Identity, mystery, body-transfer technology, bureaucrats, capitalists and green politics in a hard-sf political thriller: An Appreciation of James P. Hogan’s The Multiplex Man, the 1993 Prometheus Best Novel winner

Introduction: To highlight the 40-year history of the Prometheus Awards, a landmark which the Libertarian Futurist Society is celebrating in 2019, we’ve launched a series of weekly Appreciations of past Prometheus Award-winners, starting with our earliest Best Novel awards.

Here’s the latest Appreciation for James P. Hogan’s The Multiplex Man, the 1993 Best Book winner:

James Hogan’s 1992 hard-sf political thriller revolves around a polite schoolteacher who wakes up one day to discover he’s far from home and in a body not his own. Soon after returning home, he discovers that seven months have passed – and he can’t return to his old body or life because he died six months ago.
His suspenseful journey to solve multiple unfolding mysteries is set in an authoritarian future Earth where former Eastern/communist countries have exploited space resources to boost their economies over the faltering West, undermined by Green-dominated governments’ anti-industry regulations, education restrictions and propaganda.

In this cautionary anti-authoritarian story, the State authorities control virtually everything about people’s lives and activities on Earth, while condemning as dangerous any dissent or unapproved behavior and viewing off-world colonies as enemies because of their competition for Earth resources.

With many plot twists and multiple characters including several engineers and scientists battling bureaucrats and politicos, The Multiplex Man weaves plausible body-transfer technology and disturbing political trends into a fast-paced adventure that explores the hows and whys of multiple identities.

More explicitly ideological in its pro-capitalist and anti-statist views than some other Hogan novels, the story shifts and alternates intriguingly between contrasting societies and viewpoints and now seems prophetic in its view of how U.S. Green politics would develop.

(Creative Commons license)

Note: James Hogan (1941-2010), a British science fiction writer who lived for many years in the United States, also won a Prometheus Award for Best Novel in 1983 for Voyage From Yesteryear.

His Prometheus finalists for Best Novel include Mirror Maze (1990), The Infinity Gambit (1991), Paths to Otherwhere (1997), Cradle of Saturn (2000) and Martian Nightlife (2002). Hogan also was nominated for Best Novel for The Proteus Operation (1986), The Legend That Was Earth (2001), The Anguished Dawn (2004), Echoes of an Alien Sky (2008) and Migration (2011).

* Coming up soon on the Prometheus Blog: A 40thAnniversary Celebration and appreciation of the next novel to be recognized with a Prometheus Award: L. Neil Smith’s Pallas, the 1994 winner for Best Novel.

* 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.

* 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.

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