2024 Best Novel finalists include both science fiction and fantasy – and honor two writers for the first time

By Michael Grossberg

Two writers have been recognized for the first time within the Prometheus Awards’ 45-year history as Best Novel finalists. Three other Best Novel finalist authors have been recognized more than once before in that annual category – and one is a previous Prometheus winner.

Moreover, in a relatively rare occurrence for the Prometheus Awards, not all Best Novel finalists this year fall within the genre of science fiction; one happens to fit the fantasy genre.

Devon Eriksen, Karl K. Gallagher, Gordon Hanka, Howard Andrew Jones and Daniel Suarez have each written a 2023 novel that’s been selected by Prometheus judges as a 2024 Best Novel finalist.

The Libertarian Futurist Society, a nonprofit all-volunteer international organization of freedom-loving science-fiction/fantasy fans, announced the five finalists Wednesday (April 17) as part of the 44th annual Prometheus Awards.

Here are the finalists in brief, in alphabetical order by author:

Writer Devon Eriksen

• Theft of Fire,  by Devon Eriksen (Devon Eriksen LLC)

This is Eriksen’s first Prometheus nomination – and, even more impressively,  his first novel in a projected series.

Check out the recent Prometheus Blog review of Theft of Fire.

Karl K. Gallagher (2024 photo courtesy of Gallagher)

• Swim Among the People,  by Karl. K. Gallagher (Kelt Haven Press)

Gallagher is a frequent Best Novel nominee and finalist.

Swim Among the People is his seventh Best Novel nominee in the past seven years.

Gallagher’s first Prometheus nomination came in 2018 for the three novels in his interstellar Torchship trilogy (Torchship, Torchship Pilot and Torchship Captain), which were combined by LFS judges into one nomination (since together, they tell one complete story) and became a 2018 Best Novel finalist.

Gallagher has been nominated repeatedly for his ambitious multi-volume Fall of the Censor series, an interstellar saga set in the distant future. Storm Between the Stars (Book One) became a 2021 Best Novel finalist; Between Home and Ruin (Book 2) and Seize What’s Held Dear (Book 3) were 2022 Best Novel finalists; and Captain Trader Helmsman Spy (Book 4) was a 2023 Best Novel finalist.

Check out the combined Prometheus Blog review of Gallagher’s two 2022 Best Novel finalists Between Home and Ruin and Seize What’s Held Dear.

Writer Gordon Hanka

* God’s Girlfriend, by Dr. Insensitive Jerk (AKA Gordon Hanka) (Amazon)

Hanka, a retired economics professor, previously was nominated twice in the Best Novel category. His first nomination came in 2022 for Sainthood in Sixty Seconds, and his second was in 2023 for A Beast Cannot Feign, a Best Novel finalist.

Both novels are part of Hanka’s five-volume Gaia’s Wasp series, which culminates with God’s Girlfriend.

Writer Howard Andrew Jones (Photo courtesy of Baen Books)

• Lord of a Shattered Land, by Howard Andrew Jones (Baen Books)

This is the first Prometheus nomination for Jones, a widely acclaimed fantasy novelist.

Although all types of speculative fiction (including science fiction and fantasy) have always been eligible for Prometheus Awards recognition, this is one of the very few fantasy novels to become a Best Novel finalist in the history of our awards.

In addition, a somewhat cursory half-hour examination of all past Best Novel nominees — listed on the LFS website’s Past Prometheus Best Novel nominees page (also directly accessible from the main Prometheus Awards page) — suggests that Jones’ novel may well be the first sword-and-sorcery-style fantasy to become a Prometheus finalist.

Check out the recent Prometheus Blog review of Lord of a Shattered Land.

Prometheus-winning author Daniel Suarez (Creative Commons license)

• Critical Mass, by Daniel Suarez (Dutton).

Suarez won the  2015 Prometheus Award for Best Novel for Influx. (Check out the Prometheus Appreciation essay-review of Suarez’s sci-fi-laced techno-thriller.)

Critical Mass is the fifth Best Novel nomination Suarez has received.

Check out the recent Prometheus Blog review of Critical Mass.

His first nomination was for Kill Decision, a 2013 Prometheus Best Novel finalist.

Suarez also has been nominated for Best Novel for Change Agent (in 2018) and for Delta-V (in 2020), which launched the Delta-V series that includes Critical Mass as a direct sequel.

For more about the 2024 Best Novel finalists, read the official LFS news release, which contains descriptions of each novel.

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WHAT DOES THE WINNER GET?

The Best Novel winner will receive an engraved plaque with a one-ounce gold coin, currently valued at roughly $2,400.

The Libertarian Futurist Society’s annual online Prometheus awards ceremony, open to the public and streaming via Zoom, is tentatively planned for mid-August on a weekend-afternoon date to be announced in July, once the winners are known for both annual categories, including the Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction.

OTHER 2023 BEST NOVEL NOMINEES

Seventeen 2023 novels were nominated by LFS members for this year’s award – a near-record, the highest number in this century and the most since the first few years of the award in the early 1980s.

Also nominated: Futureproof, by Stephen Albrecht (Hybrid Global Publishing); Queen Wallis, by C.J. Carey (Sourcebooks Landmark);  The Long View, by Mackey Chandler (Amazon); Liberty’s Daughter, by Naomi Kritzer (Fairwood Press); Prophet Song, by Paul Lynch (Atlantic Monthly Press); Julia, by Sandra Newman (Harper Collins’ Mariner Books); House of Gold,  by C.T. Rwizi (47North);  Victory City, by Salman Rushdie (Random House); Trail of Travail, by R.H. Snow (Rosa de Oro); Black Hats, by Steve Wire (Plaintext Publishing); Hacking Galileo, by Fenton Wood (Amazon); and Misplaced Threats, by Alan Zimm (BookMarketeers.)

WHAT MAKES THE PROMETHEUS AWARD DISTINCTIVE?

The Prometheus Award, sponsored by the Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS), was established and first presented in 1979, making it one of the most enduring awards after the Nebula and Hugo awards, and one of the oldest fan-based awards currently given in sf. The Prometheus Hall of Fame category for Best Classic Fiction, launched in 1983, is presented annually with the Best Novel category.

For more than four decades, the Prometheus Awards have recognized outstanding works of science fiction and fantasy that dramatize the perennial conflict between Liberty and Power, favor voluntary cooperation over institutionalized coercion, expose the abuses and excesses of coercive government, and/or critique or satirize authoritarian systems, ideologies and assumptions.

Above all, the Prometheus Awards strive to recognize speculative fiction that champions individual rights — based on the moral/legal principle of non-aggression — as the ethical and practical foundation for peace, prosperity, progress, justice, tolerance, mutual respect, civility and civilization itself.

Note: Three Best Novel finalists have recently been reviewed here: Critical Mass, Theft of Fire and Lord of a Shattered Land.

Stay tuned to the Prometheus Blog for upcoming reviews of the other Best Novel finalists: Swim among the People and God’s Girlfriend.

IF YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE PROMETHEUS AWARDS:

* Prometheus winners: For the full list of Prometheus winners, finalists and nominees – including the annual Best Novel and Best Classic Fiction (Hall of Fame) categories and occasional Special Awards – visit the enhanced Prometheus Awards page on the LFS website, which now includes convenient links to all published essay-reviews in our Appreciation series explaining why each of more than 100 past winners since 1979 fits the awards’ distinctive dual focus.

* Read “The Libertarian History of Science Fiction,”an essay in the international magazine Quillette that favorably highlights the Prometheus Awards, the Libertarian Futurist Society and the significant element of libertarian sf/fantasy in the evolution of the modern genre.

Watch videos of past Prometheus Awards ceremonies (including the recent 2023 ceremony with inspiring and amusing speeches by Prometheus-winning authors Dave Freer and Sarah Hoyt),Libertarian Futurist Society panel discussions with noted sf authors and leading libertarian writers, and other LFS programs on the Prometheus Blog’s Video page.

* Check out the Libertarian Futurist Society’s Facebook page  for comments, updates and links to Prometheus Blog posts.

Join us! To help sustain the Prometheus Awards and support a cultural and literary strategy to appreciate and honor freedom-loving fiction,  jointhe Libertarian Futurist Society, a non-profit all-volunteer association of freedom-loving sf/fantasy fans.

Libertarian futurists believe that culture matters! We understand that the arts and literature can be vital in envisioning a freer and better future – and in some ways can be even more powerful than politics in the long run, by better visions of the future, innovation, peace, prosperity, positive social change, and mutual respect for each other’s rights, individuality and human dignity.

Through recognizing the literature of liberty and the many different but complementary visions of a free future via the Prometheus Awards, the LFS hopes to help spread better visions of the future that help humanity overcome tyranny, end slavery, reduce the threat of war, repeal or constrain other abuses of coercive power and achieve universal liberty, respect for human rights and a better world (perhaps ultimately, worlds) for all.

 

 

Published by

Michael Grossberg

Michael Grossberg, who founded the LFS in 1982 to help sustain the Prometheus Awards, has been an arts critic, speaker and award-winning journalist for five decades. Michael has won Ohio SPJ awards for Best Critic in Ohio and Best Arts Reporting (seven times). He's written for Reason, Libertarian Review and Backstage weekly; helped lead the American Theatre Critics Association for two decades; and has contributed to six books, including critical essays for the annual Best Plays Theatre Yearbook and an afterword for J. Neil Schulman's novel The Rainbow Cadenza. Among books he recommends from a libertarian-futurist perspective: Matt Ridley's The Rational Optimist & How Innovation Works, David Boaz's The Libertarian Mind and Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress.

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