With less than two weeks left until the Sept. 30 nominating deadline, Libertarian Futurist Society members have nominated ten works for the next Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction.
Among the Hall of Fame nominees so far this year: six novels, two stories, a film and a song. That includes novels by Poul Anderson, Cecilia Holland, C.S. Lewis, Terry Pratchett and E.C. Tubb; both a novel and a story by Harry Turtledove; a story by R.A. Lafferty; a song by the Canadian art-rock group Rush; and, for the first time, a feature film written and directed by and starring Woody Allen.
Such varied forms of art and fiction reflects the broad scope of the Hall of Fame – an annual Prometheus Awards category that incorporates stories, novellas, novels, graphic novels, songs, albums, musicals, operas, plays, poems, films, TV episodes/series, anthologies or trilogies.
Read on to see the current list of nominees so far and how to nominate works (if you’re an LFS member) or submit works for consideration by members (if you’re an author, publisher or non-member).
Here is the current list of Prometheus Hall of Fame nominees for Best Classic Fiction, listed alphabetically by author:
* Zelig, a 1983 film written, directed by and starring Woody Allen
* Orion Shall Rise, a 1998 novel by Poul Anderson
* Floating Worlds, a 1976 novel by Cecilia Holland
* “Primary Education of the Camiroi,” a 1966 short story by R.A. Lafferty
* That Hideous Strength, a 1945 novel by C.S. Lewis
* The Truth, a 2000 novel by Terry Pratchett
* “The Trees,” a 1978 song by the rock group Rush
* Kalin, a 1969 novel by E.C. Tubb
* Between the Rivers, a 1998 novel by Harry Turtledove
* “The Last Word,” a 2000 story by Harry Turtledove
THE FIRST-TIME PROMETHEUS NOMINEES
Half of the nominees on the above list are being nominated for the first time for a Prometheus award. Here’s some idea about how and why these works fit the distinctive focus of our award:
* Zelig – Allen’s alternate-history fantasy film follows the unexpected, whimsical and sad rise and ruin of a shape-shifting nonentity (portrayed by Allen), whose ill-fated life and notoriety leads to both comic and tragic consequences.
The ingenious film, which inserts Allen’s title character into old 1920s and 1930s black-and-white historical footage of major personalities and events, subtly affirms the values of libertarian individualism while highlighting the dangers of of giving in to social pressures and the subtly coercive forces of modern society – a theme that sadly resonates even more right now, in our social-media era of cancellation and instant witch hunts.
She works to make peace and protect her people amid a clash of unstable worlds and cultures (including Mars, Venus and lunar colonies) where a new kind of strange and violent human has evolved.
* Kalin– Tubb’s 1969 novel – Book 4 in the 32-novel, multi-decade Dumarest Saga – focuses on Earl Dumarest’s efforts to locate and return to Earth, the planet of his birth, in the distant future, when humanity has populated the entire Galaxy and the origins and location of humanity has been forgotten.
Libertarian themes of personal freedom and responsibility emerge as Dumarest comes into possession of the secret of the genetic discovery of the “affinity twin” – a life form based on a molecular chain of 15 units that enables one individual to totally control another and to live as the other individual. That’s a secret that the totalitarian Cyclan desire above all else, and would enable them to rapidly consummate their plans for galactic domination.
The novel revolves around a merchant’s son with strange ideas upholding free will and independent thought, which challenge cultural assumptions in a society dominated by gods and direct intervention of divine powers.
* “The Last Word” – Turtledove’s 2000 story (published in Drakas, S.M. Stirling’s shared-world military-sf anthology) explores themes of power, empire, tyranny, slavery and resistance in an alternate-history Earth where the British possession of Africa leads to the Domination of the Draka, an era of conquest and enslavement engulfing the world and its colonies throughout the solar system.
In a not-so-veiled tribute to Robert (Anson) Heinlein and his philosophy, the story culminates with a powerful, eloquent and final speech of courage and doomed defiance by a freedom-loving individualistic military leader named “Commodore Anson McDonald.”
THE RENOMINATED WORKS
Half the 2023 Hall of Fame nominees so far have been renominated from previous years, in which several became finalists.
* Orion Shall Rise – In Anderson’s 1998 novel (a 1998 Best Novel finalist), an exploration of the corruptions and temptations of power,forward-thinking visionaries on a future post-apocalyptic Earth dream of reaching for the stars while trying to revive forbidden nuclear technology that destroyed their now-feudal and empire-dominated world.
Most intriguingly, among the various cultures and societies that develop after a nuclear war is a clearly libertarian society with a minimal government in what was formerly western Canada and the northwestern United States. Anderson goes into great detail to show how such a society can survive and thrive.
* “Primary Education of the Camiroi” – Lafferty’s 1966 short story (a 2022 finalist) reports on a fact-finding trip by an Earth delegation to study education practices on the planet Camiroi. The story offers a scathing and satirical critique of the top-down approach and lack of rigor in public/government education, arguably more relevant now than when it was first published.
Besides incorporating flashes of Lafferty’s deadpan original voice and distinctive brand of humor, the story shows how to train youth to be competent and capable adults – rather than serfs – who can accept liberty and its concomitant responsibilities.
* That Hideous Strength – A 2022 finalist, Lewis’ 1945 novel (Book 3 of his Space Trilogy, which includes Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra) revolves around a sociologist and his wife who discover a totalitarian conspiracy and diabolical powers scheming to take control of humanity on Earth.
The conspiracy adopts the guise of a progressive-left but Nazi-like organization as its power-lusting leaders work for a centrally planned pseudo-scientific society literally hell-bent to control all human life.
Its cautions about the therapeutic state and the rising ideology of scientism (science not as the value-free pursuit of truth, but as an elitist justification for social control) seem prescient today.
* The Truth – Part of his satirical but historically informed Discworld series and imbued with his usual tongue-in-cheek style, Pratchett’s 2000 novel (a 2022 finalist) focuses on politics and the development of newspaper
The story revolves around a struggling scribe who’s the son of a privileged family conceives the notion of producing his newsletter with a new printing press.
All too timely in its focus on misinformation and its theme of freedom of speech and press, the novel portrays how journalists report the facts (or not) and communicate “the truth” amid pressure from competing political factions.
* “The Trees” – This 1978 song by the Canadian rock group Rush (released on the album Hemispheres) was a 2020-2022 Hall of Fame finalist.
The fantasy-themed song concisely and poetically presents a fable of envy, revolution, and coercive egalitarianism that threatens the survival and individuality of different kinds of trees that make up a forest with a “noble law” that keeps the trees “equal by hatchet, axe and saw.”
HOW TO NOMINATE (OR SUBMIT) A WORK FOR THE HALL OF FAME
Nominees may be in any narrative or dramatic form, including prose fiction, stage plays, film, television, other video, graphic novels, song lyrics, or epic or narrative verse; they must explore themes relevant to libertarianism and must be science fiction, fantasy, or related genres.
Nominations for the 2023 Hall of Fame Award can be submitted to Prometheus Hall of Fame Finalist-selection Committee chair William H. Stoddard (firstname.lastname@example.org) at any time up to Sept. 30, 2023.
Please confirm the full title and author (or creator) and find the original year of publication/broadcast, if you can, and explain why you’re nominating the work.
Although only LFS members may formally nominate eligible works for any category of the Prometheus Awards, we encourage other sf/fantasy fans, libertarians, other freedom-lovers, authors and publishers to bring other worthy works of fiction to our attention through submissions.
What information is helpful to include in submissions by non-members?
Check out our general Submissions Guidelines for the Prometheus Awards.
First presented in 1979 (for Best Novel) and presented annually since 1982, with the Hall of Fame first presented in 1983, the Prometheus Awards have recognized outstanding works of science fiction and fantasy that dramatize the perennial conflict between Liberty and Power, favor private social cooperation over legalized coercion, expose abuses and excesses of obtrusive government, critique or satirize authoritarian ideas, or champion individual rights and freedoms as the mutually respectful foundation for peace, prosperity, progress, justice, tolerance, civility, and civilization itself.
The Prometheus Award is one of the most enduring awards after the Nebula and Hugo awards, and one of the oldest fan-based awards currently in sf.
IF YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE:
* Prometheus winners: For the full list of Prometheus winners, finalists and nominees – for the annual Best Novel and Best Classic Fiction (Hall of Fame) categories and occasional Special Awards – visit the enhanced Prometheus Awards page on the LFS website, which now includes convenient links to the full set of published appreciation-reviews of past winners.
* Read “The Libertarian History of Science Fiction,” an essay in the international magazine Quillette that favorably highlights the Prometheus Awards, the Libertarian Futurist Society and the significant elements of libertarian sf/fantasy in the evolution of the modern genre.
* Watch videos of past Prometheus Awards ceremonies (including the recent 2023 ceremony with inspiring and amusing speeches by Prometheus-winning authors Dave Freer and Sarah Hoyt),Libertarian Futurist Society panel discussions with noted sf authors and leading libertarian writers, and other LFS programs on the Prometheus Blog’s Video page.
* Join us! To help sustain the Prometheus Awards, join the Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS), a non-profit all-volunteer association of freedom-loving sf/fantasy fans.