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Volume 3, Number 1, Winter, 1985

Letter

By Len Jackson

As was explained in the cover story our nominating procedure will remain the same—only one member will have to nominate a book for the Prometheus and Hall of Fame Awards. Several members included a few words of defense for the old rule with their voting ballot, but Len Jackson was so disturbed by the proposed change that she wrote a passionate speech in favor of the one man/woman, one nomination rule. Her letter is included here so that all the members can read her remarks for themselves.

 

I’m concerned about this procedural change which proposes that books should be nominated for the Prometheus Award by more than one person. Yes, it would reduce the number of nominations—but is that really a desirable thing? I think that we need the largest, rather than the smallest, possible number of nominations.

First, there are very few people nominating books; if we make it more difficult for a book to get on the list a potential winner might be left off simply because too few peop1e have managed to get to it.

Second, there is such a wide divergence of opinion among us, based on previous communications, on what constitutes both “libertarianism” and “science fiction” that, with fewer books being nominated, an entire genre of literature might be eliminated by this move. I prefer to read as many different varieties of what other people consider libertarian science fiction as possible—partly for my own education.

Third, this is supposed to be a libertarian organization, with (I should think) an emphasis on individual action. I am uncomfortable with the idea that it takes a group of people, no matter how loose, to nominate a book for a libertarian award.

Let’s give the first proposed change, allowing books to be nominated all through the year, a chance to work. I think that this will reduce the load (which I do admit is a bit much) of having to read 20 to 30 books in a very short period. The number of books doesn’t bother me. but the time period does—and spreading out that period should help.

Further, I suggest that we help each other out. If you nominate a book, write a brief (two or three sentences at most) statement-review on why you nominated it. Ten words or less would do it: “patchy, amateurish writing, but great emphasis on personal liberties”. Don’t just give your opinion, tell why you hold the opinion. Use a point system if it helps (I do): a possible 10 points for writing style, a possible 10 for libertarian thought, with a book having to do well in both categories to be taken seriously as a nominee. This will help all of us to decide which books to read in the first place. Getting a tip from someone else about every nominated work would help in the selection process.

As a final point, I refuse to give credence to the complaint of some people that they are having to read too much. If anyone is put out by this amount of work, s/he has the wrong hobby.

Personally, with apologies to Sandra Boynton, I like reading, using the word “like” as in “I like to breathe”. Reading as a judge for an award is just a reason to do what I’d do anyway, with a much more dignified excuse.

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