RIP Vernor Vinge [UPDATED]

Vernor Vinge 

Science fiction writer Vernor Vinge, a longtime star in the field, has died. He was 79, the science fiction news site File 770 reports.

Vince (1944-2024) won the Hugo Award multiple times: For the novels A Fire Upon the Deep, A Deepness in the Sky and Rainbows End, and for the novellas Fast Times at Fairmont High and The Cookie Monster.

He also won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Libertarian Futurist Society, won the Prometheus Award for A Deepness in the Sky and Marooned in Realtime, and won the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award for “True Names” and “The Ungoverned.”

“True Names,” inducted in 2004 into the Hall of Fame, is often cited as the first work of science fiction to depict cyberspace.

Updates:

David Brin on Vernor Vinge.

Tribute from John Scalzi.  

 

Continue reading RIP Vernor Vinge [UPDATED]

Enduring quotes from more classic Prometheus Award acceptance speeches (since 2000)

 

“When we started our writing career we never dreamt of winning the Prometheus Award. … Of all the awards in Science Fiction, … The Prometheus Award, above all others, became the one we truly wanted. [because] liberty must be championed and valued — of the myriad awards out there, only the Prometheus recognizes this essential fact. And the authors we respect the most have all won it.”

Eytan and Dani Kollin in 2010 (Creative Commons license)

– Eytan and Dani Kollin, co-authors of The Unincorporated Man, the 2010 Prometheus Awardwinner for Best Novel, from their Prometheus acceptance speech

By Chris Hibbert

Following up on a recent Prometheus blog post, here are more classic Prometheus Award acceptance speeches to savor.

These speeches, all since 2000, offer insightful quotes that still resonate today.

Continue reading Enduring quotes from more classic Prometheus Award acceptance speeches (since 2000)

A treasure trove of wisdom, wit and gratitude: Memorable Prometheus Award winners’ speeches

By Chris Hibbert

One of the things I do in my spare time is bring old issues of Prometheus onto the web. Prometheus, the LFS’ former print quarterly, was published from 1982 to 2015, and there are lots of articles of lasting value in this collection.  Well more than half the issues are now available on the web.

One thing I noticed a little while ago is that we have transcripts of many of the Prometheus Award acceptance speeches that have been given over the years, and they are worth reading again. We also have recordings of several of the ceremonies, but uploading those will be a separate project.

Here’s a quick guide to all the speeches that appeared in Prometheus:

Continue reading A treasure trove of wisdom, wit and gratitude: Memorable Prometheus Award winners’ speeches

2023 induction of “Free Men” into Hall of Fame confirms Robert Heinlein as a Prometheus Award all-time favorite

By Michael Grossberg

Quite a few writers have won more than one Prometheus award since the awards were launched in the 1970s, but nobody has won more than the late great Robert Heinlein.

Robert Heinlein, a drawing (Creative Commons license)

Libertarian Futurist Society members proved anew how much they remain ardent fans of Heinlein (1907-1988) by voting his 1966 novelette “Free Men” the 2023 Best Classic Fiction winner and thereby inducting it into the Prometheus Hall of Fame.

That marks the ninth novel, novelette or story by Heinlein to be recognized with a Prometheus Award – a record.

Continue reading 2023 induction of “Free Men” into Hall of Fame confirms Robert Heinlein as a Prometheus Award all-time favorite

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

The Prometheus interview with Wil McCarthy, part 2: On temptations of power, libertarianism, his favorite Prometheus authors and why he reads Reason every day

Here is the second part of the Prometheus Blog interview with Wil McCarthy, the 2022 Best Novel winner for Rich Man’s Sky.

SF author Will McCarthy in command of some sort of starship (Photo: Baen Books)

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.

Continue reading The Prometheus interview with Wil McCarthy, part 2: On temptations of power, libertarianism, his favorite Prometheus authors and why he reads Reason every day

A cyberspace, cyberpunk landmark: Vernor Vinge’s True Names, a 2007 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

Here is the Prometheus Blog Appreciation of Vernor Vinge’s story “True Names,” a 2007 Prometheus Hall of Fame co-winner for Best Classic Fiction.


By Michael Grossberg  
 and Chris Hibbert

“True Names” is a seminal work of the cyberpunk genre.

A landmark when it was published in 1981, Vernor Vinge’s now-classic story gave the public their first glimpse of cyberspace and showed how the struggle for control might penetrate the new medium.

One of the earliest works of fiction to present a fully detailed concept of cyberspace, the story also explores themes of anarchism and trans-humanism that are of great interest to libertarian futurists.

The story follows the progress of a group of computer hackers who keep their true identities secret while being among the first to adopt a new full-immersion virtual-reality technology. They do so out of curiosity or an entrepreneurial desire to profit – both respectable and even laudable motivations from the libertarian perspective that appreciates the crucial role of innovation and free markets in advancing human progress, prosperity, well-being and knowledge.

Continue reading A cyberspace, cyberpunk landmark: Vernor Vinge’s True Names, a 2007 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

Smart self-defense in anarcho-capitalist society: Vernor Vinge’s “The Ungoverned,” the 2004 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

Here’s the Prometheus Blog appreciation of Vernor Vinge’s story “The Ungoverned,” the 2004 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

By Michael Grossberg

“The Ungoverned” is one of the rare sf stories to portray a plausible and fully libertarian society. Moreover, Vernor Vinge does so with intelligence, subtlety, vision and enjoyable narrative twists.

Set in the ungoverned lands of a recovering future Kansas after a social collapse, Vernor Vinge’s 1985 novella focuses on what happens when New Mexico’s statist government tries to invade anarchist-libertarian Kansas with unexpected results.

Continue reading Smart self-defense in anarcho-capitalist society: Vernor Vinge’s “The Ungoverned,” the 2004 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

Interview: LFS President William H. Stoddard on fandom, freedom, favorite novels and the power of language

Few individuals have made more of a difference to the Libertarian Futurist Society and the Prometheus Awards in the 21st century than William H. Stoddard.

Bill, as he’s known to friends and fellow LFS members, has led the nonprofit, all-volunteer group of freedom-loving sf fans for more than a decade as president of the board of directors.

William H. Stoddard (File photo)

But Stoddard has done far more for many years, writing reviews of sf/fantasy for the Prometheus newsletter and more recently, this blog, and serving for decades as a key judge on both finalist-judging committees for the Best Novel and Best Classic Fiction categories of the Prometheus Award.

Here is LFS Secretary Michael Grossberg’s interview with Stoddard about how he became an sf fan, a libertarian and an active LFS member and what are some of his favorite writers and Prometheus-winning works.

Q: What Prometheus Award winners especially excited you or pleased you when they won for Best Novel?

A: For the Best Novel Award, I’d name two.

Michael Flynn’s In the Country of the Blind (1991 award) asked “what if Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine had come into use in the nineteenth century?” in the form, not of an alternate history, but of a hidden history where multiple secretive groups used predictive social science (made possible by Analytical Engines) to create the actual history of the twentieth century from behind the scenes; it was one of my main influences when I wrote GURPS Steampunk for Steve Jackson Games in 2000.

Continue reading Interview: LFS President William H. Stoddard on fandom, freedom, favorite novels and the power of language

The Libertarian Futurist Society, Prometheus Awards, LFS writers hailed in Quillette article about the persistence of libertarian sf as a key strand in mainstream science fiction

By Michael Grossberg

Libertarian science fiction has always been a seminal strand in the ever-evolving genre of science fiction and fantasy – and in significant and honorable ways, that socially conscious and liberty-loving subgenre continues as a force today, even amid regressive and reactionary forces flirting with the perennial temptations of statism, authoritarianism and centralized, institutionalized coercion on the Left and Right.

Libertarian futurists – within and outside the Libertarian Futurist Society (not to mention other organizations within the far broader libertarian movement, from Reason and Liberty magazines to the Cato Institute)  – have understood that for a long time.

Yet, it’s salutary and newsworthy when our understanding of the broader intellectual and artistic currents that have helped shape the four-decade-plus history and diversity of the Prometheus Awards is shared and appreciated by an international, cosmopolitan publication outside the libertarian movement.

The cover illustration of the Quillette article on Libertarian Science Fiction Photo: a Quillette illustration, copied here to help people find the article on their website

Such a relatively rare occasion has materialized this month (June 2020) with a fair-minded, open-minded, rich and rewarding essay on “The Libertarian History of Science Fiction” published in Quillette, an influential web-magazine that embraces what modern libertarians might generally recognize as classically liberal principles.

According to its mission statement, Quillette offers “a platform for free thought. We respect ideas, even dangerous ones. We also believe that free expression and the free exchange of ideas help human societies flourish and progress.”

Indeed, LFS members might say as much, using virtually the same words, to uphold important Bill of Rights aspects of our libertarian vision of a fully free future in which people strive to respect other people’s rights and live together through the voluntary cooperation and enterprise of a free society and a free market while steadfastly abjuring violence, the initiation of force or fraud and the institutionalized coercion of the unchecked State.

Continue reading The Libertarian Futurist Society, Prometheus Awards, LFS writers hailed in Quillette article about the persistence of libertarian sf as a key strand in mainstream science fiction