British Science Fiction Association Awards’ 2023 long list includes several Prometheus-nominated authors

Prometheus-winning author Charles Stross and Prometheus-finalists Martha Wells and John Scalzi are on the BSFA list.

So is Sandra Newman, author of Julia, the acclaimed sequel to Orwell’s 1984 that’s recently been nominated along with a dozen other 2023 novels for the next Prometheus Award for Best Novel.

What list are they on? It’s the fascinating and far-flung long list of nominees for the BSFA Awards, recently announced for works published in 2023.

Sponsored by the British Science Fiction Association, the BSFA awards have been presented annually since 1970 – and can be a harbinger of the Hugos, the Nebulas and other major sf/fantasy awards.

The BSFA awards also overlap to some extent with the Prometheus Awards over the decades, recognizing several of our favorite writers.

Like other major sf/fantasy awards, the BSFA awards can remind fans of works worth reading, highlight authors we might not be familiar with and occasionally, when the focus of the awards overlap, lead us to a few acclaimed works that might also fit the Prometheus Awards.

Case in point: Julia, billed as a “retelling of George Orwell’s 1984.”

Newman was commissioned by Orwell’s estate to write her sort-of sequel, which actually covers many of the same events and the timeline of Orwell’s classic, but from the quite different perspective of Julia, lover of 1984’s central character Winston Smith.

Newman writes from a fresh and female/feminist perspective, revealing Julia to be livelier, sexier, maybe smarter and subversive and certainly more cynical than poor dull Winston.

Many scenes in Julia build on Orwell, sometimes adding dimensions to key moments in 1984 but often viewing events from a fascinatingly different perspective.

The result is an enhancement and deepening of Orwell’s insights and anti-authoritarian themes that underscores love, sexuality, culture, religion, the family and the individual as realms of liberty and humanity that become anathema to Big Brother’s totalitarian thought control.

Let’s just say that LFS members would be pleased if a novel with such strong libertarian and anti-authoritarian themes as Newman’s Julia makes it onto the BSFA shortlist and ultimately wins their recognition.

Note: Following the annual Feb. 15 deadline for LFS members to nominate eligible 2023 novels, the Prometheus Blog will post the final list of nominated works for the next Prometheus Award for Best Novel.

CHARLES STROSS, A FOUR-TIME PROMETHEUS NOMINEE

Stross, nominated by the BSFA for his novel Season of Skulls (Orbit Books), won the 2007 Prometheus Award for Best Novel for Glasshouse. 

(Check out the Prometheus Blog’s review-essay Appreciation of Glasshouse, explaining why Stross won and how his novel fits the distinctive focus of our award. Glasshouse explores liberty, power, gender, identity and the threat to individuals of comprehensive State surveillance and coercive pressures to conform.)

Charles Stross in 2017 at the Prometheus Awards ceremony

Stross became a Prometheus Best Novel finalist in 2009 for Saturn’s Children. He was nominated for the Prometheus Award for Best Novel in 2006 for Accelerando and The Hidden Family (the latter becoming a Best Novel finalist), in 2010 for The Revolution Business: Book Five of the Merchant Princes and in 2016 for Annihilation Score.

MARTHA WELLS, A TWO-TIME PROMETHEUS NOMINEE

Wells, nominated by the BSFA for her novel Witch King (Tordotcom), may be best known to sf fans and LFS members for her Murderbot stories. Among them: The Murderbot Diaries (including All Systems Red, Artificial Condition, Rogue Protocol and Exit Strategy), a 2019 Prometheus Best Novel finalist; and Network Effect, a 2021 Prometheus Best Novel nominee.

John Scalzi, meanwhile, is nominated by the BSFA for best novel for Season of Skulls.

Scalzi was recognized by the LFS as a 2007 Prometheus Best Novel finalist for The Ghost Brigades.

He’s probably best known among American and British sf fans, though, for Redshirts, his Hugo-winning satirical post-modernist novel about the lower echelon of starship crew figuring out why they’re constantly dying on missions in a thinly disguised Star Trek universe.

PAST BSFA WINNERS AND THE PROMETHEUS AWARD

Terry Pratchett in 2012. Creative Commons license

Past BSFA winners include several other Prometheus winners.

The late great Terry Pratchett, who won the BSFA 1989 BSFA award for Pyramids, won the 2003 Prometheus Best Novel award for Night Watch and was a 2001 Best Novel finalist for The Truth.

Scottish writer Ken MacLeod, a two-time BSFA winner (for The Sky Road in 1999 and The Night Sessions in 2008), has won the Prometheus Award for Best Novel three times (for The Star Fraction in 1996, The Stone Canal in 1998 and Learning the World in 2006.

Ken MacLeod (Creative Commons photo)

MacLeod has also been nominated for a Prometheus many other times, with The Corporation Wars: Dissidence and The Corporation Wars: Insurgence both becoming 2017 Best Novel finalists.

MacLeod is among several authors – many British – who have won the BSFA award more than once.

Among the others: Brian Aldiss, John Brunner, N.K. Jemisin, Ian McDonald, Gareth Powell, Geoff Ryman and Adrian Tchaikovsky (a British favorite, winner of three of the past four BSFA awards.)

The BSFA Awards are voted on by BSFA members and members of the year’s Easteron, the national science fiction convention, held since 1955.

The BSFA winners will be announced during this year’s Eastercon, Levitation, which will take place March 29 through April 1 at the Telford International Centre in the West Midlands of England.

For more information about the BSFA long list, see the File 770 news story.

For more information about its awards history, visit the BSFA website.

IF YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE LFS:

* 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 all published essay-reviews in our Appreciation series of more than 100 past winners since 1979.

* 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 (including the recent 2023 ceremony with inspiring and amusing speeches by Prometheus-winning authors Dave Freer and Sarah Hoyt),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 and support a cultural and literary strategy to appreciate and honor freedom-loving fiction, join the Libertarian Futurist Society, 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 in envisioning a freer and better future – and in some ways can be even more powerful than politics in the long run, by better visions of the future, innovation, peace, prosperity, positive social change, and mutual respect for each other’s rights, individuality and human dignity.

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, reduce the threat of war, repeal or constrain other abuses of coercive power and achieve universal liberty, respect for human rights and a better world (perhaps ultimately, 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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