Free enterprise in outer space, or reaching the stars through profit-enhanced competition rather than government bureaucracy: Appreciating Victor Koman’s Kings of the High Frontier, the 1997 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 see 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 Victor Koman’s Kings of the High Frontier:

Victor Koman’s 1997 novel dramatizes the dream of getting into space with an libertarian twist: The massive effort is achieved through the voluntary social cooperation of mutual trade and mutual aid through private enterprise.

Set in a subtly alternate reality, the story imagines a profit-enhanced competition to reach the stars, which anticipated the X Prize that saw Burt Rutan’s SpaceShipOne reach space in 2004.

Kings of the High Frontier highlights the shortsighted bureaucratic and political efforts of a government-run program like NASA, with its consequences in corruption, wasteful mismanagement and stagnation.

Continue reading Free enterprise in outer space, or reaching the stars through profit-enhanced competition rather than government bureaucracy: Appreciating Victor Koman’s Kings of the High Frontier, the 1997 Prometheus Best Novel winner

Ideology, libertarian and socialist factions, high-tech surveillance and a balkanized 21st century future: An Appreciation of Ken MacLeod’s The Star Fraction, the 1996 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 see in each of our past winners that made them deserve recognition as pro-freedom or anti-authoritarian 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 The Star Fraction, by Ken MacLeod:

The Star Fraction, a 1995 novel by Ken MacLeod, established the Scottish sf novelist’s international reputation for blending sf with a dizzying array of balkanized politics and ideological factions (including highly self-aware libertarians and socialists).

Set in a fragmented and conflicted mid-21st-century Britain beset by political factions and high-tech surveillance after a brief third world war and leftist Labour Party policies have led to economic and social decay, this is the first novel in MacLeod’s Fall Revolution series, which continued with The Stone Canal, The Cassini Division, and The Sky Road.
Among the interesting and unusual characters and forces affecting this future are a Christian-turned-atheist teenaged programmer eager to escape his fundamentalist subculture, a rogue computer program manipulating events, a woman scientist researching memory-enhancement drugs, and a communist security mercenary with a smart gun and information that might spark change.

Continue reading Ideology, libertarian and socialist factions, high-tech surveillance and a balkanized 21st century future: An Appreciation of Ken MacLeod’s The Star Fraction, the 1996 Prometheus Best Novel winner

Struggles for freedom and space exploration in a distant future of artificial intelligences dominating humans: An Appreciation of Poul Anderson’s The Stars Are Also Fire, the 1995 Prometheus Best Novel winner

To highlight the four-decade history of the Prometheus Awards, which the Libertarian Futurist Society began celebrating in 2019, we are continuing our series of weekly Appreciations of past Prometheus Award-winners, starting with our first category for Best Novel.

Here’s our latest Appreciation for Poul Anderson’s The Stars Are Also Fire, the 1995 Prometheus Best Novel winner:

Poul Anderson’s 1994 novel offers a thought-provoking scenario in a distant future in which man-made artificial intelligences have come to dominate human beings, while many people still struggle for freedom and independence in a new era of space exploration.

The point of view of The Stars Are Also Fire alternates frequently over five centuries between an early 21st-century era of occupation of Earth’s moon and later Earth/moon conflicts as genetically-altered-human Lunarians seek independence from Earth’s World Federation and Peace Authority.
Continue reading Struggles for freedom and space exploration in a distant future of artificial intelligences dominating humans: An Appreciation of Poul Anderson’s The Stars Are Also Fire, the 1995 Prometheus Best Novel winner

Freedom-lovers and power-mongers on a terraformed and colonized asteroid: An Appreciation of L. Neil Smith’s Pallas, the 1994 Prometheus Best Novel winner

To highlight the four-decade history of the Prometheus Awards, which the Libertarian Futurist Society is celebrating in 2019, we’ve launched a series of weekly Appreciations of past Prometheus Awardwinners, starting with our earliest Best Novel awards.

Here’s the latest Appreciation for L. Neil Smith’s Pallas, the 1994 Best Book winner:

Set in the 22nd century on the terra-formed and colonized asteroid of Pallas, L. Neil Smith’s Heinlein-esque novel imagines a believable future based on plausible scientific developments but one beset by familiar political divisions between freedom-lovers and power-mongers.

Two groups of colonists sharing the habitat in a 20thof Earth’s gravity come into conflict. The larger culture is a fully free gun-toting group of rugged individualists who live as they choose – but at their own expense, with strict accountability in “moon-is-a-harsh-mistress” respect for the harsh realities of asteroid existence in the outer solar system. These colonists represent something of a libertarian utopia based on explicit consent, since all have signed a founding document modeled on the ideas of an Ayn-Rand-style woman philosopher.

Continue reading Freedom-lovers and power-mongers on a terraformed and colonized asteroid: An Appreciation of L. Neil Smith’s Pallas, the 1994 Prometheus Best Novel winner

Identity, mystery, body-transfer technology, bureaucrats, capitalists and green politics in a hard-sf political thriller: An Appreciation of James P. Hogan’s The Multiplex Man, the 1993 Prometheus Best Novel winner

Introduction: To highlight the 40-year history of the Prometheus Awards, a landmark which the Libertarian Futurist Society is celebrating in 2019, we’ve launched a series of weekly Appreciations of past Prometheus Award-winners, starting with our earliest Best Novel awards.

Here’s the latest Appreciation for James P. Hogan’s The Multiplex Man, the 1993 Best Book winner:

James Hogan’s 1992 hard-sf political thriller revolves around a polite schoolteacher who wakes up one day to discover he’s far from home and in a body not his own. Soon after returning home, he discovers that seven months have passed – and he can’t return to his old body or life because he died six months ago.
His suspenseful journey to solve multiple unfolding mysteries is set in an authoritarian future Earth where former Eastern/communist countries have exploited space resources to boost their economies over the faltering West, undermined by Green-dominated governments’ anti-industry regulations, education restrictions and propaganda.

In this cautionary anti-authoritarian story, the State authorities control virtually everything about people’s lives and activities on Earth, while condemning as dangerous any dissent or unapproved behavior and viewing off-world colonies as enemies because of their competition for Earth resources.

Continue reading Identity, mystery, body-transfer technology, bureaucrats, capitalists and green politics in a hard-sf political thriller: An Appreciation of James P. Hogan’s The Multiplex Man, the 1993 Prometheus Best Novel winner

Astronauts, environmentalists, sf fandom, global cooling, anti-science factions and social regression in a dark future: An Appreciation of Fallen Angels, the 1992 Prometheus Best Novel winner by Flynn, Niven and Pournelle

Introduction: To highlight the four-decade history of the Prometheus Awards, which the Libertarian Futurist Society is celebrating in 2019, we launched in September, 2019, a series of weekly Appreciations of past Prometheus Award-winners, starting with our Best Novel category.

Here’s the latest Appreciation for Fallen Angels, co-written by Michael Flynn, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle:

Fallen Angels imagines a heroic struggle set against a dark future in which the United States and other countries are fighting a losing battle amidst the “global cooling” of a new Ice Age.

With the government turned anti-science and anti-technology in a coalition among Greens, feminists and religious fundamentalists, and federal officials focusing on persecuting science-fiction fans as subversives while ignoring the welfare of much of the population in some of the most affected parts of the weather-besieged country, this provocative 1992 novel might have been just a depressing cautionary tale.
But the three co-authors offer some hope by focusing on a group of individualistic, science-loving and freedom-loving misfits. Continue reading Astronauts, environmentalists, sf fandom, global cooling, anti-science factions and social regression in a dark future: An Appreciation of Fallen Angels, the 1992 Prometheus Best Novel winner by Flynn, Niven and Pournelle

Steampunk, Victorian technology, computers, secret history, alternate history and freedom of choice: An Appreciation of Michael Flynn’s In the Country of the Blind, the 1991 Prometheus Best Novel winner

Introduction: To highlight the four-decade history of the Prometheus Awards, which the Libertarian Futurist Society is celebrating in 2019, we are posting a series of weekly Appreciations of past Prometheus Award-winners, starting with our earliest Best Novel awards.

Here’s the 11th appreciation/review of Michael Flynn’s In the Country of the Blind, the 1992 Prometheus winner for Best Novel, following recent appreciations for award-winning novels by (among others) F. Paul Wilson, L. Neil Smith, Vernor Vinge, Victor Koman and Brad Linaweaver:

By William H. Stoddard

Michael Flynn’s In the Country of the Blind came out in 1990, the same year as William Gibson and Bruce Sterling’s The Difference Engine. While the word “steampunk” was somewhat older (coined in 1987 by K.W. Jeter for Victorian fantasies generally), these two novels gave the genre one of its central themes: the use of Victorian technology and social transformation as an analog of (then-) recent computer technology, making steampunk parallel to cyberpunk.

For both novels, a central technology was Charles Babbage’s “analytical engine,” a proposed machine that would have been fully programmable in the manner of an electronic computer.

Gibson and Sterling made the analytical engine the basis for an alternate history – a literal “difference engine.” Flynn did something subtler: He made the analytical engine the basis for an only minimally fictionalized version of real-world history.

Most of his novel was set in the present or the near future; the actual Victorian past appeared only in short prologues to its three sections -though strikingly evocative prologues. Rather than an “alternate history,” Flynn presented a “secret history”: a tale of striking events hidden unsuspected within the known past (a genre later put to epic use in Neal Stephenson’s The Baroque Cycle).

Continue reading Steampunk, Victorian technology, computers, secret history, alternate history and freedom of choice: An Appreciation of Michael Flynn’s In the Country of the Blind, the 1991 Prometheus Best Novel winner

Philosophy, ethics, liberty, scientific innovation, a controversial new surgery procedure and abortion: An Appreciation of Victor Koman’s Solomon’s Knife, the 1990 Prometheus Best Novel winner

Introduction: To highlight the four-decade history of the Prometheus Awards, which the Libertarian Futurist Society is celebrating in 2019, we are posting a series of weekly Appreciations of past Prometheus Award-winners, starting with our earliest Best Novel awards.

Here’s the next Appreciation for Victor Koman’s Solomon’s Knife, the 1990 Prometheus winner for Best Novel,following recent appreciations for novels by J. Neil Schulman, F. Paul Wilson, L. Neil Smith, James P. Hogan, Vernor Vinge and Brad Linaweaver:

Victor Koman’s Solomon’s Knife imaginatively extends the typically partisan and predictable debate over abortion into new territory.

His provocative 1989 novel imagines a plausible future in which a controversial new surgical procedure is devised that could help women with unwanted pregnancies and women who want children but can’t become pregnant.

At the heroic center of the libertarian-themed medical thriller, which takes its title from the biblical story of King Solomon that tests two women over a baby, is a surgeon who risks her career to do the clandestine new type of surgery to help a beautiful woman seeking a routine abortion.

The new “transoption” procedure to transplant a fetus from one woman’s body to a willing new female host sparks media coverage, public outrage and a courtroom trial over an unprecedented custody battle. Koman uses his clever futuristic plot to explore issues within a moral drama that also has legal, political and scientific dimensions.
Continue reading Philosophy, ethics, liberty, scientific innovation, a controversial new surgery procedure and abortion: An Appreciation of Victor Koman’s Solomon’s Knife, the 1990 Prometheus Best Novel winner

Alternate history, warped ideology, Hitler’s national socialism, anarchism, a maverick heroine and the perennial struggle against the omnipotent State: An Appreciation of Brad Linaweaver’s Moon of Ice, the 1989 Prometheus Best Novel winner

Introduction: To highlight the four-decade history of the Prometheus Awards, which the Libertarian Futurist Society is celebrating in 2019, we are posting a series of weekly Appreciations of past Prometheus Award-winners, starting with our earliest Best Novel awards.

Following recent appreciations for novels by F. Paul Wilson, L. Neil Smith, James P. Hogan, J. Neil Schulman, No Winner (the 1985 choice), Victor Milan, Vernor Vinge and Victor Koman, here is the ninth Appreciation for Brad Linaweaver’s Moon of Ice, the 1989 Best Novel winner:

Brad Linaweaver conceived and wrote a richly detailed, provocative, and acclaimed alternate-history saga in Moon of Ice.

The meticulously researched 1988 novel – expanded from a 1981 novella published in Amazing Stories and nominated in 1982 for the Nebula Award – imagines an increasingly libertarian United States that provides a refuge for those fighting the evils of statism and collectivism.

Continue reading Alternate history, warped ideology, Hitler’s national socialism, anarchism, a maverick heroine and the perennial struggle against the omnipotent State: An Appreciation of Brad Linaweaver’s Moon of Ice, the 1989 Prometheus Best Novel winner

God, atheism, philosophical speculation and a dying assassin in an irreverent sci-fi private-eye noir fantasy: An Appreciation of Victor Koman’s The Jehovah Contract, the 1988 Prometheus Best Novel winner

Introduction: To highlight the four-decade history of the Prometheus Awards, which the Libertarian Futurist Society is celebrating in 2019, we’re posting a series of weekly Appreciations of past Prometheus Award-winners, starting with our earliest Best Novel awards.

Here’s the eighth Appreciation for Victor Koman’s The Jehovah Contract, following appreciations for novels by F. Paul Wilson, L. Neil Smith, J. Neil Schulman, James P. Hogan, Victor Milan and Vernor Vinge:

Victor Koman’s audacious 1987 thriller-noir-fantasy The Jehovah Contract centers on dying atheistic assassin Del Ammo – masquerading as a private detective, and living in the ruins of a terrorist-bombed skyscraper – who’s given a contract to kill God. Yes, God!

Clever philosophical speculations by Koman, a veteran libertarian, accent his suspenseful and prescient story, set in a near-future Los Angeles, as the assassin finds a way to excise the concept of God from the minds of humanity and enable a more laissez-faire “Creatrix” to return to power.
Continue reading God, atheism, philosophical speculation and a dying assassin in an irreverent sci-fi private-eye noir fantasy: An Appreciation of Victor Koman’s The Jehovah Contract, the 1988 Prometheus Best Novel winner