A cyberspace, cyberpunk landmark in sf history: Vernor Vinge’s True Names, a 2007 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

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

Here is an Appreciation of Vernor Vinge’s story “True Names,” a 2007 Prometheus Hall of Fame co-winner for Best Classic Fiction.
By Michael Grossberg  
 and Chris Hibbert

“True Names” is a seminal work of the cyberpunk genre.

A landmark when it was published in 1981, Vernor Vinge’s now-classic story gave the public their first glimpse of cyberspace and showed how the struggle for control might penetrate the new medium.

One of the earliest works of fiction to present a fully detailed concept of cyberspace, the story also explores themes of anarchism and trans-humanism that are of great interest to libertarian futurists.

The story follows the progress of a group of computer hackers who keep their true identities secret while being among the first to adopt a new full-immersion virtual-reality technology. They do so out of curiosity or an entrepreneurial desire to profit – both respectable and even laudable motivations from the libertarian perspective that appreciates the crucial role of innovation and free markets in advancing human progress, prosperity, well-being and knowledge.

Continue reading A cyberspace, cyberpunk landmark in sf history: Vernor Vinge’s True Names, a 2007 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

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

Cryptology, privacy, and a free society’s adaptability: Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon, the 2013 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

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 Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon, the 2013 Prometheus Hall of Fame co-winner for Best Classic Fiction.

By Tom Jackson

One of Neal Stephenson’s most-memorable novels, Cryptonomicon, was inspired by developments in cryptography during World War Two.

Published in 1999, Cryptonomicon won the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award in 2013. Given the novel’s focus on topics such as electronic money and cryptography, it seems prescient in anticipating the current moment’s obsession with cryptocurrencies.

Continue reading Cryptology, privacy, and a free society’s adaptability: Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon, the 2013 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

Collapse of a dystopia of isolation and ubiquitous communication: E. M. Forster’s The Machine Stops, the 2012 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

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

Here is an Appreciation of E.M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops,” the 2012 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction:

By Chris Hibbert
E. M. Forster’s short story “The Machine Stops” is very appropriate for the time of the pandemic. Forster wrote about a society of enforced physical isolation where everyone can be in constant communication via the Machine.

Continue reading Collapse of a dystopia of isolation and ubiquitous communication: E. M. Forster’s The Machine Stops, the 2012 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

An allegorical fable about the beastly consequences of communism and coercive egalitarianism: George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the 2011 Prometheus Hall of Fame co-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 of sf/fantasy, the Libertarian Futurist Society has been publishing since 2019 a series of Appreciations of all past award-winners.

Here is an Appreciation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the 2011 Prometheus Hall of Fame co-winner for Best Classic Fiction.

By Michael Grossberg
     The title of the allegorical work may make Animal Farm sound like a children’s fable, but it isn’t.

Oh, the short novel certainly can – and probably should – be read by teenagers and more mature younger readers, who likely will enjoy it and also grasp its perennial theme about the corruptions of power and the absolute corruption of absolute power.

Yet, the cautionary themes of George Orwell’s enduring 1945 work truly are aimed at adults.
Continue reading An allegorical fable about the beastly consequences of communism and coercive egalitarianism: George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the 2011 Prometheus Hall of Fame co-winner for Best Classic Fiction.

War, centralization and good intentions gone wrong: Poul Anderson’s story “No Truce with Kings,” the 2010 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

The Libertarian Futurist Society’s ongoing Appreciation series, launched in 2019 to celebrate the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history, offers review-essays of past award-winners that aim to make clear why they merit recognition as pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian.

Here is an Appreciation for Poul Anderson’s story, “No Truce with Kings,” the 2010 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

By William H. Stoddard

In David Friedman’s first book, the libertarian classic The Machinery of Freedom, the first entry in the bibliography describes Poul Anderson’s “No Truce with Kings”: “A libertarian novelette that plays fair. The bad guys are good guys too. But wrong.”

Continue reading War, centralization and good intentions gone wrong: Poul Anderson’s story “No Truce with Kings,” the 2010 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

The corruption of absolute power vs. the largely stateless Shire: J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the 2009 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history, the Libertarian Futurist Society since 2019 has been publishing a series of Appreciations of all past award winners that make clear why they were recognized.

Here is an Appreciation for J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the 2009 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction:

“Power tends to corrupt; and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” – Lord Acton (1834-1902)

“One Ring to rule them all,
One Ring to find them,
One ring to bring them all,
and in the darkness bind them.”
– The Ring inscription in The Lord of the Rings

By Michael Grossberg and William H. Stoddard

The Lord of the Rings is not only one of the greatest works of fantasy but also a cautionary libertarian fable about the inevitable temptations of power.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic trilogy – a three-part novel (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King) published in 1954-1955 – charts a social, political, personal and supernatural struggle between freedom and absolute tyranny.

Continue reading The corruption of absolute power vs. the largely stateless Shire: J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the 2009 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

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

Freedom and free will in a dystopian welfare-state: Anthony Burgess’ darkly humorous A Clockwork Orange, the 2008 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ impressive and diverse four-decade track record, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of all of our award-winners. Here’s an Appreciation for Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, the 2008 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction:

“When a man cannot choose he ceases to be a man.” – Anthony Burgess

By Michael Grossberg

A Clockwork Orange may not be remembered or read as widely today as some other dystopian novels, but it arguably ranks among the best-written, most shocking and most plausible works of that seminal 20th century genre.

Today, British writer Anthony Burgess’ 1962 novel is far better known from director Stanley Kubrick’s vivid 1971 film. Yet, the nightmarish novel rightly was included on Time magazine’s 2005 list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923.

Even if you’re a fan of the controversial film version (as I am), Burgess’ novel is well worth reading for its own sake – especially for its imaginative style, dark humor, inventive slang language, and insightful portrait of a disturbing future in a culture corrupted by a bloated and obtrusive welfare state.

Continue reading Freedom and free will in a dystopian welfare-state: Anthony Burgess’ darkly humorous A Clockwork Orange, the 2008 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

Tyranny? in America? Sinclair Lewis imagined it in his cautionary 1935 tale It Can’t Happen Here, the 2007 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 and/or anti-authoritarian work, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of all past award-winners.

Here is an Appreciation for Sinclair Lewis’ novel It Can’t Happen Here, a 2007 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

By Michael Grossberg

“It can’t happen here.”

That common American comment, widely uttered in the 1920s and 1930s as the rest of the world seemingly was going crazy or descending into tyranny and barbarism, became the resonant title of Sinclair Lewis’ cautionary 1935 novel.

First published during the dark era of 1930s collectivism marked by the rise of fascism in Italy and Hitler’s National Socialism in Germany, It Can’t Happen Here offers a semi-satirical tale and timely warning about the potential rise of similar totalitarianism within the United States.

The central character Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip is a demagogue who incites fear while promoting traditional patriotism and ends up elected U.S. President. Windrip takes complete control of the government by exploiting a ruthless paramilitary force, outlawing dissent, ending women’s and minority rights and eliminating the influence of the U.S. Congress.

Continue reading Tyranny? in America? Sinclair Lewis imagined it in his cautionary 1935 tale It Can’t Happen Here, the 2007 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner