By Michael Grossberg
Libertarian futurists dream of unleashing the potential of every person to flourish, cooperate, innovate, progress, profit and pursue their happiness in peace and freedom – both here on earth, and perhaps eventually, beyond.
Yet, the politicization of society and increasingly, of our culture and arts, threatens that goal – and in the long run, undermines civility and could destroy civilization itself if this disturbing trend approaches authoritarian extremes.
In a thought-provoking article “Enslaving Art to Politics,” published recently in American Purpose magazine, writer Daniel Ross Goodman argues persuasively against the “politicization of literature.”
His essay should interest Libertarian Futurist Society members, even when Goodman makes some points about particular works and artists that we might respectfully disagree with.
“The best novelists, like all great artists, are not narrow-minded agenda-driven partisans but adventurers in the unbounded universe of the human imagination, who, through their fictions, help us better perceive vital truths about ourselves and our reality,” Goodman wrote in late September in the online magazine.
To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade-plus history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as a pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian work, the Libertarian Futurist Society has been publishing since 2019 a series of Appreciations of all past award-winners.
Here is an Appreciation of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Falling Free, the 2014 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction:
By Michael Grossberg Falling Free is a Nebula-award-winning sf novel that explores free will and self-ownership, two important concepts at the foundation of our humanity and liberty that also happen to be at the core of modern libertarianism and classical liberalism.
Lois McMaster Bujold’s 1988 (1987) novel, part of her bestselling Vorkosigan Saga, considers the legal and ethical implications of human genetic engineering.
In particular, the story conveys the personal impact on the rights and liberties of “manufactured beings” owned by corporations – a theme also explored in F. Paul Wilson’s Prometheus-winning novel Sims.
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.
Young people are the readers, writers and citizens of tomorrow.
Hopefully, the next generation will also become advocates for liberty, peace and justice for all. Yet, that is not inevitable or automatic; children must be taught the heritage of humankind and must be exposed to the best of our common culture.
Encouraging the younger generations to read good books, including outstanding science fiction and fantasy and the literature of liberty, is the goal of a newly created list of past Prometheus Award-winners.
This recommended reading list, designed for children and teenagers but also as a guide for their parents and grandparents choosing gifts or making suggestions, is now posted on the LFS website as the “Prometheus Award Young Adult Honor Roll.”