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction:

By Michael Grossberg
   Falling Free is a Nebula-award-winning sf novel that explores free will and self-ownership, two important concepts at the foundation of our humanity and liberty that also happen to be at the core of modern libertarianism and classical liberalism.

Lois McMaster Bujold’s 1988 (1987) novel, part of her bestselling Vorkosigan Saga, considers the legal and ethical implications of human genetic engineering.

In particular, the story conveys the personal impact on the rights and liberties of “manufactured beings” owned by corporations – a theme also explored in F. Paul Wilson’s Prometheus-winning novel Sims.

Continue reading Free will, self-ownership and the foundations of humanity: Lois McMaster Bujold’s Falling Free, the 2014 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction

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

Anarcho-capitalism on the Moon, intelligent nonhumans and libertarian sf: Travis Corcoran’s The Powers of the Earth & Causes of Separation, the 2018 and 2019 Prometheus Award winners for Best Novel

With this combined Appreciation for the past two Prometheus Award winners for Best Novel, the Libertarian Futurist Society’s weekly Appreciation series of all our past winners in that category is complete – providing a handy reference guide that highlights the awards’ diverse history while making clear why each winner deserved recognition as pro-freedom or anti-authoritarian sf/fantasy.

Here is William H. Stoddard’s combined Appreciation of Travis Corcoran’s The Powers of the Earth and Causes of Separation, the 2018 and 2019 Prometheus Award winners for Best Novel:

By William H. Stoddard
In 2017, Travis Corcoran funded the publication of two books through Kickstarter, and released the first, Powers of the Earth, which won the Prometheus Award for Best Novel. In 2018, he released the second, Causes of Separation. The two volumes are described as the first half of a planned four-volume series, Aristillus (named for a lunar crater), but they actually make up an integrated and self-contained story: Had they both appeared the same year, they could have been nominated as a single work.

It’s long been the policy of the Libertarian Futurist Society to give awards to “the work, not the author”: A book can win Best Novel even if its author doesn’t self-identify as a libertarian, so long as its theme is pro-liberty. A corollary of this is that “pro-liberty” doesn’t mean adhering tightly to a specific interpretation of libertarianism.

If a novel illuminates the meaning of individual rights and a free society, or suggests a way to establish them, or explores the functioning of such a society, or warns against the evils of authoritarianism, or critiques or deconstructs an ideology opposed to liberty – then it can be considered for a Prometheus award. Nonetheless, books whose vision is wholeheartedly libertarian are welcome discoveries, and the Aristillus novels were such a discovery.

Continue reading Anarcho-capitalism on the Moon, intelligent nonhumans and libertarian sf: Travis Corcoran’s The Powers of the Earth & Causes of Separation, the 2018 and 2019 Prometheus Award winners for Best Novel

Libertarianism, feminism, chili peppers, drugs, desire, dictatorship & dystopia: Johanna Sinisalo’s The Core of the Sun, the 2017 Prometheus Award Best Novel winner

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history, and make clear what makes each winner deserve recognition as notable pro-freedom sf/fantasy, the Libertarian Futurist Society is continuing to present weekly Appreciations of past Prometheus Award-winners. Here’s the latest Appreciation for Johanna Sinisalo’s The Core of the Sun, the 2017 Best Novel winner:

By Michael Grossberg
The Core of the Sun, by well-known Finnish writer Johanna Sinisalo, is both feminist and libertarian in its evocative themes.

In the quirky and imaginative 2016 novel, translated by Lola Rogers from the Finnish language and published by Grove Press/Black Cat, Sinisalo vividly imagines a dystopian alternate history of Finland in which a patriarchal and authoritarian government enforces a social system, a War-on-Drugs Prohibition of individualistic pleasure and a eugenics program that breeds and virtually enslaves compliant women.

Set in 21stcentury Finland after a century of male-dominated government breeding and cultural reinforcement of its women to be slower-witted and more childlike, the fast-paced story unfolds in short chapters with epistolary and personal interludes that evoke a struggle of women within an alternate-reality Finnish culture somewhat evocative of The Stepford Wives (a cautionary feminist novel by Ira Levin, the Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for his dystopian novel This Perfect Day.)

Social stability and public health, along with a War-on-Drugs Prohibition, are strongly enforced and favored over social change, creativity, personal expression, self-fulfillment, curiosity and diversity – the latter, of course, all part of the constellation of values and attitudes that we know flourish much more under a classical liberal/libertarian polity.

Continue reading Libertarianism, feminism, chili peppers, drugs, desire, dictatorship & dystopia: Johanna Sinisalo’s The Core of the Sun, the 2017 Prometheus Award Best Novel winner

Reason, voluntary private cooperation and entrepreneurship versus politics, irrationality and power-lust in facing apocalypse and extinction: An Appreciation of Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves, the 2016 Prometheus for Best Novel

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as notable pro-freedom sf/fantasy, the Libertarian Futurist Society is presenting weekly Appreciations of past award-winners. Here’s the latest Appreciation for Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves, the 2016 Best Novel winner:

By Michael Grossberg
Seveneves, an epic hard-science-fiction novel, focuses on a cataclysmic event that threatens human civilization and the planet Earth, and its long aftermath.

Neal Stephenson’s sprawling 2015 novel avoids ideology while dramatizing how a lust for power almost wipes out our species.

More impressively and much less common in such fiction these days, Stephenson also shows how the courage to face reality and tackle overwhelming problems through reason, individual initiative and the voluntary cooperation of private enterprise help tip the balance towards survival.

Especially inspiring, for advocates of reason and liberty, are Stephenson’s portrayals of the heroic efforts against terrific odds by a small group — including some of Earth’s bravest and richest entrepreneurs — who spend their fortunes and risk their lives to save humanity from extinction.
Continue reading Reason, voluntary private cooperation and entrepreneurship versus politics, irrationality and power-lust in facing apocalypse and extinction: An Appreciation of Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves, the 2016 Prometheus for Best Novel

Innovation, new technology, transparency, secrecy, government control and the totalitarian temptation: An Appreciation of Daniel Suarez’s Influx, the 2015 Prometheus Award winner for Best Novel

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear what makes each winner deserve recognition as notable pro-freedom sf/fantasy, the Libertarian Futurist Society is presenting a series of weekly Appreciations of past award-winners.

Here’s the latest Appreciation for Daniel Suarez’s Influx, the 2015 Prometheus Award winner for Best Novel:

By Michael Grossberg
Influx dramatizes the evils of totalitarian government control over people’s lives.

The central theme is close to libertarian and classical-liberal hearts and minds: the terrible and potentially totalitarian dangers of government control of information, and its libertarian corollary about the tremendous value and necessity of transparency in an open society.

Daniel Suarez’s sci-fi-laced techno-thriller depicts a government so concerned about politically destabilizing and potentially dangerous innovations after the moon landings of the 1960s and early 1970s that it created a secret Bureau of Technology Control to manage and limit the introduction of new technologies into public awareness and society.

Continue reading Innovation, new technology, transparency, secrecy, government control and the totalitarian temptation: An Appreciation of Daniel Suarez’s Influx, the 2015 Prometheus Award winner for Best Novel

Big Brother, hacking, civil liberties and high-tech abuse of power: An Appreciation of Cory Doctorow’s Homeland, a 2014 Prometheus winner for Best Novel

Introduction: To highlight the four-decade history of the Prometheus Awards, and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as notable pro-freedom sf/fantasy, the Libertarian Futurist Society is presenting weekly Appreciations of past Prometheus Award-winners.

Here’s the latest Appreciation for Cory Doctorow’s Homeland, a 2014 Prometheus Award winner for Best Novel:

Cory Doctorow’s 2014 novel offers a timely drama about an ongoing struggle for civil liberties against the invasive National-Security State.

Homeland follows the continuing adventures of Marcus Yallow, a government-brutalized young leader of a movement of tech-savvy hackers who previously had been detailed arbitrarily and brutalized by the U.S. government after a terrorist attack on San Francisco.

This sequel to Doctorow’s Prometheus-winning and best-selling Little Brother  is set several years later after California’s economy has collapsed while the government’s powers have only grown.

Nineteen-year-old Yallow and his fellow hackers, all tech-savvy teen-agers, are still fighting against the high-tech tyranny of the intrusive Big Brother-style federal government.

Continue reading Big Brother, hacking, civil liberties and high-tech abuse of power: An Appreciation of Cory Doctorow’s Homeland, a 2014 Prometheus winner for Best Novel

Artificial intelligence, bioengineering, brain drugs, nanites, espionage, self-determination and mind control: An Appreciation of Ramez Naam’s Nexus, a 2014 Prometheus Award winner for Best Novel

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear what makes each winner deserve recognition as notable pro-freedom sf/fantasy, the Libertarian Futurist Society is presenting a series of weekly Appreciations of past award-winners.
Here’s the latest Appreciation for Ramez Naam’s Nexus, one of two 2014 Prometheus Award winners for Best Novel:

By Anders Monsen and Michael Grossberg

Nexus offers a gripping exploration of politics, international espionage and new extremes of both freedom and tyranny while imagining how artificial intelligence might pave the way for a post-human future.

Ramen Naam’s ingenious and multi-leveled 2013 novel is set in a plausible near future on and around the Earth where emerging technology opens up unprecedented possibilities for mind control as well as personal liberation and interpersonal connection.

The fast-paced suspense thriller – the first in an exciting and imaginative trilogy that includes the Prometheus-finalist sequels Crux and Apex – centers on a young scientist caught up in danger and ranges from academia to government bureaucracy and from underground San Francisco parties to a secret Shanghai lab.

Continue reading Artificial intelligence, bioengineering, brain drugs, nanites, espionage, self-determination and mind control: An Appreciation of Ramez Naam’s Nexus, a 2014 Prometheus Award winner for Best Novel