As an eventful year ends, the Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS) is approaching a milestone: 100 Appreciations of past Prometheus Award-winners, all posted on this LFS/Prometheus blog.
That’s a milestone to savor, especially given the ongoing efforts and commitments by LFS leaders and contributors over the past 30 months to write and post these informative and insightful review-essays.
Here’s an overview of our progress, an explanation of why the Appreciations are important (including tips on how you can use and refer to them), and a preview of some of the upcoming articles you can expect from the Prometheus Blog in 2022.
Launched in the summer of 2019 with the first introductory essay posted in September 2019, our Appreciation series aims to look back, remind 21st-century LFS members of and introduce others to the many Prometheus-winning novels, stories, anthologies, films, TV series and other fictional works of lasting value that incorporate liberty-loving themes.
The series reflects the LFS commitment to highlighting the many diverse, entertaining and illuminating winners of the Prometheus Award, one of the oldest awards in science fiction and fantasy and now one of the most enduring.
Overall, the series makes clear that libertarian and anti-authoritarian themes and insights can be rich, complex and sometimes counterintuitive – as can be glimpsed, for instance, in posted Appreciations of such widely acclaimed classics as Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed.
Some of the most intriguing appreciations explore the subtleties in richly imagined but lesser-known Prometheus winners – such as Donald Kingsbury’s critique of central planning in Psychohistorical Crisis, Jo Walton’s revealing portrait of a fascist dystopia in Ha’Penny, Anthony Burgess’ nightmarish cautionary tale of crime and punishment in a corrupt welfare state in A Clockwork Orange or Neal Stephenson’s knowledgeable tracing of the roots of the modern classical-liberal order in The System of the World.
As more people read and reference these review-essays over the years, we hope many more will come to better appreciate the perennial conflict between Liberty and Power dramatized by many Prometheus winners, as well as better imagine the many possibilities and challenges of a free-er future explored by Prometheus-winning authors.
The appreciations published so far underscore the great breadth and depth of visions of a free future that are possible, and yet compatible with respect for human dignity and individual rights.
That includes Prometheus-winning fiction by libertarian authors like Travis Corcoran, James Hogan, Sarah Hoyt, Brad Linaweaver, J. Neil Schulman, L. Neil Smith, Victor Koman, Vernor Vinge and F. Paul Wilson.
But the Prometheus Awards have also recognized in many cases works by liberal, conservative and even socialist authors who care about aspects of freedom or simply find it intriguing to write science fiction exploring the pros and cons of such themes.
LFS members and other freedom-loving sf/fantasy fans are encouraged to refer friends and acquaintances to the LFS website, and relevant blog Appreciations in particular, whenever you recommend a particular work or when a particular Prometheus-winner happens to pop up in discussions.
For those who may not have read some of the older winners, the Appreciation series can serve as a recommended reading/viewing list and thoughtful guide to further reading or rereading.
Different works appeal to different tastes and audiences, of course, and we make efforts in the articles to describe their distinctive styles, themes and sub-genres of each winner in enough detail to guide potential readers better towards the particular works they might find most rewarding.
Our Appreciation series – launched in August 2019 and continuing roughly on a weekly publication schedule (mixed in on an overall weekly posting schedule with awards and author updates, reviews, obits, and other timely LFS news) – began in chronological order with review-essays discussing each winner in our annual Best Novel category, first presented in 1979.
Once that original category of winners was covered, more than a year later, we began writing, editing and posting Appreciations for the winners of our Best Classic Fiction category (also known as the Prometheus Hall of Fame), the second annual Prometheus category launched in 1983.
We’re now in the final stretch of appreciations, having recently begun writing and posting Appreciations of the specific works of fiction recognized by our Special Prometheus Awards, an occasional category first presented in 1998.
Virtually all of these review-essays now have convenient direct access (easier than scrolling down the blog), with links added next to each winner’s title on our website’s Prometheus Awards page. (More links will be added periodically as more appreciations are written and posted.)
Appreciations for the first few Special Award winners have now been posted of the libertarian sf anthologies Free Space, edited by Brad Linaweaver and Edward E. Kramer (and the first Special Award winner in 1998); and Give Me Liberty and Visions of Liberty, linked Baen Books anthologies edited by Mark Tier and Martin H. Greenberg (the joint 2005 Special Award winner).
As a bonus, of particular help to those whose time is precious but who still might want to sample and savor the very best short stories collected in these anthologies, all three of the review-essay appreciations offer specific capsule reviews of all or most of the stories within each collection – with the stand-outs and the also-rans identified.
What can you look forward to reading on the Prometheus Blog in 2022? Here’s a preview to whet your appetite to return and read the blog weekly (which you can also subscribe to, free, by entering your email at the top left of the home blog page):
Next, stay tuned for an Appreciation by LFS co-founder Michael Grossberg of writer L. Neil Smith and artist Scott Bieser’s The Probability Broach: The Graphic Novel, the 2005 Special Award-winner.
Sf author Travis Corcoran, a two-time Prometheus winner for Best Novel for The Powers of the Earth and Causes of Separation, has written an appreciation ofthe film Serenity. (Corcoran, a big fan of the film, also broadens his appreciation to discuss Firefly, Joss Whedon’s space Western TV series that inspired the film.)
Over the next several months, we also plan to post appreciations of the remaining works recognized in our last four Special Prometheus Awards, including V for Vendetta, the other film recognized (in 2007) in the four-decade-plus history of the Prometheus Awards.
Michael Grossberg and Steve Gaalema will co-write the appreciation for the 2014 Special Award winner: Leslie Fish’s novella Tower of Horses and related filk song The Horsetamer’s Daughter.
Finally, LFS President William H. Stoddard will wrote separate appreciations for Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn’s three-part graphic novel Alex + Ada; and Mark Stanley’s webcomic Freefall – winners of the last two Special Awards, respectively presented in 2016 and 2017.
P.S. Why does it say above that “about” 100 Appreciations have been posted so far?
Well, it’s difficult to pin down an exact number, since that’s fuzzy, partly because occasionally writers combine two different Prometheus winners into one blog article or write more than one appreciation of the same winner.
For instance, William H. Stoddard logically combined Corcoran’s two Prometheus-winning novels into one review, since Causes of Separation is a sequel to The Powers of the Earth. Stoddard also wrote an interesting combined and comparative appreciation of Harry Turtledove’s The Gladiator and Jo Walton’s Ha’Penny, two alternate-history novels that tied in winning the 2008 Prometheus award for Best Novel.
Meanwhile, a few notable Prometheus winners have inspired more than one Appreciation from different perspectives – such as of Ayn Rand’s influential Atlas Shrugged, one of the first two Hall of Fame inductees in 1983; and J. Neil Schulman’s The Rainbow Cadenza, the 1984 Best Novel winner and a path-breaking work that was the first sf novel to envision legalized gay marriage.
So once all the Appreciations have been posted for our Special Awards, we will have posted 99 Appreciations, leaving just one more current winner – our 2021 Best Novel winner The Hook, by Barry B. Longyear – to receive an Appreciation to make a round 100.
So stay tuned, keep reading the Prometheus blog and point out our appreciations to any friends and acquaintances who wonder why that particular work won our award.
* 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.
* 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.