Banning trans fats and “food that tastes good” – F. Paul Wilson’s Hall of Fame acceptance speech for ‘Lipidleggin”

Here is F. Paul Wilson’s acceptance speech for winning the 2021 Prometheus Award for Best Classic Fiction (the Hall of Fame) for his short story “Lipidleggin'”, which he delivered Aug. 21, 2021, during the online ceremony for the 41st annual Prometheus Awards:

By F. Paul Wilson

Many thanks to the members of the Libertarian Futurist Society for this honor.

I’ll be brief.  (“Lipidleggin’” is a short story, after all.)

Back in the 1970s, a national health care system was a major political topic.  (Some things never change, do they?)  So I asked the next question: If the State is paying for your health care, won’t the State demand a say in behaviors that it considers hazardous to your health?  Like, oh, say, banning saturated fats?

So, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, I wrote this little cautionary tale about a day when foods with saturated fats – such as butter and eggs – would be banned by the government.  I mean, I saw how it could happen, but never for a moment did I believe it would happen.  Not in a free country like our good old U.S. of A.

George Scithers bought the story and published it in the May-June 1978 issue of Asimov’s SF magazine.  (Remember that date.) Over the years it’s been reprinted in various anthologies and adapted twice into short films.

It even made it to TV – sort of.  In 2009, readers contacted me saying “Lipidleggin'” had been ripped off by American Dad.  The show had aired an episode called “Live and Let Fry” in which the town has banned trans fats.  The eponymous Dad goes to bootleggers for what he calls, “food that tastes good.”  That sounded awfully familiar, but I take the position that the writer had simply asked the next question – the same question I’d asked 30 years earlier.

And then, on June 18, 2018, exactly 40 years after “Lipidleggin’” was published – I’m talking 40 years to the month – the FDA issued a decree banning trans fats from the nation’s food supply.

My satirical fiction had become a documentary.

Most of the time it’s nice to be proven right.  But sometimes… it sucks.

Thanks again for this.

Where to find the story: “Lipidleggin'” was published in the anthology The Survival of Freedom and was reprinted in recent editions of Wilson’s novel An Enemy of the State (2001 and 2005 editions.)

Wilson’s story can also be read free online at this link:

Biographical note: This is F. Paul Wilson’s sixth Prometheus Award.

F. Paul Wilson. Photo credit courtesy of author

Wilson won the first Prometheus Award in 1979 for his novel Wheels within Wheels. The novel is part of Wilson’s LaNague Federation series, which includes Healer (the 1990 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner), An Enemy of the State (the 1991 Hall of Fame winner), Dydeetown World; and several related stories (including “Lipidleggin'”).

Wilson also won a Prometheus Award for Best Novel for Sims in 2004 and a Special Prometheus Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2015.

* See the LFS interview with F. Paul Wilson (from the Volume 29, Number 3 Spring 2011 issue of the old Prometheus print quarterly)

* 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 all-volunteer association of freedom-loving sf/fantasy fans. Libertarian futurists believe culture is as vital as politics (and often more fulfilling, positive and productive in the longer run) in sparking positive social change and spreading positive visions of the future and achieving universal liberty and human 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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