Honoring merit, fostering art and justice: Stoddard’s awards-ceremony introductory speech about why the LFS has presented the Prometheus Awards for 40 years

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:

Welcome to the 2022 Prometheus Awards ceremony. I’m William H. Stoddard, president of the Libertarian Futurist Society, which sponsors and votes on the awards.

The first Prometheus Award was given in 1979 to F. Paul Wilson’s novel Wheels within Wheels. It was organized and sponsored by L. Neil Smith.

In 1982, the Libertarian Futurist Society was established to continue the Prometheus Award; that year’s award went to Smith for his first novel, The Probability Broach. We’ve held award ceremonies without a break for forty years now.

In giving the award, we single out its recipient as a notable work of libertarian science fiction. Why should we have such an award?

On one hand, while libertarianism is a political movement, we don’t view legal and economic institutions as existing in a vacuum. The culture we inhabit shapes our views on what is possible and desirable. One work of art, such as a novel, may communicate more than a shelf full of treatises. Hoping for a freer world, we encourage the creation of such works.

But we ourselves are also enthusiastic readers, and especially readers of science fiction. Our society tends to think of justice in legalistic terms, as the correction of wrongs — as restraining and punishing evil. And certainly that’s part of justice.

William H. Stoddard, LFS President (File photo)

But an equally important part is honoring and rewarding merit; a society that fails to do that is in peril of losing its values. Authors who hold dissident viewpoints often risk having their merits go unrecognized.

In these awards, we have the pleasure of sharing with you the works that have spoken to us, that have taught us something about our own beliefs and values, and that have moved us.

* Read the Prometheus Blog interview with LFS President William H. Stoddard, who also chairs the Prometheus Hall of Fame finalist judging committee, which selects the annual finalists for that awards category.

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.

* Prometheus winners: For the 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.

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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