Meet the author: Karl K. Gallagher, a double Best Novel finalist for Between Home and Ruin and Seize What’s Held Dear

For only the third time in the 43-year history of the Prometheus Awards, one author has been recognized twice within one year as a Best Novel finalist.

Author Karl K. Gallagher (Creative Commons license)

That’s Karl K. Gallagher, whose 2022 finalists include Between Home and Ruin and Seize What’s Held Dear, respectively the second and third novels in his Fall of the Censor series.

Here are capsule-review descriptions of each of his 2022 Best Novel finalists:

  Between Home and Ruin– A direct sequel to his 2021 Best Novel finalist Storm Between the Stars, this second novel in Gallagher’s Fall of the Censor series continues his dramatization of a prolonged interstellar war between a long-isolated group of colonized solar systems and a much larger human polity.

The Censorate is an authoritarian human empire that maintains its Orwellian power by memory-holing the past and destroying older books, art and records to subjugate planetary populations.

After rediscovering a path to other solar systems, the Fierans are fighting against Censorate invasion to preserve their freedom, independence and culture.

This sequel, which drives home its themes with a cross-cultural love story about a man and woman separated by war, also powerfully highlights governmental atrocities of war, including mass murder and destruction of civilian cities – a focus especially timely in 2022 as brutal war rages anew in Eastern Europe.

  Seize What’s Held Dear – In his third Fall of the Censor novel, a direct sequel to Between Home and Ruin, Gallagher explores further the quest to preserve knowledge, commerce, civility and civilization itself despite war, tyranny and the suppression of culture, history and memory.

The novel also illuminates the practical effectiveness of private contractual courts and arbitration systems in maintaining law and justice without government, even amidst challenging and ongoing disagreements, occasional crimes and contractual disputes in a messy and recognizably human society.

Gallagher compellingly dramatizes a variety of space battles and military strategies while contrasting the belligerents’ strategies, operations and tactics: The Fierans have the military and community of a messy but mostly free society, while the Censorate is an information-crippled totalitarian empire of bureaucratic yes-men wherein facing facts, reporting bad news, questioning authority and telling the truth can be fatal.

Storm Between the Stars, a 2021 Prometheus Best Novel finalist, launched Gallagher’s Fall of the Censor series.

Here’s a description of the first volume, which sets the stage for the subsequent novels:

“Storm Between the Stars explores a vast interstellar polity’s use of narrative control and memory-holing to cement power.

Merchants in a ship from an isolated group of solar systems discover a new hyperspatial route to regain long-lost contact with the rest of humanity. They must deal with a centralized human empire founded on a fictitious history while establishing trade relations with businesses that operate through family ties and underground barter.

Gallagher offers a timely cautionary tale about official truth, censorship, and the denial of history, while exploring strategies for economic survival and the pursuit of knowledge under a repressive government.”

His Fall of the Censor novels, though, are far from the only books that Gallagher has written – or that have been recognized by the Prometheus Awards.

Gallagher was first nominated for a Prometheus Award in 2018 for the three books in his Torchship trilogy: Torchship, Torchship Pilot and Torchship Captain.

The trilogy revolves around a captain and crew of free-market spaceship freighters struggling to make enough money to keep themselves in the black while avoiding the attentions of a paranoid government and facing threats of interstellar war that’s bad for business.

His Torchship trilogy was recognized as a 2018 Best Novel finalist.   (Under Prometheus award rules, when novels set in the same fictional universe are not just part of a series or trilogy but are confirmed to actually together tell one overall story that otherwise would not be complete, then the Best Novel finalist judging committee may approve their eligibility as a combined single nomination.)


Gallagher also has ventured into fantasy with The Lost War and its sequel The War Revealed.

The two-book fantasy adventure, published in 2019, revolves around medieval historical re-enactors.

Planning a weekend of costumed fun, the re-enactors are unexpectedly flung into a strange and dangerous wilderness by magic they don’t understand.

In that wilderness, they face monsters who consider them prey – or worse – and must struggle to survive.

Gallagher’s love of science-fiction, appreciation for space exploration and familiarity with the military is closely related to his life and career.

After earning engineering degrees from MIT and USC, he designed weather satellites for TRW, controlled weather satellites for the Air Force, designed a rocket-ship for a start-up and done systems engineering for a fighter plane. He is husband to Laura and father to Maggie, James and “dearly missed” Alanna.

For more information about Gallagher’s published and upcoming works, visit Kelt Haven Press at

Since the Prometheus Awards were first presented in 1979, the only other years in which two novels by the same author both became Best Novel finalists were in 2017 and 2010.

Dissidence coverThree-time Prometheus winner Ken MacLeod’s The Corporation Wars: Dissidence and The Corporation Wars: Insurgence, both published within the previous year by Orbit Books, were both chosen as 2017 finalists.

In 2010, two Harry Turtledove novels, both set in the same series and published by ROC/Penguin Books, became finalists: Liberating Atlantis and The United States of Atlantis.

In these cases, it may have helped that both authors were already on the radar of Libertarian Futurist Society members as past Prometheus winners and frequent nominees.

Turtledove won for Best Novel in 2008 for The Gladiator.

MacLeod, meanwhile, has won Best Novel three times – for The Star Fraction (in 1996), The Stone Canal (in 1998) and Learning the World (in 2006.)

More often, two novels by the same author have been nominated within the same year without both ending up finalists.

For example, Ramez Naam’s Crux and Nexus were both nominated in 2014, but only Nexus became a finalist and that year’s winner. (Naam’s trilogy culminated with Apex, a 2016 Best Novel finalist.)

Generally speaking, the Prometheus Awards tend to reflect, at least to some extent, current trends in sf/fantasy publishing – and increasingly, over the past decade or two, more novels by the same authors are being published within the same year, often as part of the same future-history series.

Even so, when more than one novel by the same author ends up as one of five Best Novel finalists, that means something special.

To paraphrase Sally Field’s famous Oscar-acceptance speech: “We like you! We really like you!”

Note: This is part of a new series of Meet the Author posts about this year’s slate of Best Novel finalists.

Upcoming Meet the Author posts will focus on 2022 Best Novel finalists Wil McCarthy, author of Rich Man’s Sky, and Lionel Shriver, author of Should We Stay Or Should We Go.

* Prometheus winners: For a full list of winners – 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.

* Read the introductory essay of the LFS’ 40th anniversary retrospective series of Appreciations of past Prometheus Awards winners, with an overview of the awards’ four-decade-plus history, that was launched in 2019 on the 40th anniversary of the awards and continues today.

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 visions of a free future via the Prometheus Awards, the LFS hopes to help spread better visions of the future that help humanity achieve universal liberty and 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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