Self-discovery, crime, law, anarchy, the social compact and social sf: Robert Heinlein’s Coventry, the 2017 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

As part of the Libertarian Futurist Society’s Appreciation series celebrating the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history by publishing review-essays of past award-winners that make clear why each deserves recognition as a pro-freedom work, here’s an appreciation for Robert Heinlein’s story “Coventry,” the 2017 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

By Michael Grossberg and Jesse Markowitz

What is the ideal society? Is utopia even possible?

How close has the United States come to an ideal society, even with the inevitable flaws that beset every country and culture?

These are among the perennial questions explored and dramatized in Robert Heinlein’s classic story Coventry.

Related questions also emerge: How do you build a utopia and who do you build it for? Is it possible, fair and just to build a utopian alternative for some, but not for others?

Continue reading Self-discovery, crime, law, anarchy, the social compact and social sf: Robert Heinlein’s Coventry, the 2017 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

Civil disobedience challenging repressive authority: Harlan Ellison’s subversive and satirical story “Repent Harlequin!’, Said the Ticktockman,” the 2015 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade-plus history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as a pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian work, the Libertarian Futurist Society has been publishing since 2019 a series of Appreciations of past award-winners.

Here is an Appreciation of Harlan Ellison’s “Repent Harlequin!’, Said the Ticktockman,” the 2015 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

By Michael Grossberg

The ticking of a clock and a tight schedule controls the future world in “Repent Harlequin!’, Said the Ticktockman,” one of Harlan Ellison’s best and most iconic stories.

The satirical and dystopian tale, which opens with quotes from Henry David Thoreau’s classic work on Civil Disobedience, lampoons the excesses and absurdities of regimentation.

Continue reading Civil disobedience challenging repressive authority: Harlan Ellison’s subversive and satirical story “Repent Harlequin!’, Said the Ticktockman,” the 2015 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

Identity, anarchy, robots with rights and space colonization: An Appreciation of Ken MacLeod’s The Stone Canal, the 1998 Prometheus Best Novel winner

To make clear why past winners deserve recognition as pro-freedom or anti-authoritarian sf/fantasy and how each fits our award, we’ve published review-essays of all past Prometheus Award-winners. Here’s the latest Appreciation for Ken MacLeod’s The Stone Canal, the 1998 Best Novel winner:

By Michael Grossberg

Ken MacLeod’s The Stone Canal ranges widely in its exploration of different political systems on different planets in a future marked by wars, revolutions, space colonization and a cyberworld in which people’s memories and personalities can be downloaded or uploading to clones on demand.

Among the many exciting ideas that MacLeod explores in his ambitious 1997 novel – Book 2 in his Fall Revolution series, but set earlier than The Cassini Division – are several of special interest to libertarian sf fans – including his complex and ambiguous depiction of capitalist anarchy on Earth, how free markets might develop on a terraformed planet in another solar system and the possibility of independent robots with individual rights.

The settings are far-flung, too, from 20th century Scotland to a 21st century extra-solar planet called New Mars with a free market. It’s a  future of longer life-spans but also new kinds of death.

Continue reading Identity, anarchy, robots with rights and space colonization: An Appreciation of Ken MacLeod’s The Stone Canal, the 1998 Prometheus Best Novel winner