Alternate history, warped ideology, national socialism and the omnipotent State: An Appreciation of Brad Linaweaver’s Moon of Ice, the 1989 Prometheus Best Novel winner

The Libertarian Futurist Society’s ongoing Appreciation series strives to make clear what libertarian futurists see in each of our past winners and how each fit the Prometheus award’s distinctive focus on Liberty vs. Power. Here is our Appreciation for Brad Linaweaver’s Moon of Ice, the 1989 Best Novel winner:

By Michael Grossberg

Brad Linaweaver conceived a richly detailed, provocative, and acclaimed alternate-history saga in Moon of Ice.

The meticulously researched 1988 novel – expanded from a 1981 novella published in Amazing Stories and nominated in 1982 for the Nebula Award – imagines an increasingly libertarian United States that provides a refuge for those fighting the evils of statism and collectivism.

Linaweaver darkly imagines a national-socialist/fascist empire in an alternative world where Germany won World War II in Europe and America developed the A-bomb in time to provide a nuclear stalemate to Hitler’s oppressive National Socialist (Nazi) Workers Party.

A central focus is the evolution of Hilda Goebbels, daughter of Hitler’s propaganda minister, from pampered child in a totalitarian and pathological Europe to a world-famous anarchist revolutionary who publishes her father’s diaries to reveal the evils of the omnipotent State three decades after the Nazi victory.

Linaweaver’s portraits of evil are complex and culturally insightful. For instance, rather than making Hitler’s influential henchman Joseph Goebbels a cardboard cut-out monster, he’s shown to be a man with ideas that allows him to commit atrocities while forgiving himself for them – undeniably dangerous, but human in his warped ideology and rationalizations of tyranny and abuse of power “for reasons of state.”

Unlike many alternate-WWII stories, which tend to accept conventional contrasts between the good United States and the undeniably evil Nazi  regime, Linaweaver draws from history and biography to draw uncomfortable and insightful comparisons that provoke thought and challenge modern assumptions.

Most provocatively, the story not only finds and draws parallels between Hitler and Stalin and between National Socialism and Soviet communism but also between Hitler and U.S. president Franklin Roosevelt – who in this cautionary reality is impeached by Congress in 1942 because of his authoritarian/centralist tendencies.

Note: Brad Linaweaver (1952-2019) won two Prometheus Awards during his career, including the LFS’ first Special Award in 1998 for co-editing (with Edward E. Kramer) the major TOR Books libertarian sf anthology Free Space.

Linaweaver was also nominated for a Prometheus Award in 1997 for Best Novel for Sliders: the Novel, based on the syndicated TV series.


Read the Prometheus blog news post about Linaweaver’s death in August, 2019.


* See related introductory essay about the LFS’ 40thanniversary retrospective series of Appreciations of past Prometheus Awards winners, with an overview of the awards’ four-decade history.

* Other Prometheus winners: For a full list of winners – for the annual Best Novel and Best Classic Fiction (Hall of Fame) categories and occasional Special Awards – visit the recently updated and enhanced Prometheus Awards page on the LFS website, which includes links to Appreciations of more than 100 other Prometheus winners.

* Join us! To help sustain the Prometheus Awards, join the Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS), a non-profit volunteer association of libertarian sf/fantasy fans and freedom-lovers.
Libertarian futurists believe cultural change is as vital as political change (and often more fun!) in achieving universal individual rights and a better world (perhaps eventually, 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.

2 thoughts on “Alternate history, warped ideology, national socialism and the omnipotent State: An Appreciation of Brad Linaweaver’s Moon of Ice, the 1989 Prometheus Best Novel winner”

  1. I certainly liked Moon of Ice. The alternate history in The Probability Broach was fun and I enjoyed seeing so many of my favorite libertarian thinkers become President, but the one in Moon of Ice was a lot more nuanced and better researched; I admired the care Linaweaver had taken in coming up with ways to tweak American political culture and making them plausible.

  2. Hi Mike -From a political science perspective Linaweaver was dead on in enumerating substantial equivalencies between Hitler and Stalin as both (along with such worthies as Mao, Pol Pot, Castro, Hugo Chavez, etc.) were totalitarian dictators presiding over “communist” economic, social and political regimes. The only reason that people today don’t understand the correspondence is that the National Socialist ideology in Germany also contained a racial component – and that has been grossly over-emphasized by certain groups with their own subsequent axe to grind. In fact both Stalin and Mao murdered vastly more people than Hitler ever dreamed of “cleansing” and even Pol Pot, with a much smaller “pool” of potential victims, probably gave ole Adolf a run for his money in the overall death count. As far as Roosevelt is concerned it is definitively known that his administrations were riddled with out and out communists and multitudes of leftist/socialist “true believers” and that the U. S. government had little interest in assisting Great Britain under Churchill as long as the German – Soviet Pact of 1939 was in effect. So for the reasons above (as well as many others) Linaweaver’s initial thesis was eminently plausible – actually requiring very little “suspension of disbelief” for the historically aware reader.

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