The Best of the Blog: Three 2023 posts worth remembering (and rereading)

By Michael Grossberg

Although 2023 has ended, it’s interesting and illuminating to look back at the highlights of the past year – and perhaps read an article that you may have overlooked. For the Prometheus Blog, there were quite a few memorable posts.

Robert Heinlein (Photo courtesy of the Heinlein Trust)

Among my personal favorites:

* author Karl Gallagher’s tribute to Robert Heinlein and appreciation for his 2023 Hall of Fame winner, “Free Men.”

* William H. Stoddard’s illuminating essay on “Economics in Science Fiction” (along with a critique of the common “overproduction” myth), and

* a commentary on one of the most unheralded firsts of the year: basically, the first libertarian-individualist-themed sci-fi film to ever win the Oscar for best picture.

Continue reading The Best of the Blog: Three 2023 posts worth remembering (and rereading)

Economics in Science Fiction: The Specter of Overproduction (from Pohl and Huxley to Heinlein)

By William H. Stoddard

Science fiction has mainly been based on the natural sciences, from astronomy to biology; economics and the other social sciences come on stage less often.

Certainly, social science fiction was one of Isaac Asimov’s three categories of science fiction (along with gadget stories and adventure stories—as TV Tropes puts it, “Man invents car” can be followed by “lectures on how it works,” “gets into car chase,” or “gets stuck in traffic”).

But the premise for social science fiction was commonly a discovery or invention in the natural sciences, whose social and economic consequences are explored. It’s not so common for science fiction to be inspired by an economic theory.

Nonetheless, some theories have been the basis for science fiction stories. Economic issues are a major concern for libertarians; how science fiction deals with such issues is worth exploring.

Continue reading Economics in Science Fiction: The Specter of Overproduction (from Pohl and Huxley to Heinlein)

Orwell’s 1984 vs Huxley’s Brave New World: Which fictional dystopia seems more timely today?

Who had the more prophetic and realistic vision of a dystopian future?

George Orwell? Or Aldous Huxley?

Orwell, most famous for Nineteen Eighty-Four (one of the earliest works inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame), was inspired by Stalinist communism in imagining his “hard tyranny” of brute dictatorship.


Huxley, best known for Brave New World, worried that a softer tyranny would ultimately prevail, one more insidious partly because it was more enveloping of both politics and culture and more seductive via a future of mindless pleasures.

Writing for the Institute for Art and Ideas, a British philosophical organization founded in 2008, British university instructor Emrah Atasoy compares Orwell and Huxley’s different dystopian visions in an informed and provocative essay: “Orwell, Huxley and the path to truth: How fiction can help us to understand reality.”

Continue reading Orwell’s 1984 vs Huxley’s Brave New World: Which fictional dystopia seems more timely today?

Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, Orwell’s 1984 listed with other literary classics on international blog listing best “Books to Understand the World”

Many “bests” lists or ranked-reading lists tend to be matters of opinion, even if objective merit remains a meaningful standard of rational evaluation. Yet isn’t it interesting to compare favorite books and novels and discover that some our favorites also rank high on other lists?

For those libertarian sci-fi/fantasy fans who have the curiosity and time to look beyond our own Prometheus Awards track record of 100 past winners in all categories, an online list compiled of “Books to understand the world” makes for interesting reading….

…Especially because two of the most notable Prometheus Award winners are prominently featured on the list.

Continue reading Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, Orwell’s 1984 listed with other literary classics on international blog listing best “Books to Understand the World”

Science fiction’s prophetic dystopias: Niall Ferguson Spectator essay sheds light on Prometheus winners Bradbury, Orwell, Stephenson and Zamyatin while drawing timely comparisons to Huxley

How can science fiction be used to explore and perhaps take steps to prevent the darker possibilities of the future?

Writer-historian Niall Ferguson examines the benefits and prophetic classics of science fiction in an intriguing essay in The Spectator magazine.

Several Prometheus-winning authors – including Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451), Sinclair Lewis (It Can’t Happen Here), George Orwell (Nineteen Eighty-Four), Neal Stephenson (The System of the World, Snow Crash) and Yevgeny Zamyatin (We) – are discussed with intriguing and incisive commentary in Ferguson’s recent article, “How Science Fiction Novels Read the Future.”

Continue reading Science fiction’s prophetic dystopias: Niall Ferguson Spectator essay sheds light on Prometheus winners Bradbury, Orwell, Stephenson and Zamyatin while drawing timely comparisons to Huxley

A dystopian landmark & cautionary tale about the murderous fruits of the Russian Revolution: Yevgeny Zamyatin’s pioneering We, the 1994 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

To celebrate the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing Appreciations of all past award-winners, that make clear why each winner deserves our recognition as pro-freedom.
Here is an Appreciation for Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, the 1994 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

By Michael Grossberg
We imagines a world of repressive conformity and stagnant stasis within a totalitarian State.

With his landmark novel Russian writer Yevgeny Zamyatin bravely pioneered and imagined what later came to be known as dystopian literature.

For better and worse, that dark and cautionary new genre was inspired by the millions of innocent people whose lives were destroyed by the Russian Revolution under Lenin’s communism. The genre took on even more moral weight after the world witnessed the horrors of all the other statist-collectivist variants (from socialism to national socialism and fascism) whose authoritarian excesses and violent extremes of dictatorship, war, famine, poverty and social collapse so brutally marked and disfigured the 20thcentury.

We, written in 1920-1921 by the Russian writer and first published in English translation in 1924 in New York, was so critical of collectivist authoritarianism that it wasn’t published in the Soviet Union until 1988, when the era of glasnost led to its first appearance with George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. A year later, the two dystopian novels were published together in a combined edition.

Continue reading A dystopian landmark & cautionary tale about the murderous fruits of the Russian Revolution: Yevgeny Zamyatin’s pioneering We, the 1994 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner