Prometheus-winning author James P. Hogan was a maverick thinker who championed both liberty and technology while recognizing the reactionary and harmful impact of government, bureaucracy and irrationality on our lives.
Such themes are woven into his 26 novels, many short stories and essays – almost all of which remain available in print and mostly remain fresh and timeless today.
For posterity, the Prometheus blog is proud to be the first to post a lengthy and revealing interview that two-time Prometheus winner James P. Hogan gave just after the turn of the 21st century.
More than 90 percent of that interview was not included in a newspaper profile of Hogan, so it appears here uncut and complete for the first time.
Hogan (1941-2020) sadly is no longer with us, but almost all of his 26 novels remain in print – and many are worth reading or rereading for their ingenious premises, imaginative speculations (some of which have since come true) and their intelligent, insightful and realistic blend of science and politics.
After working for many years in England as an electrical engineer, computer salesman and digital-information executive, James P. Hogan wrote his first novel Inherit the Wind to win an office bet.
Against the odds, he won that bet. With his first novel an acclaimed bestseller that received quotable praise from Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov, Hogan was on his way – and he ultimately would write 26 novels before his untimely death in 2010 – including the Prometheus winners Voyage From Yesteryear and The Multiplex Man.
Here is the third part of a previously unpublished 2001 interview with Hogan, which sheds light on his work, philosophy and many novels:
I still remember reading James P. Hogan for the first time. What a discovery – and what a mind-expanding thrill.
His science-fiction novels were compulsively readable and scientifically plausible, while often upholding values I cherished, such as a commitment to reason, science, progress, persuasion, free inquiry and liberty.
I loved Inherit the Stars and The Genesis Machine – his first two acclaimed and bestselling novels – for their brilliant science-laced plots and fascinating ideas. And then I read Voyage From Yesteryear, an explicitly libertarian classic that won the 1983 Prometheus Award for Best Novel – and remains today one of the few novels that convincingly portrays a fully free society in a plausible future.
Two-time Prometheus winner James P. Hogan died in 2010, but his ideas, words and novels live on.
For the first time in print, here is the wide-ranging, full-fledged uncut interview (recently rediscovered among some boxes of papers and memorabilia) that Hogan gave in 2001 to LFS co-founder Michael Grossberg.
Would you change your life and career just to win an office bet?
Most people wouldn’t, but one adventurous, forward-thinking man did in the 1970s in Great Britain.
If not for that office bet, we might never have enjoyed the many sf novels conceived by one of the best “hard-science-fiction” writers in the field.
Even worse for liberty lovers and LFS members, we might not have benefited from the life and unlikely bestselling career of this man, a true maverick
Who was it?
Here’s a clue: Once he began writing science fiction, this native Englishman ended up writing 26 novels. Thirteen of them received Prometheus nominations for Best Novel – more than almost any other author.* Seven became Best Novel finalists and two won Prometheus Awards.
Can you guess now? (All his Best Novel nominees, finalists and winners are listed in reverse-chronological order on the LFS website on its Prometheus Awards page. Check it out.)
Who are the most popular authors in Prometheus Awards history?
One could answer that question in several different ways, such as looking at a bestselling writer’s number of books sold or in print – or more narrowly, in terms of our award, comparing the number of Prometheus Awards different writers have won over the decades in different categories. (The Prometheus Blog will explore the latter perspective in later postings.)
But let’s focus first on one parameter that roughly reflects the ongoing popularity and relevance of different sf/fantasy authors among LFS members over more than four decades: How many times an author has simply been nominated by LFS members for a Prometheus Award.
Without peeking at the next page or examining the track record of past winners on the LFS website’s Prometheus Awards page, how many of the Top Ten most popular authors can you guess?
Science fiction has mainly been based on the natural sciences, from astronomy to biology; economics and the other social sciences come on stage less often.
Certainly, social science fiction was one of Isaac Asimov’s three categories of science fiction (along with gadget stories and adventure stories—as TV Tropes puts it, “Man invents car” can be followed by “lectures on how it works,” “gets into car chase,” or “gets stuck in traffic”).
But the premise for social science fiction was commonly a discovery or invention in the natural sciences, whose social and economic consequences are explored. It’s not so common for science fiction to be inspired by an economic theory.
Nonetheless, some theories have been the basis for science fiction stories. Economic issues are a major concern for libertarians; how science fiction deals with such issues is worth exploring.