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?

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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.

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Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, Orwell’s 1984 listed with other literary classics on international blog listing best “Books to Understand the World”

Many “bests” lists or ranked-reading lists tend to be matters of opinion, even if objective merit remains a meaningful standard of rational evaluation. Yet isn’t it interesting to compare favorite books and novels and discover that some our favorites also rank high on other lists?

For those libertarian sci-fi/fantasy fans who have the curiosity and time to look beyond our own Prometheus Awards track record of 100 past winners in all categories, an online list compiled of “Books to understand the world” makes for interesting reading….

…Especially because two of the most notable Prometheus Award winners are prominently featured on the list.

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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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New streaming series version of Atlas Shrugged in the works

Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand’s magnum opus, appears to be head to the screen.

…. again.

Ayn Rand’s dystopian 1957 novel, an epic and apocalyptic sci-fi-tinged mystery about the role of the mind in human existence, has been optioned by The Daily Wire for adaptation.

The conservative-leaning media firm has obtained exclusive film and TV series rights to develop Rand’s novel into a limited TV series.

Once produced, the series will be distributed on the streaming platform Dailywire+.

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Politics undermines the purpose of art, according to an insightful American Purpose essay (but let’s agree to disagree over Atlas Shrugged)

By Michael Grossberg
Libertarian futurists dream of unleashing the potential of every person to flourish, cooperate, innovate, progress, profit and pursue their happiness in peace and freedom – both here on earth, and perhaps eventually, beyond.

Yet, the politicization of society and increasingly, of our culture and arts, threatens that goal – and in the long run, undermines civility and could destroy civilization itself if this disturbing trend approaches authoritarian extremes.

American Purpose magazine logo

In a thought-provoking article “Enslaving Art to Politics,” published recently in American Purpose magazine, writer Daniel Ross Goodman argues persuasively against the “politicization of literature.”

His essay should interest Libertarian Futurist Society members, even when Goodman makes some points about particular works and artists that we might respectfully disagree with.

“The best novelists, like all great artists, are not narrow-minded agenda-driven partisans but adventurers in the unbounded universe of the human imagination, who, through their fictions, help us better perceive vital truths about ourselves and our reality,” Goodman wrote in late September in the online magazine.

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LFS adds Prometheus Young Adult Fiction Honor Roll as recommended reading guide for children, teenagers

By Michael Grossberg

Young people are the readers, writers and citizens of tomorrow.

Hopefully, the next generation will also become advocates for liberty, peace and justice for all. Yet, that is not inevitable or automatic; children must be taught the heritage of humankind and must be exposed to the best of our common culture.

Encouraging the younger generations to read good books, including outstanding science fiction and fantasy and the literature of liberty, is the goal of a newly created list of past Prometheus Award-winners.

This recommended reading list, designed for children and teenagers but also as a guide for their parents and grandparents choosing gifts or making suggestions, is now posted on the LFS website as the “Prometheus Award Young Adult Honor Roll.”

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Rediscovery of the self amid post-apocalyptic primitivism: Ayn Rand’s dystopian Anthem, the 1987 Hall of Fame winner

As part of the Libertarian Futurist Society series making clear why each winner deserves recognition as notable pro-freedom works, here’s an Appreciation of Ayn Rand’s Anthem, a 1987 Prometheus Hall of Fame inductee for Best Classic Fiction.

By Michael Grossberg

For those who’ve never read Ayn Rand, Anthem is a good place to start.

Imaginative and inspirational with a tone of reverence and discovery, Anthem ranks as one of the great dystopian works of 20th century literature, but also as the shortest and most poetic.

Its powerful and poignant theme: the rediscovery of the self. In Rand’s mythic and post-apocalyptic future of a primitive and very tribal society, the rediscovery of the self is tantamount to a revolutionary act amid the collectivism of forced servitude, ignorance, fear, stifling conformity and primitivism.

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Action, passion, humor, mystery, sf, the evils of evasion & the liberating power of facing reality: Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, a 1983 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

 

By Michael Grossberg

Ayn Rand’s magnum opus, a millions-selling bestseller that has remained in print since its original 1957 publication, offers the combined satisfactions of mystery, science fiction, romance and suspense thriller.

Yet Atlas Shrugged, in setting up and solving its intricate and interrelated mysteries, also resonates as an innovative, unconventional and philosophical novel about the power of ideas, for good and bad. Its fierce and noble focus is on the distinctive role played by free minds, free markets and free women and men in sustaining society and genuine life-affirming progress based on cooperation, not coercion.

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Rationality, a mysterious new motor and civilization collapse: Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, the first co-winner of the Prometheus Hall of Fame in 1983

The Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing review-essays to make clear why each Prometheus Award winner deserves recognition as notable pro-freedom sf/fantasy. Here is our appreciation of the first Hall of Fame co-winner: Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, inducted in 1983 along with Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress:

By William H. Stoddard

If any novelist was central to the emergence of the libertarian movement, it was Ayn Rand.

She wasn’t simply an adherent of ideas such as strict adherence to the Constitution or economic freedom, which were common among adherents of the “old right” at the time. She was also the source of such distinctive formulations as the concept of being a “radical for capitalism” (rather than a conservative) and the principle of noninitiation of force, which have been defining elements in libertarianism for half a century. And those ideas first came to widespread attention in her last and largest novel, Atlas Shrugged.

Was Atlas Shrugged “science fiction”? It certainly was received as such; it was reviewed in Astounding Science Fiction not once, but twice, by P. Schuyler Miller (who saw little value in it) and by John W. Campbell, the editor of Astounding (who praised it—particularly for its insight into the cultural and psychological mechanisms that make political repression work).

It influenced some science fiction writers; in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, for example, the self-aware computer Mycroft is described as the “John Galt”of the Lunar revolution. It’s filled with marvelous inventions; not just the central ones, Rearden Metal and John Galt’s motor, but half a dozen ingenious minor devices, any one of which might have been the basis for a story in Astounding – and the Xylophone, a weapon of mass destruction based on new principles of energy transmission that plays a crucial role at the novel’s climax. And if Rand doesn’t go into detail on the scientific principles behind these inventions, or into the unexpected side effects of their use, a lot of science fiction doesn’t either.

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