Libertarian Futurist Society leaders are remembering Bruce Sommer, a stalwart West Coast science-fiction fan and left-libertarian who helped sustain the Prometheus Awards for many years.
Bruce made a big difference as one of the earliest LFS members – and one of the few Life members – who remained active year after year, reading potential award candidates, weighing the pros and cons of nominees and serving for years as a board member.
Yet, even after disability and ongoing health issues began to limit Bruce’s energy and ability to work full-time, he expressed his love of science-fiction fandom and his libertarian ideals of a better and more just, peaceful and cooperative world by reading widely and diligently year after year to find science fiction and fantasy novels that might fit the distinctive pro-liberty and anti-authoritarian focus of the Prometheus Awards.
As an eventful year ends, the Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS) is approaching a milestone: 100 Appreciations of past Prometheus Award-winners, all posted on this LFS/Prometheus blog.
That’s a milestone to savor, especially given the ongoing efforts and commitments by LFS leaders and contributors over the past 30 months to write and post these informative and insightful review-essays.
Here’s an overview of our progress, an explanation of why the Appreciations are important (including tips on how you can use and refer to them), and a preview of some of the upcoming articles you can expect from the Prometheus Blog in 2022.
To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as a notable pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian work, the Libertarian Futurist Society has been publishing since 2019 an Appreciation series of all past award-winners.
Here is a review essay about F. Paul Wilson’s story “Lipidleggin’,” the 2021 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction. With this appreciation for this year’s winner, our Appreciation series for the Hall of Fame category of the Prometheus Awards is now complete.
“For me, there’s something that science fiction has always been the vehicle for thinking about: What would the world be like if different or fewer people had power? That’s an idea that’s increasingly appealing.”
— Katherine Mangu-Ward, Editor-in-Chief of Reason magazine
“Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t believe anyone who has received a Prometheus award has complained about the Prometheus awards. I know some leftwing authors who have received a Prometheus award who are proud of it. They seem to realize that there is something appropriate to it.”
— Jesse Walker, Reason books editor
“I have all sorts of immortality stories, and I’m afraid I’m not in one of them.”
— Novelist Barry B. Longyear, 2021 Prometheus winner for Best Novel
“I like to think the boundaries of what people see as libertarian ideas is blurring into the boundaries of what people perceive as just good mainstream ideas… and that may be a hopeful turn.”
Those are just a few of the interesting or amusing comments made during the related panel discussion on “SF, Liberty, Alternative Publishing Trends and the Prometheus Awards” that followed the 2021 Prometheus Awards ceremony.
Here is F. Paul Wilson’s acceptance speech for winning the 2021 Prometheus Award for Best Classic Fiction (the Hall of Fame) for his short story “Lipidleggin'”, which he delivered Aug. 21, 2021, during the online ceremony for the 41st annual Prometheus Awards:
By F. Paul Wilson
Many thanks to the members of the Libertarian Futurist Society for this honor.
I’ll be brief. (“Lipidleggin’” is a short story, after all.)
Back in the 1970s, a national health care system was a major political topic. (Some things never change, do they?) So I asked the next question: If the State is paying for your health care, won’t the State demand a say in behaviors that it considers hazardous to your health? Like, oh, say, banning saturated fats?
So, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, I wrote this little cautionary tale about a day when foods with saturated fats – such as butter and eggs – would be banned by the government. I mean, I saw how it could happen, but never for a moment did I believe it would happen. Not in a free country like our good old U.S. of A.
Don’t forget to watch the free online 2021 Prometheus Awards ceremony and LFS-Reason panel Saturday.
This is a rare opportunity to watch one of the annual Prometheus Awards program live, via Zoom. (The free link is posted below.)
First up will be a relatively short awards ceremony, followed immediately by a panel discussion, with Reason magazine as the media sponsor and two Reason editors as panelists, on “SF, Liberty, Alternative Publishing Trends and the Prometheus Awards.”
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, 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.
Serendipity and seized opportunity enhanced the star power and appeal of the Libertarian Futurist Society’s panel discussion at the 2020 online North American Science Fiction Convention.
Unexpectedly but delightfully, the Hugo-winning Grand Master novelist C.J. Cherryhand her partner Jane. S. Fancher joined past Prometheus winners Sarah Hoytand F. Paul Wilson and several LFS veteran leaders including LFS President William H. Stoddard in answering a variety of thought-provoking questions during the NASFiC/LFS panel on “Visions of SF, Liberty, Human Rights: The Prometheus Awards Over Four Decades, from F. Paul Wilson and Robert Heinlein to Today.”
When panel moderator Tom Jackson noticed that Cherryh and Fancher were still hanging out within the Zoom “meeting room” after accepting their 2020 Best Novel award for co-writing Alliance Rising to watch the post-ceremony panel discussion, he noted their presence and ability to participate.
After a few questions to the other panelists, Jackson invited Cherryh and Fancher to come into the discussion with their comments.
Which they graciously did, and fascinatingly so.
Thus, the long-planned NASFiC panel celebrating the recent 40th anniversary of the Prometheus Awards – first presented by L. Neil Smith to F. Paul Wilson in 1979 – expanded into an event with interesting comments from not two but four bestselling, Prometheus-award-winning novelists.
Here is the full panel discussion, part of an 80-minute two-part NASFiC/LFS video that begins with the 2020 Prometheus Awards ceremony, including Cherryh and Fancher’s Best Novel acceptance speech and Astrid Anderson Bear’s Hall of Fame acceptance speech for her late father Poul Anderson; and concludes with the 50-minute panel discussion: