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

“A beacon of libertarian freedom” – Barry Longyear’s acceptance speech for The Hook, the 2021 Prometheus winner for Best Novel

What is freedom?
How can we achieve it?
How can we defend it?

Veteran sf novelist Barry B. Longyear, winner of the 2021 Prometheus Award for Best Novel, discussed those questions in his acceptance speech, which he delivered Aug. 21 during the Libertarian Futurist Society’s online 2021 Prometheus Awards ceremony.

Here is the transcript of Longyear’s speech, which discusses his 2021 winner, The Hook, Book Five of The War Whisperer:

By Barry B. Longyear

On behalf of The Hook, Book 5 of The War Whisperer, I thank the members of the Libertarian Futurist Society for their Prometheus Award.

The seven volumes of The War Whisperer are, essentially, a fictionalized think-and-do on human freedom: What it is, how it works, how to achieve it, and how to defend it.

The first four volumes, through the eyes of Jerome Track, show what the problems are as well as presenting and absorbing the elements of the solution.

In Book 5: The Hook, is at last that beacon of libertarian freedom and one possible answer to the charge that has, up until now, always led the libertarian argument down paths of compromise or fantasy: How does a society that forbids the initiation of coercive force defend itself against military invasion?

That is the libertarian hook.

Continue reading “A beacon of libertarian freedom” – Barry Longyear’s acceptance speech for The Hook, the 2021 Prometheus winner for Best Novel

A cyberspace, cyberpunk landmark in sf history: Vernor Vinge’s True Names, a 2007 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ diverse four-decade-plus history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as a pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian work of sf/fantasy, the Libertarian Futurist Society has been publishing since 2019 a series of Appreciations of all past award-winners.

Here is an Appreciation of Vernor Vinge’s story “True Names,” a 2007 Prometheus Hall of Fame co-winner for Best Classic Fiction.
By Michael Grossberg  
 and Chris Hibbert

“True Names” is a seminal work of the cyberpunk genre.

A landmark when it was published in 1981, Vernor Vinge’s now-classic story gave the public their first glimpse of cyberspace and showed how the struggle for control might penetrate the new medium.

One of the earliest works of fiction to present a fully detailed concept of cyberspace, the story also explores themes of anarchism and trans-humanism that are of great interest to libertarian futurists.

The story follows the progress of a group of computer hackers who keep their true identities secret while being among the first to adopt a new full-immersion virtual-reality technology. They do so out of curiosity or an entrepreneurial desire to profit – both respectable and even laudable motivations from the libertarian perspective that appreciates the crucial role of innovation and free markets in advancing human progress, prosperity, well-being and knowledge.

Continue reading A cyberspace, cyberpunk landmark in sf history: Vernor Vinge’s True Names, a 2007 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

War, centralization and good intentions gone wrong: Poul Anderson’s story “No Truce with Kings,” the 2010 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

The Libertarian Futurist Society’s ongoing Appreciation series, launched in 2019 to celebrate the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history, offers review-essays of past award-winners that aim to make clear why they merit recognition as pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian.

Here is an Appreciation for Poul Anderson’s story, “No Truce with Kings,” the 2010 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

By William H. Stoddard

In David Friedman’s first book, the libertarian classic The Machinery of Freedom, the first entry in the bibliography describes Poul Anderson’s “No Truce with Kings”: “A libertarian novelette that plays fair. The bad guys are good guys too. But wrong.”

Continue reading War, centralization and good intentions gone wrong: Poul Anderson’s story “No Truce with Kings,” the 2010 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

A vivid graphic novel about resisting a totalitarian future: Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V for Vendetta, the 2006 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

The Libertarian Futurist Society’s Appreciation series offers review-essays of past award-winners that make clear why each deserves recognition as a pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian work. Here’s an appreciation for writer Alan Moore and artist David Lloyd’s graphic novel V for Vendetta, the 2006 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

“People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.”V for Vendetta

By Michael Grossberg
V for Vendetta dramatizes and illustrates a horrific cautionary tale about the loss of freedom and identity itself in a chilling totalitarian future.

The 1989 graphic novel, created by British writer Alan Moore and artist David Lloyd, has been widely acclaimed as a defining work within the medium of comics and the emerging art of graphic novels – and deservedly so.

Like some of the best dystopian novels, this vivid fusion of word and image chronicles the debilitating and soul-crushing impact of living in an authoritarian police state. That’s a nightmare that few understand who haven’t experienced it, but V for Vendetta makes it palpable.

Happily, V for Vendetta isn’t just harrowing but also inspiring – for it also highlights the power of the human spirit to resist tyranny. The graphic novel earns our sympathy for a few valiant if damaged souls who find the courage to rebel against the excesses and norms of truly unlimited government.

 

Continue reading A vivid graphic novel about resisting a totalitarian future: Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V for Vendetta, the 2006 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

Free trade, private property, civil liberties, classical liberalism and modern libertarianism: An Appreciation of Neal Stephenson’s The System of the World, the 2005 Prometheus Best Novel winner

Introduction: To highlight the four-decade history of the Prometheus Awards, which the Libertarian Futurist Society began celebrating in 2019, and to make clear what libertarian futurists saw in each of our past winners that made them deserve recognition as pro-freedom sf/fantasy, we’re continuing in 2020 to present a series of weekly Appreciations of Prometheus Award-winners, starting with our first category for Best Novel.

Here’s the latest Appreciation for Neal Stephenson’s The System of the World, the 2005 Prometheus Best Novel winner:

By William H. Stoddard

The development in the late 1600s and early 1700s of the modern world’s classical liberal institutions, which paved the way for modern libertarianism, is explored in Neal Stephenson’s epic 2004 novel, the climax of the author’s ambitious Baroque Cycle trilogy (preceded by Quicksilver and The Confusion), which has been hailed by Entertainment Weekly as “the definitive historical-sci-fi-epic-pirate-comedy-punk love story.”

In the complex, multi-threaded plot of The System of the World, Stephenson traces the distant ancestors of many key characters from his earlier novel Cryptonomicon through encounters with major figures in the science and politics of the era, among whom Sir Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz are key figures. In effect, this is a secret history of the origins of experimental natural science, the British monetary system, and the antislavery movement, among other elements of modernity.


The Baroque Cycle – which touches upon the development in the 1700s of such classical-liberal institutions as the rule of law, limited government, due process, civil liberties, free trade, private property, and separation of church and state – can be read as a straightforwardly historical novel drawing on such sources as the French Annales school of historiography — if a wildly inventive one that fully lives up to the label “baroque.”

Continue reading Free trade, private property, civil liberties, classical liberalism and modern libertarianism: An Appreciation of Neal Stephenson’s The System of the World, the 2005 Prometheus Best Novel winner

Identity, anarchy, free markets, robots with rights and the politics of space colonization: An Appreciation of Ken MacLeod’s The Stone Canal, the 1998 Prometheus Best Novel winner

Introduction: To highlight the four-decade history of the Prometheus Awards, which the Libertarian Futurist Society began celebrating in 2019, and make clear what made past winners deserve recognition as pro-freedom or anti-authoritarian sf/fantasy, we’re continuing to present a series of weekly Appreciations of Prometheus Award-winners, starting with our first category for Best Novel.

Here’s the latest Appreciation for The Stone Canal, by Ken MacLeod:

Ken MacLeod’s The Stone Canal ranges widely in its exploration of different political systems on different planets in a future marked by wars, revolutions, space colonization and a cyberworld in which people’s memories and personalities can be downloaded or uploading to clones on demand.

Among the many exciting ideas that MacLeod explores in his ambitious 1997 novel – Book 2 in his Fall Revolution series, but set earlier than The Cassini Division – are several of special interest to libertarian sf fans – including his complex and ambiguous depiction of capitalist anarchy on Earth, how free markets might develop on a terraformed planet in another solar system and the possibility of independent robots with individual rights.

The settings are far-flung, too, from 20thcentury Scotland to a 21stcentury extra-solar planet called New Mars with a free market. It’s a  future of longer life-spans but also new kinds of death.

Continue reading Identity, anarchy, free markets, robots with rights and the politics of space colonization: An Appreciation of Ken MacLeod’s The Stone Canal, the 1998 Prometheus Best Novel winner

Interview: LFS founder Michael Grossberg on how he became a writer, critic, sf fan & helped save the Prometheus Awards

 

Michael Grossberg, 2016 Photo courtesy of M.G.

Note: In this wide-ranging autobiographical interview, Grossberg shares his encounters, conversations and/or connections with Timothy Leary, George R.R. Martin, L. Neil Smith, Bruce Sterling, David Brin, Sissy Spacek, Gore Vidal, Ray Bradbury, Roy Rogers, Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, Roberto Rossellini, Nicholas Ray, Marianne Williamson, Susan Sontag, Roy Childs Jr., James Hogan and Robert Heinlein, among others.

TOM JACKSON: Could you tell us about yourself, including how you became a writer and arts critic?
Continue reading Interview: LFS founder Michael Grossberg on how he became a writer, critic, sf fan & helped save the Prometheus Awards