“Liberty is hard yakka” – Novelist Sarah Hoyt’s speech presenting Best Novel to Dave Freer

At the 43rd annual Prometheus Awards ceremony, past Best Novel winner Sarah Hoyt (Darkship Thieves) presented the Best Novel category to Australian/Tasmanian writer Dave Freer for Cloud-Castles.

Sarah Hoyt, the 2011 Prometheus winner (File photo)

Hoyt was the ideal Best Novel presenter this year, since Freer and Hoyt have been friends for years and Freer has said he considers her his best friend in the United States.

The 2023 ceremony aired via Zoom Aug. 19, 2023, to an international audience and is available to watch on Youtube and the LFS website’s Video page. For those who prefer to read, here is the full transcript of Hoyt’s speech:

By Sarah A. Hoyt

Before I begin, I should warn any possible spectators that yes, this is my real (Portuguese-American) accent. In fact, this Prometheus award ceremony will probably go down in history as the battle of the accents, between mine and Dave’s and whatever else the rest of you try to bring to the table. (I dare you.)

Also I must warn everyone that we might have an impromptu appearance by the very fuzzy Havelock-cat, or his buddy, the ginger beasty Indy cat.

Since, as Heinlein put it, cats are free citizens, they should be right at home.

I can’t express how strange it is to be presenting the same award that marked the most important moment of my career to one of my best writing buddies, one who has walked with me through all the hard points, and celebrated with me at all the high points.

As well as metaphorically speaking hit me about the face and head about my lack of foreshadowing and also, way back, Dave explained to me how the book business really worked. It’s okay, I’ve almost forgiven him.

Prometheus, the light bringer (Creative Commons license)

So the Prometheus award is so named for the Greek Titan who stole the fire from the gods and gave it to the humans. The poor sod paid for it too, by having his liver eternally eaten by an eagle.

This is an interesting choice and as good a representation of freedom as I’ve ever heard of.

Anyway, Cloud-Castles by Dave Freer was up against some stiff competition.

The post-WWII feminist alternate history Widowland evokes The Man in The High Castle and Handmaid’s Tale.

The brat-Libertarian A Beast Cannot Feign thumbs its nose at us in acknowledging the nomination.

And Karl Gallagher’s Captain Trader Helmsman Spy is Weberesque (totally a word. Also no mean praise).

To me, despite all the other worthy entries, the strongest entries were Summer’s End and Cloud-Castles, but it’s hard to be sure this is personal taste and not the fact that they were both written by friends of mine.

Though I have friends I wouldn’t expect to be in the same room with the Prometheus Award, let alone win it. (I haven’t had a chance to lock them in the room with my award. Also, I’m not that cruel.) And I also have friends whose writing I don’t like.

However, I enjoy both Dave Freer’s and John Van Stry’s.

Summer’s End is a fast-moving, fast-paced space opera with well-worked interstellar trade and an individual escaping the machinations of those more powerful than he. It’s like John was playing my song.

Dave Freer’s Cloud-Castles meanwhile starts with a naïve academic – I know it’s hard to believe, but I was one once. I actually almost majored in philosophy – who wants to better the world, without being able to find it with two hands and a seeing-eye dog.

With his mind full of theories he goes into the unknown.

And is fortunate enough not only to survive but to be thrown into a situation where he has to both fend for himself, and actually help others. And thereby learn the meaning of true freedom, and the meaning of actually helping others, not by “education” but by helping them find freedom and survive.

I am beyond pleased that Dave’s book won.

Australian writer Dave Freer (Photo courtesy of author)

Not only because Dave is a friend — and not only because I had a considerable amount of money riding on the fact that given a chance Libertarians would vote for the guy who used to cuddle sharks for fun and study (ask him about it, sometime) – but because I think it is a very important book for our times.


When freedom is threatened on all sides, and most people are either looking for the proverbial savior on a white horse – or limo – or to some theory of how things should work to save them, it is important to remind one and all: In the end, the only one who can save you is you.

And you owe it to yourself and those you love, and really the future of humanity to come to your own rescue, and not let the innocent and clueless, or simply less able be destroyed by pitiless aliens and the systems that abet them. (And no, I’m not talking about real UFO Aliens. It’s by way of being a metaphor for those who really don’t understand others’ inalienable rights.)

Despite the fact that reading it taught me a whole new language, and despite being a rip-roaring yarn (or do I mean because of it?), I think Cloud-Castles deserves a place in the literature of freedom.

Because being free is hard yakka.*

And yet we must do it.

Because it is the only hope for the future.

* * *

* “Hard yakka” means hard work, in idiomatic Australian slang, with Yakka thought to come from an Aboriginal Australian language.

Read Sarah Hoyt’s lovely and lyrical ode to the Greek god Prometheus, originally published on her According to Hoyt blog.

Read the Prometheus Blog appreciation of Hoyt’s Darkship Thieves, the first novel in her Darkship series and the 2011 Prometheus Best Novel winner.

Sarah Hoyt at an sf convention (Creative Commons license)

Biographical note:  Sarah Hoyt, who moved from Portugal to the United States 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.

More than 114 of her titles and editions available on Amazon.

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

Writer Sarah Hoyt. Creative Commons license)

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

LFS members presented Sarah with the 2011 Prometheus Best Novel award for Darkship Thieves, a Heinlein-esque romantic-adventure space opera with individualist-feminist themes that convincingly depicts both a terrible tyranny on Earth and a functioning libertarian society in the asteroids.

Sarah Hoyt accepting her Prometheus Award in 2011

Her Darkship series includes sequels Darkship Renegades, A Few Good Men and Darkship Renegade, all of which were subsequently recognized as Best Novel finalists, and Through Fire, a Best Novel nominee.




* 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, individuality and human dignity.

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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