The alien Tralfamadorians surely won’t be the only sentient beings celebrating the 100th anniversary Nov. 11, 2022, of Kurt Vonnegut’s birth.
Anyone who appreciates a blend of humor with social commentary in novels and stories that often incorporate science fiction should celebrate the memory of one of the most influential and popular American writers and novelists of the 20th century.
From his first stories published in Astounding Science Fiction to such late novels as Friday and Job, Robert Heinlein was recognized as an outstanding science fiction writer.
For many of us, though, our introduction to his writing, and often to science fiction as a genre, came from the twelve novels he published through Charles Scribner’s Sons.
Categorized as “juvenile” and aimed at an audience ranging from boys in junior high school to young men in the armed forces, these books in fact speak to a far wider audience, and are more sophisticated both in literary technique and in the ideas they present, than almost any other boys’ books and indeed than many books for adults.
And those ideas are often relevant to libertarian concerns.
In his apt introduction and presentation of the Prometheus Hall of Fame category at the recent 2022 Prometheus Awards ceremony, LFS President William H. Stoddard explains why this annual awards category is such an important part of the Libertarian Futurist Society’s awards program – and why this year’s inductee by Robert Heinlein is so deserving of recognition.
The late great Robert Heinlein has received his eighth Prometheus Awards recognition over more than four decades, with his 1957 novel Citizen of the Galaxy recently inducted into the Libertarian Futurist Society’s Prometheus Hall of Fame.
Although Heinlein passed in 1988, his fans are fortunate to have two organizations carrying on his legacy in related and cooperative ways: the Heinlein Trust, established by his wife Ginny after his death, and the Heinlein Society.
Art Dula, Trustee of the Robert A. and Virginia Heinlein Prize Trust, gave an eloquent and informative extemporaneous speech accepting the 2022 Prometheus Hall of Fame award in Heinlein’s name and memory. Like the entire 40-minute ceremony, broadcast and recorded Aug. 13 on Zoom, Dula’s speech is available to watch on YouTube.*
Meanwhile, John Tilden, president of the Heinlein Society, followed Dula in delivering an interesting and insightful second acceptance speech, for which we do have the text, which we share here for posterity:
By Michael Grossberg Almost three quarters of a century after the publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four, the influence and prophetic power of George Orwell hasn’t faded.
Quite the contrary.
With the rise of “cancel culture” and various online-sparked mob panics increasingly common in our so-called enlightened modern era and with such dystopian experiments as the recent failed roll-out of the current administration’s “Disinformation Governance Board,” it’s become virtually impossible to read informed commentary across a broad spectrum of opinion magazines and columnists without coming across Orwellian references and warnings these days.
Several leading sf writers whose classic works have won Prometheus Awards are examined in a new anthology about science fiction’s New Wave.
Most notably, Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Marsh Mistress and Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed are among the libertarian sf works explored, contrasted and debated in Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950-1985.
Reason book editor Jesse Walker reviews the anthology of essays while noting its discussions of libertarian writers and libertarian-themed sf in the March 2022 issue of Reason magazine.
This year’s nominees for the Prometheus Hall of Fame encompass several genres and types of fiction.
Of the eight works being considered by judges as potential finalists, one is a short story, one a song, one a TV episode, one a collection of linked stories and four are novels – plus, half are first-time nominees.
This year’s line-up of Best Classic Fiction nominees may be the freshest in years as well as the broadest, at least in terms of types of fiction, in the history of this Prometheus awards category, first presented in 1983.
To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as a notable pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian work, the Libertarian Futurist Society has been publishing since 2019 an Appreciation series of all past award-winners.
Here is a review essay about F. Paul Wilson’s story “Lipidleggin’,” the 2021 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction. With this appreciation for this year’s winner, our Appreciation series for the Hall of Fame category of the Prometheus Awards is now complete.
Here is F. Paul Wilson’s acceptance speech for winning the 2021 Prometheus Award for Best Classic Fiction (the Hall of Fame) for his short story “Lipidleggin'”, which he delivered Aug. 21, 2021, during the online ceremony for the 41st annual Prometheus Awards:
By F. Paul Wilson
Many thanks to the members of the Libertarian Futurist Society for this honor.
I’ll be brief. (“Lipidleggin’” is a short story, after all.)
Back in the 1970s, a national health care system was a major political topic. (Some things never change, do they?) So I asked the next question: If the State is paying for your health care, won’t the State demand a say in behaviors that it considers hazardous to your health? Like, oh, say, banning saturated fats?
So, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, I wrote this little cautionary tale about a day when foods with saturated fats – such as butter and eggs – would be banned by the government. I mean, I saw how it could happen, but never for a moment did I believe it would happen. Not in a free country like our good old U.S. of A.
To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as a notable pro-freedom work, the Libertarian Futurist Society has been publishing since 2019 an Appreciation series of all past award-winners.
Here is an Appreciation for Jack Williamson’s “With Folded Hands…,” the 2018 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.
Jack Williamson’s novelette “With Folded Hands . . .” illustrates one of the distinctive characteristics of science fiction: its tendency to a kind of dialogue, in which one author’s stories comment on earlier stories by other authors. (Poul Anderson was noteworthy for this kind of writing, in stories such as “Journeys End,” which offered a different view of relationships between telepaths, and “The Man Who Came Early,” which questioned the assumptions of “castaways in time” stories such as Lest Darkness Fall.)
In 1947, when Williamson’s novelette appeared in Astounding Science Fiction, the idea of essentially benevolent robots was well established there; Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics (which Astounding’s editor, John W. Campbell, played a part in formulating) had been explicitly stated in Asimov’s novelette “Runaround” five years before, in 1942. What Williamson did was not to revert to the older theme of monstrous and hostile robots (which Asimov had called “the Frankenstein complex”), but to look at Asimov’s own vision of robots from a different angle.