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.
Why is government, by its nature, a distinctive threat to freedom?
LFS co-founder Michael Grossberg strived to answer that question in his speech introducing the Best Novel category of the 43rd annual Prometheus Awards ceremony.
BY MICHAEL GROSSBERG
The Prometheus Awards, one of the oldest fan-based sf/fantasy awards after the Hugos and Nebulas, are unique in recognizing speculative fiction that dramatizes the sadly perennial conflict between liberty and power.
As a journalist and arts critic for five decades, I can testify to the importance of awards in raising the visibility of valuable and rewarding works that might otherwise be overlooked.
With the annual Sept. 30 deadline coming up soon for LFS members to nominate works for the Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction, this is a good time to remind ourselves what makes this annual category special.
LFS President William H. Stoddard did just that when he presented the Prometheus Hall of Fame category for Best Classic Fiction at the recent 43rd annual Prometheus awards ceremony. Here are Stoddard’s remarks:
Unlike the Best Novel Award, the Prometheus Hall of Fame can be given to works in any narrative or dramatic form — short fiction, narrative verse, plays, movies, television and video episodes or series, graphic novels, songs, and so on.
It’s restricted to works that first appeared at least twenty years ago.
A great many of our award winners are older than that, often dating to before the LFS was founded.
With less than two weeks left until the Sept. 30 nominating deadline, Libertarian Futurist Society members have nominated ten works for the next Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction.
Among the Hall of Fame nominees so far this year: six novels, two stories, a film and a song. That includes novels by Poul Anderson, Cecilia Holland, C.S. Lewis, Terry Pratchett and E.C. Tubb; both a novel and a story by Harry Turtledove; a story by R.A. Lafferty; a song by the Canadian art-rock group Rush; and, for the first time, a feature film written and directed by and starring Woody Allen.
Such varied forms of art and fiction reflects the broad scope of the Hall of Fame – an annual Prometheus Awards category that incorporates stories, novellas, novels, graphic novels, songs, albums, musicals, operas, plays, poems, films, TV episodes/series, anthologies or trilogies.
Read on to see the current list of nominees so far and how to nominate works (if you’re an LFS member) or submit works for consideration by members (if you’re an author, publisher or non-member).
Introduction: As part of our series of posts about the 43rd annual Prometheus Awards ceremony, which aired live internationally Aug. 19, 2023, here is the transcript of the sobering but inspiring remarks of the ceremony’s emcee, Libertarian Futurist Society President William H. Stoddard:
By William H. Stoddard
Good afternoon, and welcome to the 2023 Prometheus Awards presentation. I’m William H. Stoddard, president of the Libertarian Futurist Society.
The purpose of the Prometheus Awards is to recognize works in the fantastic literary genres — science fiction, fantasy, horror, alternative history, dystopia, and others — with pro-liberty themes.
The awards have been given every year since 1982; we are now in our fifth decade.
Sadly, the twenty-first century has seen the deaths of many of our award winners.
“Columbus sailed west for spices – and came back with Boulder Dam, Detroit and the Empire State Building. Every great new adventure of the human race has produced totally unexpected new profits,” he wrote in a 1947 letter, which the Heinlein Prize Trust’s primary trustee Art Dula shared recently with the LFS.
“The same inquisitive, questing, practical spirit that crossed the plains and conquered the air will turn up new wrinkles to make space and space flight pay,” Heinlein wrote in the letter, which Dula read from and commented on recently during the 43rd annual Prometheus awards ceremony.
“But what of that. You and I would go if there were never any dollar-and-cents reward in it. There is the greatest reason of all – the itch to go take a look.”
Art Dula, primary trustee of the Heinlein Prize Trust, spoke eloquently about the life and legacy of Robert Heinlein during the 43rd annual Prometheus Awards ceremony.
During his acceptance speech for the Prometheus Hall of Fame for Heinlein’s story “Free Men,” Dula read excerpts from – and commented on – one of the Grand Master’s most interesting but little-known letters, written over several months but completed Feb. 27, 1947.
“It’s a remarkable early document in Heinlein’s life,” Dula said.
J.R.R. Tolkien, widely hailed as the father of the resurgent “high fantasy” of the modern era, died 50 years ago today.
Tolkien, who passed at 81 on Sept. 2, 1973, is remembered by Ed West, who writes about Tolkien’s legacy and increasing influence today in his timely Substack column Wrong Side of History.
With Tolkien’s classic The Lord of the Rings having been inducted in 2009 into the Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction, LFS members certainly remember and admire Tolkien.
But in his striking and thought-provoking column, West praises Tolkien in extraordinary ways – perhaps even more highly than do libertarians, who admire the British author for the mythic world-building, rich storytelling and poignant themes of his cautionary libertarian fable about the inevitable temptations and corruptions of absolute power.
West goes so far as to call Tolkien “the most important creative mind of the modern age.”
John Tilden, president of The Heinlein Society, spoke Aug. 19 during the 2023 Prometheus Awards ceremony to accept the Prometheus Hall of Fame award for Best Classic Fiction for Robert Heinlein’s short story “Free Men.”
Tilden spoke eloquently about Heinlein’s legacy in general and about the setting and themes of his winning story in particular, while shedding some fascinating light on its provenance and place in Heinlein’s Future History series.
For the record, here is a transcript of Tilden’s speech:
BY JOHN TILDEN
It is my pleasure to provide a few remarks on this occasion of Robert Heinlein’s short story “Free Men” being inducted into the Prometheus Award’s Hall of Fame. I add my thanks to the Libertarian Futurist Society for this honor.
At the 43rd annual Prometheus Awards ceremony, past Best Novel winner Sarah Hoyt (Darkship Thieves) presented the Best Novel category to Australian/Tasmanian writer Dave Freer for Cloud-Castles.
Hoyt was the ideal Best Novel presenter this year, since Freer and Hoyt have been friends for years and Freer has said he considers her his best friend in the United States.
The 2023 ceremony aired via Zoom Aug. 19, 2023, to an international audience and is available to watch on Youtube and the LFS website’s Video page. For those who prefer to read, here is the full transcript of Hoyt’s speech:
Before I begin, I should warn any possible spectators that yes, this is my real (Portuguese-American) accent. In fact, this Prometheus award ceremony will probably go down in history as the battle of the accents, between mine and Dave’s and whatever else the rest of you try to bring to the table. (I dare you.)
Also I must warn everyone that we might have an impromptu appearance by the very fuzzy Havelock-cat, or his buddy, the ginger beasty Indy cat.
Since, as Heinlein put it, cats are free citizens, they should be right at home.
I can’t express how strange it is to be presenting the same award that marked the most important moment of my career to one of my best writing buddies, one who has walked with me through all the hard points, and celebrated with me at all the high points.
How does culture and politics affect science fiction?
Why do the Prometheus Awards matter – perhaps more today than ever?
All those intriguing questions were explored by a variety of authors, leaders and sf fans in the recent 43rd annual Prometheus Awards ceremony.
Airing live Aug. 19, 2023, to an international audience, the hourlong ceremony honored Dave Freer, winner of the 2023 Prometheus Award for Best Novel for Cloud-Castles, and the late great Robert Heinlein, whose 1966 story “Free Men” was inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction.
Here is the video of the 43rd Prometheus Awards ceremony: