Billionaire blogger Bill Gates is highlighting a Prometheus Best Novel finalist among his favorite books of the year.
On the book page of Gates’ blog, he’s currently recommending Klara and the Sun, by Nobel Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro.
Almost all the books Gates recommends on his blog are non-fiction, but occasionally a novel pops up – such as Amor Towles’ A Gentleman in Moscow or David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas (an epic sf/fantasy perhaps best known for the ambitious film version of its multi-era reincarnation saga.)
The sympathetic character at the center of Klara and the Sun is profoundly human in her caring, determination, curiosity, loyalty and observant intelligence.
And yet, Klara is an artificial being, an android branded and sold as an Artificial Friend in Kazuo Ishiguro’s acclaimed novel, one of five 2022 Prometheus Best Novel finalists.
Set a generation or two into the future and strictly told from the highly limited point of view of Klara, the novel never fully answers the question of whether Klara has achieved full self-awareness (and thus should be treated as a person with rights.)
Yet, Ishiguro carefully drops enough clues and hints to make Klara and the Sun both a tantalizingly ambiguous mystery about the threshold of full consciousness and a haunting meta-libertarian parable about the foundations of rights and the tragedy that can occur when basic “humanity” and basic rights go unrecognized.
A Nobel-Prize-winning author has written a novel chosen as a Best Novel finalist – a notable and interesting intersection of two literary awards with quite different focuses.
Japanese-British author Kazuo Ishiguro, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, writes mostly “mainstream” fiction that often conveys a wistful sense of loss and missed connections.
Klara and the Sun, Ishiguro’s latest novel about the ambiguous status of an intelligent and curious A.F. (Artificial Friend), was recently named by Libertarian Futurist Society judges as one of five 2022 Best Novel finalists.
Even after building up a relatively consistent track record over 43 years, the Prometheus Awards can surprise by venturing here and there into new territory and new authors.
This year’s interesting and varied slate of five Best Novel finalists, selected from 16 nominees by LFS members serving as judges on the Best Novel finalist-selection committee, happens to reflect several intriguing “firsts” or rarities in the history of the awards.
Here are the five finalists, all published in 2021 and contenders for the 2022 Prometheus Award, to be presented online in August at a time and place to be announced:
• Between Home and Ruin, by Karl K. Gallagher (Kelt Haven Press, 227 pages) • Seize What’s Held Dear, by Karl K. Gallagher (Kelt Haven Press, 244 pages)
• Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber and Faber, 321 pages) • Rich Man’s Sky, by Wil McCarthy (Baen Books, 291 pages)
• Should We Stay Or Should We Go, by Lionel Shriver (Harper Collins, 266 pages)
Just from looking over the finalists list, can you guess any of those “firsts?
As a sort of fun “pop quiz,” why not take a moment to ponder that – before clicking over to the jump page of this blog, which has the answers.
If one of the salutary effects of the Prometheus Award for Best Novel over the decades has been to help raise the visibility of new, young or emerging talent, that goal might well be furthered by this year’s larger-than-usual slate of nominees.
These 16 novels, published in 2021 and listed below, reflect a wide range of styles, from the satirical to the sorrowful and from hard sf to mythic fantasy.