Artistic liberty, Internet freedom, downloading, State surveillance, copyright and government control: An Appreciation of Cory Doctorow’s Pirate Cinema, the 2013 Prometheus Award winner for Best Novel

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear what makes each winner deserve recognition as notable pro-freedom sf/fantasy, the Libertarian Futurist Society is presenting a series of weekly Appreciations of past award-winners.

Here’s the latest Appreciation for Cory Doctorow’s Pirate Cinema, the 2013 Prometheus Award winner for Best Novel, along with excerpts from Doctorow’s illuminating acceptance speech:

In Pirate Cinema, an optimistic young-adult novel, Cory Doctorow explores themes of artistic freedom, Internet freedom and peaceful social change – key issues for modern libertarians, especially the latter, since non-aggression is the fundamental axiom in libertarianism as a political and social philosophy affirming cooperation over coercion and voluntary private interactions over the force and enforcement entailed by the institutionalized violence of the unbridled State.

The story also sheds light on other libertarian issues of copyright and government surveillance in its focus on a young pirate filmmaker whose Internet activity threatens his family with government reprisals and who learns to fight back against outdated forms of control.

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Abuse of power, violence, liberty, gaming and virtual reality: An Appreciation of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, the 2012 Prometheus Award winner for Best Novel

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear what makes each winner deserve recognition as notable pro-freedom sf/fantasy, the Libertarian Futurist Society is presenting weekly Appreciations of past award-winners.

Here’s the latest Appreciation for Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, the other 2012 Prometheus Award winner for Best Novel:

By Chris Hibbert

Ready Player One
, Ernest Cline’s bestselling first novel, takes place mostly inside a virtual reality/MMORPG, though as usual with the recent spate of books in this genre, the action bleeds back and forth with physical reality.

The setting is pretty familiar: it’s 2044, and the economy has bifurcated into haves and have-nots, and most people seem to spend the bulk of their time in the OASIS.

James Halliday, the billionaire founder of the company that runs the OASIS has died, and has set up a contest inside the system that will determine who gets his company shares, his wealth, and control of the OASIS itself. It turns out Halliday was hugely into eighties trivia, and most of the story involves the main character, Parzival, and his on-line friends finding and devouring movie, music, video game, and science fiction trivia from that decade. If you’re not averse to geeking out on this stuff, it’s a fun romp.
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First contact, social contracts, slavery and freedom: An Appreciation of Ken MacLeod’s Learning the World, the 2006 Best Novel winner

To make clear why past winners deserve recognition as pro-freedom sf/fantasy and how they fit the Prometheus Award, Appreciations of past winners have been written and posted. Here’s the Appreciation for Ken MacLeod’s Learning the Worldthe 2006 Prometheus Best Novel winner:

MacLeod’s inventive first-contact novel explores the politics and uncertainties involved from two perspectives: the natives of the planet and the “alien” (human) visitors.

In some ways modeled on classic Heinlein juveniles and a departure from his other future-Earth-solar-system novels exploring the implications of libertarian and Marxist ideas, Learning the World offers as a primary viewpoint character a teen girl living on an interstellar colony ship about to enter a new solar system.

Continue reading First contact, social contracts, slavery and freedom: An Appreciation of Ken MacLeod’s Learning the World, the 2006 Best Novel winner