A probing work of “social sf” and libertarian praxis: An appreciation of Barry Longyear’s The Hook, the 2021 Prometheus Best Novel winner

By Michael Grossberg

Many people have viewed science fiction as all about futuristic technology – starships, robots, interstellar travel, space habitats, vast mega-engineering feats, etc.

Yet, some of the best so-called “sf” of the past century has been what is sometimes called “social science fiction.”

Such works may incorporate various speculative forms of advanced technology, especially to work out how such technology affects people and changes culture.

Yet the most interesting aspects of such “social sf” is how it illuminates the various socio-political, economic and cultural implications of new ideas, different attitudes or fundamental changes in how a society’s norms, laws and system of government work.

In the rare and exemplary case of Barry Longyear’s The Hook, the 2021 Prometheus Best Novel winner, the dramatic and fascinating focus is on what happens to a society when its government is abolished – but other governments continue to threaten its freedom and independence.

Continue reading A probing work of “social sf” and libertarian praxis: An appreciation of Barry Longyear’s The Hook, the 2021 Prometheus Best Novel winner

Works by Asimov, Heinlein, Lafferty, Lewis, Longyear, Pratchett and more: Judges to select Prometheus Hall of Fame finalists from eight nominees

LFS members have nominated eight works for the next Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction.

Among them are one song, a novelette, a collection of linked short stories, two short stories and three novels – reflecting the many forms of fiction that are eligible for consideration in this Prometheus category.

With the nominations deadline having passed in September, here is the final list of this year’s nominees:

* The End of Eternity,  a 1955 novel by Isaac Asimov
* “Free Men,” a 1966 novelette by Robert Heinlein
* “Primary Education of the Camiroi,” a 1966 short story by R.A. Lafferty
* That Hideous Strength, a 1945 novel by C.S. Lewis
* Circus World, a 1981 collection of linked stories by Barry B. Longyear
* “The Trees,” a 1978 song by Neal Peart and Rush
* The Truth,  a 2000 novel by Terry Pratchett
* “Or Give Me Death,” a 1955 short story by Donald Westlake

Continue reading Works by Asimov, Heinlein, Lafferty, Lewis, Longyear, Pratchett and more: Judges to select Prometheus Hall of Fame finalists from eight nominees

Nerds, jocks and sf fans: LFS/Reason panelists explore why some people embrace libertarian ideas (and why some don’t)

Contrary to some perceptions, science fiction fans – and paradoxically, both nerds and jocks – are more likely to come to appreciate the benefits of freedom and voluntary cooperation and more often begin to see the dangerous defects in authoritarian systems of the Left or Right.

That insight was one of the richer and more unexpected subjects explored by prominent panelists during a recent Libertarian Futurist Society panel discussion.

With Reason magazine as the media sponsor, the online panel followed the 2021 Prometheus Awards ceremony, in which Barry B. Longyear and F. Paul Wilson won awards.

Continue reading Nerds, jocks and sf fans: LFS/Reason panelists explore why some people embrace libertarian ideas (and why some don’t)

Liberty, power and sf: Highlights and video of 2021 Prometheus Awards and “SF & Liberty” panel with Reason editors, Barry Longyear, LFS president

“For me, there’s something that science fiction has always been the vehicle for thinking about: What would the world be like if different or fewer people had power? That’s an idea that’s increasingly appealing.”
— Katherine Mangu-Ward, Editor-in-Chief of Reason magazine

“Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t believe anyone who has received a Prometheus award has complained about the Prometheus awards. I know some leftwing authors who have received a Prometheus award who are proud of it. They seem to realize that there is something appropriate to it.”
— Jesse Walker, Reason books editor

“I have all sorts of immortality stories, and I’m afraid I’m not in one of them.”
— Novelist Barry B. Longyear, 2021 Prometheus winner for Best Novel

“I like to think the boundaries of what people see as libertarian ideas is blurring into the boundaries of what people perceive as just good mainstream ideas… and that may be a hopeful turn.”
– Mangu-Ward

Those are just a few of the interesting or amusing comments made during the related panel discussion on “SF, Liberty, Alternative Publishing Trends and the Prometheus Awards” that followed the 2021 Prometheus Awards ceremony.

Continue reading Liberty, power and sf: Highlights and video of 2021 Prometheus Awards and “SF & Liberty” panel with Reason editors, Barry Longyear, LFS president

“A beacon of libertarian freedom” – Barry Longyear’s acceptance speech for The Hook, the 2021 Prometheus winner for Best Novel

What is freedom?
How can we achieve it?
How can we defend it?

Veteran sf novelist Barry B. Longyear, winner of the 2021 Prometheus Award for Best Novel, discussed those questions in his acceptance speech, which he delivered Aug. 21 during the Libertarian Futurist Society’s online 2021 Prometheus Awards ceremony.

Here is the transcript of Longyear’s speech, which discusses his 2021 winner, The Hook, Book Five of The War Whisperer:

By Barry B. Longyear

On behalf of The Hook, Book 5 of The War Whisperer, I thank the members of the Libertarian Futurist Society for their Prometheus Award.

The seven volumes of The War Whisperer are, essentially, a fictionalized think-and-do on human freedom: What it is, how it works, how to achieve it, and how to defend it.

The first four volumes, through the eyes of Jerome Track, show what the problems are as well as presenting and absorbing the elements of the solution.

In Book 5: The Hook, is at last that beacon of libertarian freedom and one possible answer to the charge that has, up until now, always led the libertarian argument down paths of compromise or fantasy: How does a society that forbids the initiation of coercive force defend itself against military invasion?

That is the libertarian hook.

Continue reading “A beacon of libertarian freedom” – Barry Longyear’s acceptance speech for The Hook, the 2021 Prometheus winner for Best Novel

Prometheus winner Barry Longyear, Reason magazine editors, and LFS president to discuss book publishing trends, sf, liberty and the libertarian movement on Zoom panel at 2021 awards ceremony

How is technology expanding book publishing and alternative fiction, a trend reflected more strongly than ever in this year’s slate of Best Novel finalists for the Prometheus Award?

What’s the historic relationship among science fiction, liberty and the libertarian movement-and is that changing?

What are the challenges and pitfalls of balancing artistic merit in fiction and awards with ideology and positive social values?

Barry B. Longyear (Courtesy of author)

How do this year’s Prometheus winners – Longyear’s The Hook and F. Paul Wilson’s satirical story “Lipidleggin’” – explore the value of individual freedom and human rights, champion cooperation over coercion, dramatize the perennial tensions between liberty and power and/or expose the evils of tyranny, slavery and other abuses of unchecked government power?

All these questions will be discussed Saturday afternoon Aug. 21 during the 41st annual Prometheus Awards ceremony in a free post-ceremony Zoom panel discussion, with Reason magazine as media sponsor.

Reason editor-in-chief Katherine Mangu-Ward and Reason book editor Jesse Walker will join award-winning author Barry B. Longyear and Libertarian Futurist Society president William H. Stoddard in the post-ceremony panel discussion (for free access, see Zoom link below) on “SF, Liberty, Alternative Publishing Trends and the Prometheus Awards.”

Continue reading Prometheus winner Barry Longyear, Reason magazine editors, and LFS president to discuss book publishing trends, sf, liberty and the libertarian movement on Zoom panel at 2021 awards ceremony

Burgeoning tech options of modern publishing – online, audio and print – made possible the Prometheus Award slate of 2021 Best Novel finalists

By Michael Grossberg

The 2021 Prometheus Awards slate of Best Novel finalists, just announced, reflects an interesting first in the four-decade-plus history of the award.

See if you can identify this first – hint: a reflection of a long-term trend in modern publishing – from scanning this list of the finalist novels, their authors and publishers:

Who Can Own the Stars?  by Mackey Chandler (Amazon Kindle)
* Storm between the Starsby Karl K. Gallagher (Kelt Haven Press)
* The War Whisperer, Book 5: The Hook, by Barry B. Longyear (Enchanteds)
* Braintrust: Requiem, by Marc Stiegler (LMBPN Publishing)
* Heaven’s River, by Dennis E. Taylor (An Audible Original, print and ebook editions The Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency)

Continue reading Burgeoning tech options of modern publishing – online, audio and print – made possible the Prometheus Award slate of 2021 Best Novel finalists

LFS judges weigh slate of Best Novel nominees

Eleven novels have been nominated by Libertarian Futurist Society members for the 2021 Prometheus Award for Best Novel.

These novels, published 2020, reflect a wide range of subjects, styles and settings – from the day after tomorrow to the distant future, and from right here on Earth to far-flung solar systems.

Yet, each novel in some way illuminates the value and meaning of freedom, explores the ethics and benefits of cooperation over coercion, and/or dramatizes the dangers of tyranny, aggression, war and authoritarianism in its myriad forms of the Left or Right.

Continue reading LFS judges weigh slate of Best Novel nominees