One of the best choices that LFS members have made in voting annually in the Best Classic Fiction category, in my opinion, was the decision to induct “The Emperor’s New Clothes” in 2000 into the Prometheus Hall of Fame.
Hans Christian Andersen’s timeless anti-authoritarian parable isn’t merely a fable for children but a cautionary tale for everyone about the presumptions and illusions of power — not to mention the dangers of sheep-like conformity…. lessons that still apply today. (Perhaps especially today.)
Possibly because the Danish author’s 1837 story is often grouped somewhat diminutively with Anderson’s other stories as mere “children’s” literature or perhaps for other reasons, “The Emperor’s New Clothes” often seems to be overlooked or dismissed by contemporary columnists and bloggers as a still-resonant metaphor for the blind spots and knee-jerk tribalism of our increasingly conformist, censorious, culture-cancelling and fearful era.
So it’s a pleasure to come across a relatively rare reference to Andersen’s classic among today’s vast social commentary – moreover, not just a brief reference, but a full column from a regular Substack writer who makes the story central to his insightful and timely themes.
The column is even titled in honor of the fable: “The Emperor’s New Art.”
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.
With the annual Sept. 30 deadline coming up soon for LFS members to nominate works for the Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction, this is a good time to remind ourselves what makes this annual category special.
LFS President William H. Stoddard did just that when he presented the Prometheus Hall of Fame category for Best Classic Fiction at the recent 43rd annual Prometheus awards ceremony. Here are Stoddard’s remarks:
Unlike the Best Novel Award, the Prometheus Hall of Fame can be given to works in any narrative or dramatic form — short fiction, narrative verse, plays, movies, television and video episodes or series, graphic novels, songs, and so on.
It’s restricted to works that first appeared at least twenty years ago.
A great many of our award winners are older than that, often dating to before the LFS was founded.
With less than two weeks left until the Sept. 30 nominating deadline, Libertarian Futurist Society members have nominated ten works for the next Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction.
Among the Hall of Fame nominees so far this year: six novels, two stories, a film and a song. That includes novels by Poul Anderson, Cecilia Holland, C.S. Lewis, Terry Pratchett and E.C. Tubb; both a novel and a story by Harry Turtledove; a story by R.A. Lafferty; a song by the Canadian art-rock group Rush; and, for the first time, a feature film written and directed by and starring Woody Allen.
Such varied forms of art and fiction reflects the broad scope of the Hall of Fame – an annual Prometheus Awards category that incorporates stories, novellas, novels, graphic novels, songs, albums, musicals, operas, plays, poems, films, TV episodes/series, anthologies or trilogies.
Read on to see the current list of nominees so far and how to nominate works (if you’re an LFS member) or submit works for consideration by members (if you’re an author, publisher or non-member).
John Tilden, president of The Heinlein Society, spoke Aug. 19 during the 2023 Prometheus Awards ceremony to accept the Prometheus Hall of Fame award for Best Classic Fiction for Robert Heinlein’s short story “Free Men.”
Tilden spoke eloquently about Heinlein’s legacy in general and about the setting and themes of his winning story in particular, while shedding some fascinating light on its provenance and place in Heinlein’s Future History series.
For the record, here is a transcript of Tilden’s speech:
BY JOHN TILDEN
It is my pleasure to provide a few remarks on this occasion of Robert Heinlein’s short story “Free Men” being inducted into the Prometheus Award’s Hall of Fame. I add my thanks to the Libertarian Futurist Society for this honor.
An intercontinental friendship between two prolific science-fiction writers will add an extra measure of celebrity to the 43rd annual Prometheus Awards ceremony.
Sarah Hoyt, who won the Prometheus Award for Best Novel in 2011 for Darkship Thieves, will present the Best Novel category to Dave Freer during the live-Zoom ceremony, now scheduled for 2-2:30 p.m. Saturday Aug. 19 (Eastern U.S. time).
Before 2022 ends, it’s worth noting that the Prometheus Awards reached a pretty big milestone this year.
It involves a nice round number, too: 100 – the total number of works recognized by the Prometheus Awards in all three categories since the award was established more than four decades ago.
From 1979, when the very first Prometheus Award was presented to F. Paul Wilson’s novel Wheels Within Wheels, through 2022, 90 works of fiction have been recognized in the Libertarian Futurist Society’s two annual categories for Best Novel and Best Classic Fiction.
That includes 44 novels that have won a Prometheus for Best Novel, including this year’s newest winner: Rich Man’s Sky by Wil McCarthy.
And it includes 46 works – novels, novellas, stories, a graphic novel, an anthology and a TV series – that have been inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction.
Plus, 10 works have received Special Prometheus Awards – including three libertarian sf anthologies, two films, two graphic novels, a novella, a filk song and (most recently in 2017) a webcomic series.
If sci-fi fans or anyone else ever wants to know why the Libertarian Futurist Society presented a Prometheus Award to any work of fiction, and how that work reflects libertarian, classical liberal and anti-authoritarian themes, they now have an easy, quick and enjoyable way to find out.
Just visit the LFS website’s Prometheus Awards page, scroll down to any particular past winner of interest – for Best Novel, Best Classic Fiction or Special Awards – and click on the “Appreciation” link added next to its title.
To highlight and honor the four-decade history of the Prometheus Awards, which the Libertarian Futurist Society celebrated in 2019, LFS members began writing review-essays about each past winner that summer.
Most years tend to see at least some continuity in the annual Prometheus Hall of Fame , since any eligible work can be renominated if it doesn’t win.
Since 1983, when the first classic works were inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame, it’s become common for works to be nominated repeatedly, often with returning nominees dominating the list of selected finalists.
Not this year, notable for several fresh contenders.
LFS members have nominated eight works for the next Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction.
Among them are one song, a novelette, a collection of linked short stories, two short stories and three novels – reflecting the many forms of fiction that are eligible for consideration in this Prometheus category.
With the nominations deadline having passed in September, here is the final list of this year’s nominees:
* The End of Eternity, a 1955 novel by Isaac Asimov
* “Free Men,” a 1966 novelette by Robert Heinlein
* “Primary Education of the Camiroi,” a 1966 short story by R.A. Lafferty * That Hideous Strength, a 1945 novel by C.S. Lewis
* Circus World, a 1981 collection of linked stories by Barry B. Longyear
* “The Trees,” a 1978 song by Neal Peart and Rush * The Truth, a 2000 novel by Terry Pratchett
* “Or Give Me Death,” a 1955 short story by Donald Westlake