If one of the salutary effects of the Prometheus Award for Best Novel over the decades has been to help raise the visibility of new, young or emerging talent, that goal might well be furthered by this year’s larger-than-usual slate of nominees.
These 16 novels, published in 2021 and listed below, reflect a wide range of styles, from the satirical to the sorrowful and from hard sf to mythic fantasy.
A solid majority of the authors of the nominated 2021 novels are being recognized via the Prometheus Awards for the first time in the awards’ 43-year history.
Moreover, with 16 works nominated by Libertarian Futurist Society members in the Best Novel category, the size of this year’s slate is as large as any in the 21st century – and larger than in all but two of the past 36 years of Prometheus nominations.
(In both 1986 and 2017, we ended up with 16 nominees, the same as this year, when 10 to 12 nominated novels is more common. Last year’s slate, for instance, had just 11 nominees.)
As the judges continue to read and discuss the nominees to select the slate of Best Novel finalists (to be announced in April), here are the current crop of nominees, alphabetized by author:
Between Home and Ruin (Fall of the Censor Book 2), by Karl K. Gallagher (Kelt Haven Press, 227 pages)
Seize What’s Held Dear (Fall of the Censor Book 3) by Karl K. Gallagher (Kelt Haven Press, 244 pages)
Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber and Faber, 321 pages)
Rich Man’s Sky, by Wil McCarthy (Baen Books, 291 pages)
Purgatory Mount, by Adam Roberts (Gollancz, Hachette, 265 pages)
Hellraisers & Heartbreakers (Watcher of the Damned Book 4), by R.H. Snow (Rosa de Oro, a Texas Publishing Company, 364 pages)
Lone Star Libre! (Watcher of the Damned Book 6), by R.H. Snow (Rosa de Oro, a Texas Publishing Company, 399 pages)
Triple Cross, by Marc Stiegler (LMBPN Publishing, 314 pages)
Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir (Ballantine Books, 482 pages)
White Hat, (Space Hackers Book Two) by Steve Wire (Plaintext Publishing, 229 pages)
Looking over the nominees list, LFS members may be most familiar with the authors Karl K. Gallagher, Lionel Shriver, Marc Stiegler and Andy Weir.
Each of these four authors has not only been nominated before for a Prometheus Award, but also made it into the smaller slate of (typically four or five) Best Novel finalists:
• Gallagher was previously nominated for Storm Between the Stars. That 2021 finalist launched his Fall of the Censor trilogy, which continued with this year’s nominated sequels: Between Home and Ruin (Book 2) and Seize What’s Held Dear (Book 3).
• Shriver, perhaps best known for her bestselling 2003 novel We Need to Talk About Kevin and its 2011 film version starring Tilda Swinton, was previously nominated for The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047, a 2017 Best Novel finalist.
* Stiegler was previously nominated for The Braintrust (in 2018), the sequels Crescendo of Fire and Rhapsody for the Tempest (both 2019 nominees), and the sequel Ode to Defiance (a 2020 Best Novel finalist.)
His current nominee Triple Cross is unrelated to his previous series.
* Weir, perhaps best known for his bestselling The Martian and the popular Golden-Globe winning 2015 film version starring Matt Damon, was previously nominated for Artemis, a 2018 Best Novel finalist.
THE PROMETHEUS NEWCOMERS
First-time-nominated authors, meanwhile, include writers of 12 out of 16 current nominees: Nobel-prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro, Regina Joseph, Robert Kroese, Wil McCarthy, British author Adam Roberts, R.H. Snow, Steve Wire and “Dr. Insensitive Jerk” (an author’s pseudonym for an economics professor.)
Let’s hope that these and more emerging writers choose to write sf/fantasy that overlaps in various ways and to varying extents with the distinctive focus of the Prometheus Awards on science fiction and fantasy that’s pro-liberty and/or anti-authoritarian.
But who knows?
Such Prometheus recognition, even at the most basic awards level of simple nomination, may well bear more fruit in the coming years as these authors continue to write and explore libertarian and/or anti-authoritarian themes.
The Best Novel Finalist Judging Committee will select a slate of (typically five, but occasionally four or six) finalists by the end of March, and the finalists will be announced in April.
As always, the full LFS membership at the Full membership level and above (including Sponsors and Benefactors, whose extra support helps to sustain the Prometheus Award and its gold prize), will have a chance to read and vote on the Best Novel finalists – as they already are doing to weigh the current slate of Prometheus Hall of Fame finalists for Best Classic Fiction.
That judging process extends over several months in the spring and summer before our annual and traditional July 4 voting deadline for LFS members to choose the Prometheus winners. (LFS members can expect to receive their ballots via email by late May.)
Congratulations, and good luck, to all the Best Novel nominees!
P.S. Expect an LFS press release, to be posted with a link on the main LFS website and on the Press Releases page, announcing the Best Novel finalists, by early April.
* 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 40thanniversary of the awards and continues today.
* 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.
* 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 more powerful than politics in the long run, in 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.