Short-listed for the next Prometheus Hall of Fame: Novels by Poul Anderson, Terry Pratchett and Harry Turtledove and a Rush song

By Michael Grossberg

Almost four dozen classic works of science fiction and fantasy have been inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame, first presented four decades ago in 1983.

Libertarian Futurist Society members will select the next Best Classic Fiction inductee from four finalists, all first published or released more than 20 years ago.

The 2024 Hall of Fame finalists – just announced to the media in an LFS press release that’s already been reported on in full by File 770, a leading sf-industry trade publication –  is varied in artistic form (including three novels and one song) and in its balance of the old and the new.

The current finalist slate, selected from 10 works of fiction (novels, stories and song) nominated by LFS members, recognizes both a first-time nominee and several stalwart candidates that have found favor with judges and voters in recent years.

Terry Pratchett in 2012. Creative Commons license

The three novels were all written by internationally acclaimed sf/fantasy authors – including the late, great and much-missed Poul Anderson and Terry Pratchett (both previous Prometheus winners) and the happily-still-writing Harry Turtledove.

Rounding out the 2023 slate is a fantasy-genre-themed song by the Canadian rock group Rush.

Harry Turtledove (Creative Commons license)

Between the Rivers, a 1998 Turtledove novel, has never been nominated before in this category of the Prometheus Award and is ranked among Hall of Fame finalists for the first time.

Poul Anderson (Creative Commons license)

This is the second nomination in this category for Orion Shall Rise, a 1983 novel by Anderson. First nominated for the Hall of Fame in 2001, the novel was ranked among the finalists that year.

Two other finalists – both frequently nominated for the Hall of Fame in recent years – were short-listed last year among the Hall of Fame finalists: Pratchett’s 2000 novel The Truth and the 1978 Rush song “The Trees.”

Rush performing in 2004. Left to right: Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee, Neil Peart (Creative Commons license)

Now that the Prometheus Hall of Fame finalist judging committee, led by chair William H. Stoddard, has selected the slate, all LFS members have the opportunity to read (or hear) the four finalists over the next several months before the final stage of voting begins in late May to select next year’s winner.

To facilitate that process and hopefully spark voters’ and readers’ interest in familiarizing themselves with these works, here are capsule descriptions of each finalist that make clear how each fits the Prometheus Awards’ distinctive focus on speculative fiction (including science fiction and fantasy) that dramatizes libertarian and anti-authoritarian themes:

• Orion Shall Rise, Poul Anderson’s 1983 novel (Timescape), explores the corruptions and temptations of power and how a free society might survive and thrive after an apocalypse.

Set in a post-nuclear-war Earth with four renascent civilizations in conflict over the proper role of technology, the story focuses on forward-thinking visionaries who dream of reaching for the stars while trying to revive forbidden nuclear technology that destroyed their now-feudal, empire-dominated world.

Most intriguing: the depiction of a clearly libertarian society with minimal government operating in formerly western Canada and northwestern United States.

• The TruthTerry Pratchett’s 2000 novel (HarperCollins), first nominated in 2001 for Best Novel, is part of his satirical but historically informed Discworld series.

The novel focuses on the founding by a struggling scribe of the Discworld’s first newspaper using the new printing press in (of course!) the city of Ankh-Morpork, and its publisher’s struggles for freedom of the press during a political crisis.

All too timely in its focus on misinformation and its theme of freedom of speech and press, the novel portrays how journalists report the facts (or not) and communicate “the truth” amid pressure from competing political factions.

• “The Trees,” a 1978 song by Rush with lyrics by Neil Peart and music by Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, was released on the Canadian rock group’s album Hemispheres.

The fantasy-genre song warns against coerced equality in a beast fable – or in this case, a “tree fable.”

The concise lyrics poetically present a Nature-based parable of envy, “oppression” and misguided revolution motivated by a true-believer ideology of radical and murderously coercive egalitarianism.

The survival and individuality of different kinds of trees – both agitating Maples and lofty Oaks – are threatened when a seemingly “noble law” is adopted in the forest to keep the trees “equal by hatchet, axe and saw.”

Between the RiversTurtledove’s 1998 novel (TOR), tells an alternate-history story about humanity’s attempt to forge its own destiny at the dawn of civilization.

Framed as a Bronze Age mythology in a pattern inspired by Julian Jaynes’ “bicameral-mind” hypothesis, the novel revolves around a city ruled by actual gods where men begin to think for themselves and make progress through commerce and mathematics.

Among those men are a young merchant with strange ideas upholding free will and independence and challenging traditional cultural assumptions in a struggle for freedom from divine rule.

In addition to the above finalists, the Prometheus Hall of Fame Finalist Judging Committee considered six other nominees, listed in alphabetical order by author:

Zelig, a 1983 film written, directed by and starring Woody Allen;
Floating Worlds, a 1976 novel by Cecilia Holland;
• “Primary Education of the Camiroi,” a 1966 short story by R.A. Lafferty;
That Hideous Strength, a 1945 novel by C.S. Lewis;
Kalin, a 1969 novel by E.C. Tubb; and
• “The Last Word,” a 2000 story by Harry Turtledove.

The final vote will take place in mid-2024, with all Libertarian Futurist Society members eligible to vote and expected to receive ballots by late May, with the voting deadline July 4, 2024.

The annual Prometheus awards ceremony, including presentation of the winners for Best Novel and Best Classic Fiction (Hall of Fame), will be presented online or at a major science fiction convention, to be announced (but most likely on a Saturday in mid-August. All LFS members and the general public are welcome to “attend” and watch the awards show, which is expected to have a multiple-Prometheus-winning author as a major presenter.

Nominees for the Prometheus Hall of Fame may be in any narrative or dramatic form, including prose fiction, stage plays, film, television, other video, graphic novels, song lyrics, or epic or narrative verse; they must explore themes relevant to libertarianism and must be science fiction, fantasy, or related genres.

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.

The awards include gold coins and plaques for the winners for Best Novel, Best Classic Fiction (Hall of Fame), and occasional Special Awards.

The Prometheus Award is one of the most enduring awards after the Nebula and Hugo awards, and one of the oldest fan-based awards currently in sf.

For further reading:

* Read the Prometheus Blog appreciation of The Gladiator, Harry Turtledove’s 2008 Prometheus winner for Best Novel.

* Read the Prometheus Blog appreciation of Night Watch, Terry Pratchett’s 2003 Prometheus winner for Best Novel.

* Read the Prometheus Blog appreciations of The Stars Are Also Fire, Poul Anderson’s 1995 Prometheus winner for Best Novel, Trader to the Stars, Anderson’s 1985 Hall of Fame winner; The Star Fox, Anderson’s 1995 Hall of Fame winner; “No Truce with Kings,” the 2010 Hall of Fame winner; and “Sam Hall,” the 2020 Hall of Fame winner.

* Read the Prometheus-blog’s obituary/tribute to Rush songwriter/drummer Neil Peart, who died in 2020. (The tribute includes the lyrics to the Rush song “The Trees.”)


* 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 elements 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, join the Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS), 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.

2 thoughts on “Short-listed for the next Prometheus Hall of Fame: Novels by Poul Anderson, Terry Pratchett and Harry Turtledove and a Rush song”

  1. Heresy lyrics:

    All around that dull grey world
    From Moscow to Berlin
    People storm the barricades
    Walls go tumbling in
    The counter-revolution
    People smiling through their tears
    Who can give them back their lives
    And all those wasted years?
    All those precious wasted years
    Who will pay?
    All around that dull grey world
    Of ideology
    People storm the marketplace
    And buy up fantasy
    The counter-revolution
    At the counter of a store
    People buy the things they want
    And borrow for a little more
    All those wasted years
    All those precious wasted years
    Who will pay?
    Do we have to be forgiving at last?
    What else can we do?
    Do we have to say goodbye to the past?
    Yes I guess we do
    All around this great big world
    All the crap we had to take
    Bombs and basement fallout shelters
    All our lives at stake
    The bloody revolution
    All the warheads in its wake
    All the fear and suffering
    All a big mistake
    All those wasted years
    All those precious wasted years
    Who will pay?


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