You can’t get away from it these days, for good or ill.
Just about anywhere you look, from mainstream newspapers and magazines to Substack blogs and social-media references, writers, columnists and commentators frequently are referencing classic novels, stories and fables to forge timely metaphors about today’s trends.
All too many prove to be cautionary warnings about the importance of telling the truth, in the midst of so many public falsehoods… and draw upon some of the most enduring Prometheus-winning works of fiction, from George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four to Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”
Everyone has their favorites among the fiction works that have won the Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction.
And by everyone, I mean virtually everyone – since at least some of the 46 winning works are enjoyed by libertarians and non-libertarians alike, and by both science fiction/fantasy fans and those who don’t often read that genre.
Who had the more prophetic and realistic vision of a dystopian future?
George Orwell? Or Aldous Huxley?
Orwell, most famous for Nineteen Eighty-Four (one of the earliest works inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame), was inspired by Stalinist communism in imagining his “hard tyranny” of brute dictatorship.
Huxley, best known for Brave New World, worried that a softer tyranny would ultimately prevail, one more insidious partly because it was more enveloping of both politics and culture and more seductive via a future of mindless pleasures.
Writing for the Institute for Art and Ideas, a British philosophical organization founded in 2008, British university instructor Emrah Atasoy compares Orwell and Huxley’s different dystopian visions in an informed and provocative essay: “Orwell, Huxley and the path to truth: How fiction can help us to understand reality.”
To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade-plus history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as a pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian work of sf/fantasy, the Libertarian Futurist Society has been publishing since 2019 a series of Appreciations of all past award-winners.
Here is an Appreciation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the 2011 Prometheus Hall of Fame co-winner for Best Classic Fiction.
The title of the allegorical work may make Animal Farm sound like a children’s fable, but it isn’t.
Oh, the short novel certainly can – and probably should – be read by teenagers and more mature younger readers, who likely will enjoy it and also grasp its perennial theme about the corruptions of power and the absolute corruption of absolute power.
Young people are the readers, writers and citizens of tomorrow.
Hopefully, the next generation will also become advocates for liberty, peace and justice for all. Yet, that is not inevitable or automatic; children must be taught the heritage of humankind and must be exposed to the best of our common culture.
Encouraging the younger generations to read good books, including outstanding science fiction and fantasy and the literature of liberty, is the goal of a newly created list of past Prometheus Award-winners.
This recommended reading list, designed for children and teenagers but also as a guide for their parents and grandparents choosing gifts or making suggestions, is now posted on the LFS website as the “Prometheus Award Young Adult Honor Roll.”
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 21st century 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.”
To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ history while making clear what makes each winner deserve recognition as pro-freedom or anti-authoritarian sf/fantasy, the Libertarian Futurist Society is presenting weekly Appreciations of past award-winners. Here’s the Appreciation for Sarah Hoyt’s Darkship Thieves, the 2011 Prometheus Award winner for Best Novel:
Few sf/fantasy novels attempt to envision a fully free future, and only a fraction of those efforts prove fruitful and plausible, not to mention gripping in narrative and appealing in characters.
Darkship Thieves, with central characters to care about and a suspenseful, fast-paced plot, is especially intriguing to libertarians for its plausible portrait of a high-tech anarchist society among the asteroids.
With this 2010 novel, Sarah Hoyt launched a series of novels in the same future solar-system-wide scenario focusing on a heroic woman from an anarchist colony in the asteroid belt who must fight for her freedom and identity against a tyrannical Earth.
Hoyt, a deft master of many genres, blends science fiction with romance, adventure, political intrigue and individualist-feminist themes.