Ethics, liberty, scientific innovation and abortion: An Appreciation of Victor Koman’s Solomon’s Knife, the 1990 Prometheus Best Novel winner

Introduction: To highlight the four-decade history of the Prometheus Awards, which the Libertarian Futurist Society began celebrating in 2019, we are posting weekly Appreciations of past Prometheus Award-winners, starting with our earliest Best Novel awards.

Here’s the next Appreciation for Victor Koman’s Solomon’s Knife, the 1990 Prometheus winner for Best Novel:

Victor Koman’s Solomon’s Knife imaginatively extends the typically partisan and predictable debate over abortion into new territory.

His provocative 1989 novel imagines a plausible future in which a controversial new surgical procedure is devised that could help women with unwanted pregnancies and women who want children but can’t become pregnant.

At the heroic center of the libertarian-themed medical thriller, which takes its title from the biblical story of King Solomon that tests two women over a baby, is a surgeon who risks her career to do the clandestine new type of surgery to help a beautiful woman seeking a routine abortion.

The new “transoption” procedure to transplant a fetus from one woman’s body to a willing new female host sparks media coverage, public outrage and a courtroom trial over an unprecedented custody battle. Koman uses his clever futuristic plot to explore issues within a moral drama that also has legal, political and scientific dimensions.

Praised by Publishers Weekly as a “gripping” story “that does what only a great novel can do: It gives us a new context,” Solomon’s Knife applies libertarian principles and other basic questions of philosophy and ethics to one of the most controversial issues of the 1990s – and still fraught today.

Victor Koman (Creative Commons license)

Note: Koman, a California-based writer and agorist, has won three Prometheus Awards for Best Novel, including for The Jehovah Contract in 1988 and Kings of the High Frontier in 1997.

His short stories have appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Galaxy Science Fiction and several anthologies (including Weird Menace, The King is Dead: Tales of Elvis Post-Mortem and Free Space, a libertarian sf anthology, edited by Brad Linaweaver and Edward E. Kramer, that received the first Special Prometheus Award in 1998.

* 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 – as well as convenient links to all published Appreciations, visit the 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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