Tyranny? in America? Sinclair Lewis imagined it in his cautionary 1935 tale It Can’t Happen Here, the 2007 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 and/or anti-authoritarian work, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of all past award-winners.

Here is an Appreciation for Sinclair Lewis’ novel It Can’t Happen Here, a 2007 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

By Michael Grossberg

“It can’t happen here.”

That common American comment, widely uttered in the 1920s and 1930s as the rest of the world seemingly was going crazy or descending into tyranny and barbarism, became the resonant title of Sinclair Lewis’ cautionary 1935 novel.

First published during the dark era of 1930s collectivism marked by the rise of fascism in Italy and Hitler’s National Socialism in Germany, It Can’t Happen Here offers a semi-satirical tale and timely warning about the potential rise of similar totalitarianism within the United States.

The central character Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip is a demagogue who incites fear while promoting traditional patriotism and ends up elected U.S. President. Windrip takes complete control of the government by exploiting a ruthless paramilitary force, outlawing dissent, ending women’s and minority rights and eliminating the influence of the U.S. Congress.

Continue reading Tyranny? in America? Sinclair Lewis imagined it in his cautionary 1935 tale It Can’t Happen Here, the 2007 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

Anarchism, socialism, “propertarians” and ambiguous utopias: Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, the 1993 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction

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 began publishing in 2019 an Appreciation series of all past award-winners.

Here’s an Appreciation of Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, the 1993 inductee into the Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction (and perhaps the most controversial work to ever be inducted into the Hall of Fame.)

By Michael Grossberg
Two alleged utopias are explored and contrasted in The Dispossessed, Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1974 novel about a rebel who leaves one world for the other.

As befits any intelligent observer of the 20th and 21st century who must take into account the emergence of dystopian fiction as a major subgenre in response to the authoritarian and collectivist horrors of socialism, communism, national socialism and fascism in Russia, China, Germany, Italy and elsewhere, Le Guin underlines her complex theme by subtitling her novel “An Ambiguous Utopia.”

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Big Brother, truth, doublethink, thoughtcrime, Newspeak & memory holes: George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, a 1984 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as notable pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian/dystopian sf/fantasy, the Libertarian Futurist Society has been publishing since 2019 a weekly series of Appreciations of all past award-winners, beginning with the first category for Best Novel and now focusing on the Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction.

Here is an Appreciation of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, a co-winner of the 1984 Prometheus Hall of Fame award for Best Classic Fiction.

By Michael Grossberg
“Big Brother is Watching” is just one phrase that’s become widely known from Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell’s cautionary 1948 novel about a future totalitarian society in which almost everyone is caught up in the power-worshiping cult of the charismatic ruler.

Few works of fiction have connected so deeply to popular culture that they introduce even one catchphrase or line of dialogue that still resonates today, but Orwell’s cautionary tale generated several that even in the 21stcentury haven’t yet been flushed down the “memory hole” of popular culture.

Among the neologisms that continue to be quoted widely and resonate through American and world culture: Thought Police, Newspeak, “proles,” “thoughtcrime,” “doublethink,” Room 101, Two Minutes Hate, and “unperson.”

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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