Science fiction’s prophetic dystopias: Niall Ferguson Spectator essay sheds light on Prometheus winners Bradbury, Orwell, Stephenson and Zamyatin while drawing timely comparisons to Huxley

How can science fiction be used to explore and perhaps take steps to prevent the darker possibilities of the future?

Writer-historian Niall Ferguson examines the benefits and prophetic classics of science fiction in an intriguing essay in The Spectator magazine.

Several Prometheus-winning authors – including Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451), Sinclair Lewis (It Can’t Happen Here), George Orwell (Nineteen Eighty-Four), Neal Stephenson (The System of the World, Snow Crash) and Yevgeny Zamyatin (We) – are discussed with intriguing and incisive commentary in Ferguson’s recent article, “How Science Fiction Novels Read the Future.”

Continue reading Science fiction’s prophetic dystopias: Niall Ferguson Spectator essay sheds light on Prometheus winners Bradbury, Orwell, Stephenson and Zamyatin while drawing timely comparisons to Huxley

Reason highlights fresh aspects of Tolkien’s anti-statism reflected in new TV series “The Rings of Power”

After watching just the first few episodes, fans of “The Lord of the Rings” may still be making up their minds whether the Amazon-Prime prequel “The Rings of Power” is a worthy successor to the three LOTR films and most important, whether it does justice to J.R.R. Tolkien and his powerful anti-authoritarian themes.

A bust of JRR Tolkien. File photo

But Reason magazine has weighed in with an insightful column that offers a nuanced answer to the question of how faithful is the epic new series to “Tolkien’s Anti-Statism.”

The answer, fans of the Prometheus Hall of Fame-winning trilogy will be happy and relieved to hear, is mostly yes.

Like the LFS members who voted to induct Tolkien’s fantasy trilogy into the Prometheus Hall of Fame in 2009, Reason columnist Christian Britscchgi seems well aware of the ways in which The Lord of the Rings celebrates “freedom against arbitrary government interference.”

Continue reading Reason highlights fresh aspects of Tolkien’s anti-statism reflected in new TV series “The Rings of Power”

Origin Story: What Heinlein’s previously unseen fiction and never-produced TV series reveal about his libertarian classic The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

By William H. Stoddard

In the current century, publishers have brought out previously unseen material by Robert Heinlein.

Some of it is simply alternate versions of familiar novels, such as Podkayne of Mars, The Puppet Masters, Red Planet, and Stranger in a Strange Land.

But we’ve also see works that he didn’t publish, but that he later quarried for the material of later works: For Us, the Living, which supplied a secondary character to Beyond This Horizon and several thematic elements to the Future History, and The Pursuit of the Pankera, which was radically rewritten to give us The Number of the Beast.

With the compilation of the Virginia Edition, not only all of Heinlein’s previously published works have been made available, but various less known ones, such as decades of his letters. Among these are various ventures into scriptwriting for movies and television. Destination Moon is well known, but his proposals for television series were never produced, and only with the Virginia Edition have they become available.

The last of these, Century XXII, was mainly worked on in 1963, and he abandoned it in 1964 after clashes with Howie Horowitz, who proposed the project to him. After that, Heinlein gave up on writing for film and television as a waste of time. But Century XXII casts some light onto Heinlein’s later writing, and especially onto The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, generally regarded as one of his best novels and more specifically as the prototype of libertarian science fiction.

Continue reading Origin Story: What Heinlein’s previously unseen fiction and never-produced TV series reveal about his libertarian classic The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

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

Remembering Tolkien – and his cautionary theme about the lure of power – as Rings of Power series debuts opposite House of Dragons

“Power tends to corrupt; and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Lord Acton    (1834-1902)

“One Ring to rule them all,
One Ring to find them,
One ring to bring them all,
and in the darkness bind them.”
– The Ring inscription in The Lord of the Rings

Few Prometheus Award winners incorporate an anti-authoritarian theme with more haunting power than J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the 2009 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

With Amazon Prime recently unveiling its mega-budgeted and long-awaited prequel to Lord of the Rings, this is an apt moment to recall that theme – summed up so well in Lord Acton’s famous dictum and symbolized so archetypically by Tolkien in his “One Ring to rule them all.”

That’s especially timely when Rings of Power offers such a vivid contrast to House of the Dragon, the other super-expensive prequel to another landmark television-adapted fantasy, but one with a much different and more cynical view of power.

Continue reading Remembering Tolkien – and his cautionary theme about the lure of power – as Rings of Power series debuts opposite House of Dragons

SF under assault, but ripe for rebirth: Two-time Prometheus winner Travis Corcoran’s 2022 awards-ceremony speech on the value of libertarian science fiction

The Libertarian Futurist Society invited two-time Prometheus winner Travis Corcoran to discuss the importance of libertarian science fiction in his speech as presenter of the 2022 Prometheus Award for Best Novel.

Sf novelist Travis Corcoran (Photo courtesy of author)

Here Is the text of Corcoran’s speech, delivered on Aug. 13 as part of the Zoom awards ceremony, marking the 40th anniversary of the LFS.

(Corcoran presented the Best Novel award to Wil McCarthy for Rich Man’s Sky; the Hall of Fame award went to Robert Heinlein’s Citizen of the Galaxy,)

 

By Travis Corcoran

The state of written science fiction in 2022 is a bit like the state of western civilization: under assault from all sides, hollowed out, a pale shadow of what it once was.

The soldiers who once defended our grand city have been defeated.

There are invaders inside the gates, cavorting, aping their betters,and desecrating the ancient and sacred temples.

The great bazaars are empty and only a few small peddlers haunt the windy streets.

Most of the citizens who built the city, stone by stone, have been either felled by old age or have wandered away.  A few still act as if nothing has changed, but without the support of the great publishers and the cheers of the crowd, the performance rings hollow.

Continue reading SF under assault, but ripe for rebirth: Two-time Prometheus winner Travis Corcoran’s 2022 awards-ceremony speech on the value of libertarian science fiction

Honoring merit, fostering art and justice: Stoddard’s awards-ceremony introductory speech about why the LFS has presented the Prometheus Awards for 40 years

With our recent 2022 awards ceremony, the Libertarian Futurist Society has now presented the Prometheus Awards for 40 years.

Why do we do that? What keeps us going? What basic ethical and cultural values are at the foundation of our awards program? And why are the Prometheus Awards so important?

LFS President William H. Stoddard succinctly answers such key questions in his eloquent and thoughtful introductory speech at the start of the Aug. 13 Zoom awards ceremony, which can be viewed on YouTube.

His concise comments seem worth publishing on the Prometheus Blog for posterity:

Continue reading Honoring merit, fostering art and justice: Stoddard’s awards-ceremony introductory speech about why the LFS has presented the Prometheus Awards for 40 years

Why the Hall of Fame is important, and why Citizen of the Galaxy deserves a place in it: Stoddard’s awards-ceremony presentation of the Best Classic Fiction category

In his apt introduction and presentation of the Prometheus Hall of Fame category at the recent 2022 Prometheus Awards ceremony, LFS President William H. Stoddard explains why this annual awards category is such an important part of the Libertarian Futurist Society’s awards program – and why this year’s inductee by Robert Heinlein is so deserving of recognition.

Continue reading Why the Hall of Fame is important, and why Citizen of the Galaxy deserves a place in it: Stoddard’s awards-ceremony presentation of the Best Classic Fiction category

Guess who: What world-famous billionaire reveals he’s a lifelong sf fan and counts Heinlein’s most libertarian novel among his favorites?

 

Guess what world-famous billionaire has revealed that Robert Heinlein’s libertarian sf classic The Moon is a Harsh Mistress was his favorite novel while growing up?

Hint: The billionaire praises the novel, one of the earliest and best known Prometheus Award winners, on his blog.

“When I was a kid, I was obsessed with science fiction… The Moon is a Harsh Mistress was a particular favorite,” he writes.

(Make your guess before clicking on to the next page to see the answer…)

Continue reading Guess who: What world-famous billionaire reveals he’s a lifelong sf fan and counts Heinlein’s most libertarian novel among his favorites?

The recurring Orwellian threat: Nineteen Eighty-Four, an early Prometheus Hall of Fame winner, sadly retains its relevance and resonance today

By Michael Grossberg
Almost three quarters of a century after the publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four, the influence and prophetic power of George Orwell hasn’t faded.

Quite the contrary.

George Orwell, in his 1943 press card portrait (Creative Commons license)

With the rise of “cancel culture” and various online-sparked mob panics increasingly common in our so-called enlightened modern era and with such dystopian experiments as the recent failed roll-out of the current administration’s “Disinformation Governance Board,” it’s become virtually impossible to read informed commentary across a broad spectrum of opinion magazines and columnists without coming across Orwellian references and warnings these days.

Continue reading The recurring Orwellian threat: Nineteen Eighty-Four, an early Prometheus Hall of Fame winner, sadly retains its relevance and resonance today