Big Brother, truth, doublethink, thoughtcrime, Newspeak & memory holes: George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, a 1984 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as notable pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian/dystopian sf/fantasy, the Libertarian Futurist Society has been publishing since 2019 a weekly series of Appreciations of all past award-winners, beginning with the first category for Best Novel and now focusing on the Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction.

Here is an Appreciation of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, a co-winner of the 1984 Prometheus Hall of Fame award for Best Classic Fiction.

By Michael Grossberg
“Big Brother is Watching” is just one phrase that’s become widely known from Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell’s cautionary 1948 novel about a future totalitarian society in which almost everyone is caught up in the power-worshiping cult of the charismatic ruler.

Few works of fiction have connected so deeply to popular culture that they introduce even one catchphrase or line of dialogue that still resonates today, but Orwell’s cautionary tale generated several that even in the 21stcentury haven’t yet been flushed down the “memory hole” of popular culture.

Among the neologisms that continue to be quoted widely and resonate through American and world culture: Thought Police, Newspeak, “proles,” “thoughtcrime,” “doublethink,” Room 101, Two Minutes Hate, and “unperson.”

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The National-Security State and government repression: An Appreciation of Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother, the 2009 Prometheus Award winner for Best Novel

Introduction: To highlight the four-decade history of the Prometheus Awards,  and make clear what libertarian futurists saw and see in each of our past winners that make them deserve recognition as pro-freedom sci-fi/fantasy, we’re continuing our series of weekly Appreciations of past Prometheus Award-winners, starting with our original category for Best Novel.

Here’s the latest Appreciation for Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother, the 2009 Prometheus Award winner for Best Novel:

In Little Brother, Cory Doctorow offers a powerful cautionary tale about threats to liberty from the National Security State.

His bestselling 2008 novel, now widely considered a modern classic in the coming-of-age and dystopian genres, revolves around a high-school student and his techno-geek friends who are rounded up in the hysteria following a terrorist attack.

Doctorow focuses on the consequences and costs of the repression by government agencies in the aftermath of the attack as teen Marcus Yallow and four techno-geek friends are forced to defend themselves against the Department of Homeland Security’s attacks on the Bill of Rights when they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time as San Francisco is targeted for a terrorist attack.
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A 40th Anniversary Retrospective: Introducing a Reader’s Guide to the Prometheus Award Winners

By Michael Grossberg

To highlight and honor the four-decade history of the Prometheus Awards, which the Libertarian Futurist Society is celebrating in 2019, we are providing a reader’s guide with capsule Appreciations of past Prometheus Award-winners, starting with the Best Novel category.

If you’ve ever wondered why a particular work of fiction has been recognized with a Prometheus Award and what libertarian sf fans see in these award-winning works, then our upcoming series of Appreciations should be must reading – as well as informative and illuminating!

Or, if you’re simply  looking for something enjoyable and stimulating to read within the realm of science fiction and fantasy, which also illuminates abiding questions about the perennial tensions between Liberty and Power, an excellent place to begin is with this recommended reading list of award-winning fiction (to be published here on a regular weekly (or biweekly) schedule, starting now (September 2019). These capsule appreciations are being written and edited by LFS members, in some cases based on reviews printed in the Prometheus quarterly (1982-2016) or the Prometheus blog (2017-today).

Since 1979, a wide array of novels, novellas, stories, films, TV series and other works of fiction have won Prometheus awards by highlighting in fascinatingly different ways the value of voluntary social cooperation over institutionalized State coercion, the importance of respecting human rights (even for that smallest minority, the individual), and the evils of tyranny (whether on the Left or the Right).


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