Best of the blog, part 2: Six more 2022 reviews, interviews worth rereading about libertarian science fiction

By Michael Grossberg

What were the “best” Prometheus Blog articles of 2022?

Which were the most illuminating and/or the most surprising? (No surprise that I happen to have some favorites.)

Looking back and following a recent blog post recommending six favorites from last year, I picked six more favorites among the more-than-weekly 67 blog posts of 2022, which offered a wide range of reviews, essays, author interviews, awards updates and Prometheus-Award-winner appreciations

Second chances don’t always occur in life, but the first few weeks of 2023 offers a timely opportunity to look back at some of the best Prometheus blog articles of 2022.

Following up on last week’s post, which highlighted six favorites from the last half of the year, here are capsule descriptions of six more articles, interviews or reviews worth reading or rereading:

* Self-reliance, liberty and sf: The Prometheus interview with author-singer-songwriter Leslie Fish

Leslie Fish, playing the guitar and singing her songs (Creative Commons license)

Fish, winner of a Special Prometheus award for her fantasy novella “Tower of Horses” and related filk-song “The Horseman’s Daughter,” may be less known to most libertarian sf fans than most winners of our annual Best Novel and Hall of Fame categories.

But that’s all the more reason to read this two-part interview, because Fish has a very different perspective as a prominent and frequent guest of honor at sf/fantasy conventions – and as someone with distinctive insights who became a libertarian from the Left and from the anti-war movement of the 1960s and 1970s.

What Fish has to say about how libertarians and the Prometheus Award are perceived among sf fans is especially illuminating about the award’s growing reputation and respect over the decades.

* Seize What’s Held Dear: Karl Gallagher’s Best Novel finalist explores cultural clash of customs, battle for freedom against novel interstellar tyranny

William H. Stoddard’s review of Gallagher’s novel is worth rereading as a refresher for LFS members and other libertarian sf fans who have been following Gallagher’s ambitious Fall of the Censor series – which is ongoing.

So far, all four novels in the series have all been nominated for Best Novel and the first three have become finalists (while the fourth novel Captain Trader Helmsman Spy, published in 2022, is still being considered by judges for the next award.)

As Stoddard explains, Gallagher’s series is interesting in how it explores the customs and private approach to law of a group of star-traveling humans.

Author Karl K. Gallagher (Creative Commons license)

Also dramatic and suspenseful is Gallagher’s story about how they must defend their small network of free-er planets against a much larger interstellar empire whose tyranny rests on the drastic suppression of information, history, art and literature – not just through censorship but outright prohibition of older books as contraband material, evidence of a capital crime.

* Heinlein’s Children: Tom Jackson’s fanzine essay on libertarians in sf fandom

If you want to better understand the prominence of libertarians in sf fandom, read Tom Jackson’s informative essay, published in Portable Storage, on “Heinlein’s Children: Libertarians in fandom.”

Tom Jackson (File photo)

This blog post, like many others in the past year, offers commentary and highlight quotes from relevant articles of great interest to LFS members, that were published in national and international publications that reference and comment on libertarian science fiction in general or Prometheus Award winners in particular.

Informed by history, culture and literature, Jackson offers several reasons for the intimate relationship between libertarianism and modern science fiction. Check them out!

* Robot rights, practical autonomy and character-driven comedy: An appreciation of Mark Stanley’s webcomic Freefall, the 2017 Special Prometheus awardwinner

Only one webcomic has ever been recognized with a Prometheus Award – and it’s pretty funny.

William H. Stoddard’s review-essay – notable as the final appreciation in our series of appreciation of fiction works recognized with Special Prometheus Awards – offers a wonderful introduction to Stanley’s series.

This appreciation should whet your appetite to go online to find and enjoy this very amusing (and free) webcomic series.

* A song of community and resistance to tyranny, and the novella it inspired: An appreciation of Leslie Fish’s “The Horsetamer’s Daughter” and “Tower of Horses,” the 2014 Special Prometheus Award winner

Although both science fiction and fantasy are equally eligible for consideration in the Prometheus Awards, most works recognized tend to fall into the sf category.

Fish’s gripping and well-written novella is a wonderful exception – clearly libertarian in multiple dimensions while rich in fantasy, with central characters easy to care about in a believable world full of humanity and family but also tyranny.

This appreciation, co-written by Steve Gaalema and Michael Grossberg, highlights why “Tower of Horses” (and its closely related “The Horsetamer’s Daughter,” the first and still only filk-song to win our award) are so deserving of recognition – and readership.

Fish’s novella and song also convincingly dramatize why community and communitarian values are consistent with, and an outgrowth of, freedom, voluntarism and libertarian values – contrary to public misperceptions equating community with communism or socialism.

* Self-reliance and libertarian ideals on the frontier: Prometheus-winning novelist Travis Corcoran on Joss Whedon’s Serenity, the 2006 Prometheus Special Award winner.

This special guest appreciation, by two-time Prometheus-winning author Travis Corcoran, explains why Corcoran and so many other sf fans and libertarians loveSerenity.

But his wide-ranging essay not only focuses on Serenity, but also Firefly, the sadly shortlived TV series that inspired the sci-fi film.

“Firefly, and later Serenity, are about several things that are near and dear to the hearts of liberty-lovers: the frontier, voluntary – not coercive – exchange, an uneasy relationship with authority, self-reliance, and the trade-offs that inevitably come from uncompromising moral codes, nonconformism, and a healthy skepticism for the default paths through life,” Corcoran wrote.

Firefly and Serenity not only dramatize libertarian ideals with imagination and suspense, but also undergird its story with individualist themes.

With both the film and the TV series widely available to watch on video and streaming, Corcoran’s highly appreciative and illuminating essay provides the perfect introduction to both – for both newcomers and fans.


* 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 the 2022 Prometheus ceremony with Wil McCarthy, and 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.

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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