Interview: L. Neil Smith on his work, the Prometheus Award and his influences

L. Neil Smith in June 2019. (Photo courtesy L. Neil Smith).

L. Neil Smith is a libertarian activist and pundit, a musician, the founder of the Prometheus Award, a firearms enthusiast and a longtime Colorado resident. (Born in Denver, he grew up all over as an Air Force brat but eventually returned to Colorado for good.)

But he’s perhaps best known as a prolific science fiction writer, who often incorporates libertarian ideas into his novels, which usually have plenty of action and humor. He has written more than 35 books, including many science fiction novels, but also graphic novels, a vampire novel and political/philosophical commentary.

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How would Heinlein react to today’s space news and progress?

By Michael Grossberg

Have spacesuit, will travel?

If only Robert Heinlein were still alive today, what would he think of the progress humankind is making in outer space by harnessing the creative energies of free enterprise?
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L. Neil Smith news roundup

Science fiction writer L. Neil Smith is staying busy with a bunch of writing projects. Ares, the latest book of his Ngu Family Saga, will be out soon from Smith’s publisher, Arc Manor.  Smith’s Only the Young Die Good, the sequel to his 2011 vampire novel, Sweeter Than Wine, also will be out before too long, and Smith has begun work on the next Ngu novel, Rosalie’s World. 

Smith received our Special Prometheus Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2016 and also received Prometheus Awards for four individual works: The Probability Broach, PallasThe Forge of the Elders and the graphic novel version of The Probability Broach. (Pallas is the first book of the Ngu Family Saga.)

 

Tor.com looks at the Prometheus Award on its 40th anniversary

James Davis Nicoll, a recent nominee for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer, writes about “40 Years of the Prometheus Award,” for Tor.com.  He concludes that “following this particular award can be rewarding for readers of all stripes. Probably not every work above will be to your taste, but certainly some will be.”

The comments, including back and forth between Nicoll and readers, also are interesting.
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Prometheus Award 2019 finalists announced

The Libertarian Futurist Society, a nonprofit all-volunteer international organization of freedom-loving science fiction fans, has announced five finalists for the Best Novel category of the 39th annual Prometheus Awards.

The Best Novel winner will receive a plaque with a one-ounce gold coin. Plans are under way, as in past years, to present the 2019 awards at the 77th Worldcon (World Science Fiction Convention): “Dublin 2019 – An Irish Worldcon,” set for Aug. 15-19, 2019 in Dublin, Ireland.

Here are the five Best Novel finalists, listed in alphabetical order by author:

Causes of Separation, by Travis J I Corcoran (Morlock Publishing) – In this sequel to The Powers of the Earth, the 2018 Prometheus winner for Best Novel, the renegade lunar colonists of Aristillus fight for independence and a free economy against an Earth-based invasion that seeks to impose authoritarian rule and expropriate their wealth, while the colonists struggle to maintain the fight without relying on taxation or emergency war powers. The panoramic narrative encompasses artificial intelligence, uplifted dogs, combat robots, sleeper cells and open-source software while depicting the complex struggle on the declining Earth and besieged Moon from many perspectives.
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Robert Heinlein news roundup


A new book about Robert Heinlein, The Pleasant Profession of Robert Heinlein by Farah Mendelsohn, is getting good notices. A couple of reviews:

Prometheus Award winner Ken MacLeod has posted a review and writes, “This effort to read with fresh eyes has paid off. On almost every page there’s a new insight or an arresting remark. Mendlesohn takes Heinlein seriously as a thinker, and makes you think.” More here. 

Arthur Hlavaty, nominated numerous times for a Hugo for best fan writer, chimes in, “Have I mentioned here that Farah Mendlesohn’s The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein is a brilliant book, absolutely essential for anyone interested in its subject?”

Also:

Heinlein appears as a character in Gregory Benford’s new novel, Rewrite. 

“Is The Moon is a Harsh Mistress Heinlein’s All-Time Greatest Work?” By Alan Brown at Tor.com.

 

Back to the Moon: Lunar fiction from Heinlein to McDonald, Weir and Corcoran

By William H. Stoddard

Robert Heinlein’s The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress is a classic of libertarian science fiction; along with Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, it was the first winner of the Libertarian Futurist Society’s Hall of Fame award in 1983. Many science fiction fans, and not only libertarians, regard it as one of his best novels. But for nearly half a century after its original publication in 1966, it inspired no obvious imitators. Now, that’s started to change, with the appearance of multiple novels that explore the idea of a “free Luna” in the near future.

In 2015, Ian McDonald published Luna: New Moon, followed in 2017 by Luna: Wolf Moon; as of the time this is written, a third volume, Luna: Moon Rising is shortly to appear. In 2017, Travis Corcoran published the first volume of his Aristillus series, The Powers of the Earth, winner of the Prometheus Award for best novel, followed in 2018 by Causes of Separation. Also in 2017, Andy Weir, the author of The Martian, published Artemis. All three novels or series have important elements in common with each other and with Heinlein’s novel — but at the same time, they develop them in significantly different ways.
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Prometheus Award winning James Hogan novel on sale

The ebook version of James Hogan’s novel The Multiplex Man, which won the Prometheus Award in 1993, has been put on sale for $1.99. The sale is only through Monday, so if you want it, act fast. I’ve just grabbed my own copy.

Details here.

Each week, Publisher’s Pick offers three deals on SF books, often for big name authors (the other two authors this week are Mike Resnick and Kevin J. Anderson.) You can sign up for an email bulletin on the latest sale, sent out every Wednesday.

New Heinlein novel announced

(Here is the press release from Phoenix Pick)

Phoenix Pick recently announced that, working with the Heinlein Prize Trust, they have been able to reconstruct the complete text of an unpublished novel written by Robert A. Heinlein.

​Heinlein wrote this as an alternate text for The Number of the THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST. This text of approximately 185,000 words largely mirrors the first third of the published text, but then deviates completely with an entirely different story-line and ending.

​This newly reconstructed text also pays extensive homage to two authors Heinlein himself admired: Edgar Rice Burroughs and E. E. “Doc” Smith, who became a good friend. Heinlein dedicated his book METHUSELAH’S CHILDREN to Smith, and partially dedicated FRIDAY to Smith’s daughter, Verna.

​The alternate text, especially the ending, is much more in line with traditional Heinlein books, and moves away from many of the controversial aspects of the published THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST.

​There has been speculation over the years about a possible alternate text, and the reason it was written, particularly since one book is not just a redo of the other ─ these are two completely different books.

​It is possible that Heinlein was having fun with the text as THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST and the new book both deal with parallel universes. Given his sense of humor, it would not be surprising for Heinlein to have written two parallel texts for a book about parallel universes.

​The new book was pieced together from notes and typed manuscript pages left behind by the author. It is currently under editorial review by award-winning editor, Patrick LoBrutto .

​Phoenix Pick expects to publish both THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST and the new book, tentatively titled SIX-SIX-SIX, just ahead of this year’s holiday season.

​A limited number of digital advance copies will be made available for purchase by fans prior to actual publication. Fans may sign up for more information about this and other news and offers related to the new book at www.arcmanorbooks.com/heinlein

​The Heinlein Prize Trust manages most of Robert A. Heinlein’s literary assets and is purposed to encourage and reward progress in commercial space activities. It also publishes the deluxe 46 volume collectors set of the complete works of Robert A. Heinlein known as the Virginia Edition.

​Phoenix Pick is the science fiction and fantasy imprint of Arc Manor Publishers. It publishes some of the top names in science fiction and fantasy including Larry Niven, Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint, Harry Turtledove and many others. It also publishes the bi-monthly magazine GALAXY’S EDGE.

 

Where you can find the 2019 Prometheus Hall of Fame finalists

Now that the Libertarian Futurist Society has announced its 2019 finalists for the Prometheus Hall of Fame (Best Classic Fiction) and posted the news on our lfs.org website and on this Prometheus blog, LFS members (and all interested sf fans) might be curious about where you can find and read them.

That’s especially a question that might arise this year, when for the first time within memory, almost all of the Hall of Fame finalists are short stories or novellas (with only one novel as a finalist.)
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