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.
Some Prometheus-winning fiction imagines a better, freer future for humanity, one that libertarian futurists yearn to see come true in some form.
Other Prometheus-winning fiction is more dystopian, offering cautionary warnings about totalitarian tendencies that their authors portray with hopes of preventing them from materializing.
“Harrison Bergeron,” Kurt Vonnegut’s now-classic 1961 short story, which falls into the latter category, satirically but seriously extrapolates the coercive, absurd and even monstrously inhuman possibilities of radical egalitarianism taken to extremes.
Read the Prometheus Blog Appreciation to appreciate why Vonnegut’s story deserved to be recognized by the Libertarian Futurist Society as the 2019 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner.
Overall and at least in theory, it’s a good thing to see outstanding fiction continue to resonate within the broader American and world culture – especially when it’s pro-liberty or anti-authoritarian sf/fantasy and has been recognized through the Prometheus awards.
Unfortunately, “Harrison Bergeron” is becoming all too timely.
“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.
The Libertarian Futurist Society invited two-time Prometheus winner Travis Corcoran to discuss the importance of libertarian science fiction in his speech as presenter of the 2022 Prometheus Award for Best Novel.
Here Is the text of Corcoran’s speech, delivered on Aug. 13 as part of the Zoom awards ceremony, marking the 40th anniversary of the LFS.
(Corcoran presented the Best Novel award to Wil McCarthy for Rich Man’s Sky; the Hall of Fame award went to Robert Heinlein’s Citizen of the Galaxy,)
By Travis Corcoran
The state of written science fiction in 2022 is a bit like the state of western civilization: under assault from all sides, hollowed out, a pale shadow of what it once was.
The soldiers who once defended our grand city have been defeated.
There are invaders inside the gates, cavorting, aping their betters,and desecrating the ancient and sacred temples.
The great bazaars are empty and only a few small peddlers haunt the windy streets.
Most of the citizens who built the city, stone by stone, have been either felled by old age or have wandered away. A few still act as if nothing has changed, but without the support of the great publishers and the cheers of the crowd, the performance rings hollow.
With our recent 2022 awards ceremony, the Libertarian Futurist Society has now presented the Prometheus Awards for 40 years.
Why do we do that? What keeps us going? What basic ethical and cultural values are at the foundation of our awards program? And why are the Prometheus Awards so important?
LFS President William H. Stoddard succinctly answers such key questions in his eloquent and thoughtful introductory speech at the start of the Aug. 13 Zoom awards ceremony, which can be viewed on YouTube.
His concise comments seem worth publishing on the Prometheus Blog for posterity:
In his apt introduction and presentation of the Prometheus Hall of Fame category at the recent 2022 Prometheus Awards ceremony, LFS President William H. Stoddard explains why this annual awards category is such an important part of the Libertarian Futurist Society’s awards program – and why this year’s inductee by Robert Heinlein is so deserving of recognition.
The late great Robert Heinlein has received his eighth Prometheus Awards recognition over more than four decades, with his 1957 novel Citizen of the Galaxy recently inducted into the Libertarian Futurist Society’s Prometheus Hall of Fame.
Although Heinlein passed in 1988, his fans are fortunate to have two organizations carrying on his legacy in related and cooperative ways: the Heinlein Trust, established by his wife Ginny after his death, and the Heinlein Society.
Art Dula, Trustee of the Robert A. and Virginia Heinlein Prize Trust, gave an eloquent and informative extemporaneous speech accepting the 2022 Prometheus Hall of Fame award in Heinlein’s name and memory. Like the entire 40-minute ceremony, broadcast and recorded Aug. 13 on Zoom, Dula’s speech is available to watch on YouTube.*
Meanwhile, John Tilden, president of the Heinlein Society, followed Dula in delivering an interesting and insightful second acceptance speech, for which we do have the text, which we share here for posterity:
Here is the acceptance speech by sf writer Wil McCarthy, winner of the 2022 Prometheus Award for Best Novel for Rich Man’s Sky. McCarthy presented his speech Aug. 13, 2022, via Zoom as part of the LFS’ annual awards ceremony, which included two-time Prometheus winner Travis Corcoran as presenter of the Best Novel category.
BY WIL MCCARTHY
Howdy. I’m very happy to be here, and I’d like to thank all of you for inviting me. Yours is a great organization with a noble purpose, and I can only imagine the energy that goes into it. I think it’s ironic that I’m the one getting recognition today, when you all are the ones doing the work. My only regret is that I’m not able to thank you in person.