A Prometheus milestone: a progress report on completion of the blog’s Hall of Fame appreciation series, and how to access it

The Prometheus Blog’s ongoing Appreciation series has reached a milestone -after two productive years of regularly published review-essays exploring and explaining the libertarian and anti-authoritarian themes of past Prometheus winners.

With the recent publication of an appreciative review-essay about the 2021 winner (F. Paul Wilson’s short story “Lipidleggin’), the appreciation series for the Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction is now complete – and conveniently accessible via links from our Prometheus Awards page.

Or at least it’s now as up-to-date as possible – until next year’s winner is announced.

Continue reading A Prometheus milestone: a progress report on completion of the blog’s Hall of Fame appreciation series, and how to access it

Sexuality, spirituality and reflections on the human soul in J. Neil Schulman’s The Rainbow Cadenza, the 1984 Prometheus Best Novel winner

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ history and make clear the distinctive focus of the award, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of past award-winners in all categories.

Here is another Appreciation of J. Neil Schulman’s The Rainbow Cadenza, the 1984 Prometheus Best Novel winner.

Also included below: Schulman’s Prometheus Awards acceptance speech, presented Aug. 31, 1984 before an audience of more than 2,000 sf fans at LACon, the 42nd annual World Science Fiction Convention in Los Angeles, Calif.

By Michael Grossberg

“If nothing is sacred the human body is sacred.” – Walt Whitman, “Children of Adam”

Much of the sexuality in The Rainbow Cadenza deeply disturbs, shocking readers with its graphic intensity, Yet this unusually adult coming-of-age novel, boasting some of the most scatological material to be found this side of Krafft-Ebing, arguably has no gratuitous sex scenes.

Instead, J. Neil Schulman integrates his disquieting eroticism into a complex narrative about a future Earth where birth-control advances have had a radical and damaging effect on human relationships, sexual equality and personal rights.

Given the development of such an unbalanced society, the novel’s often perverse sexuality should not surprise us. After all, the sexual act is a mirror. In reflecting consciousness and character, it offers a highly revealing glimpse of its participants’ humanity (or inhumanity).

At its best, of course, the sexual act can be a deeply satisfying expression of romantic love and spiritual intimacy, or at least a mutually enjoyable experience between consenting adults.

At its worst, the sexual act can be perverted into a neurotic and symbolic act, communicating hostility instead of affection, revenge instead of respect, dominance and submission instead of acceptance, anger and range instead of bon fide sexul passion. All this, and more, can be found in the diverse sexuality of The Rainbow Cadenza, a morality play in which those who allow themselves to be corrupted by powerlust soon find their sexual lusts corrupted as well in the inevitable workings of karmic justice.

Continue reading Sexuality, spirituality and reflections on the human soul in J. Neil Schulman’s The Rainbow Cadenza, the 1984 Prometheus Best Novel winner

Liberty, evolving self-government and the Rights of Man: C.J. Cherryh and Jane S. Fancher’s Alliance Rising, the 2020 Prometheus winner for Best Novel

The Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of past Prometheus award-winners in all categories, offering review-essays that strive to make clear why each winner deserves recognition as a notable pro-freedom work.

Here is an Appreciation for C.J. Cherryh and Jane S. Fancher’s Alliance Rising, the 2020 Prometheus winner for Best Novel.

“The rights of man, in a nonfigurative sense, are what this novel is about.” – William H. Stoddard

By William H. Stoddard

Set in Cherryh’s Alliance-Union universe, Alliance Rising explores its backstory; it appears to take place at an earlier date than any other novel in the series.

Cherryh’s future history assumes that the new societies founded by outward migration will become politically dominant; its two great powers are the Alliance, based at Tau Ceti, and the Union, centered on Lalande 46650, with the whole of Earth as a less powerful backwater.

Alliance Rising, which Cherryh co-wrote with Jane S. Fancher, explores the emergence of this configuration of interstellar powers, taking place not long after the discovery of faster-than-light travel in the twenty-third century by a Union physicist, at a time when Earth is struggling to catch up and preserve its power by building a new ship at Alpha Station, in the solar system of Barnard’s Star.

The new ship’s name, The Rights of Man, offers a pointed bit of symbolism — but one that takes on an ironic quality when the ship’s first test run is a dismal failure that has to be aborted, largely because of the crew’s lack of practical experience.

Continue reading Liberty, evolving self-government and the Rights of Man: C.J. Cherryh and Jane S. Fancher’s Alliance Rising, the 2020 Prometheus winner for Best Novel

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

Rising up against universal surveillance and the imperial state: Poul Anderson’s story “Sam Hall,” the 2020 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as a 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 an Appreciation for Poul Anderson’s story “Sam Hall,” the 2020 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

By William H. Stoddard

In “Sam Hall,” published in 1953 in Astounding Science Fiction, Poul Anderson offers one of the earlier visions of a dystopian possibility based on the computers that had been invented only a few years before: a society with ubiquitous surveillance.

This is our age’s version of the panopticon described by Jeremy Bentham – one not confined to local sites such as prisons, but having an entire nation, or an entire planet, in its view. Anderson’s vision of computer technology is primitive, with a gigantic machine in a central government office that receives and stores information on punched cards. It has no hint of artificial intelligence, or of the ability to interpret voice or vision. But the job he sees it as doing is still the stuff of our nightmares.

Continue reading Rising up against universal surveillance and the imperial state: Poul Anderson’s story “Sam Hall,” the 2020 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

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

Robots, liberty and the tyranny of “benevolence”: Jack Williamson’s novelette “With Folded Hands…,” the 2018 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 work, the Libertarian Futurist Society has been publishing since 2019 an Appreciation series of all past award-winners.

Here is an Appreciation for Jack Williamson’s “With Folded Hands…,” the 2018 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

By William H. Stoddard

Jack Williamson’s novelette “With Folded Hands . . .” illustrates one of the distinctive characteristics of science fiction: its tendency to a kind of dialogue, in which one author’s stories comment on earlier stories by other authors. (Poul Anderson was noteworthy for this kind of writing, in stories such as “Journeys End,” which offered a different view of relationships between telepaths, and “The Man Who Came Early,” which questioned the assumptions of “castaways in time” stories such as Lest Darkness Fall.)

In 1947, when Williamson’s novelette appeared in Astounding Science Fiction, the idea of essentially benevolent robots was well established there; Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics (which Astounding’s editor, John W. Campbell, played a part in formulating) had been explicitly stated in Asimov’s novelette “Runaround” five years before, in 1942. What Williamson did was not to revert to the older theme of monstrous and hostile robots (which Asimov had called “the Frankenstein complex”), but to look at Asimov’s own vision of robots from a different angle.

Continue reading Robots, liberty and the tyranny of “benevolence”: Jack Williamson’s novelette “With Folded Hands…,” the 2018 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

Self-discovery, crime, law, anarchy, the social compact and social sf: Robert Heinlein’s Coventry, the 2017 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

As part of the Libertarian Futurist Society’s Appreciation series celebrating the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history by publishing review-essays of past award-winners that make clear why each deserves recognition as a pro-freedom work, here’s an appreciation for Robert Heinlein’s story “Coventry,” the 2017 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

By Michael Grossberg and Jesse Markowitz

What is the ideal society? Is utopia even possible?

How close has the United States come to an ideal society, even with the inevitable flaws that beset every country and culture?

These are among the perennial questions explored and dramatized in Robert Heinlein’s classic story Coventry.

Related questions also emerge: How do you build a utopia and who do you build it for? Is it possible, fair and just to build a utopian alternative for some, but not for others?

Continue reading Self-discovery, crime, law, anarchy, the social compact and social sf: Robert Heinlein’s Coventry, the 2017 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

A great and logical heterotopia, with libertarian insights into optimization: Donald Kingsbury’s Courtship Rite, the 2016 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade-plus history and make clear why each winner deserves our recognition, the Libertarian Futurist Society has been publishing since 2019 a series of Appreciations of all past award-winners. Here is an Appreciation of Donald Kingsbury’s Courtship Rite, the 2016 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

By William H. Stoddard

As an opening epigraph in Glory Road, Robert Heinlein quotes some lines by Bernard Shaw that include the sentence “He is a barbarian, and thinks the customs of his tribe and island are the laws of nature.” One of the things science fiction can do for its readers is to jar us out of such complacency, by portraying worlds with customs other than ours – not utopias or dystopias, but heterotopias, “other places.” Donald M. Kingsbury’s Courtship Rite is one of the great heterotopias.

Continue reading A great and logical heterotopia, with libertarian insights into optimization: Donald Kingsbury’s Courtship Rite, the 2016 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

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

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

Here is an 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 challenging repressive authority: Harlan Ellison’s subversive and satirical story “Repent Harlequin!’, Said the Ticktockman,” the 2015 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner