The right of self-defense and the limits to tyranny: A.E. Van Vogt’s The Weapon Shops of Isher, the 2005 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of all past award-winners. Here’s an Appreciation for A. E. van Vogt’s The Weapon Shops of Isher, the 2005 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

By Michael Grossberg
A. E. van Vogt, celebrated as one of the masters of science fiction’s Golden Age, is perhaps best known for The Weapon Shops of Isher.

Imaginative and ingenious, van Vogt’s 1951 novel dramatizes the power of self-defense to sustain personal freedom.

Moreover, the novel introduced one of the most famous political slogans in science fiction: The Right to Buy Weapons is the Right to Be Free.

A classic and superior example of hard sf blended with sociopolitical SF during the early golden age of science fiction, the novel imagines a future dominated by a dictatorial Empire of Isher whose authority is  challenged by some mysterious Weapon shops.

Continue reading The right of self-defense and the limits to tyranny: A.E. Van Vogt’s The Weapon Shops of Isher, the 2005 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

Transformation, interstellar liberation and “a Randian hero run amok”: Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination, the 1988 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as notable pro-freedom or anti-authoritarian works, the Libertarian Futurist Society has been publishing an Appreciation series of all award-winners in chronological order by category. Here is an Appreciation of Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination, the 1988 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination explores themes of transformation and liberation.

Set in our solar system in a distant future on the verge of interstellar travel and colonization and written in beautifully stylized and lyrical language, this classic 1956 novel revolves around a lazy, gutter-talking spaceman described by LFS Director Victoria Varga in her 1994 review for the Prometheus quarterly as “a Randian hero run amok.”

Adrift with no ambition, Gully Foyle is abandoned in space with his pleas for help ignored. Consumed by a burning passion for revenge, Foyle embarks on a quest that propels a raging torrent of events.

“In the process of transformation he awakens the people of the worlds, and gives them back the right to think, dream, grow, and take command of their own lives,” Varga wrote.

Continue reading Transformation, interstellar liberation and “a Randian hero run amok”: Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination, the 1988 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner