The Prometheus Blog’s ongoing Appreciation series has reached a milestone -after two productive years of regularly published review-essays exploring and explaining the libertarian and anti-authoritarian themes of past Prometheus winners.
With the recent publication of an appreciative review-essay about the 2021 winner (F. Paul Wilson’s short story “Lipidleggin’), the appreciation series for the Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction is now complete – and conveniently accessible via links from our Prometheus Awards page.
Or at least it’s now as up-to-date as possible – until next year’s winner is announced.
To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade 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 an Appreciation series of all past award-winners.
Here is an Appreciation for Poul Anderson’s story “Sam Hall,” the 2020 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.
In “Sam Hall,” published in 1953 in Astounding Science Fiction, Poul Anderson offers one of the earlier visions of a dystopian possibility based on the computers that had been invented only a few years before: a society with ubiquitous surveillance.
This is our age’s version of the panopticon described by Jeremy Bentham – one not confined to local sites such as prisons, but having an entire nation, or an entire planet, in its view. Anderson’s vision of computer technology is primitive, with a gigantic machine in a central government office that receives and stores information on punched cards. It has no hint of artificial intelligence, or of the ability to interpret voice or vision. But the job he sees it as doing is still the stuff of our nightmares.
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.
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.”
Between 2009 and 2014 NESFA press published seven volumes of short fiction and poetry by Poul Anderson in handsome hardcover editions for around $30 each.
These volumes were still available from the NESFA website, at least when I purchased them years ago, with volume seven released in 2017 as the final volume in the series. The stories do not appear chronologically.
Anderson, who has won several Prometheus Awards for best novel, four Hall of Fame awards, and a Lifetime Special Award, was a prolific writer who published his first science fiction story in 1947, some months before his twenty-first birthday.
He wrote fiction for more than half a century, so while these six volumes by no means collect all his short fiction, they contain a treasure trove for any fan of his fiction.
To celebrate the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear why winners deserve recognition as pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian works, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of all award-winners. Here’s an appreciation for The Survival of Freedom, edited by Jerry Pournelle and John F. Carr, the 2001 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner:
The Survival of Freedom was one of the first sf anthologies to explore the future of liberty.
It also has the distinction of being the first (and so far, only) anthology to be inducted (in 2001) into the Prometheus Hall of Fame. This broad awards category for classic fiction is open to any works first published, broadcast or staged more than 20 years ago and encompasses many types of fiction – including but not limited to novels, novellas, stories, plays, poems, songs, musicals, films, TV episodes, series, trilogies and anthologies.
Edited by Jerry Pournelle and John F. Carr, the 1981 anthology of stories and essays is notable for its wide-ranging and sometimes surprising collection of material.
To celebrate the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as a pro-freedom work, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of all past award-winners.
Here’s an appreciation for Poul Anderson’s The Star Fox, the 1995 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner:
By Michael Grossberg War and appeasement are central subjects in Poul Anderson’s The Star Fox, a space adventure that includes what may be the first gay alien in sf literature.
Set in an interstellar human future with the narrative laced with songs in different languages, the 1965 novel explores the challenges of surviving and fighting an alien occupation of one of Earth’s first extra-solar space colonies.
The inventive narrative centers on Gunnar Heim, a patriotic human man and ex-Navy space captain striving as a pioneer to build a civilized society on an unusual new planet full of walking forests and haunted by surreal citizens.
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:
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.”
“I think a full understanding of justice also has to include honoring and rewarding worthy acts and accomplishments. ” – William H. Stoddard
Here is part 2 of the Prometheus Blog interview with LFS President William H. Stoddard.
This part of the interview focuses on the Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction, which Stoddard has been closely involved with for two decades.
As chair of the Hall of Fame finalist judging committee, Stoddard leads a group of LFS members who read, discuss and rank the annual nominees to select a slate of typically five finalists for the entire LFS membership to rank and vote on. The winner is inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame, established in 1983.
To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of all past award-winners that makes clear why each winner deserves recognition as notable pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian in theme. Here is an Appreciation of Poul Anderson’s Trader to the Stars, a 1985 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.
By Michael Grossberg Trader to the Stars, part of Anderson’s interstellar and libertarian-themed Future History series written over four decades, offers three loosely interconnected and longer stories about the free-trade-oriented Polesotechnic League operating during a Terran Empire.
Blending adventure, mystery and sf with some swashbuckling heroism and vivid descriptions often evoking Norse sagas, this 1964 book centers on Nicholas van Rijn, a resourceful and clever Danish merchant-hero (Anderson was Danish-American).
Anderson, always a realist about humanity with a sensibility of a melancholy romantic, portrays both humans and aliens as self-interested, striving to make a buck and satisfy their various needs amid an imperfect world of struggling and flawed peoples – in short, a future just like today.