How do the 2024 Best Novel finalists fit the distinctive focus of the Prometheus Awards?

The Prometheus Awards are distinctive among literature-oriented awards, including within the sf/fantasy field, for having a dual focus – on both overall literary quality and on libertarian/anti-authoritarian ideas.

As LFS awards press releases summarize and define our award:

“The Prometheus Awards recognize outstanding works of science fiction and fantasy that dramatize the perennial conflict between liberty and power and champion cooperation over coercion as the root of civility and social harmony.

Such works may critique or satirize authoritarian trends, expose abuses of power by the institutionalized coercion of the State, imagine what forms a fully free society might take, and/or uphold individual rights and freedom for all as the only moral and practical foundation for peace, prosperity, progress, justice, tolerance, civility and civilization itself.

Here are capsule descriptions of the Best Novel finalists, explaining how each fits our awards’ distinctive focus:

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Publishers, authors, LFS members & sf/fantasy fans: Please heed our early call for Best Novel submissions (and why timeliness matters)

By Michael Grossberg

Have you come across a 2024 sf/fantasy novel that seems to fit the distinctive dual focus of the Prometheus Awards?

If so, it’s not too early to bring it to our attention.

In fact, the right time is now – rather than later.

And that good advice applies not only to Libertarian Futurist Society members, but also to publishers, authors, sf/fantasy fans and libertarians outside our organization.

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Economics in Science Fiction: The Specter of Overproduction (from Pohl and Huxley to Heinlein)

By William H. Stoddard

Science fiction has mainly been based on the natural sciences, from astronomy to biology; economics and the other social sciences come on stage less often.

Certainly, social science fiction was one of Isaac Asimov’s three categories of science fiction (along with gadget stories and adventure stories—as TV Tropes puts it, “Man invents car” can be followed by “lectures on how it works,” “gets into car chase,” or “gets stuck in traffic”).

But the premise for social science fiction was commonly a discovery or invention in the natural sciences, whose social and economic consequences are explored. It’s not so common for science fiction to be inspired by an economic theory.

Nonetheless, some theories have been the basis for science fiction stories. Economic issues are a major concern for libertarians; how science fiction deals with such issues is worth exploring.

Continue reading Economics in Science Fiction: The Specter of Overproduction (from Pohl and Huxley to Heinlein)

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.

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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?

Cultivating virtue, respecting liberty & remembering history: Author J. Daniel Sawyer on the “new censorship” and bowdlerization of Roald Dahl and James Bond

By Michael Grossberg

Censorship, suppression of literature and “bowdlerization” of our culture has a long, harmful and shameful history – and is anathema to libertarians, who favor full freedom of expression and artistic liberty.

The Prometheus blog has posted several articles recently about the disturbing recent spate of efforts to suppress or change the original wording and author’s intent of Roald Dahl in his children’s fantasy classics.

Similar suppression sadly has been reported about efforts to shove down the Orwellian memory hole some wording in the original editions of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels.

It’s even extended to the Goosebumps children’s horror-comedy series, many books of which were changed by the publisher without the knowledge or consent of the series’ still-living author R.L. Stine.

This is a troubling time for libertarians, classical liberals and all lovers of liberty and art – which is why it’s important to seek out, read and digest the best insights about the roots of this anti-authoritarian trend and how we might strive to better support both liberty and literature that reflects the intent of its creators.

Perhaps the most illuminating, historically aware and wisest commentary I’ve come across about this disturbing modern recurrence of bowdlerization was written recently by J. Daniel Sawyer as a guest post on the Substack blog of Holly Math Nerd.

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The unsung central role of engineers: An illuminating new perspective on Atlas Shrugged and Rand’s other novels

Just how important are the engineers in Atlas Shrugged?

More vital – and central to Rand’s novel (and her other fiction) – than even her fans might imagine.

According to a well-researched essay published online in The Savvy Street, Rand’s bestselling magnum opus is in many ways a “literary celebration” of engineering.

Writer Peter Saint-Andre argues persuasively that virtually every significant character is an engineer of some kind in Rand’s epic novel about the role of the mind and the importance of rationality and liberty in sustaining human civilization.

Even those who believe they are fully familiar with Atlas Shruggedinducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame in the very first year of that award category in 1983 – are likely to find the essay both surprising and compelling in adding a crucial dimension of understanding about Rand’s classic work.

Continue reading The unsung central role of engineers: An illuminating new perspective on Atlas Shrugged and Rand’s other novels

‘Charlie’ canceled! ‘Matilda’ mutilated! ‘Peach’ sliced! Anti-authoritarian children’s book author Roald Dahl ‘bowdlerized,’ with his subversive words, outrageous characters changed, deleted in new editions

By Michael Grossberg

They keep coming to cancel or censor more fiction and more classics of literature. Now, disturbingly, it’s Roald Dahl’s turn.

The re-editing, rewording and outright expungement of now-disfavored wording in the delightfully subversive and amusing children’s books by the late great British writer, who died in 1990 at 74, are just the latest example of efforts to suppress or censor literature.

But the “they,” this time, doesn’t refer only to government agencies, bureaucrats and woke cultists eager to shove more politically incorrect stories and thoughts down Orwell’s proverbial memory hole.

This time, ironically but unsurprisingly, “they” includes Dahl’s British publisher Puffin and the Dahl estate, eagerly colluding to publish bowdlerized versions of his books to avoid “triggering” anyone.

Continue reading ‘Charlie’ canceled! ‘Matilda’ mutilated! ‘Peach’ sliced! Anti-authoritarian children’s book author Roald Dahl ‘bowdlerized,’ with his subversive words, outrageous characters changed, deleted in new editions

Interview: Best Novel judge John Christmas on favorite Prometheus winners, lessons learned about writing fiction from judging the awards

“My experience as a writer helps me as a judge. And, my experience as a judge helps me as a writer.” – John Christmas

LFS member John Christmas, a published novelist, has served as a Prometheus Best Novel judge for about a decade now.

Author, LFS judge John Christmas Photo courtesy of Christmas

Christmas co-wrote KGB Banker, a contemporary political thriller recently recognized by Best Thrillers as the “Best Conspiracy Thriller of 2022.”

Christmas’s first novel was Democracy Society, a futuristic libertarian novel about fighting a corrupt government.

In this interview, Christmas discusses some of his favorite Prometheus-winning novels, how his creative writing has helped him be a better awards judge, and how serving as a Best Novel judge has benefited him as a writer.

The Christmas interview also seems timely in how it sheds light on the awards-judging process, since the Best Novel finalist judging committee is currently reading and discussing more than a dozen nominees and candidates for nomination in the final month or two before voting to select the annual slate of finalists.

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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