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.
Who are the most popular authors in Prometheus Awards history?
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.