The 2020 Prometheus Awards are now in the final weeks of voting by Libertarian Futurist Society members across the continent – but where can you find and read each of the finalists?
That’s commonly not a problem with the annual Best Novel category, since all five finalists are widely available, typically published in the preceding year.
Yet, it can be challenging to find some of the older finalists in the Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction.
That’s because the Prometheus Awards’ other annual category is wide open to any work of fiction first published, broadcast, staged or screened 20 or more years ago. But this year, for the first time, two Hall of Fame finalists – a story and a song – can be found in full online and for free!
So accessibility of this year’s Prometheus award finalists is in some ways easier than ever – and this guide should help LFS Members find and consider every finalist before voting.
By Michael Grossberg
Libertarian science fiction has always been a seminal strand in the ever-evolving genre of science fiction and fantasy – and in significant and honorable ways, that socially conscious and liberty-loving subgenre continues as a force today, even amid regressive and reactionary forces flirting with the perennial temptations of statism, authoritarianism and centralized, institutionalized coercion on the Left and Right.
Libertarian futurists – within and outside the Libertarian Futurist Society (not to mention other organizations within the far broader libertarian movement, from Reason and Libertymagazines to the Cato Institute) – have understood that for a long time.
Yet, it’s salutary and newsworthy when our understanding of the broader intellectual and artistic currents that have helped shape the four-decade-plus history and diversity of the Prometheus Awards is shared and appreciated by an international, cosmopolitan publication outside the libertarian movement.
Such a relatively rare occasion has materialized this month (June 2020) with a fair-minded, open-minded, rich and rewarding essay on “The Libertarian History of Science Fiction” published in Quillette, an influential web-magazine that embraces what modern libertarians might generally recognize as classically liberal principles.
According to its mission statement, Quillette offers “a platform for free thought. We respect ideas, even dangerous ones. We also believe that free expression and the free exchange of ideas help human societies flourish and progress.”
Indeed, LFS members might say as much, using virtually the same words, to uphold important Bill of Rights aspects of our libertarian vision of a fully free future in which people strive to respect other people’s rights and live together through the voluntary cooperation and enterprise of a free society and a free market while steadfastly abjuring violence, the initiation of force or fraud and the institutionalized coercion of the unchecked State.
Whether set on Earth, on the Moon, or throughout interstellar space and whether taking place in the near-future or distant future, novels dramatizing fights for freedom and threats of tyranny can achieve a timeless and universal relevance.
Recognizing the perennial tensions between Liberty and Power, the Libertarian Futurist Society presents its annual Prometheus Awards for outstanding works of science fiction and fantasy.
The five 2019 novels that the LFS has just selected as its finalists in the Best Novel category of the 2020 Prometheus Awards certainly range widely in setting, era, plot, character and style. Yet, each sheds fascinating light on the enduring human themes and challenges that inspire each generation’s struggle for freedom amid recurring threats of dictatorship, war, plague, pandemic, powerlust and other ills.
May 15, 2020 update: Due to the “uncertain health situation” regarding the ongoing pandemic and the unreliable travel restrictions, the Columbus 2020 NASFiC organizers have announced with a “heavy heart” that the long-awaited Columbus event has been canceled.
As of May, the organizers are exploring the possibility of planning and presenting a virtual event with various speakers and panels during that same Aug. 20-23, 2020 weekend – including programming and perhaps an online version of the annual Prometheus Awards ceremony.
The organizers also are planning to publish an online souvenir book for all attending and supporting members.
The LFS will post additional updates as we learn more and plans are solidified.
The North American Science Fiction Convention will be held Aug. 20-23, 2020 in Columbus, Ohio – and guess who will be among the guests of honor and speaker-panelists?
The Columbus 2020 NASFiC has announced on its Facebook page that bestselling sf/fantasy/horror novelist F. Paul Wilson – the first Prometheus Award winner and a Special Prometheus Lifetime Achievement award recipient – will attend the Columbus NASFiC as the Prometheus Awards Guest of Honor.
Wilson’s appearances, talks, panel discussions and author signings will be a centerpiece of the Libertarian Futurist Society’s third LFScon (dubbed LFScon III), which will run as an informal “mini-con” within the larger North American Science Fiction Convention. Several main-program-track panel discussions are being planned, devoted to themes of broad interest to freedom-loving sf/fantasy fans, libertarian futurists and general attendees.
The LFS also will present our 2020 Prometheus Awards ceremony during the NASFiC’s biggest single event: it’s Saturday-night Masquerade.
The lifelong libertarian idealism of Neil Peart, the Rush songwriter-drummer who died Jan. 7 and whose passing the LFS noted in a previous blog, has been highlighted in several of the major media essays and obituaries that have followed his death at 67 after struggling privately for three years with cancer.
“Fan polls routinely agreed he was the greatest rock drummer of his time (or indeed of all time, I would argue, though some would go with Keith Moon). I’m not sure any rock track boasts drumming that can match Peart’s breathtaking work on the 1981 song “Tom Sawyer.”
Today marks nearly the end of a pivotal year marking the 40th anniversary of the Prometheus Awards, so it’s interesting to take a moment in 2019 and look back at the birth of the awards with the very first Prometheus Awards ceremony in 1979.
First envisioned and launched by sf writer L. Neil Smith, the Prometheus Award was first presented in 1979 in a high-profile ceremony at the year’s biggest Libertarian convention, which attracted several thousand people in Los Angeles.
Writer Robert Anton Wilson announced the winner – F. Paul Wilson’s sf mystery Wheels Within Wheels– after announcing three finalists, including Poul Anderson’s The Avatarand James P. Hogan’s The Genesis Machine. Here’s a glimpse of how the event was covered in Frontlines, a leading libertarian-movement-news newsletter published by Reason magazine’s foundation:
“The first-ever Prometheus Award was presented for the best libertarian science fiction novel of 1978. The finalists were Poul Anderson’s The Avatar, James P. Hogan’s The Genesis Machine and F. Paul Wilson’s Wheels within Wheels. Robert Anton Wilson did the honors, on behalf of the Prometheus Award Committee (an independent group of libertarian sf fans, who contributed the award), presenting the $2,500 in gold to (no relation) F. Paul Wilson. The prize (which has already increased significantly in value) is the largest award for science fiction given anywhere in the world.”
If you were planning to buy the ebook, you should probably go ahead and use the campaign to get an advance discount. For $7, you get the ebook when in comes out in March AND you get to vote on the final choice for the book cover from five different sketches from the “award winning artist” selected for the cover, says Shahid Mahmud of Arc Manor/Phoenix Pick.
Of course, there are more goodies if you make a bigger pledge.
Libertarian science fiction writer Brad Linaweaver has died from cancer; he would have been 67 on Sunday. He was a two-time winner of the Prometheus Award and was known for Moon of Ice, his brilliant alternate-history novel expanded from a Nebula Award-nominated short story. Mike Glyer has an obituary posted at File 770.