Several ways you can make a difference in the Prometheus Awards – including some less-obvious steps worth taking

By Michael Grossberg

Without the Libertarian Futurist Society and its members, the Prometheus Awards wouldn’t have survived for 45 years – and counting.

Prometheus, the light bringer (Creative Commons license)

 

Freedom-loving sf/fantasy fans have made a difference over the decades in three major ways: Through their continuing LFS memberships and support, by becoming active in the discovery and nominating process of our awards and ultimately, by reading the annual finalists and voting to choose the annual winners.

Yet, there are several less obvious but vital ways that LFS members (and others) can help enhance the awards process and help ensure that worthy potential contenders aren’t overlooked – especially in the annual Best Novel category, first presented in 1979.

Often, as is common but taken for granted in many areas of human society, an exclusive focus on official procedures and formal rules can tend to blind us to other ways, sometimes unsung, in which people can participate, cooperate and take the initiative to sustain or improve programs through service and volunteering.

One key step in the Prometheus Awards, as in most other awards, may seem self-evident but it’s crucial in making it possible to give all eligible works full consideration: Simply bringing potential candidates to our attention.

One might assume that the LFS and Prometheus finalist-selecting judges would already be aware of novels that fit the awards’ distinctive dual focus – at once literary and thematic in celebrating outstanding fiction that explores and dramatizes the value of freedom and individual rights or that illuminates the evils of tyranny, slavery, war and other excesses and abuses of coercive State power.

ALERT US WHEN YOU COME ACROSS A CANDIDATE

But that’s sometimes not the case – which is why it matters a lot if LFS members, and other libertarian and freedom-loving sf/fantasy fans can alert us as soon as you come across any works that seem to fit our award and may deserve Prometheus recognition.

More often than one might expect, solid candidates for nomination are not identified until rather late in the awards cycle, making it more difficult to obtain and read the novels before our annual Feb 15 Best Novel nominating deadline.

Given the vast number of works of speculative fiction published each year, finding outstanding fiction that fits the specific focus of the Prometheus Awards can often feel like looking for a needle in a haystack.

So it really helps a lot when Prometheus Awards finalist-selection judges can find out early about potential candidates for nomination – so that we can find and read them and consider adding them to our short-list of eligible, bona fide candidates for the next annual award.

Here it’s not just LFS members who can help. The Libertarian Futurist Society also welcomes other sf/fantasy fans, publishers and authors who alert us to works of fiction that we may not know about but which should be considered for potential nomination and further Prometheus recognition.

Submissions or formal nominations of 2024 novels are already being accepted for next year’s awards – and we truly appreciate finding out potentially worth works sooner rather than later!

For guidelines about how to submit works for consideration and what kind of fiction we’re looking for, check out this recent Prometheus Blog post.

COVERING THE BASICS

Through the informative LFS News updates sent by email on a quarterly schedule to all current members, three fundamental steps by LFS members tend to be emphasized and encouraged:

MEMBERSHIPS: Sustaining the awards and their gold prizes through your LFS memberships, whether as Basic or Full members or as Sponsors or Benefactors.

For more information about how to become an LFS member or renew your membership, check out the LFS website’s membership page.

* NOMINATIONS: Formally nominating eligible works for the two annual categories for Best Novel and Best Classic Fiction (Prometheus Hall of Fame) or for occasional Special Awards.

While the Best Novel category basically focuses on novels first published within each calendar year, the Best Classic Fiction category is open to many types of fiction – novels, novellas, stories, films, TV episodes/series, plays, musicals, operas, songs, records, trilogies, anthologies, etc. that first appeared at least 20 years ago.

For more about what kind of information to submit with your nomination – or alternatively, simply a suggestion or submission of a candidate for nomination, check out the submission-guidelines letter on the LSF website’s front page.

VOTING: Reading the finalists and ranking them on the final ballot sent to all LFS members to help each year’s winners by our traditional July 4 voting deadline.

For an illuminating essay clarifying the broad range of what’s eligible for Prometheus recognition and what the awards’ focus on “libertarian” and/or “anti-authoritarian” themes means, check out LFS President William H. Stoddard’s seminal essay “What Do You Mean ‘Libertarian’? (and why Tolkien’s trilogy deserved its Prometheus.”)

CONSIDER BECOMING A PROMETHEUS ‘EARLY READER’

Beyond those three basic steps to support our organization and award, LFS members are invited to consider volunteering to join our informal Early Readers group.

More about this valuable program in upcoming blog posts, but basically, Early Readers are LFS members who volunteer to read one of more award candidates of their choice.

If they’re interested and when they have time, Early Readers are invited to pick a novel from our evolving list of “potential candidates for Best Novel nomination” list to read and report on confidentially.

Two fundamental questions that Early Readers strive to answer: Whether, in your considered opinion, the novel fits the distinctive dual focus of the Prometheus Award – and if so, whether the work is strong enough (in quality, readability, plotting, characterization, world-building, imagination, suspense and/or humor) to merit a formal nomination.

To bring to our attention any 2024 novels that may fit the Prometheus Awards, or for more information about how you can participate in our Early Reader program, contact Michael Grossberg, chair of the Prometheus Best Novel finalist-judging committee, at bestnovel@lfs.org.

IF YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE PROMETHEUS AWARDS:

* Prometheus winners: For the full list of Prometheus winners, finalists and nominees – including 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 all published essay-reviews in our Appreciation series explaining why each of more than 100 past winners since 1979 fits the awards’ distinctive dual focus.

* 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 element 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.

* Check out the Libertarian Futurist Society’s Facebook page  for periodic updates and links to Prometheus Blog posts.

Join us! To help sustain the Prometheus Awards and support a cultural and literary strategy to appreciate and honor freedom-loving fiction,join  the Libertarian Futurist Society, a non-profit all-volunteer association of freedom-loving sf/fantasy fans.

Published by

Michael Grossberg

Michael Grossberg, who founded the LFS in 1982 to help sustain the Prometheus Awards, has been an arts critic, speaker and award-winning journalist for five decades. Michael has won Ohio SPJ awards for Best Critic in Ohio and Best Arts Reporting (seven times). He's written for Reason, Libertarian Review and Backstage weekly; helped lead the American Theatre Critics Association for two decades; and has contributed to six books, including critical essays for the annual Best Plays Theatre Yearbook and an afterword for J. Neil Schulman's novel The Rainbow Cadenza. Among books he recommends from a libertarian-futurist perspective: Matt Ridley's The Rational Optimist & How Innovation Works, David Boaz's The Libertarian Mind and Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress.

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