Freedom in the Future Tense: A Political History of SF

 

By Eric S. Raymond

The history of modern SF is one of five attempted revolutions — one success and four enriching failures. I’m going to offer a look at them from an unusual angle, a political one.
This turns out to be a useful perspective because more of the history of SF than one might expect is intertwined with political questions, and SF had an important role in giving birth to at least one distinct political ideology that is alive and important today.

CAMPBELL AND HEINLEIN

The first and greatest of the revolutions came out of the minds of John Wood Campbell and Robert Heinlein, the editor and the author who invented modern science fiction. The pivotal year was 1937, when John Campbell took over the editorship of Astounding Science Fiction. He published Robert Heinlein’s first story a little over a year later.
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Welcome to our blog

For many years, the Libertarian Futurist Society has distributed a paper newsletter, Prometheus, which featured book reviews and news about our doings, sending it out using the U.S. mail system that according to legend was begun by Benjamin Franklin.

As much as we admire Ben and enjoyed our newsletter, we have decided that it is time to enter the digital age, and turn our publication into a website. This will allow wider access for our news and views, and allow members of the Libertarian Futurist Society to share pieces they enjoy with a wider audience, posting links via social media or using their own blogs.

If you came across this blog by accident, let me explain that it is part of a larger website run by the Libertarian Futurist Society, which presents two awards for science fiction exploring the importance of individual liberty: The Prometheus Award (for a science fiction novel published in the previous year) and the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award (for classic science fiction). We also give out special awards for works that fall outside of our usual award categories.

The Prometheus Award dates back to 1979, when it was created by author L. Neil Smith, and became a regular award in 1982 with the founding of the Libertarian Futurist Society. While we are not as venerable as the Hugos or the Nebulas, we have been around for more than 35 years and are one of the older science fiction awards. During that time, we are proud to have brought recognition to many fine works of science fiction. Many of our award winning authors identify as “libertarian,” but many of them do not, evidence that we have stressed literary excellence and attempted to avoid political sectarianism.

We welcome new recruits to our organization. If you are a science fiction fan interested in individual liberty, we invite you to explore the rest of our website and learn more about us.