R.I.P., Joseph Martino: Sf author, scholar, engineer, Prometheus judge and LFS board member made a difference in his 91 years

Libertarian Futurist Society members, science-fiction fans and Ohioans are remembering Joe Martino, a prolific writer-speaker and libertarian policy expert.

Joseph P. Martino (File photo)

Martino, who died recently at 91 after a lengthy illness, wrote several fiction and non-fiction books and science fiction stories, several of which are still worth reading.

A knowledgeable and literate libertarian, Joe frequently appeared as an sf-con panelist at Marcon and other major Midwestern sf/fantasy conventions – including at an LFScon at Marcon.

LFS members appreciate the contributions that Joe made for many years as a board member and as an awards judge – especially in his years on the Best Novel finalist judging committee.

“Joe, an avid reader, showed excellent judgment in commenting on and ranking each year’s nominees,” said Michael Grossberg, who has chaired the Best Novel judging committee for many years.

“Joe was a true gentleman and scholar, always courteous and thoughtful in his conversation and commentary. And he had a great sense of humor,” Grossberg said.

Beyond his decades of volunteer work within the LFS, Martino was a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America and the First Fandom club. He received a First Fandom Hall of Fame award in 2010.

Former editor of Scientifiction: The First Fandom Report, Martino had several sf stories published in Astounding magazine in the 1960s and 1970s.

Among his short stories, Martin may be best known for his 2008 story Pushbutton War, later published separately and in an anthology.

The Cold War-era tale explores the moralities of warfare and the perverse logic of deterrence and strategic military decision-making in the era of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Martino’s story was also published in the anthology SF Stories v3, along with stories by Kevin Scott and G. Peyton Wertenbaker  (Quiet Please and The Chamber of Life.)

Martino wrote the libertarian sf novel The Justice Cooperative, published in 2004 by Elderberry Press.

A non-fiction writer of essays and books about the right of self-defense and the crucial role of the Second Amendment as a foundational support for all of the Bill of Rights, Martino dramatized in his novel private efforts to ensure justice through responsible individuals exercising the right of self-defense.

His edgy story explored the moral and legal boundaries of justice and the pros and cons of so-called vigilante justice.

Martino also wrote several non-fiction books reflecting his technical expertise as an engineer, military colonel, scholar and professor.

Perhaps the Martino book of greatest interest to libertarians is his Resistance to Tyranny: A Primer, published in 2010.

The book offers a primer on armed resistance to tyranny, combined with helpful sources for more detailed information.

Among the subjects covered: equipment, strategy, tactics, survival skills, land navigation, training, secure camps, communications, encryption, intelligence and counter-intelligence and gaining public support. The book “is intended for scholarly information purposes only.”

Martino also wrote non-fiction books on Science Funding: Politics & Porkbarrel (published by the leading publisher Rutledge in 1992) and Technological Forecasting for Decision Making (Book and Disc, Third Edition, 1992).

Here’s an excerpt from a review of Science Funding in Choice magazine:

“Martino, a senior research scientist, provides a well-documented, compelling analysis of the increasing influence of politics in the funding of scientific research. This is a seminal contribution to the literature on the politics of science, and it will enlighten scientists, policymakers, and concerned citizens alike…”

Those concerned about the increasing politicization of science – a central issue for libertarian futurists, and one explored as far back as the 1950s by the Nobel-Prize-winning economist-historian Friedrich Hayek – will find the insights in Martino’s book on Science Funding to be sadly enduring.

From the book description:

“Americans have become resigned to seeing Congress vote money for porkbarrel projects of all kinds-roads, dams, post offices, military installations-in the districts of influential legislators. In recent years Congress has, almost without public notice, extended this form of vote-buying and pandering into a new domain: science. Where formerly scientific funding proposals were evaluated by outside experts on the basis of merit, there is now an increasing consideration of congressional districts and “fair” geographical distribution. In this ground-breaking volume, Joseph P. Martino offers a critical examination of special-interest funding and the danger it poses to the integrity of American society as a whole, as well as to its scientific component.

Science Funding is distinguished by its comprehensive approach to the structural and historical background of the current situation. It examines the history of science funding from the early twentieth century through present, public vs. to taxpayers, instances of fraud, and the effects of government funding for research in universities.

Martino’s survey demonstrates conclusively that government has been inefficient in its funding capacity and that the shortcomings are inherent: political criteria for the support of science, congressional micromanagement, freezing out of innovative ideas, and the favoring of massive projects-Big Science-over small, but significant experimental programs.”


A graduate of Miami University in 1953 with a bachelor’s degrees in physics, Martino received a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University and a Ph.D. in mathematics from Ohio State University.

After serving in the Air Force and working in Air Force research laboratories throughout the United States, Martino joined the University of Dayton Research Institute as a research scientist, working there for 18 years until his retirement.

He also spent two semesters as a visiting professor at Marmara University in Istanbul, Turkey.

He was a visiting scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Vienna, Austria, and also at the Institute for Technological Research at University of São Paulo in Brazil.

Among many other leadership roles and educational achievements, Martino was Chairman of the Counterinsurgency Working Group of the Military Operations Research Society and taught a course in Just War Doctrine at Yorktown University.

Joseph was the author of over a dozen papers in technical journals, and two engineering books. He was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was elected an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics.

Our condolences go to his wife Nancy, his three children and nine step-children.

For a full obituary of Martino, read the Dayton Daily News obit.


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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