Hall of Fame finalist review: Poul Anderson’s Orion Shall Rise offers masterful social-scientific world-building in clash of cultures (including a libertarian society)

By William H. Stoddard

One of the things Poul Anderson was known for throughout his literary career was world-building. Much of this was planetary design, based on the natural sciences, in which he started out with stellar type, planetary mass, orbital radius, and elemental abundances and worked out the geology, meteorology, and biology of a world.

Anderson was certainly one of the masters of this, up there with Hal Clement and Vernor Vinge. But he put equal effort into social scientific worldbuilding, creating economies, polities, and cultures, and developing plots for his stories from the conflicts they gave rise to.

Orion Shall Rise, a 2024 Prometheus Hall of Fame finalist for Best Classic Fiction, is a nearly pure example of social scientific world-building, set not in a distant solar system but on a future Earth.

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Short-listed for the next Prometheus Hall of Fame: Novels by Poul Anderson, Terry Pratchett and Harry Turtledove and a Rush song

By Michael Grossberg

Almost four dozen classic works of science fiction and fantasy have been inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame, first presented four decades ago in 1983.

Libertarian Futurist Society members will select the next Best Classic Fiction inductee from four finalists, all first published or released more than 20 years ago.

The 2024 Hall of Fame finalists – just announced to the media in an LFS press release that’s already been reported on in full by File 770, a leading sf-industry trade publication –  is varied in artistic form (including three novels and one song) and in its balance of the old and the new.

The current finalist slate, selected from 10 works of fiction (novels, stories and song) nominated by LFS members, recognizes both a first-time nominee and several stalwart candidates that have found favor with judges and voters in recent years.

Continue reading Short-listed for the next Prometheus Hall of Fame: Novels by Poul Anderson, Terry Pratchett and Harry Turtledove and a Rush song

Who are the most nominated authors in Prometheus history? Here’s the top-ten list

 

Who are the most popular authors in Prometheus Awards history?

Prometheus, the light bringer (Creative Commons license)

One could answer that question in several different ways, such as looking at a bestselling writer’s number of books sold or in print – or more narrowly, in terms of our award, comparing the number of Prometheus Awards different writers have won over the decades in different categories. (The Prometheus Blog will explore the latter perspective in later postings.)

But let’s focus first on one parameter that roughly reflects the ongoing popularity and relevance of different sf/fantasy authors among LFS members over more than four decades: How many times an author has simply been nominated by LFS members for a Prometheus Award.

Without peeking at the next page or examining the track record of past winners on the LFS website’s Prometheus Awards page, how many of the Top Ten most popular authors can you guess?

Continue reading Who are the most nominated authors in Prometheus history? Here’s the top-ten list

Anderson, Heinlein, Tolkien, Hoyt, Pratchett and other favorite authors: The Prometheus interview (part 4) with Dave Freer

The Prometheus Award for Best Novel has been won over the decades by writers from the United States, England, Scotland and Finland – with Best Novel finalists from China, Japan, Canada and many other countries.

Dave Freer with his 2023 Prometheus Awards Best Novel plaque for Cloud-Castles (Photo courtesy of Freer)

But Dave Freer is the first writer from the Southern Hemisphere to win a Prometheus Award for Best Novel.

Here is the fourth and final part of the Prometheus Interview with the Australian/Tasmanian author, the 2023 winner of the Prometheus for Best Novel for Cloud-Castles.

 Q: Do you have any favorites among Prometheus Award winners?

A: It’s a good reading list, isn’t it?  I think I have just about everything in the Hall of Fame.

 

Continue reading Anderson, Heinlein, Tolkien, Hoyt, Pratchett and other favorite authors: The Prometheus interview (part 4) with Dave Freer

A sense of wonder: The Gallagher Interview (part 3), about Heinlein, Niven, Bujold and other sf authors, favorite novels, and what he thinks of awards

So far, in the first two parts of his Prometheus-blog interview, SF writer Karl K. Gallagher has answered questions about his own novels. Now, in the wide-ranging conclusion, the focus shifts to other authors and his favorite works – including the “sense of wonder” and “sense of freedom” that he gets from his favorite pro-liberty sf novels.

Q: Which authors in particular have influenced you most as a writer – whether in terms of their style, themes or spirit?

Robert Heinlein, a drawing (Creative Commons license)

A: Robert Heinlein, for ideals and heroic characters.

Larry Niven, for ideas driving stories.

Lois McMaster Bujold, for looking at what a change will do to people and how they’ll react.

Continue reading A sense of wonder: The Gallagher Interview (part 3), about Heinlein, Niven, Bujold and other sf authors, favorite novels, and what he thinks of awards

Greg Bear, RIP: Prolific awardwinning sf author ( and Poul Anderson’s son-in-law) wrote more than 50 novels

Prolific SF/fantasy author Greg Bear has died at 71.

Greg Bear Photo by Kyle Cassidy, Creative Commons license)

Bear, who died in November after suffering several strokes during heart surgery, was widely acclaimed for his wide-ranging and epic science fiction and fantasy.

An international bestseller and Heinlein Award-winner, Bear wrote more than 50 novels and almost as many works of short fiction, and edited an important Poul Anderson anthology.

Even though Bear never won a Prometheus Award, much of his life and work were “Prometheus-adjacent.”

Continue reading Greg Bear, RIP: Prolific awardwinning sf author ( and Poul Anderson’s son-in-law) wrote more than 50 novels

Poul Anderson’s Hall of Fame winner ‘Star Fox’ on sale as ebook

The Star Fox by Poul Anderson, winner of the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award in 1995, currently is on sale as a Kindle for only $1.99.

1995 was a pretty good year for Anderson, at least as far as the Prometheus Award is concerned. Anderson also won the Prometheus Award that year for his novel The Stars Are Also Fire.

Continue reading Poul Anderson’s Hall of Fame winner ‘Star Fox’ on sale as ebook

Review: Exploring freedom on the frontiers of Free Space, the first explicitly libertarian sf anthology and first Prometheus Special Award winner

 

“Now we dare the great
Promethean sin
And bring fire back to heaven
on our rockets.”
– Robert Anton Wilson
“Free at Last,” from Free Space

By Michael Grossberg

Free Space, the first Special Prometheus Award-winner in 1998, has the distinction of being the first explicitly libertarian sf anthology.

Published in 1997 by TOR Books and edited by Brad Linaweaver and Ed Kramer, Free Space generated immense excitement among libertarian sf fans.

Today, almost a quarter century later, quite a few of its stories remain worth reading (or worth rereading) by freedom-lovers and, for that matter, anyone who enjoys interesting and imaginative sf speculations about humankind’s future in space.

The 352-page collection, dedicated to Robert and Ginny Heinlein, offers a wide range of stories and short fiction by 20 writers reflecting several generations and multiple perspectives.

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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.

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War, centralization, good intentions gone wrong: Poul Anderson’s “No Truce with Kings,” the 2010 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

Here is the Prometheus Blog Appreciation for Poul Anderson’s story, “No Truce with Kings,” the 2010 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

By William H. Stoddard

In David Friedman’s first book, the libertarian classic The Machinery of Freedom, the first entry in the bibliography describes Poul Anderson’s “No Truce with Kings”: “A libertarian novelette that plays fair. The bad guys are good guys too. But wrong.”

Continue reading War, centralization, good intentions gone wrong: Poul Anderson’s “No Truce with Kings,” the 2010 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner