Publishers, authors, LFS members & sf/fantasy fans: Please heed our early call for Best Novel submissions (and why timeliness matters)

By Michael Grossberg

Have you come across a 2024 sf/fantasy novel that seems to fit the distinctive dual focus of the Prometheus Awards?

If so, it’s not too early to bring it to our attention.

In fact, the right time is now – rather than later.

And that good advice applies not only to Libertarian Futurist Society members, but also to publishers, authors, sf/fantasy fans and libertarians outside our organization.

HOW LFS MEMBERS MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN OUR AWARDS

Even as the current Prometheus Awards Best Novel nominations and finalist-selection cycle is approaching its final weeks – Feb. 15, 2024, is the deadline for LFS members to nominate eligible 2023 novels for the next Best Novel award – LFS members are always welcome throughout each year to notify us about potentially eligible novels they’ve spotted.

If you’ve read a 2024 novel worth bringing to our attention, great! Let us know what you think of it, and why you believe it fits the Prometheus Award.

But if you haven’t read the work yet, but just came across it online or at your local bookstore or library, don’t let that stop you from alerting us right now to its existence.

After all, LFS members and other sf/fantasy fans usually can get a pretty good first impression of whether a particular work of fiction might be “up our alley” merely from reading the online publisher’s description (typically available on the publisher’s website and on the book-listing page of online sellers, such as Amazon) or checking out the book’s front and back cover at your local bookstore or library. Mentioning that title to us as soon as you can gives us the opportunity to check out and perhaps confirm that first impression

While Libertarian Futurist Society members (at whatever level of Basic, Full, Sponsor or Benefactor membership) have the right and privilege to nominate eligible works for all categories of the Prometheus Awards, the LFS also encourages publishers, authors and non-member sf/fantasy fans to bring works to our attention that might fit the awards’ distinctive dual focus.

THE DUAL FOCUS OF OUR AWARDS, AND WHY IT MATTERS

That dual focus is both literary and loosely “ideological,” the latter broadly recognizing speculative fiction with “small-L” libertarian and/or anti-authoritarian themes.

Or, as most LFS awards-related press releases describe the award:

“First presented in 1979 (for Best Novel) and presented annually since 1982, the Prometheus Awards have recognized outstanding works of science fiction and fantasy that dramatize the perennial conflict between liberty and power, favor private social cooperation over legalized coercion, expose abuses and excesses of obtrusive government, critique or satirize authoritarian ideas, or champion individual rights and freedoms as the mutually respectful foundation for peace, prosperity, progress, justice, tolerance, civility, and civilization itself.

In theory, the Prometheus Award can embrace a broad range of fiction. And if you take a look at the diversity of past winners, in many ways, it does.

Yet, when sf/fantasy fans (which include LFS members) annually nominate works for the Hugo awards and later vote on the finalists to choose the Hugo winners, virtually the entire sf/fantasy field is open for consideration.

While different fans inevitably have different tastes and the popular is not necessarily identical to the “best” or most enduring sf/fantasy, the broad focus of the Hugos (and the Nebula awards, voted on by sf/fantasy writers) is on the literary – including the overall quality of the storytelling, based simply on how good the fiction is in terms of world-building, characterization, imagination, style, wit, plotting, pacing, originality, plausibility, freshness and readability (among a myriad of factors).

When LFS members read sf/fantasy, many of us also find many Hugo-caliber works to enjoy and recommend on literary quality alone. But only a precious handful explore and champion the pro-liberty themes that we’re also looking for, at least when it comes to the Prometheus Award. (And we’re always looking and wishing for more…)

Thus, in practice, the dual focus of the Prometheus Awards tends to make it much more difficult to find appropriate works of fiction to recognize within the vast and growing field of books published each year within the multifaceted, happily rich and diverse world of sf/fantasy.

HOW PUBLISHERS, AUTHORS AND SF FANS CAN HELP

And that’s where LFS members, other sf/fantasy fans, other libertarians, as well as publishers and authors, can really make a difference – by helping us find the particular gems within the field that not only shine brightly in literary quality but also fit our distinctive themes.

That’s why we encourage publishers, authors and sf/fantasy fans who aren’t LFS members to submit eligible works for consideration – again, throughout the year.

The submission can be somewhat more formal and comprehensive, following the Submissions Guide downloadable from the front page of the LFS website.

But publisher’s or author’s submissions can be informal, too – as simple as notifying us by email of the novel’s title, publication date, author and publisher, ideally along with a statement explaining what caught your eye about this novel and why you think it may fit the Prometheus Awards.

WHY EARLY SUBMISSIONS HELP

To keep up with the flood of sf/fantasy published annually, so much more and varied than when the Prometheus Award was first presented in the 1970s, it makes a huge difference if the LFS can hear from members, publishers, authors and others year-round.

When is the best time to notify us? Just as soon as possible after you’ve identified a potential candidate, or confirmed the upcoming publication date.

Definitely do not wait until after publication to notify us – or worse, wait months after publication, until it’s the end of the year. (Or even worse: Inexplicably, sometimes one or two publishers or authors wait until after the end of the eligible year to bring their novels – often published several months or even half a year earlier – to the judges’ attention.)

HOW THE ANNUAL JUDGING PROCESS WORKS

By then, LFS members – and the Best Novel finalist-selection judges in particular – already have entered the peak period of their work, and are busy reading and discussing everything else that’s previously been nominated.

Of course, the Best Novel judges do their best to read, discuss and rank every nominated work throughout each award cycle.

Yet, each year, there is only a finite amount of time available for the 12 judges to read novels in the last two-month-or-so judging stretch. The judges must vote by late March to rank and select a slate of typically five finalists from the wider nominations list, so that the full LFS membership will have three months to read and consider the Best Novel finalists before everyone votes to choose the annual winner by our traditional July 4 voting deadline.

To respect that reality, and respect the judges, the best strategy for everyone (LFS members, publishers, authors, outside sf/fantasy fans, etc.) is to strive to bring as many eligible candidates as possible to our attention as early each year as possible.

That way, judges can get a head start reading and considering more of the candidates and the formal nominees, which gives us valuable time to confirm the eligibility of candidates and thoroughly discuss their merits according to the complex dual focus that makes the Prometheus Awards unique.

If you’re a publisher or author, especially a “new” author (who we don’t know about, and/or hasn’t been considered or nominated before), it’s crucial to give us – and your work – the extra time needed to fully read and consider it.

For more information or to notify the LFS about novels that might fit the Prometheus Awards, contact Michael Grossberg, Chair of the Prometheus Best Novel Finalist Selection Committee, at bestnovel@lfs.org

IF YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE LFS:

* 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 all published essay-reviews in our Appreciation series of more than 100 past winners since 1979.

* 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 (including the recent 2023 ceremony with inspiring and amusing speeches by Prometheus-winning authors Dave Freer and Sarah Hoyt),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 and support a cultural and literary strategy to appreciate and honor freedom-loving fiction, jointhe Libertarian Futurist Society, a non-profit all-volunteer association of freedom-loving sf/fantasy fans.

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.