Here is the second part of the Prometheus Blog interview with Wil McCarthy, the 2022 Best Novel winner for Rich Man’s Sky.
Q: Were you aware of the Prometheus Awards before receiving your first Best Novel nomination this past year?
A: I have been aware of the award, yes. I used to think of it as a purely political award, which I think perhaps it was in the early days. But when you see it going to people like Cory Doctorow (Little Brother)and Charles Stross (Glasshouse) — both excellent, thoughtful writers, and clearly not Libertarians in any traditional American sense — I think it’s easier to see it as a genuine literary prize that rewards great ideas and great storytelling.
Most Libertarian Futurist Society members enjoy reading fiction, but few write it. John Christmas, a veteran LFS member and Best Novel finalist judge based in Europe, does both.
A former banker whose banking career ended when his whistleblowing against his employer was covered up by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Christmas wove his real-life experiences into his novel KGB Banker, co-written with William Burton McCormick.
The novel has just been recognized by Best Thrillers as the “Best Conspiracy Thriller of 2022.”
The alien Tralfamadorians surely won’t be the only sentient beings celebrating the 100th anniversary Nov. 11, 2022, of Kurt Vonnegut’s birth.
Anyone who appreciates a blend of humor with social commentary in novels and stories that often incorporate science fiction should celebrate the memory of one of the most influential and popular American writers and novelists of the 20th century.
SF author Wil McCarthy, the 2022 Prometheus Best Novel winner for Rich Man’s Sky, took a long hiatus from writing science fiction, but now he’s back – and happy to answer a few questions about his work.
In the first part of this two-part interview, McCarthy explains why he went on hiatus, admires Robert Heinlein and reads the leading libertarian magazine Reason every day.
Q: You’ve written quite a few sf novels and stories. Why did you go on hiatus and what have you written since you returned?
A: I took a long hiatus from writing to run a tech start-up, among other things. When I came back, the first thing I did was write two novellas, the second of which ended up winning the AnLab award.
Then I wrote two novels, the second of which is Rich Man’s Sky, so it’s nice to see people actually taking notice. It’s a nice way to ease back in.
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.
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.”
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.
From his first stories published in Astounding Science Fiction to such late novels as Friday and Job, Robert Heinlein was recognized as an outstanding science fiction writer.
For many of us, though, our introduction to his writing, and often to science fiction as a genre, came from the twelve novels he published through Charles Scribner’s Sons.
Categorized as “juvenile” and aimed at an audience ranging from boys in junior high school to young men in the armed forces, these books in fact speak to a far wider audience, and are more sophisticated both in literary technique and in the ideas they present, than almost any other boys’ books and indeed than many books for adults.
And those ideas are often relevant to libertarian concerns.
“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.