Funny is funny: How two Best Novel finalist authors have responded to Prometheus recognition

By Michael Grossberg

When life gets you down, there’s nothing better for renewing your spirit or gaining perspective than having a good sense of humor.

Receiving recognition in the Prometheus Awards usually sparks a more serious response blending pride and gratitude.

But funny is funny – and anyway, if your novel is already satirical, then why not respond in that spirit with both pride and humor to such recognition?

Two of this year’s Best Novel finalists – Dave Freer and Gordon Hanka (writing under the pseudonym “Dr. Insensitive Jerk”) – responded to this year’s Prometheus recognition with humor.

Here’s what recently appeared on the updated Amazon page of A Beast Without Feign, one of this year’s five recently announced Prometheus Best Novel finalists:

2023 Prometheus Award finalist

In the best prank of the year, the Libertarian Future Society has named A Beast Cannot Feign as one of the five finalists for the most prestigious literary prize in Libertarian Sci Fi. This kind of bad decision-making is exactly why we have liquor laws.

Now (imo) that’s funny!

Although that type of response perhaps should have been anticipated, given the language the author “Dr. Insensitive Jerk” (the aptly satirical pen name for Gordon Hanka, a retired free-market economist) used for his often-humorous “alien-contact” story and already had posted on his novel’s Amazon page to describe his novel:

“A proper Libertarian novel should celebrate human freedom without resorting to crude jokes. Dr. Insensitive Jerk honors that principle like frat boys honor liquor laws….

The most aggravating alien invasion ever

Half-aliens prowl the Earth, defying our laws, banging our women and laughing at our taxes. I mean really laughing. They think our taxes are hilarious, and how is a man supposed to perform with half-alien women giggling at his pay stub?

Of all the half-aliens, Luci Dark is widely regarded as the most annoying, so they chose her as their ambassador. Now she’s shopping for a little patch of Earth to call, home, say, 10,000 square miles. Every right-thinking Human welcomes that idea like a fart at a wedding.

A half-alien colony would really need defending, so they’ve hired the very human Tom Pine to build robotic sentries, beneath Luci Dark’s watchful eye. What could possibly go wrong?

About the Author

Dr. Insensitive Jerk was created in a tragic artificial-insemination accident, when his petri dish was contaminated by DNA from a lab tech’s Doberman pinscher. His childhood was stressful, especially for the family cat. If you buy this book, you will help him celebrate six years clean without a single drink from the toilet.


This book is feelustrated, which means it’s packed with beautiful, full-color pictures that don’t depict events in the text. It’s the stupidest breakthrough in the history of storytelling. Seriously; you can’t believe how dumb it is.

What critics are saying about A Beast Cannot Feign

“Sneaking Beast into the summer reading list would be hilarious, and I’d get fired the next day.”
– Anonymous teacher

“I only read three pages and I already know it’s disgusting.”
– Some guy at Starbucks

A Beast Cannot Feign is wonderful, but does it need the sex parts?”
– Dr. Jerk’s mom

“How many different ways do I have to tell you I’m not interested in your book?”
– The ex

Note: A Beast Cannot Feign is available for a short time, in the monochrome Kindle edition, at a greatly reduced price during a mid-June Amazon promotion. In addition, the PDF version is now free on the author’s website at


Hanka was not the only finalist author this year to respond to Prometheus recognition with notable humor.

Australian sf writer Dave Freer, a current Best Novel finalist for Cloud-Castles, also wove humor into an earlier blog post acknowledging the honor of having been nominated for the first time for the Prometheus Award.

The Prometheus Blog previously noted Freer’s ‘Mad Genius’ commentary about Prometheus as a mythological symbol of ingenuity, and in the same lighthearted spirit as Freer’s commentary, our recent blog post said this:

“If there were an award for most unusual, charming and amusing response to being recognized with a Prometheus Awards nomination, then Australian science fiction/fantasy writer Dave Freer would be a strong contender.”

Now it appears that at least two finalist authors are competing for that hypothetical award. (Hey, guys! It really is hypothetical! And there’s no gold prize that comes with it, either.)

Nor should that be surprising – since for the first time in years, a majority of this year’s five Best Novel finalists incorporate at least some humor (including John Van Stry’s Summer’s End), while both Freer and Hanka’s novels are comedies that weave in some genuinely satirical and funny elements.

To see what we mean, check out the capsule-review descriptions of the current Best Novel finalists incorporated into the LFS press release.


* 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 element of libertarian sf/fantasy in the evolution of the modern genre.

Watch  videos of past Prometheus Awards ceremonies, 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.

Libertarian futurists believe that culture matters! We understand that the arts and literature can be vital, and in some ways even more powerful than politics in the long run, by sparking innovation, better ideas, positive social change, and mutual respect for each other’s rights and differences.

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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