Tycoon flying to the Moon? Private space programs have the last laugh, inspired by Robert Heinlein’s “Requiem,” the 2003 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

The Libertarian Futurist Society’s Appreciation series, launched in 2019 to celebrate the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history, makes clear why each award-winner deserves recognition as a pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian work.

Here’s an appreciation for “Requiem,” Robert Heinlein’s short story, the 2003 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

By Eric S. Raymond

For a good 40 years – between 1957 and 1997 – the premise of Robert Heinlein’s 1940 short story “Requiem” looked dated and quaint, almost laughable.  Private space programs?  A tycoon flying to the moon? Absurd!  For those were the decades in which everyone was sure that space programs had to be vast government-run leviathans.

The Old Man had the last laugh.  In the new millennium government-run spaceflight is moribund; all the action is at companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin. It is now the era of government-run-space programs that is beginning to look quaint, as the political will to push them evaporated with the end of Cold War competition in 1992.

But this story, and the related “The Man Who Sold The Moon”, resembles today’s reality in a way that is more than coincidence.

Continue reading Tycoon flying to the Moon? Private space programs have the last laugh, inspired by Robert Heinlein’s “Requiem,” the 2003 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

An individualist fights for self-determination in a landmark TV series: Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner, the 2002 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

The Libertarian Futurist Society’s Appreciation series, launched in 2019 to celebrate the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history, is an effort to make clear why each work won our award and deserves recognition as a pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian work.

Here’s an appreciation for The Prisoner,” the 2002 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction and the first TV series to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

 

By Michael Grossberg

“I am not a number. I am a free man!”
Actor Patrick McGoohan utters those defiant words as the heroic individualist at the center of The Prisoner, one of the most unusual, enigmatic and evocative TV series ever broadcast.
Today, that emblematic catchphrase remains well-known in popular culture, and ranks high among the most familiar lines of dialogue from any TV show or movie of the 20th century.
“I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered. My life is my own,” McGoohan declared in the first episode – another among many memorable anti-authoritarian and individualist lines of dialogue that he would utter throughout the iconic series.
Such explicit affirmations of individuality, self-determination and resistance to tyranny were highly unusual on television half a century ago – and sadly remain relatively rare today.

Continue reading An individualist fights for self-determination in a landmark TV series: Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner, the 2002 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

A pioneering anthology about the promise of liberty and perils of tyranny: The Survival of Freedom, the 2001 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

To celebrate the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear why winners deserve recognition as pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian works, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of all  award-winners. Here’s an appreciation for The Survival of Freedom, edited by Jerry Pournelle and John F. Carr, the 2001 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner:

By Michael Grossberg

The Survival of Freedom was one of the first sf anthologies to explore the future of liberty.

It also has the distinction of being the first (and so far, only) anthology to be inducted (in 2001) into the Prometheus Hall of Fame. This broad awards category for classic fiction is open to any works first published, broadcast or staged more than 20 years ago and encompasses many types of fiction – including but not limited to novels, novellas, stories, plays, poems, songs, musicals, films, TV episodes, series, trilogies and anthologies.

Edited by Jerry Pournelle and John F. Carr, the 1981 anthology of stories and essays is notable for its wide-ranging and sometimes surprising collection of material.

Continue reading A pioneering anthology about the promise of liberty and perils of tyranny: The Survival of Freedom, the 2001 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

Speaking truth to power: Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” the 2000 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear why winners deserved our recognition as notable pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian works, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of all past award-winners.
Here is an Appreciation for Hans Christian Anderson’s fable “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” the 2000 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction:

By Michael Grossberg

It’s not just for kids.

Nor is Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes” merely another children’s fable.

Few stories have resonated so deeply with all ages for so many generations that they become an integral part of international culture.

This sly libertarian fable has become so emblematic in folk wisdom that it’s inspired a common catchphrase: “The emperor has no clothes.”

Continue reading Speaking truth to power: Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” the 2000 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

A bold adventure and thought experiment about a free and just society: H. Beam Piper & John McGuire’s A Planet For Texans, the 1999 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing review-essays of past award-winners that make clear why each winner deserves recognition as pro-freedom.  Here is an Appreciation of H. Beam Piper and John McGuire’s A Planet for Texans (aka Lone Star Planet), inducted in 1999 into the Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction.

By Eric S. Raymond
In 2021, H. Beam Piper’s 1957 novel A Planet For Texans (co-written with John McGuire) can seem like little more than an appealing and rather lightweight adventure romp.

That’s because today we read it already having a good idea of what a libertarian minarchy would be like, and Piper’s New Texas seems like another exercise in familiar tropes.

In 1957 it was something much more, a bold and even shocking thought experiment – because it was among the very first works to propose that what we now think of as a libertarian minarchy would not immediately degenerate into a Hobbesian war against all, but could in fact be a stable and just society.

Continue reading A bold adventure and thought experiment about a free and just society: H. Beam Piper & John McGuire’s A Planet For Texans, the 1999 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

Love, liberty, longevity and Lazarus Long: Robert Heinlein’s Time Enough for Love, the 1998 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing review-essays of past award-winners that make clear why each winner deserves recognition as a pro-freedom work.
Here’s an Appreciation of Robert Heinlein’s Time Enough for Love, inducted into the 1998 Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction.

By Michael Grossberg

Who has time enough for Time Enough for Love?
For starters, fans of Robert Heinlein do – despite the epic novel’s length.

So do freedom-lovers who understand that freedom itself is a necessary (but not sufficient) prerequisite for human flourishing, human happiness and the fulfillment possible in life largely through love, family, creativity and achievement.

Continue reading Love, liberty, longevity and Lazarus Long: Robert Heinlein’s Time Enough for Love, the 1998 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

There and back again: Robert Heinlein’s Methuselah’s Children, the 1997 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing review-essays of past award-winners that make clear why each winner deserves recognition as a pro-freedom work.  Here’s an Appreciation of Robert Heinlein’s Methuselah’s Children, inducted in 1997 into the Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction.

By Anders Monsen

Robert A. Heinlein stands as an unrivaled Titan of libertarian science fiction. His influence runs deep, from the many of the writers recognized by the Libertarian Futurist Society’s Prometheus and Prometheus Hall of Fame awards, to the LFS members who’ve awarded Heinlein’s works multiple times, as well as this writer.

I still remember when I encountered for the first time such novels as The Puppet Masters, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Red Planet, Podkayne of Mars, as well as short stories like “Coventry,” “The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag,” “The Man Who Sold the Moon,” and “Waldo,” to name just a few.

Methuselah’s Children, inducted by the LFS in 1997 into the Prometheus Hall of Fame, is a short novel by today’s standards, yet it manages to squeeze multiple plots and ideas into just over 150 pages.

Continue reading There and back again: Robert Heinlein’s Methuselah’s Children, the 1997 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

An early “juvie” adventure in liberty on a Wild West Mars: Robert Heinlein’s Red Planet, the 1996 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as a notable pro-freedom work, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of all past award-winners. Here is the Appreciation for Robert Heinlein’s Red Planet, the 1996 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner:

By Anders Monsen

Many of Robert Heinlein’s novels featuring children have been lumped together and called “juvies” (or juveniles), as if they are children’s books. But, just like many Disney or Pixar animated movies, there are aspects of these works that go over the heads of a younger audience, whether those teens read the books as they first were published in the 1940s or 1950s, or whether they’re read today.

Red Planet, first published in 1949, is significant in terms of Heinlein’s bibliography, both as being one of the earliest juvies, and also because it introduces elements of Martian mythology that later appeared in Stranger in a Strange Land .

Ostensibly an adventure story centered around two boys on the run from an oppressive schoolmaster and conniving colony governor on Mars, Red Planet has two other themes or threads that elevate the novel beyond an adventure story. And make no mistake, this is written as an adventure story, with trials and tribulations that propel the action, for both the young and adult characters.

Continue reading An early “juvie” adventure in liberty on a Wild West Mars: Robert Heinlein’s Red Planet, the 1996 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

War, appeasement, and what might be the first gay alien in sf: Poul Anderson’s The Star Fox, the 1995 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

To celebrate the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as a pro-freedom work, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of all past award-winners.
Here’s an appreciation for Poul Anderson’s The Star Fox, the 1995 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner:

By Michael Grossberg
War and appeasement are central subjects in Poul Anderson’s The Star Fox, a space adventure that includes what may be the first gay alien in sf literature.

Set in an interstellar human future with the narrative laced with songs in different languages, the 1965 novel explores the challenges of surviving and fighting an alien occupation of one of Earth’s first extra-solar space colonies.

The inventive narrative centers on Gunnar Heim, a patriotic human man and ex-Navy space captain striving as a pioneer to build a civilized society on an unusual new planet full of walking forests and haunted by surreal citizens.

Continue reading War, appeasement, and what might be the first gay alien in sf: Poul Anderson’s The Star Fox, the 1995 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

A dystopian landmark & cautionary tale about the murderous fruits of the Russian Revolution: Yevgeny Zamyatin’s pioneering We, the 1994 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

To celebrate the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing Appreciations of all past award-winners, that make clear why each winner deserves our recognition as pro-freedom.
Here is an Appreciation for Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, the 1994 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

By Michael Grossberg
We imagines a world of repressive conformity and stagnant stasis within a totalitarian State.

With his landmark novel Russian writer Yevgeny Zamyatin bravely pioneered and imagined what later came to be known as dystopian literature.

For better and worse, that dark and cautionary new genre was inspired by the millions of innocent people whose lives were destroyed by the Russian Revolution under Lenin’s communism. The genre took on even more moral weight after the world witnessed the horrors of all the other statist-collectivist variants (from socialism to national socialism and fascism) whose authoritarian excesses and violent extremes of dictatorship, war, famine, poverty and social collapse so brutally marked and disfigured the 20thcentury.

We, written in 1920-1921 by the Russian writer and first published in English translation in 1924 in New York, was so critical of collectivist authoritarianism that it wasn’t published in the Soviet Union until 1988, when the era of glasnost led to its first appearance with George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. A year later, the two dystopian novels were published together in a combined edition.

Continue reading A dystopian landmark & cautionary tale about the murderous fruits of the Russian Revolution: Yevgeny Zamyatin’s pioneering We, the 1994 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner