A pioneering anthology about the promise of liberty and perils of tyranny: The Survival of Freedom, the 2001 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

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:

By Michael Grossberg

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.

Continue reading A pioneering anthology about the promise of liberty and perils of tyranny: The Survival of Freedom, the 2001 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

A bold adventure and thought experiment about a free and just society: H. Beam Piper & John McGuire’s A Planet For Texans, the 1999 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing review-essays of past award-winners that make clear why each winner deserves recognition as pro-freedom.  Here is an Appreciation of H. Beam Piper and John McGuire’s A Planet for Texans (aka Lone Star Planet), inducted in 1999 into the Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction.

By Eric S. Raymond
In 2021, H. Beam Piper’s 1957 novel A Planet For Texans (co-written with John McGuire) can seem like little more than an appealing and rather lightweight adventure romp.

That’s because today we read it already having a good idea of what a libertarian minarchy would be like, and Piper’s New Texas seems like another exercise in familiar tropes.

In 1957 it was something much more, a bold and even shocking thought experiment – because it was among the very first works to propose that what we now think of as a libertarian minarchy would not immediately degenerate into a Hobbesian war against all, but could in fact be a stable and just society.

Continue reading A bold adventure and thought experiment about a free and just society: H. Beam Piper & John McGuire’s A Planet For Texans, the 1999 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

Love, liberty, longevity and Lazarus Long: Robert Heinlein’s Time Enough for Love, the 1998 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing review-essays of past award-winners that make clear why each winner deserves recognition as a pro-freedom work.
Here’s an Appreciation of Robert Heinlein’s Time Enough for Love, inducted into the 1998 Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction.

By Michael Grossberg

Who has time enough for Time Enough for Love?
For starters, fans of Robert Heinlein do – despite the epic novel’s length.

So do freedom-lovers who understand that freedom itself is a necessary (but not sufficient) prerequisite for human flourishing, human happiness and the fulfillment possible in life largely through love, family, creativity and achievement.

Continue reading Love, liberty, longevity and Lazarus Long: Robert Heinlein’s Time Enough for Love, the 1998 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

There and back again: Robert Heinlein’s Methuselah’s Children, the 1997 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing review-essays of past award-winners that make clear why each winner deserves recognition as a pro-freedom work.  Here’s an Appreciation of Robert Heinlein’s Methuselah’s Children, inducted in 1997 into the Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction.

By Anders Monsen

Robert A. Heinlein stands as an unrivaled Titan of libertarian science fiction. His influence runs deep, from the many of the writers recognized by the Libertarian Futurist Society’s Prometheus and Prometheus Hall of Fame awards, to the LFS members who’ve awarded Heinlein’s works multiple times, as well as this writer.

I still remember when I encountered for the first time such novels as The Puppet Masters, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Red Planet, Podkayne of Mars, as well as short stories like “Coventry,” “The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag,” “The Man Who Sold the Moon,” and “Waldo,” to name just a few.

Methuselah’s Children, inducted by the LFS in 1997 into the Prometheus Hall of Fame, is a short novel by today’s standards, yet it manages to squeeze multiple plots and ideas into just over 150 pages.

Continue reading There and back again: Robert Heinlein’s Methuselah’s Children, the 1997 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

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

An early “juvie” adventure in liberty on a Wild West Mars: Robert Heinlein’s Red Planet, the 1996 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as a notable pro-freedom work, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of all past award-winners. Here is the Appreciation for Robert Heinlein’s Red Planet, the 1996 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner:

By Anders Monsen

Many of Robert Heinlein’s novels featuring children have been lumped together and called “juvies” (or juveniles), as if they are children’s books. But, just like many Disney or Pixar animated movies, there are aspects of these works that go over the heads of a younger audience, whether those teens read the books as they first were published in the 1940s or 1950s, or whether they’re read today.

Red Planet, first published in 1949, is significant in terms of Heinlein’s bibliography, both as being one of the earliest juvies, and also because it introduces elements of Martian mythology that later appeared in Stranger in a Strange Land .

Ostensibly an adventure story centered around two boys on the run from an oppressive schoolmaster and conniving colony governor on Mars, Red Planet has two other themes or threads that elevate the novel beyond an adventure story. And make no mistake, this is written as an adventure story, with trials and tribulations that propel the action, for both the young and adult characters.

Continue reading An early “juvie” adventure in liberty on a Wild West Mars: Robert Heinlein’s Red Planet, the 1996 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

Authority, responsibility and a “man from Mars”: Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, a 1987 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing review-essays of past award-winners that make clear why each winner deserves recognition as a pro-freedom work.  Here is an Appreciation of Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, inducted into the 1987 Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction.

By William H. Stoddard
Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land wasn’t just a best seller, and the book that made publishers take science fiction seriously as a commercial proposition; it was a major influence on the hippie movement, the counterculture more generally, and neo-pagan and New Age thought.

Given all this, it seemed paradoxical to some readers that Heinlein was also the author of Starship Troopers,with its praise of military service and especially, as Heinlein said, of the “poor bloody infantry” — the foot-soldiers who stood between their native planets and the desolation of war. Heinlein himself saw no such paradox; he said, in fact, that the two books reflected the same ethical and political ideas.

What did these two seemingly disparate works have in common? At the deepest level, the answer is “a sort of libertarianism”: not advocacy of the free market, or of specific constitutional arrangements, or of constitutional goverment as such (though such ideas appear in Heinlein’s other works), but a basic ethical principle.

Continue reading Authority, responsibility and a “man from Mars”: Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, a 1987 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

Interview (part 2): William Stoddard on the challenges, rewards and future of the Prometheus Hall of Fame

“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.

Editor-writer William H. Stoddard in his library, with his GURPS book on Fantasy, published in 2004 (Photo courtesy of 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.

 

Continue reading Interview (part 2): William Stoddard on the challenges, rewards and future of the Prometheus Hall of Fame

How far can struggles against tyranny go without becoming tyrannical? C.M. Kornbluth’s The Syndic, a 1986 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 and/or anti-authoritarian works, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of all past award-winners. Here is an Appreciation of C.M. Kornbluth’s The Syndic, one of two 1986 Prometheus Hall of Fame inductees for Best Classic Fiction.

By William H. Stoddard

C.M. Kornbluth’s novel The Syndic was an early winner of the Hall of Fame Award, in 1986.

Originally published in 1953, it was an example both of what Isaac Asimov called “social science fiction,” envisioning a change in technology or human behavior and working out its cultural implications, and of “thought variant” fiction, seeking to explore provocative ideas.

Such ideas were supposed to stir up discussion by going against conventional beliefs, in the style Robert Heinlein envisioned in Space Cadet as a required seminar in “Doubt”:

The seminar leader would chuck out some proposition that attacked a value usually attacked as axiomatic. From there on anything could be said.

Kornbluth picked a really provocative premise: A future North America ruled by organized crime, with the government driven into exile, creating a freer and happier society than that of his own time. This led to a story with a lot of action, but one where social speculation was never far from sight.

Continue reading How far can struggles against tyranny go without becoming tyrannical? C.M. Kornbluth’s The Syndic, a 1986 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