LFS co-founder on the coercive nature of the State, and the perennial tension between Liberty and Power

Why is government, by its nature, a distinctive threat to freedom?

LFS co-founder Michael Grossberg strived to answer that question in his speech introducing the Best Novel category of the 43rd annual Prometheus Awards ceremony.

Michael Grossberg, a veteran journalist and arts critic. File photo


The Prometheus Awards, one of the oldest fan-based sf/fantasy awards after the Hugos and Nebulas, are unique in recognizing speculative fiction that dramatizes the sadly perennial conflict between liberty and power.

As a journalist and arts critic for five decades, I can testify to the importance of awards in raising the visibility of valuable and rewarding works that might otherwise be overlooked.


And as LFS co-founder, I’m proud of the track record our award has established in recognizing the strong libertarian currents that have always been a visible and influential part of modern science fiction.

Since the Prometheus Award for Best Novel was first presented in 1979, 44 novels have won this annual category, and a 45th will be recognized today.

Our most recent winners include C.J. Cherry and Jane Fancher’s Alliance Rising, Barry Longyear’s The Hook and, last year, Wil McCarthy’s Rich Man’s Sky.

When LFS members search for eligible works to nominate for our Awards, we don’t just seek well-written works of imaginative fiction that dramatize positive libertarian themes about the ethical and practical benefits of freedom in promoting peace, prosperity, progress, innovation and greater cooperation.

We also seek sf and fantasy exploring anti-authoritarian and dystopian themes, especially underscoring the great evils of tyranny, slavery, war and genocide – the worst dangers and predictable excesses of unlimited government.

The historian Max Weber, widely hailed as the father of sociology, first clearly defined the nature of government roughly a century ago. The State is an especially dangerous institution, ripe for abuse of power, because as Weber explained, it’s the only human institution that successfully claims a legitimized monopoly over violence and the use of force within a defined geographical area.

This year’s slate of Best Novel finalists represent a wide range of fiction by authors who understand the great harm that the institutionalized coercion of the State can do – as well as the great potential for free men and women to address and resolve the very real challenges of living on this planet.


Sarah Hoyt accepting her Prometheus Award in 2011

For this year’s 43rd ceremony, I’m proud to introduce Prometheus winner Sarah Hoyt, who will present the Best Novel award.

Sarah, who moved from Portugal to the U.S. in the early 1980s and became an American citizen in 1988, has published more than 40 novels of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, historical mystery, historical fantasy and historical biography.

Sarah won the 2011 Prometheus Best Novel award for Darkship Thieves, a Heinlein-esque romantic space opera with individualist-feminist themes and a gripping narrative depicting both a terrible tyranny on Earth and a functioning libertarian society in the asteroids.

Her Darkship series includes sequels Darkship Renegades, A Few Good Men and Darkship Revenge, all Best Novel finalists.

Showing her talent for both sf and fantasy, she was a 2002 finalist in the Mythopoeic Awards for her “magical Shakespeare” novel Ill Met By Moonlight.

She also won the 2018 Dragon Award for Best Alternate History Novel for Uncharted, co-authored with Kevin Anderson.

Sarah, welcome back to the Prometheus ceremony!

Read Sarah Hoyt’s 2023 Prometheus Awards ceremony speech, as presenter of the Best Novel category to Dave Freer for Cloud-Castles.



Coming up on the Prometheus Blog:

Every few days in the rest of August, we will be publishing several posts about our 43rd annual Prometheus Awards ceremony – which aired live on Zoom Aug. 19 and will be posted soon on Youtube and on the LFS website’s Video page. Among the posts:

Robert Heinlein (Photo courtesy of the Heinlein Trust)

* Acceptance speeches for Robert Heinlein’s “Free Men,” the 2023 Prometheus Hall of Fame inductee for Best Classic Fiction,” from Art Dula, primary trustee of the Heinlein Trust, and John Tilden, president of The Heinlein Society;

Writer Sarah Hoyt. Creative Commons license)
* Prometheus winner and Best Novel presenter Sarah Hoyt’s speech about freedom, science fiction, this year’s Best Novel finalists (including her favorites), her old friend Dave Freer and his novel


* An introductory overview of the Prometheus Awards and its Best Novel category by LFS co-founder Michael Grossberg, who chairs the 12-member LFS Prometheus Best Novel finalist-judging committee.


* 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.

Through recognizing the literature of liberty and the many different but complementary visions of a free future via the Prometheus Awards, the LFS hopes to help spread better visions of the future that help humanity overcome tyranny, end slavery and war, drastically limit other abuses of coercive power and achieve universal liberty, respect for human rights and a better world (perhaps eventually, worlds) for all.

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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