Comedy, coming of age and forging freedom high above a gas-giant: An Appreciation of Dave Freer’s Cloud-Castles, the 2023 Prometheus Best Novel winner

By Michael Grossberg

Few Prometheus Award winners are as much fun to read as Cloud-Castles.

The 2023 Prometheus Awards plaque and gold coin


Zestful and often funny but also imaginative and insightful in its visions of freedom, Dave Freer’s often satirical coming-of-age novel deservedly won the 2023 Best Novel award for its entertaining blend of adventure, comedy, sci-fi,  likable characters and nifty world-building.

The novel’s settings, distinctive and ingenious, offer ripe possibilities for varied, cross-cultural exploration of different human and alien environments. And Freer delivers.

Continue reading Comedy, coming of age and forging freedom high above a gas-giant: An Appreciation of Dave Freer’s Cloud-Castles, the 2023 Prometheus Best Novel winner

Liberty and laughter: Which Special Award winners benefit from a sense of humor?

By Michael Grossberg

“Tragedy tomorrow, comedy tonight…”
— Lyrics from the opening song in Stephen Sondheim’s musical farce A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum

Of all the works recognized with Prometheus Awards, one of the funniest is rather unusual, even unique.

It’s not a novel, a novella or a story – the types of fiction that by far most commonly have won one of the two annual Prometheus awards for Best Novel or Best Classic Fiction.

Nor is it a movie or TV series, although several have won.

It’s a “webcomic” – and so far, the only one that’s ever received a Prometheus: Freefall (Chapter 1), created by Mark Stanley.

Continue reading Liberty and laughter: Which Special Award winners benefit from a sense of humor?

Making ‘em laugh: Which Hall of Fame winners best incorporate comedy?

By Michael Grossberg

Everyone has their favorites among the fiction works that have won the Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction.

And by everyone, I mean virtually everyone – since at least some of the 46 winning works are enjoyed by libertarians and non-libertarians alike, and by both science fiction/fantasy fans and those who don’t often read that genre.

But how many rank the comedies that high?

Continue reading Making ‘em laugh: Which Hall of Fame winners best incorporate comedy?

Making ‘em laugh for the sake of liberty: Which Best Novel winners best incorporate comedy?

By Michael Grossberg

If beauty is proverbially found in the eye of the beholder, then a sense of humor may be located in our funny bones.

Yet everyone’s sense of humor is a bit different. What you find hilarious may leave me cold (or at least lukewarm), while what fills some bellies with laughs may leave others with barely a smile on their faces.

Given how personal a sense of humor tends to be, it may be provocative but should be interesting to ask: Which Prometheus Award winners do you find most amusing?

Which are designed to make you smile, and laugh out loud – and achieve their goal?

Continue reading Making ‘em laugh for the sake of liberty: Which Best Novel winners best incorporate comedy?

Liberty vs. equality: International magazine highlights timeless warnings of “Harrison Bergeron,” Vonnegut’s Prometheus-winning fable

By Michael Grossberg

Some Prometheus-winning fiction imagines a better, freer future for humanity, one that libertarian futurists yearn to see come true in some form.

Other Prometheus-winning fiction is more dystopian, offering cautionary warnings about totalitarian tendencies that their authors portray with hopes of preventing them from materializing.

“Harrison Bergeron,” Kurt Vonnegut’s now-classic 1961 short story, which falls into the latter category, satirically but seriously extrapolates the coercive, absurd and even monstrously inhuman possibilities of radical egalitarianism taken to extremes.

Read the Prometheus Blog Appreciation to appreciate why Vonnegut’s story deserved to be recognized by the Libertarian Futurist Society as the 2019 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner.

Overall and at least in theory, it’s a good thing to see outstanding fiction continue to resonate within the broader American and world culture – especially when it’s pro-liberty or anti-authoritarian sf/fantasy and has been recognized through the Prometheus awards.

Unfortunately, “Harrison Bergeron” is becoming all too timely.

Continue reading Liberty vs. equality: International magazine highlights timeless warnings of “Harrison Bergeron,” Vonnegut’s Prometheus-winning fable

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

With this review-essay of the 2017 Special Prometheus Award winner, we complete the Appreciation series of past Prometheus winners, launched in 2019 with the Best Novel category, continued in 2020 with the Hall of Fame category and concluded* in 2022 with this final appreciation of our Special Prometheus Award-winners.

By William H. Stoddard

As the Libertarian Futurist Society began giving awards to works other than novels, one of the questions we faced was how to decide if a series was eligible.

It obviously wasn’t appropriate to give an award to an open-ended series, or to one that hadn’t been completed yet (though we might recognize a single volume, story, or episode). We were prepared to recognize a series that had been completed, such as Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner. We also decided that we were prepared to recognize a bounded part of a series, such as one season of a television show. This decision proved applicable in 2017, when after nearly 20 years of publication, Mark Stanley announced that the first chapter of his webcomic Freefall had been completed with installment 2834.

Libertarian fiction’s philosophical or ideological content makes a lot of it serious, or even didactic, with characters discussing politics and economics in long speeches. Freefall, 2017 winner of a Special Prometheus Award, proved to be a happy exception.

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

Bold imagination and wit, colorful visuals, dystopian tyranny and a libertarian alternate-reality: An appreciation of The Probability Broach: The Graphic Novel, a 2005 Prometheus Special Awardwinner

The Libertarian Futurist Society’s ongoing Appreciation series of Prometheus winners continues in 2022 with review-essays about the fiction recognized with Special Awards.

By Michael Grossberg

Adaptations of classic or popular literature into graphic novels have become increasingly popular. Reflecting this modern trend, the Prometheus Awards recognized its first graphic novel when The Probability Broach: The Graphic Novel (published in 2004 by Big Head Press) received a Special Prometheus Award in 2005.

Visually colorful and boldly imaginative, this accessible and fun version of one of the most explicitly libertarian sf novels achieves its distinctive style and stirring impact from the fertile collaboration between libertarian author L. Neil Smith and libertarian artist Scott Bieser.

The deft combination of words and visuals helps bring to life Smith’s zestful and suspenseful sf adventure novel, which imagines alternate time lines accessible through the probability broach, a portal to many worlds.

Continue reading Bold imagination and wit, colorful visuals, dystopian tyranny and a libertarian alternate-reality: An appreciation of The Probability Broach: The Graphic Novel, a 2005 Prometheus Special Awardwinner

Butter, eggs and the taste of freedom: An Appreciation of F. Paul Wilson’s “Lipidleggin’”, the 2021 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as a notable pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian work, the Libertarian Futurist Society has been publishing since 2019 an Appreciation series of all past award-winners.

Here is a review essay about F. Paul Wilson’s story “Lipidleggin’,” the 2021 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction. With this appreciation for this year’s winner, our Appreciation series for the Hall of Fame category of the Prometheus Awards is now complete.

By Michael Grossberg

Once you taste freedom, it’s harder to live your life without it.

Once you learn to enjoy the taste of something good, you naturally tend to want more of it.

The mouth waters, remembering how wonderful some things taste… like liberty…. and frying eggs in butter. Mmmm… yummy.

(Also, wouldn’t it be nice if petty bureaucrats and aspiring tyrants could be seduced by the mere taste of freedom?)

Such are my immediate thoughts after rereading “Lipidleggin’,” the 2021 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

Continue reading Butter, eggs and the taste of freedom: An Appreciation of F. Paul Wilson’s “Lipidleggin’”, the 2021 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

Egalitarianism taken to coercive extremes in attacks on excellence: Kurt Vonnegut’s story “Harrison Bergeron,” the 2019 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as anti-authoritarian or pro-freedom, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of all past award-winners.

Here is an Appreciation for Kurt Vonnegut’s story “Harrison Bergeron,” the 2019 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

By Michael Grossberg
The government’s Handicapper General enforces new constitutional amendments mandating that no one can be stupider, uglier, weaker, slower – or in any way better – than anyone else.

To enforce this authoritarian and radical egalitarian edict, perfectly capable people are forced to accept and wear various disabling devices that handicap their capabilities and basic humanity.

Leave it to the great American novelist Kurt Vonnegut Jr. to come up with such a classic cautionary fable about a dystopian future in the United States in which coercive egalitarianism – a close cousin of progressivism – is taken to such radical and inhuman extremes in a perverse authoritarian revolt against personal excellence.

Continue reading Egalitarianism taken to coercive extremes in attacks on excellence: Kurt Vonnegut’s story “Harrison Bergeron,” the 2019 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

Civil disobedience vs. repressive authority: Harlan Ellison’s subversive and satirical story “Repent Harlequin!’, Said the Ticktockman,” the 2015 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

Here is the Prometheus Blog Appreciation of Harlan Ellison’s “Repent Harlequin!’, Said the Ticktockman,” the 2015 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

By Michael Grossberg

The ticking of a clock and a tight schedule controls the future world in “Repent Harlequin!’, Said the Ticktockman,” one of Harlan Ellison’s best and most iconic stories.

The satirical and dystopian tale, which opens with quotes from Henry David Thoreau’s classic work on Civil Disobedience, lampoons the excesses and absurdities of regimentation.

Continue reading Civil disobedience vs. repressive authority: Harlan Ellison’s subversive and satirical story “Repent Harlequin!’, Said the Ticktockman,” the 2015 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner