A treasure trove of wisdom, wit and gratitude: Memorable Prometheus Award winners’ speeches

By Chris Hibbert

One of the things I do in my spare time is bring old issues of Prometheus onto the web. Prometheus, the LFS’ former print quarterly, was published from 1982 to 2015, and there are lots of articles of lasting value in this collection.  Well more than half the issues are now available on the web.

One thing I noticed a little while ago is that we have transcripts of many of the Prometheus Award acceptance speeches that have been given over the years, and they are worth reading again. We also have recordings of several of the ceremonies, but uploading those will be a separate project.

Here’s a quick guide to all the speeches that appeared in Prometheus:

1983 Prometheus Award, in Volume 1, #4

F. Paul Wilson File photo

F. Paul Wilson who won the first Prometheus award, before the LFS was founded, presented the 1983 best novel award to James Hogan. In his introduction (titled “Of gold, weed, and Lenny”), he talked about “What is a libertarian?”

James Hogan won for Voyage from Yesteryear.

In his acceptance speech, Hogan said that winning the Prometheus Award gave him a lot of encouragement, and in particular, encouragement from a discriminating audience who shared his basic values.

(Creative Commons license)

(Hogan’s letter to the LFS appeared in Prometheus.)

1984 Prometheus Award, in Volume 2, #4

J. Neil Schulman won for The Rainbow Cadenza.

“I wrote The Rainbow Cadenza to destroy an idea by reducing it to
absurdity. The idea is: the rights of the individual should be
sacrificed when the greater good for the greatest number demands it.”

J. Neil Schulman in the 1990s. (Creative Commons license)


1986 Prometheus Award, in Volume 4, #4

Victor Milàn won for Cybernetic Samurai. He gave a short speech of thanks.

The hall of fame was a tie between Cyril Kornbluth for The Syndic and Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea, for Illuminatus!.
Fred Pohl accepted on behalf of Cyril Kornbluth. Robert Shea accepted for himself and Robert Anton Wilson. Robert Anton Wilson wrote a short note of appreciation.

“To satirize you have to exaggerate, and since the theories themselves were already so wild in their natural state, we had to go to incredible lengths to make them look even more ridiculous. But for satire to work it also has to have a grounding in reality. So we carefully mixed strange things that were true with strange things that were not true. We put into the book things we believed and things we did not believe, things one of us believed and the other did not and things we sometimes believed and sometimes did not.

“In Illuminatus! we suggest that freedom begins in your right to define yourself and to insist upon the validity of your own perceptions and your own thoughts.”

All their remarks appeared in Prometheus.

Vernor Vinge (Creative Commons license)

1987 Prometheus Award, in Volume 5, #4


Vernor Vinge won for Marooned in Realtime. Vinge gave a short speech of appreciation, which was read by Jim Baen.

“The Prometheus Award is a great encouragement to those who want to write good stories about the ideas of liberty and rights and wrongs.”

1988 Prometheus Award, in Volume 6, #4
Victor Koman won for The Jehovah Contract. The awards were presented at the WorldCon. In his acceptance speech, Koman cautioned novelists not to lose hope while trying to get their books published. The Jehovah Contract took ten years to get published in the United States, Koman said.

1989 Prometheus Award, in Volume 8, #1

SF novelist Brad Linaweaver in 2006 File photo

Brad Linaweaver won for Moon of Ice. He spoke on the role of art. He then talked about the lack of respect from WorldCons for libertarians and the LFS.

1990 Prometheus Award, in Volume 8, #4

Victor Koman won for Solomon’s Knife. His talk concerned the role of the medical establishment in politicizing medicine and the applications of new technology.

Victor Koman (Photo courtesy of author)

1997 Prometheus Award, in Volume 15, #4

Victor Koman talked about his Texas connections, private space development, NASA’s culpability for Challenger, the challenges and benefits of being a pioneer in electronic publishing.

“I treasure this honor because it means that the people whose thinking will guide the next millennium acknowledge that I have been true to my values and consistent in my philosophy in a way that can touch others.”

1998 Prometheus Award, in Volume 16, #4

Ken MacLeod (Creative Commons photo)

Ken Macleod won for The Stone Canal. Pat Cadigan accepted the award for
MacLeod, and read his remarks: “You’ve gone and given the award to a book which American publishers think American readers wouldn’t understand.” Macleod then expressed his respect for previous winners.

1998 Prometheus Award, in Volume 17, #3

John Varley. Photo: Creative Commons license

John Varley won for The Golden Globe, and H. Beam Piper and John McGuire won the hall of fame for A Planet for Texans.

Victor Milàn introduced the awards before presenting the Prometheus for The Golden Globe.

“[The government] has launched unprecedented attacks on the rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights, and the right of freedom of expression …. [They could] put an end to freedom of expression in this country, because they found a way to elude … the Bill of Rights by … relying on the civil justice system. If you can plausibly say … that a work inspired someone to commit a criminal act, say a mass murder, that the survivors of his victims have a claim against the writer, the director, even the artist, it’s really pretty open ended and unlimited.

“The nominees for the Prometheus Award this year are all freedom fighters … the libertarian sentiments expressed even by those who aren’t professed libertarians nonetheless are striking substantial and courageous blows for freedom which may someday come to cost them.”

He then read John Varley’s acceptance speech.

“A Prometheus review described my book as ‘a hilarious libertarian comedy and picaresque adventure, with a wonderfully irreverent antiauthoritarian spirit.’ That is pretty much what I was aiming for.”

William Stoddard presented the award for A Planet for Texans; Jerry Pournelle accepted on H. Beam Piper’s behalf, and told some stories about Piper.



* Prometheus winners: For the full list of Prometheus winners, finalists and nominees – for 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 the full set of published appreciation-reviews of past winners.

* 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, 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, join the Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS), 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, and in some ways even more powerful than politics in the long run, by sparking innovation, better ideas, positive social change, and mutual respect for each other’s rights and differences.

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 and war and achieve universal liberty, respect for human rights and a better world (perhaps eventually, worlds) for all.

2 thoughts on “A treasure trove of wisdom, wit and gratitude: Memorable Prometheus Award winners’ speeches”

  1. So great to see these thought-provoking and inspiring quotes from the Prometheus acceptance speeches of so many great authors.

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