How do the 2024 Best Novel finalists fit the distinctive focus of the Prometheus Awards?

The Prometheus Awards are distinctive among literature-oriented awards, including within the sf/fantasy field, for having a dual focus – on both overall literary quality and on libertarian/anti-authoritarian ideas.

As LFS awards press releases summarize and define our award:

“The Prometheus Awards recognize outstanding works of science fiction and fantasy that dramatize the perennial conflict between liberty and power and champion cooperation over coercion as the root of civility and social harmony.

Such works may critique or satirize authoritarian trends, expose abuses of power by the institutionalized coercion of the State, imagine what forms a fully free society might take, and/or uphold individual rights and freedom for all as the only moral and practical foundation for peace, prosperity, progress, justice, tolerance, civility and civilization itself.

Here are capsule descriptions of the Best Novel finalists, explaining how each fits our awards’ distinctive focus:

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2024 Best Novel finalists include both science fiction and fantasy – and honor two writers for the first time

By Michael Grossberg

Two writers have been recognized for the first time within the Prometheus Awards’ 45-year history as Best Novel finalists. Three other Best Novel finalist authors have been recognized more than once before in that annual category – and one is a previous Prometheus winner.

Moreover, in a relatively rare occurrence for the Prometheus Awards, not all Best Novel finalists this year fall within the genre of science fiction; one happens to fit the fantasy genre.

Devon Eriksen, Karl K. Gallagher, Gordon Hanka, Howard Andrew Jones and Daniel Suarez have each written a 2023 novel that’s been selected by Prometheus judges as a 2024 Best Novel finalist.

Continue reading 2024 Best Novel finalists include both science fiction and fantasy – and honor two writers for the first time

Author’s update: HarperCollins has published Mania, two-time Best Novel finalist Lionel Shriver’s alternate-history novel critiquing radical egalitarianism

By Michael Grossberg

Maverick bestselling novelist Lionel Shriver is at it again, skewering popular shibboleths of elite culture and critiquing false ideologies through her imaginative and insightful fiction.

Author Lionel Shriver in 2006 Photo: Walnut Whippet, Creative Commons license

Shriver, recognized twice over the past decade as a Prometheus Best Novel finalist, has written Mania, a new 286-page alternate-history novel published April 9 by HarperCollins Publishers.

The publisher’s description highlights a theme that seems promising from the perspective of the Prometheus Awards:

“With echoes of Philip Roth’s The Human Stain, told in Lionel Shriver’s inimitable and iconoclastic voice, Mania is a sharp, acerbic, and ruthlessly funny book about the road to a delusional, self-destructive egalitarianism that our society is already on.”

Continue reading Author’s update: HarperCollins has published Mania, two-time Best Novel finalist Lionel Shriver’s alternate-history novel critiquing radical egalitarianism

Review: Devon Eriksen’s Theft of Fire blends hard SF, romance, suspense and comedy in story of conflict and cooperation

By Eric S. Raymond and Michael Grossberg

For a first novel, Theft of Fire is impressive.

Devon Eriksen is one hell of an SF writer. His prose is tight and energetic, his action scenes work and his world-building is more than competent.

Billed as the first novel in Eriksen’s Orbital Space series and nominated for the next Prometheus Award for Best Novel, this hard-sf space opera portrays a free-frontier space culture where big risks can lead to big rewards.

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Review: Daniel Suarez’s Critical Mass offers persuasive, realistic SF thriller about private space industrialization

 

By Charlie Morrison and Michael Grossberg

A courageous band of astronaut-entrepreneurs strive to address Earth-based problems through commercial space-industrialization projects in Critical Mass, nominated for the next Prometheus Award for Best Novel.

Adding to the suspenseful drama, set mostly off the Earth and around the solar system, the resourceful heroes of this fast-paced sci-fi thriller must achieve their ambitious and unprecedented goals amid Cold War tensions, shifting global political alliances and the shortsighted opposition of Earth governments.

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Review: Howard Andrew Jones’ Lord of a Shattered Land offers epic sword-and-sorcery saga with anti-slavery, anti-tyranny, pro-liberty themes

“Howard Andrew Jones is the leading Sword & Sorcery author of the 21st century… His Lord of a Shattered Land is his best work yet… It’s a magnificent achievement, destined to become a modern classic.”
— John O’Neill, World Fantasy Award-winning publisher of Black Gate

By Michael Grossberg

I admit I generally don’t enjoy fantasy as much as science fiction, but I loved Lord of a Shattered Land, one of the best sword-and-sorcery sagas I’ve read.

Howard Andrew Jones’s epic fantasy, published by Baen Books and one of 17 nominees for the next Prometheus Award for Best Novel, tells a gripping tale that powerfully and emotionally evokes the evils of slavery and tyranny and the passionate, unquenchable desire of people to be free.

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Ultimate Conclusions: Karl K. Gallagher’s first short-story collection on verge of publication

Karl K. Gallagher, a frequent Prometheus Best Novel finalist, is about to publish Ultimate Conclusions, his first collection of short stories.

 

Most stories in the anthology will be stories Gallagher has published in other collections or webzines, but several will be new.

“They range from the tale of an Amish boy on the Moon to visits with a Norse God and Death himself,” Gallagher said on Kickstarter, where he has been getting support for the project.

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Review: Queen Wallis an inventive, suspenseful sequel to the dystopian alternate history of Carey’s Widowland

By Michael Grossberg

Sequels can be tricky and often disappointing, falling short of the originals in potentially all sorts of ways.

So it’s nice to report that C.J. Carey’s Queen Wallis (published by Sourcebooks in the U.S. and Quercus in the U.K.) is a worthy sequel that in several ways improves on Widowlandher 2023 Prometheus Best Novel finalist.

Overall, this feminist dystopian novel is one of the most enjoyable works of alternate history I’ve read in years.

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Review: Salman Rushdie’s Victory City affirms the virtues of liberty, trade and tolerance in a mythological historical fantasy about the cycles of civilization

By Michael Grossberg

Salman Rushdie, the courageous author acclaimed worldwide for both his fiction and personal courage in affirming libertarian values from artistic freedom and freedom of speech/press to the right of dissent, has written a wise and haunting novel in Victory City.


Rushdie’s historical fantasy – a Best Novel nominee for the next Prometheus Award – makes a poignant and powerful case for liberty as a key ingredient in the constellation of value and virtues that support human flourishing and the never-to-be-taken-for-granted rise of civilization.

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Review: Sandra Newman’s Julia a worthy companion to Orwell’s 1984

By Michael Grossberg

George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four remains one of the seminal novels of the past century.

An early inductee (appropriately enough, in 1984) into the Prometheus Hall of Fame, Orwell’s cautionary tale was inspired by the totalitarian horrors of Soviet Communism, yet remains a far broader warning about the perils of tyranny, no matter its variants and extremes of Left or Right.

Given the acclaim and reputation that Orwell’s classic has attained and deserves, it would seem foolhardy for anyone to dare to write a sequel. After all, how could it possibly measure up?

Yet, Orwell’s estate authorized novelist Sandra Newman to do just that with Julia – or more precisely, offer “a retelling of George Orwell’s 1984” (as subtitled on its hardback-book cover.)

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