A bountiful crop: The 2024 Best Novel nominees are remarkably varied in genre, style, and theme

By Michael Grossberg

Some are science fiction, some fantasies, while several bid to become classics of dystopian literature.

Many are dramatic and suspenseful, some heroic or inspirational, and a few are comical or outright satirical.

Prometheus brought the gifts of fire and liberty to humanity

Some novels are set in the distant future, some in the near future, some in ancient eras or mythologized histories and one in an alternate history.

While quite a few are sequels, some launch promising new series – and seven appear to be self-contained, stand-alone works with a beginning, middle and satisfying end.

This year’s bountiful crop of Prometheus Best Novel nominees, whose titles and authors were recently announced in this blog, display a remarkable range of genres, themes and styles.

THE FOCUS OF THE PROMETHEUS AWARDS

Yet, according at least to the Libertarian Futurist Society members who nominated each novel, all fit in some way the distinctive dual focus – at once literary and thematic – of the Prometheus Awards.

First presented in 1979, the Prometheus Awards recognize speculative fiction, broadly defined, that explores the moral and practical benefits of liberty, individual rights and free (or free-er) societies, or exposes the evils of tyranny, slavery, aggressive wars or other abuses of power made possible by, or reinforced by the institutionalized coercion of expansive or unlimited government.

To help demonstrate the wide range of speculative fiction that is eligible for consideration for the Prometheus Awards, here is Part One of a guide offering capsule descriptions to each of the 17 2023 novels nominated for the next Prometheus Award.

Part One of this guide offers capsule descriptions of the first three nominees, alphabetized by author:

Futureproof, by Stephen Albrecht (Hybrid Global Publishing, 387 pages) –Set on Earth in the 2050s when refugees are fleeing the coasts and heat zones are reshaping the world due to climate change, Albrecht’s sf novel revolves around people resisting manipulation and extortion as technology helps humanity adapt.

Of timely interest in its plausible look at the future of artificial intelligence with all of its potential benefits, threats and ethical dilemmas, Futureproof shows how AI assistant Ex-Brains start to take over control of more of society, including decision-making jobs.

Part of the team that helped build the new world and worked on the Ex-Brains project are a pioneering lawyer and his psychologist wife, now facing terrifying issues as the new world turns against them.

• Queen Wallis,  by C.J. Carey (Sourcebooks Landmark, 411 pages) – Published as Queen High in the U.K., this is the sequel to Widowland, a 2022 Prometheus Best Novel finalist.

Set several years later in the 1950s as the U.K. continues as a Nazi protectorate, the alternate-history novel explores new territory in its chilling and convincing portrait of government indoctrination, propaganda, Orwellian “memory-holing” and the marginalization and segregation of women into castes.

Now promoted from doctoring novels and women’s literature to keep women down, Rose works to rewrite poetry to expunge any individualistic or rebellious themes that might undercut the government’s efforts to keep the populace (especially women) under control.

A heroic but conflicted central character, Rose increasingly is torn between her disdain for the system she’s helping to preserve (such as by serving as a State informant when assigned to infiltrate illegal poetry-reading gatherings) and her continued secret resistance to and subversion of its authoritarian thrust.

Along with a key new character of Queen Wallis, the isolated and marginalized widow of assassinated King Edward, the twisty sequel reveals various progressions, some ominous, in the protectorate’s growing authoritarianism, with more revelations about the lower castes of older women relegated to “widowland” ghettos.

The Long View, by Mackey Chandler (Amazon, 415 pages) –
The 14th volume in Chandler’s April series and the sequel to Let Us Tell You Again, a 2023 Best Novel nominee, the sf novel examines emigration from Earth to space, the advantages of an unregulated economy, the rights of minors, and how emigrants adapt to a much more libertarian culture.

An Earth subplot explores the dangers posed by attitudes of entitlement, while the main story reveals political maneuvering, byzantine diplomacy and border and trade disputes among the various societies and governments on and off Earth.

Among the lingering issues are tensions between the “short lifers” and the life-extended protagonists, accountability for lies about the origin of the last flu pandemic, and the growing success and prosperity of the Spacers as they acquire extra-solar real estate beyond the reach of Earth.

HOW OUR AWARDS PROCESS WORKS

While any individual LFS member may nominate any eligible works for any Prometheus Awards category – and are encouraged to do so each year to help ensure that a wide variety of relevant fiction is added to our nominations “long list” for full consideration by the finalist-selection judges – the official LFS imprimatur truly is bestowed on the “short list” of Best Novel finalists, selected from the nominees by the 12-member judging committee of veteran LFS members.

Once the Best Novel finalists are selected and announced in April, the LFS membership as a whole will have the responsibility and privilege to read and rank the works and vote to select the winner, to be announced in July.

Typically, the Prometheus awards ceremony – also including presentation of the Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction – is scheduled for a weekend afternoon in mid to late August. In recent years, during and since the pandemic, the Prometheus ceremony is presented via Zoom and is open to the public.

For more information, contact LFS President William H. Stoddard (also chair of the Prometheus Hall of Fame finalist-selection committee) at halloffame@lfs.org and LFS co-founder Michael Grossberg (also chair of the Prometheus Best Novel finalist-selection committee) at bestnovel@lfs.org

Who will win the next Prometheus Award for Best Novel in 2024?

 

Coming up on the Prometheus Blog: Part 2 of our guide to the 2024 Best Novel nominees, which will offer capsule descriptions of Devon Eriksen’s Theft of Fire, Karl H. Gallagher’s Swim Among the People, Dr. Insensitive Jerk’s God’s Girlfriend, and Howard Andrew Jones’ Lord of a Shattered Land.

IF YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE:

* 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.

Join us! To help sustain the Prometheus Awards and support a cultural and literary strategy to appreciate and honor freedom-loving fiction,join  the 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.

One thought on “A bountiful crop: The 2024 Best Novel nominees are remarkably varied in genre, style, and theme”

  1. I just want to say thank you so much for compiling this series! I am linking to it on my social media accounts to educate and promote LFS and the Prometheus Awards, as well as the nominees. I’m sure it is an extraordinary amount of writing, but it has been very helpful in reaching the Public. In a year where the Legacy of many Literary institutions is in doubt, these articles present the unique character and impeccable credentials of the Prometheus Award to readers seeking standards. Thank you for all you do, and congratulations to all the Nominees –

    Never Surrender.

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