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.
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.
The Libertarian Futurist Society’s ongoing Appreciation series, launched in 2019 to celebrate the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history, offers review-essays of past award-winners that aim to make clear why they merit recognition as pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian.
Here is an Appreciation for Poul Anderson’s story, “No Truce with Kings,” the 2010 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.
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.”
Between 2009 and 2014 NESFA press published seven volumes of short fiction and poetry by Poul Anderson in handsome hardcover editions for around $30 each.
These volumes were still available from the NESFA website, at least when I purchased them years ago, with volume seven released in 2017 as the final volume in the series. The stories do not appear chronologically.
Anderson, who has won several Prometheus Awards for best novel, four Hall of Fame awards, and a Lifetime Special Award, was a prolific writer who published his first science fiction story in 1947, some months before his twenty-first birthday.
He wrote fiction for more than half a century, so while these six volumes by no means collect all his short fiction, they contain a treasure trove for any fan of his fiction.
To celebrate the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as a pro-freedom work, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of all past award-winners.
Here’s an appreciation for Poul Anderson’s The Star Fox, the 1995 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner:
By Michael Grossberg War and appeasement are central subjects in Poul Anderson’s The Star Fox, a space adventure that includes what may be the first gay alien in sf literature.
Set in an interstellar human future with the narrative laced with songs in different languages, the 1965 novel explores the challenges of surviving and fighting an alien occupation of one of Earth’s first extra-solar space colonies.
The inventive narrative centers on Gunnar Heim, a patriotic human man and ex-Navy space captain striving as a pioneer to build a civilized society on an unusual new planet full of walking forests and haunted by surreal citizens.
The Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of past award-winners that makes clear why each winner deserves recognition as notable pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian in theme. Here is an Appreciation of Poul Anderson’s Trader to the Stars, a 1985 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.
By Michael Grossberg Trader to the Stars, part of Anderson’s interstellar and libertarian-themed Future History series written over four decades, offers three loosely interconnected and longer stories about the free-trade-oriented Polesotechnic League operating during a Terran Empire.
Blending adventure, mystery and sf with some swashbuckling heroism and vivid descriptions often evoking Norse sagas, this 1964 book centers on Nicholas van Rijn, a resourceful and clever Danish merchant-hero (Anderson was Danish-American).
Anderson, always a realist about humanity with a sensibility of a melancholy romantic, portrays both humans and aliens as self-interested, striving to make a buck and satisfy their various needs amid an imperfect world of struggling and flawed peoples – in short, a future just like today.
Astrid Anderson Bear, speaking from Washington, talked about her late father Poul Anderson and how to subvert authoritarian regimes, while novelist Sarah Hoyt, speaking from Colorado, discussed the importance of writing about liberty.
Both women spoke eloquently at the Libertarian Futurist Society’s 2020 Prometheus Awards ceremony, presented Saturday Aug. 22 as a well-advertised highlight during the all-online Columbus North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC).
Hoyt, winner of the 2011 Prometheus for Best Novel for Darkship Thieves, had the honor of presenting the Prometheus Hall of Fame category for Best Classic Fiction.
Bear accepted the award for her late father, whose story “Sam Hall” was inducted into the 2020 Prometheus Hall of Fame.
To highlight the four-decade history of the Prometheus Awards, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing a series of review-essays explaining why past winners deserved recognition. Here’s our Appreciation for Poul Anderson’s The Stars Are Also Fire, the 1995 Prometheus Best Novel winner.
Poul Anderson’s 1994 novel offers a thought-provoking scenario in a distant future in which man-made artificial intelligences have come to dominate human beings, while many people still struggle for freedom and independence in a new era of space exploration.