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.
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.
Looking for libertarian fiction to read over the holidays?
Fiction that dramatizes the value of freedom and/or exposes the tragic horrors and injustices of tyranny, slavery and other forms of extreme statism isn’t published every day, but there’s more of it than many liberty lovers may know about.
Of course, the Prometheus Awards constitute such a list, with a focus on science fiction and fantasy. That’s always a good place to start looking, because the awards have racked up an impressive track record of Best Novel winners since 1979 and of Best Classic Fiction works inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame since 1983.
This annotated list, by “ADuckNamedJoe” (a pen name for writer J.B. Medved) focuses on fiction available free – and often online,, available for downloading without charge. (The list was just updated Dec. 14, 2020 to include three new novels.)
“Let’s face it, novels celebrating the free market and individual rights are pretty hard to come by. Most everything in the fiction section of your local bookstore is some paean to collectivism, or diatribe against the evils of capitalism and the “soul killing” nature of consumerism. But you don’t believe that stuff,” Medved writes.
“You know capitalism, mixed with a political system that protects individual rights, has been the single greatest force for good on the planet, lifting billions out of crushing poverty. You don’t want to read all that bilge about how you’re a bad, bad person for supporting it.
So what is a wayward libertarian to do? Especially when so much of your money is stolen by the government each year that you have very little left over to buy books?”
Here is a handy guide to viewing the Libertarian Futurist Society’s recorded programs – and a welcome to our new Videos page.
Below is an overview, with links and descriptions, of LFS panel discussions, podcasts, interviews and awards ceremonies over the past decade at various Worldcons (World Science Fiction Conventions) and NASFiCs (North American Science Fiction Conventions).
But first, take a look to your left – to the new VIDEOS link at the top of the left-side column of the Prometheus blog. Here is where you can go, from now on, to check out all LFS videos and podcasts, including each year’s Prometheus Awards ceremonies and related speeches and Worldcon panel discussions, as they are recorded and added each year. (The LFS is already looking forward to making plans to present our 2021 Prometheus Awards ceremony at DisCon II, the 79th Worldcon set to run Aug. 25-29, 2021, in Washington, D.C.)
In these LFS panels, podcasts and Prometheus award speeches, bestselling sf novelists and LFS members have discussed a wide variety of timely and timeless subjects that inspired their stories and novels.
Among the speakers: novelists C.J. Cherryh, Travis Corcoran, Cory Doctorow, Harlan Ellison, Jane Fancher, Sarah Hoyt, John Hunt, Ken MacLeod, Ramez Naam, Andy Weir, and F. Paul Wilson and LFS leaders Steve Gaalema, Michael Grossberg, Tom Jackson and LFS president William H. Stoddard.
Unlike typical awards acceptance speeches at the Oscars, Tonys, Grammys or Emmys, which tend to be laundry lists of names to thank, most Prometheus-Ceremony speeches tend to be wide-ranging, fascinating, thoughtful (and longer) explorations of ideas, ideals and libertarian themes, often combined with personal stories – and thus, rewarding to view even years later.
Here, in this overview of LFS videos, the most recent events are listed first, with brief descriptions of speakers and subjects, interesting excerpts and links.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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 began publishing in 2019 an Appreciation series of all past award-winners.
Here’s an Appreciation of Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, the 1993 inductee into the Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction (and perhaps the most controversial work to ever be inducted into the Hall of Fame.)
By Michael Grossberg
Two alleged utopias are explored and contrasted in The Dispossessed, Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1974 novel about a rebel who leaves one world for the other.
As befits any intelligent observer of the 20th and 21st century who must take into account the emergence of dystopian fiction as a major subgenre in response to the authoritarian and collectivist horrors of socialism, communism, national socialism and fascism in Russia, China, Germany, Italy and elsewhere, Le Guin underlines her complex theme by subtitling her novel “An Ambiguous Utopia.”
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 Ira Levin’s This Perfect Day, the 1992 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner:
By Michael Grossberg
Bestselling novelist Ira Levin may be best remembered for genre novels and plays adapted into quite a few popular movies.
Among them: Rosemary’s Baby (modern horror), The Stepford Wives (satirical feminist horror-fantasy), The Boys from Brazil (conspiratorial political-spi medical-genetics thriller), A Kiss Before Dying (romantic crime drama), and Deathtrap (mystery-comedy), his long-running Broadway play.
Yet, one of Levin’s least-known novels, This Perfect Day, may rank among his best. (It’s also one of the few Levin novels left that hasn’t yet been adapted into a Hollywood movie. Hint, hint….)
To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing Appreciations of past award-winners that make clear why each winner deserves recognition as a pro-freedom work.
Here is a combined Appreciation of F. Paul Wilson’s Healer, the 1990 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner, and Wilson’s An Enemy of the State, the 1991 Hall of Fame winner.
“There used to be high priests to explain the ways of the king – who was the state – to the masses. Religion is gone, and so are kings. But the state remains, as do the high priests in the guise of Advisors, Secretaries of Whatever Bureau, public relations people, and sundry apologists. Nothing changes.”– From THE SECOND BOOK OF KYFHO
When the first Prometheus Award was presented in 1979 to F. Paul Wilson for Wheels within Wheels, few realized that the sf mystery novel was an absorbing piece of what would become a much larger future-history saga.
Together with Wheels within Wheels,An Enemy of the State and Healer– respectively the 1990 and 1991 Prometheus Hall of Fame inductees for Best Classic Fiction – formone of the most libertarian sf trilogies ever written.
Set in a positive but realistically flawed interstellar future in which human beings have spread among the stars, the LaNague Federation trilogy focuses on an imperialist central State and empire that is toppled by Peter LaNague, a far-sighted revolutionary who abjures violence in favor of a subtle, long-term plan based on a sophisticated understanding of economics, markets, money and inflation.