A pioneering anthology about the promise of liberty and perils of tyranny: The Survival of Freedom, the 2001 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

To celebrate the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear why winners deserve recognition as pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian works, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of all  award-winners. Here’s an appreciation for The Survival of Freedom, edited by Jerry Pournelle and John F. Carr, the 2001 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner:

By Michael Grossberg

The Survival of Freedom was one of the first sf anthologies to explore the future of liberty.

It also has the distinction of being the first (and so far, only) anthology to be inducted (in 2001) into the Prometheus Hall of Fame. This broad awards category for classic fiction is open to any works first published, broadcast or staged more than 20 years ago and encompasses many types of fiction – including but not limited to novels, novellas, stories, plays, poems, songs, musicals, films, TV episodes, series, trilogies and anthologies.

Edited by Jerry Pournelle and John F. Carr, the 1981 anthology of stories and essays is notable for its wide-ranging and sometimes surprising collection of material.

In their introduction, they describe the anthology as “a journey into the fascinating future of freedom” as well as a cautionary exercise exploring frightening authoritarian scenarios of “revolutionary utopias” that bring horrors greater than ever experienced before.

The editors selected a wide variety of short fiction for an anthology that aimed to encompass some of the best libertarian and anti-authoritarian short fiction written by sf authors and other fiction writers during the 20thcentury.
The blend of fiction and non-fiction offers interesting perspectives that invite the reader to imagine both futuristic scenarios and real-world examples that affect our liberties and determine whether particular societies will flourish and progress or stagnate.

As might be expected, the anthology includes contributions from such notable name sf authors as Robert Heinlein, Poul Anderson and Ursula LeGuin (all coincidentally, Prometheus Award winners).

Yet, it also includes writings from authors one might not expect to find in such a collection – from British Catholic philosopher-theologian-critic G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936), who offered critiques of both conservatism and progressivism, to American poet and environmentalist Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962), a powerful voice against war and tyranny.

Chesterton’s contribution, both amusing and sad, is “The Horrible History of Jones.” The 1915 poem, about a man and his dog, reflects his individualism and sense of humor in the face of encroaching bureaucracy and intrusive regulations that can threaten both life and liberty. But the poem also can be read as a lament about “a land of old and just renown, Where Freedom slowly broadened down, From Precedent to Precedent…”

Jefferson’s contribution is also a poem, “The Stars Go Over the Lonely Ocean,” and penned in 1940, when the rise of collectivism and statism in the mass-murdering forms of Hitler’s national socialism and Stalin’s communism were threatening civilization itself.

Here’s an excerpt, which seems strangely resonant 80 years later:
“The world’s in a bad way, my man.
And bound to be worse before it mends;
Better to lie up in the mountain here
Four or five centuries.
While the stars go over the lonely ocean,”

Said the old father of wild pigs,
Ploughing the fallow on Mal Paso Mountain.
“Keep clear of the dupes that talk democracy
And the dogs that bark revolution,
Drunk with talk, liars and believers.
I believe in my tusks.
Long live freedom and damn the ideologies…”

One of the best-known stories in the anthology is Harlan Ellison’s “Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman,” a satirical dystopian 1965 story that years later (in 2015) was itself inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame.

Also satirical and amusing is F. Paul Wilson’s “Lipidleggin,” a prescient 1978 short story imagining a near-future Prohibitionist era where recent American trends toward health fascism and nationalized health care have resulted in the Food Police going after outlaws who still insist on selling and eating such contraband as real butter. (The story later received independent recognition as a 2020 and 2021 Prometheus Hall of Fame finalist.)

Among the other authors and stories in the anthology: Randall Garrett (“The Measure of a Man,” 1960); Gordon R. Dickson (“Enter a Pilgrim,” 1974); Ursula LeGuin (“SQ,” 1978); Kevin O’Donnell Jr. (“The Looking Glass of the Law,” 1978); Rachel Cosgrove Payes (“Escape to the Suburbs,” 1978); William Tenn (“The Liberation of Earth,” 1953); Norman Spinrad (“Sierra Maestra,” 1975); Poul Anderson (“Among Thieves,” a 1957 novelette); Larry Niven (“Jigsaw Man,” 1967, part of his Known Space universe); C. Bruce Hunter (“Kiss Them Goodbye”); Jack Vance (“Dodkin’s Job,” a 1959 novelette); A.E. van Vogt (“Identity,” 1978); and Thomas Wylde’s “Full Freedom.”

To underline the dramatic point of the wide-ranging stories and poems, Carr and Pournelle included explicit essays about a variety of topics.

One brief but brilliant essay is libertarian theorist-economist David Friedman’s “Love is Not Enough” (1973), a persuasive explanation of how love and free trade are related and why they are the only moral and practical alternatives to force.

Another essay – “Defending and Extending the Freedom to Innovate,” by John McCarthy, director of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratories at Stanford University – seems prescient today in having singled out an oft-unsung or underappreciated aspect of liberty as a foundation of real progress in the practical betterment of humankind through science, technology and markets. (That rich theme, by the way, is explored in even more fascinating depth in the liberty-loving British science writer Matt Ridley’s latest must-read book, How Innovation Works, and Why It Flourishes in Freedom.)

Other illuminating essays include Russell Kirk’s “Conditions of Freedom” (1956); Victor Herman and Fred E. Dohrs’ “The True Horror of Soviet Internal Exile From Dissent to Docility” (1980); Robert Heinlein’s “Give Me Liberty” (1980); Stefan T. Possony’s “Freedom in the Wake of Hegel and Marx;” and Pournelle’s “The Right to Punishment,” “The Civil Rights Dilemma” and “The Future of Liberty.”

This is an excellent anthology to browse through, reading something here, then something there. But don’t skip over the introductions; Pournelle often makes amusing, revealing, highly literate and historically aware points that are worth considering on their own merits.

Note: Jerry Pournelle (1933-2017) – recognized as the first author to have written a published book contribution using a word processor on a personal computer, in 1977 – also won the 1992 Prometheus Award for Best Novel for Fallen Angels, co-authored by Larry Niven and Michael Flynn.

Jerry Pournelle in 2005 (Creative Commons license)

Among his bestselling other novels: Lucifer’s Hammer, Footfall, The Mote in God’s Eye and Oath of Fealty, all co-written with Larry Niven; Janissaries, Heorot, The Mercenary, Starswarm and Exiles to Glory.

Pournelle suggested several “laws,” the best-known of which is “Pournelle’s iron law of bureaucracy.” To wit: “In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to he goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely.”

John F. Carr, who has edited 27 theme anthologies and short-story collections, has written eight novels (including Time Crime, Rainbow Runand The Ophidian Conspiracy) and many short stories. He edited The Bulletin of the Science Fiction Writers of America.

John Carr, sf editor (Creative Commons license)

As executor of the literary estate of H. Beam Piper (winner of the 1999 Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction for A Planet for Texans), Carr wrote fiction extending Piper’s characters and imagined futures, includingThe Fuzzy Conundrum (in Piper’s Little Fuzzy series) and Great Kings’ War, Kalvan Kingmaker, The Fireseed Warsand Gunpowder God (in Piper’s Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen series). Carr also has written two biographies of Piper.

* Coming up soon on the Prometheus Blog: Anders Monsen’s Appreciation of Patrick McGoohan’s classic TV series The Prisoner, the 2002 PrometheusHall of Fame winner.

* 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.

* 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 volunteer association of libertarian sf/fantasy fans and freedom-lovers.
Libertarian futurists believe cultural change is as (or more) vital as political change 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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