Politics undermines the purpose of art, according to an insightful American Purpose essay (but let’s agree to disagree over Atlas Shrugged)

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.

American Purpose magazine logo

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.

Continue reading Politics undermines the purpose of art, according to an insightful American Purpose essay (but let’s agree to disagree over Atlas Shrugged)

Sexuality, spirituality and reflections on the human soul in J. Neil Schulman’s The Rainbow Cadenza, the 1984 Prometheus Best Novel winner

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ history and make clear the distinctive focus of the award, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of past award-winners in all categories.

Here is another Appreciation of J. Neil Schulman’s The Rainbow Cadenza, the 1984 Prometheus Best Novel winner.

Also included below: Schulman’s Prometheus Awards acceptance speech, presented Aug. 31, 1984 before an audience of more than 2,000 sf fans at LACon, the 42nd annual World Science Fiction Convention in Los Angeles, Calif.

By Michael Grossberg

“If nothing is sacred the human body is sacred.” – Walt Whitman, “Children of Adam”

Much of the sexuality in The Rainbow Cadenza deeply disturbs, shocking readers with its graphic intensity, Yet this unusually adult coming-of-age novel, boasting some of the most scatological material to be found this side of Krafft-Ebing, arguably has no gratuitous sex scenes.

Instead, J. Neil Schulman integrates his disquieting eroticism into a complex narrative about a future Earth where birth-control advances have had a radical and damaging effect on human relationships, sexual equality and personal rights.

Given the development of such an unbalanced society, the novel’s often perverse sexuality should not surprise us. After all, the sexual act is a mirror. In reflecting consciousness and character, it offers a highly revealing glimpse of its participants’ humanity (or inhumanity).

At its best, of course, the sexual act can be a deeply satisfying expression of romantic love and spiritual intimacy, or at least a mutually enjoyable experience between consenting adults.

At its worst, the sexual act can be perverted into a neurotic and symbolic act, communicating hostility instead of affection, revenge instead of respect, dominance and submission instead of acceptance, anger and range instead of bon fide sexul passion. All this, and more, can be found in the diverse sexuality of The Rainbow Cadenza, a morality play in which those who allow themselves to be corrupted by powerlust soon find their sexual lusts corrupted as well in the inevitable workings of karmic justice.

Continue reading Sexuality, spirituality and reflections on the human soul in J. Neil Schulman’s The Rainbow Cadenza, the 1984 Prometheus Best Novel winner

R.I.P., L. Neil Smith: Sf writer, best known for libertarian classic The Probability Broach, leaves a lasting legacy of liberty-loving sf adventure

Libertarian science fiction writer L. Neil Smith has died, leaving a legacy of high-spirited libertarian sf adventure and of the Prometheus Award itself.

L. Neil Smith (Creative Commons photo)

Smith, who died at 75 on Aug. 27, 2021 in Fort Collins, Colo., is best known for his explicitly libertarian novel The Probability Broach and its rambunctious alternate-history sequels in his The North American Confederacy series.

During his writing career from the 1970s into the 2010s, Smith wrote 31 books, including 29 novels, and many essays and short stories.

Quite a few of his works were nominated for Prometheus Awards because of their freewheeling adventure, sense of humor, imaginative alternate-reality scenarios and strong libertarian/individualist themes.

Continue reading R.I.P., L. Neil Smith: Sf writer, best known for libertarian classic The Probability Broach, leaves a lasting legacy of liberty-loving sf adventure

Prometheus laureate Victor Koman inaugurates The Agorist Archives of Samuel Edward Konkin III

Prometheus-winning author and scholar Victor Koman is leading a new project to digitize the papers and publications of Samuel Edward Konkin III (SEK3) for posterity.

Konkin, a libertarian philosopher and activist who led the “agorist” wing of the libertarian movement in the 1970s and 1980s, influenced quite a few libertarians and libertarian science fiction writers, such as the Prometheus Award winners J. Neil Schulman, Brad Linaweaver and Koman himself.

Sam Konkin at a convention. Photo by Victor Koman

 

Continue reading Prometheus laureate Victor Koman inaugurates The Agorist Archives of Samuel Edward Konkin III

Prometheus winners recognized on broader recommended-reading list of libertarian fiction

Looking for libertarian fiction to read over the holidays?

Fiction that dramatizes the value of freedom and/or exposes the tragic horrors and injustices of tyranny, slavery and other forms of extreme statism isn’t published every day, but there’s more of it than many liberty lovers may know about.

Of course, the Prometheus Awards constitute such a list, with a focus on science fiction and fantasy. That’s always a good place to start looking, because the awards have racked up an impressive track record of Best Novel winners since 1979 and of Best Classic Fiction works inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame since 1983.

But in addition to that, other recommended-reading lists exist – including a just-updated and expanded article at www.artforliberty.com that mades interesting rationales for listing “The 26 Best Free Libertarian Novels.”

This annotated list, by “ADuckNamedJoe” (a pen name for writer J.B. Medved) focuses on fiction available free – and often online,, available for downloading without charge.  (The list was just updated Dec. 14, 2020 to include three new novels.)

“Let’s face it, novels celebrating the free market and individual rights are pretty hard to come by. Most everything in the fiction section of your local bookstore is some paean to collectivism, or diatribe against the evils of capitalism and the “soul killing” nature of consumerism. But you don’t believe that stuff,” Medved writes.

“You know capitalism, mixed with a political system that protects individual rights, has been the single greatest force for good on the planet, lifting billions out of crushing poverty. You don’t want to read all that bilge about how you’re a bad, bad person for supporting it.

So what is a wayward libertarian to do? Especially when so much of your money is stolen by the government each year that you have very little left over to buy books?”

Continue reading Prometheus winners recognized on broader recommended-reading list of libertarian fiction

Agorist dreams materialize in a near-future of runaway inflation, economic collapse: J. Neil Schulman’s Alongside Night, the 1989 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as notable pro-freedom works, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of past award-winners. Here’s an Appreciation of J. Neil Schulman’s Alongside Night, the 1989 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner:

By Michael Grossberg

Milton Friedman, Anthony Burgess, Thomas Szasz, Poul Anderson, Jerry Pournelle and Ron Paul were among the prominent writers, fellow freedom-lovers or libertarians who highly praised Alongside Night when it was published in 1979.

Friedman, a world-famous Nobel-laureate economist, endorsed J. Neil Schulman’s sf novel on its cover as “an absorbing novel – science fiction, yet also a cautionary tale with a disturbing resemblance to past history and future possibilities.”

Szasz, a leading psychologist in the libertarian movement, called it “engrossing” and wrote that “it might be, and ought to be, the Atlas Shrugged of the ‘80s.”

Anderson called it “a frightening and all too plausible picture of the near future. America is already a long way down the road that leads to it. yet there is also a hopefulness in the story, for the author develops a philosophy, in considerable practical detail, that we could begin living by today, if we will choose to be free.”

Continue reading Agorist dreams materialize in a near-future of runaway inflation, economic collapse: J. Neil Schulman’s Alongside Night, the 1989 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

How does sf lend itself to exploring freedom & other ideas? Watch the NASFIC 2020 Prometheus Awards and “Visions of SF, Liberty & Human Rights” panel with authors Hoyt, Wilson; surprise guests Cherryh & Fancher; & LFS leaders

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. Cherryh and her partner Jane. S. Fancher joined past Prometheus winners Sarah Hoyt and 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.

Tom Jackson

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:

 

Continue reading How does sf lend itself to exploring freedom & other ideas? Watch the NASFIC 2020 Prometheus Awards and “Visions of SF, Liberty & Human Rights” panel with authors Hoyt, Wilson; surprise guests Cherryh & Fancher; & LFS leaders

Libertarian Futurist Society raises visibility at CoNZealand, the first all-online World Science Fiction Convention, with Prometheus-winning novelist F. Paul Wilson leading timely panel (watch it here!) on “Freedom in SF: Forty Years of the Prometheus Awards”

CoNZealand, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention and the first Worldcon in history to be presented entirely online, pulled off the unprecedented feat with impressive organization and the dedication of countless volunteers and organizers.

In the process, the July 29 to Aug. 1 event offered the annual Hugo Awards ceremony and a dizzying variety of interesting panel discussions – including one suggested by the Libertarian Futurist Society to honor the Prometheus Awards’ recent 40thanniversary.

With a vast and potentially larger worldwide online audience watching from many countries on Zoom and Discord platforms but avoiding direct physical contact for safety during the pandemic, the New Zealand Worldcon seized the potential to be seen more widely. One happy consequence was raising the visibility worldwide of the Libertarian Futurist Society and the Prometheus Awards.

 

Continue reading Libertarian Futurist Society raises visibility at CoNZealand, the first all-online World Science Fiction Convention, with Prometheus-winning novelist F. Paul Wilson leading timely panel (watch it here!) on “Freedom in SF: Forty Years of the Prometheus Awards”

Artistic freedom, creativity, individuality, self-expression, gay marriage, the evils of conscription and dystopia: An Appreciation of J. Neil Schulman’s The Rainbow Cadenza, the 1984 Prometheus Best Novel winner

Introduction: To highlight the four-decade history of the Prometheus Awards, which the Libertarian Futurist Society is celebrating in 2019, we are posting a series of weekly Appreciations of past Prometheus Award-winners, starting with our earliest Best Novel awards.

Here’s an Appreciation for J. Neil Schulman’s The Rainbow Cadenza, the 1984 Prometheus Best Novel winner:

Schulman’s romantic and passionate sf drama explores the power of art, the thirst for creativity and the threat to such individuality and self-expression in a future Brave New World dominated by a single world government.

Schulman was prescient and years ahead of his time in envisioning a positive future where gay marriage is normal and legal.
Yet, his complex story portrays a very mixed and disconcerting dystopian future where teenage women are drafted into government prostitution service for three years, clones are treated as inferior and a new underclass called Touchables are hunted for sport.

Continue reading Artistic freedom, creativity, individuality, self-expression, gay marriage, the evils of conscription and dystopia: An Appreciation of J. Neil Schulman’s The Rainbow Cadenza, the 1984 Prometheus Best Novel winner

Authoritarian imperialism vs. a functioning free-market anarchy in an interstellar future: An Appreciation of James P. Hogan’s Voyage From Yesteryear, the 1983 Best Novel winner

Introduction: To highlight the four-decade history of the Prometheus Awards, which the Libertarian Futurist Society is celebrating in 2019, we are posting a series of weekly Appreciations of past Prometheus Award-winners, starting with our earliest Best Novel awards.
Here’s our third Appreciation, for James P. Hogan’s Voyage to Yesteryear, following recent Appreciations for F. Paul Wilson’s Wheels within Wheels and L. Neil Smith’s The Probability Broach:

Two human civilizations, long separated across light years, confront significant philosophical and political differences when they make renewed contact decades after a World War III devastated the Earth and led to the rise of widespread authoritarian governments there.

When the Earth’s three superpower governments engage in a space race to renew contact with the lost colony on Chiron in the Alpha Centauri system colony’s descendants, the Americans arrive first with an authoritarian goal of invasion and domination.

Meanwhile, the Chiron colonists – sent from Earth generations before in a ship with babies raised by robots in order to start fresh and avoid the bad habits and prejudices of Earth – have developed a radically free libertarian society founded on the belief that each individual has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Continue reading Authoritarian imperialism vs. a functioning free-market anarchy in an interstellar future: An Appreciation of James P. Hogan’s Voyage From Yesteryear, the 1983 Best Novel winner