“A beacon of libertarian freedom” – Barry Longyear’s acceptance speech for The Hook, the 2021 Prometheus winner for Best Novel

What is freedom?
How can we achieve it?
How can we defend it?

Veteran sf novelist Barry B. Longyear, winner of the 2021 Prometheus Award for Best Novel, discussed those questions in his acceptance speech, which he delivered Aug. 21 during the Libertarian Futurist Society’s online 2021 Prometheus Awards ceremony.

Here is the transcript of Longyear’s speech, which discusses his 2021 winner, The Hook, Book Five of The War Whisperer:

By Barry B. Longyear

On behalf of The Hook, Book 5 of The War Whisperer, I thank the members of the Libertarian Futurist Society for their Prometheus Award.

The seven volumes of The War Whisperer are, essentially, a fictionalized think-and-do on human freedom: What it is, how it works, how to achieve it, and how to defend it.

The first four volumes, through the eyes of Jerome Track, show what the problems are as well as presenting and absorbing the elements of the solution.

In Book 5: The Hook, is at last that beacon of libertarian freedom and one possible answer to the charge that has, up until now, always led the libertarian argument down paths of compromise or fantasy: How does a society that forbids the initiation of coercive force defend itself against military invasion?

That is the libertarian hook.

The remaining three books of the series (there is a Book 8 at the end of Book 7, for those who are keeping count) the remainder of the series show some of the possible applications of libertarian solutions to such things as transforming an interventionist state into a freeland and this impetus spreading the movement for true freedom throughout the world.

The struggle is as it has always been: Between two opposing concepts of freedom. The libertarian concept of freedom is increasing one’s choices by removing the restrictions on those choices.

Ending a tax, legalizing a prohibited substance, and outlawing slavery are examples of moving toward this kind of freedom.

The anti-libertarian concept of freedom is increasing one’s choices by removing choices from others. Crippling taxation, destroying one industry to favor another, and slave labor are examples of moving toward this kind of freedom.

Thanks to disguising their erosion of freedoms with newspeak parroted by politicians, academics, and a subservient news and entertainment media coupled with character assassination, cancellation, heckling, and violence against the few voices speaking in opposition, the libertarian concept of freedom has been losing ground for decades.  I do not pretend that The Hook getting the Prometheus Award will alter this state of affairs. I do hope that it will increase the numbers of those who understand the problem and what must be done about it.

Right now there is a media producer preparing to shop The War Whisperer to Hollywood and the streaming services. Toward that end, she has obtained the services of a writer who will peruse the material and come up with what is referred to as a “pitch deck” which will, in concentrated form, let the potential buyer know what he would get should the buyer obtain the property.

I am curious what this writer will come up with. I don’t do outlines, plot summaries, or pitch decks myself. It is not because they are beneath me. It is because I cannot write what I hate writing, and I hate writing summaries that by their nature cannot convey the full meaning, interest, and purpose of a work.

Thus far they have made a real effort at maintaining the purpose and vision of what I set out to do with The War Whisperer, which they intend to peddle in what can only be called an environment hostile to what libertarians understand to be freedom. Who knows: Perhaps enough cities have burned, enough industries and jobs destroyed, and enough murders have taken place to raise the numbers to the point where the willingness to consider new paths may open a door or two.

If all you read is The Hook, you are essentially skipping the salad and vegetables, concentrating on the meat course, and stopping before dessert. I suggest that the vegetables are good for you and that the dessert is a delight.

Nevertheless, I look upon The Hook getting this award as a sign that at least the message I sent to a few of those who both understand and crave freedom has been received.

Biographical note: Barry B. Longyear is the first writer to win the Nebula Award, Hugo Award, and John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer all in the same year.

Barry B. Longyear (Courtesy of author)

In addition to his acclaimed Enemy Mine series, which inspired a 1985 film starring Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett, Jr., his works include numerous short stories, the Circus World series, the Infinity Hold series, and novels ranging from Sea of Glass to The God Box, as well as his much praised Science-fiction Writer’s Workshop-I and his online writing seminar, The Write Stuff, now available in trade paperback and Kindle formats.

His most recent publication is the seven-volume science-fiction series, The War Whisperer, the fifth book of which, The Hook, earned the 2021 Prometheus Award for Best Novel.

Longyear’s first Prometheus nomination came in 1984 for his novel The Tomorrow Testament. Other Prometheus-recognized works include Infinity Hold (1990 Best Novel nominee), and Circus World (1991, 1999 and 2021 Hall of Fame nominee.) He lives in Maine.

* 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.

* Read “The Libertarian History of Science Fiction,” an essay in the June 2020 issue of the international magazine Quillette that favorably highlights the Prometheus Awards, the Libertarian Futurist Society and the significant element of libertarian sf/fantasy in the modern genre.

Join us! To help sustain the Prometheus Awards, join the Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS), a non-profit all-volunteer association of freedom-loving sf/fantasy fans. Libertarian futurists believe culture is as vital as politics (and often more fulfilling, positive and productive in the longer run) in sparking positive social change and spreading positive visions of the future and achieving universal liberty and human 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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