Hall of Fame finalist review: Terry Pratchett’s The Truth offers hilarious but serious comedy about the rise of newspapers and the value of a free press

By Michael Grossberg

The truth shall make you fret.

Er, that’s not quite right. I meant: “The truth shall make you free.”

And The Truth shall make you laugh, too, while sparking insights about freedom – especially freedom of the press.

Often, while recently rereading Terry Pratchett’s satirical Discworld novel, I laughed out loud. (What a pleasure in troubled times, especially for journalists like me coping with declining newspapers.)

THE POWER OF THE PRESS

The Truth, a 2024 Prometheus Hall of Fame finalist, tells a smart, sly and ultimately inspirational tale of underdogs seeking the truth against formidable opposition.

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Did you know that fantasy is just as eligible as science fiction for Prometheus Awards recognition? (And that shouldn’t be news!)

By Michael Grossberg

Works of fantasy are eligible to consider for the Prometheus Awards, along with science fiction.

The Lord of the Rings, inducted in 2009 into the Prometheus Hall of Fame

Fantasy has always been eligible for nomination – which might be news to some.

Many falsely assume that the Prometheus Awards are exclusively focused on “libertarian science fiction.”

And many continue to do so, even though several notable works of fantasy have been selected this year as finalists in both annual categories for Best Novel and Best Classic Fiction (the Prometheus Hall of Fame.)

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Hall of Fame finalist review: Harry Turtledove’s fantasy Between the Rivers imagines Bronze Age beginnings of a freer society

By William H. Stoddard

Over the years, most nominees for the Libertarian Futurist Society’s Prometheus awards have been science fiction, and set in the present or the near or far future. Harry Turtledove’s Between the Rivers is an exception: A work of fantasy, and set in an invented world that parallels the Bronze Age of 3000 years ago or more.

As its title suggests, its setting is based on Mesopotamia. It’s a realm of contending city-states, and seems to be the first place in its larger world to develop them; at any rate, there’s no indication of comparably civilized realms elsewhere.

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Hall of Fame finalist review: “The Trees,” a fantasy-themed rock song by Rush, resonates as cautionary tale

By Michael Grossberg

Even though they’re eligible for nomination, no songs have ever been inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame.

Neal Peart, Rush drummer and songwriter of “The Trees.” Credit: Creative Commons

I can’t imagine a good song more deserving of that honor, and that fits the distinctive focus of the Prometheus Awards better, than “The Trees,” a 1978 song by the Canadian rock group Rush.

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Best Novel finalist 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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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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“The Emperor’s New Clothes” – Andersen’s fable remains a useful metaphor and illustrative lesson for today

By Michael Grossberg

One of the best choices that LFS members have made in voting annually in the Best Classic Fiction category, in my opinion, was the decision to induct “The Emperor’s New Clothes” in 2000 into the Prometheus Hall of Fame.

Hans Christian Andersen’s timeless anti-authoritarian parable isn’t merely a fable for children but a cautionary tale for everyone about the presumptions and illusions of power — not to mention the dangers of sheep-like conformity…. lessons that still apply today. (Perhaps especially today.)

Possibly because the Danish author’s 1837 story is often grouped somewhat diminutively with Anderson’s other stories as mere “children’s” literature or perhaps for other reasons, “The Emperor’s New Clothes” often seems to be overlooked or dismissed by contemporary columnists and bloggers as a still-resonant metaphor for the blind spots and knee-jerk tribalism of our increasingly conformist, censorious, culture-cancelling and fearful era.

So it’s a pleasure to come across a relatively rare reference to Andersen’s classic among today’s vast social commentary – moreover, not just a brief reference, but a full column from a regular Substack writer who makes the story central to his insightful and timely themes.

The column is even titled in honor of the fable: “The Emperor’s New Art.”

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Who was Prometheus? Writer Virginia Postrel exposes modern misconceptions while highlighting the Greek myth’s pro-liberty, pro-technology themes

“The ancient myth of Prometheus is not a cautionary tale. It is a reminder that technē raises human beings above brutes. It is a myth founded in gratitude.” – Virginia Postrel

By Michael Grossberg

Who was Prometheus?

Despite modern misconceptions and fears, why does the titan of Greek mythology remain a positive and inspiring symbol of freedom, hope, revolution and progress today?

Virginia Postrel – the former Reason-magazine editor and Atlantic and New York Times columnist, and notable author of the seminal The Future and Its Enemies – brilliantly but concisely challenges common contemporary misunderstandings about the Greek legend in a fascinating and insightful essay on her Substack column.

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Remembering Tolkien: Columnist hails “LOTR” author as “most important creative mind of the modern age”

By Michael Grossberg

J.R.R. Tolkien, widely hailed as the father of the resurgent “high fantasy” of the modern era, died 50 years ago today.

J.R.R. Tolkien in 1925 (Creative Commons license)

Tolkien, who passed at 81 on Sept. 2, 1973, is remembered by Ed West, who writes about Tolkien’s legacy and increasing influence today in his timely Substack column Wrong Side of History.

With Tolkien’s classic The Lord of the Rings having been inducted in 2009 into the Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction, LFS members certainly remember and admire Tolkien.

But in his striking and thought-provoking column, West praises Tolkien in extraordinary ways – perhaps even more highly than do libertarians, who admire the British author for the mythic world-building, rich storytelling and poignant themes of his cautionary libertarian fable about the inevitable temptations and corruptions of absolute power.

West goes so far as to call Tolkien “the most important creative mind of the modern age.”

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Magic, superhuman tyranny and creating a society without slavery in Graydon Saunders’s fantasy Commonweal Series

Work as if you lived in the early days of a better nation.”
—Alasdair Gray.

“If these are the early days of a better nation, there must be hope, and a hope of peace is as good as any, and far better than a hollow hoarding greed or the dry lies of an aweless god.”
—Graydon Saunders

By William H. Stoddard

Ken MacLeod’s blog, “The Early Days of a Better Nation,” takes its title from a quotation from Alasdair Gray. Obligingly, he provides that quotation, followed immediately by another quotation from Graydon Saunders that comments on the idea.

Who is Graydon Saunders? Eventually, I became curious, and found that he was, among other things, the author of a series of strikingly original fantasy novels, the Commonweal series.

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