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

Artistic liberty, Internet freedom, downloading, State surveillance, copyright and government control: An Appreciation of Cory Doctorow’s Pirate Cinema, the 2013 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 Cory Doctorow’s Pirate Cinema, the 2013 Prometheus Award winner for Best Novel, along with excerpts from Doctorow’s illuminating acceptance speech:

In Pirate Cinema, an optimistic young-adult novel, Cory Doctorow explores themes of artistic freedom, Internet freedom and peaceful social change – key issues for modern libertarians, especially the latter, since non-aggression is the fundamental axiom in libertarianism as a political and social philosophy affirming cooperation over coercion and voluntary private interactions over the force and enforcement entailed by the institutionalized violence of the unbridled State.

The story also sheds light on other libertarian issues of copyright and government surveillance in its focus on a young pirate filmmaker whose Internet activity threatens his family with government reprisals and who learns to fight back against outdated forms of control.

Continue reading Artistic liberty, Internet freedom, downloading, State surveillance, copyright and government control: An Appreciation of Cory Doctorow’s Pirate Cinema, the 2013 Prometheus Award winner for Best Novel

Abuse of power, violence, liberty, gaming and virtual reality: An Appreciation of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, the 2012 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 weekly Appreciations of past award-winners.

Here’s the latest Appreciation for Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, the other 2012 Prometheus Award winner for Best Novel:

By Chris Hibbert

Ready Player One
, Ernest Cline’s bestselling first novel, takes place mostly inside a virtual reality/MMORPG, though as usual with the recent spate of books in this genre, the action bleeds back and forth with physical reality.

The setting is pretty familiar: it’s 2044, and the economy has bifurcated into haves and have-nots, and most people seem to spend the bulk of their time in the OASIS.

James Halliday, the billionaire founder of the company that runs the OASIS has died, and has set up a contest inside the system that will determine who gets his company shares, his wealth, and control of the OASIS itself. It turns out Halliday was hugely into eighties trivia, and most of the story involves the main character, Parzival, and his on-line friends finding and devouring movie, music, video game, and science fiction trivia from that decade. If you’re not averse to geeking out on this stuff, it’s a fun romp.
Continue reading Abuse of power, violence, liberty, gaming and virtual reality: An Appreciation of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, the 2012 Prometheus Award winner for Best Novel

Slavery, liberty, racism and the lessons of history: An Appreciation of Delia Sherman’s The Freedom Maze, a 2012 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 weekly Appreciations of past award-winners. Our anniversary series was launched in 2019 – 40 years after the first Prometheus Award was presented – starting with appreciation/reviews of the earliest winners in the original Best Novel category, and continuing in chronological order.
Here’s the latest Appreciation for Delia Sherman’s The Freedom Maze, one of two 2012 Prometheus Award winners for Best Novel:

By Michael Grossberg
Some stories teach the young and remind their elders of core truths about civilization, justice and humanity – such as the goodness of liberty and the evils of slavery.
One of the best is Delia Sherman’s The Freedom Maze, a young-adult historical fantasy novel that focuses on an adolescent girl of 1960 who is magically sent back in time to 1860 when her family owned slaves on a Louisiana plantation.

Sophie, 13, explores a maze while spending the summer at her grandmother’s old Bayou house, part of an old pre-Civil-War plantation, and makes an impulsive wish for escape and grand adventure. Thanks to a mysterious and tricky spirit, her wish is granted and she finds herself unexpectedly stranded a century into the past.

Continue reading Slavery, liberty, racism and the lessons of history: An Appreciation of Delia Sherman’s The Freedom Maze, a 2012 Prometheus Award winner for Best Novel

Heinleinesque adventure, romance, bioengineered humans and anarchy in the asteroids: An Appreciation of Sarah Hoyt’s Darkship Thieves, the 2011 Prometheus Award winner for Best Novel

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ history and track record while making clear what makes each winner deserve recognition as pro-freedom or anti-authoritarian sf/fantasy, the Libertarian Futurist Society is presenting weekly Appreciations of past award-winners.
Our anniversary series was launched in 2019 – 40 years after the first Prometheus Award was presented – starting in chronological order with appreciation/reviews of the earliest winners in the original Best Novel category.
Here’s the latest Appreciation for Sarah Hoyt’s Darkship Thieves, the 2011 Prometheus Award winner for Best Novel:

By Anders Monsen and Michael Grossberg

Few sf/fantasy novels attempt to envision a fully free future, and only a fraction of those efforts prove fruitful and plausible, not to mention gripping in narrative and appealing in characters.

Darkship Thieves, with central characters to care about and a suspenseful, fast-paced plotis especially intriguing to libertarians for its plausible portrait of a high-tech anarchist society among the asteroids.

With this 2010 novel, Sarah Hoyt launched a series of novels in the same future solar-system-wide scenario focusing on a heroic woman from an anarchist colony in the asteroid belt who must fight for her freedom and identity against a tyrannical Earth.

Hoyt, a deft master of many genres, blends science fiction with romance, adventure, political intrigue and individualist-feminist themes.

Continue reading Heinleinesque adventure, romance, bioengineered humans and anarchy in the asteroids: An Appreciation of Sarah Hoyt’s Darkship Thieves, the 2011 Prometheus Award winner for Best Novel

Self-ownership and Liberty: An Appreciation of Dani and Eytan Kollin’s The Unincorporated Man, the 2010 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 weekly Appreciations of past award-winners. Our anniversary series was launched in 2019 – 40 years after the first Prometheus Award was presented – starting with appreciation/reviews of the earliest winners in the original Best Novel category, and continuing in chronological order.  Here’s the latest Appreciation for Dani and Eytan Kollin’s The Unincorporated Man, the 2010 Prometheus Award winner for Best Novel:

By Michael Grossberg

The Unincorporated Man, an ingenious and imaginative debut novel by the Kollin brothers, was the first book in a planned trilogy that ultimately developed into an ambitious, complex and far-flung tetralogy.

The 2019 novel’s interesting and unusual premise is that education and personal development could be funded by allowing investors to take a share of one’s future income. The novel explores the ways this arrangement would affect those who do not own a majority of the stock in themselves.

For instance, often ones’ investors would have control of a person’s choices of where to live or work. The desire for power as an end unto itself and the negative consequences of the raw lust for power are shown in great detail.

Just as intriguing to many libertarians, who view self-ownership as a foundational principle in modern libertarian thought that by extension grounds human rights in property rights, is the thrilling and poignant struggle for self-ownership that emerges in this novel and its three sequels.

Continue reading Self-ownership and Liberty: An Appreciation of Dani and Eytan Kollin’s The Unincorporated Man, the 2010 Prometheus Award winner for Best Novel