Some Prometheus-winning fiction imagines a better, freer future for humanity, one that libertarian futurists yearn to see come true in some form.
Other Prometheus-winning fiction is more dystopian, offering cautionary warnings about totalitarian tendencies that their authors portray with hopes of preventing them from materializing.
“Harrison Bergeron,” Kurt Vonnegut’s now-classic 1961 short story, which falls into the latter category, satirically but seriously extrapolates the coercive, absurd and even monstrously inhuman possibilities of radical egalitarianism taken to extremes.
Read the Prometheus Blog Appreciation to appreciate why Vonnegut’s story deserved to be recognized by the Libertarian Futurist Society as the 2019 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner.
Overall and at least in theory, it’s a good thing to see outstanding fiction continue to resonate within the broader American and world culture – especially when it’s pro-liberty or anti-authoritarian sf/fantasy and has been recognized through the Prometheus awards.
Unfortunately, “Harrison Bergeron” is becoming all too timely.
“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
Few Prometheus Award winners incorporate an anti-authoritarian theme with more haunting power than J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the 2009 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.
With Amazon Prime recently unveiling its mega-budgeted and long-awaited prequel to Lord of the Rings, this is an apt moment to recall that theme – summed up so well in Lord Acton’s famous dictum and symbolized so archetypically by Tolkien in his “One Ring to rule them all.”
That’s especially timely when Rings of Power offers such a vivid contrast to House of the Dragon, the other super-expensive prequel to another landmark television-adapted fantasy, but one with a much different and more cynical view of power.
The Libertarian Futurist Society invited two-time Prometheus winner Travis Corcoran to discuss the importance of libertarian science fiction in his speech as presenter of the 2022 Prometheus Award for Best Novel.
Here Is the text of Corcoran’s speech, delivered on Aug. 13 as part of the Zoom awards ceremony, marking the 40th anniversary of the LFS.
(Corcoran presented the Best Novel award to Wil McCarthy for Rich Man’s Sky; the Hall of Fame award went to Robert Heinlein’s Citizen of the Galaxy,)
By Travis Corcoran
The state of written science fiction in 2022 is a bit like the state of western civilization: under assault from all sides, hollowed out, a pale shadow of what it once was.
The soldiers who once defended our grand city have been defeated.
There are invaders inside the gates, cavorting, aping their betters,and desecrating the ancient and sacred temples.
The great bazaars are empty and only a few small peddlers haunt the windy streets.
Most of the citizens who built the city, stone by stone, have been either felled by old age or have wandered away. A few still act as if nothing has changed, but without the support of the great publishers and the cheers of the crowd, the performance rings hollow.
With our recent 2022 awards ceremony, the Libertarian Futurist Society has now presented the Prometheus Awards for 40 years.
Why do we do that? What keeps us going? What basic ethical and cultural values are at the foundation of our awards program? And why are the Prometheus Awards so important?
LFS President William H. Stoddard succinctly answers such key questions in his eloquent and thoughtful introductory speech at the start of the Aug. 13 Zoom awards ceremony, which can be viewed on YouTube.
His concise comments seem worth publishing on the Prometheus Blog for posterity:
In his apt introduction and presentation of the Prometheus Hall of Fame category at the recent 2022 Prometheus Awards ceremony, LFS President William H. Stoddard explains why this annual awards category is such an important part of the Libertarian Futurist Society’s awards program – and why this year’s inductee by Robert Heinlein is so deserving of recognition.
The late great Robert Heinlein has received his eighth Prometheus Awards recognition over more than four decades, with his 1957 novel Citizen of the Galaxy recently inducted into the Libertarian Futurist Society’s Prometheus Hall of Fame.
Although Heinlein passed in 1988, his fans are fortunate to have two organizations carrying on his legacy in related and cooperative ways: the Heinlein Trust, established by his wife Ginny after his death, and the Heinlein Society.
Art Dula, Trustee of the Robert A. and Virginia Heinlein Prize Trust, gave an eloquent and informative extemporaneous speech accepting the 2022 Prometheus Hall of Fame award in Heinlein’s name and memory. Like the entire 40-minute ceremony, broadcast and recorded Aug. 13 on Zoom, Dula’s speech is available to watch on YouTube.*
Meanwhile, John Tilden, president of the Heinlein Society, followed Dula in delivering an interesting and insightful second acceptance speech, for which we do have the text, which we share here for posterity:
Here is the acceptance speech by sf writer Wil McCarthy, winner of the 2022 Prometheus Award for Best Novel for Rich Man’s Sky. McCarthy presented his speech Aug. 13, 2022, via Zoom as part of the LFS’ annual awards ceremony, which included two-time Prometheus winner Travis Corcoran as presenter of the Best Novel category.
BY WIL MCCARTHY
Howdy. I’m very happy to be here, and I’d like to thank all of you for inviting me. Yours is a great organization with a noble purpose, and I can only imagine the energy that goes into it. I think it’s ironic that I’m the one getting recognition today, when you all are the ones doing the work. My only regret is that I’m not able to thank you in person.
The Libertarian Futurist Society’s annual awards ceremony will take place online this year via Zoom, on 13 August, starting at 2 PM Eastern Daylight Savings Time (1 PM Central, noon Mountain, 11 AM Pacific). The Best Novel Award will be given to Wil McCarthy for Rich Man’s Sky, and the Hall of Fame Award to Robert A. Heinlein for Citizen of the Galaxy.
Joining us as presenters will be past Prometheus Award winners Travis Corcoran and F. Paul Wilson.