Real-world entrepreneurship advancing humanity across our solar system: An Appreciation of Wil McCarthy’s Rich Man’s Sky, the 2022 Prometheus Best Novel winner

By Michael Grossberg

Rich Man’s Sky, the 2022 Prometheus winner for Best Novel, brims with the excitement, adventure, uncertainties and anxieties of real-world entrepreneurship.

Wil McCarthy’s kaleidoscopic novel, which thrillingly ventures beyond our Earth to chart the exploration, colonization and industrialization of our solar system, realistically and insightfully portrays the inevitably messy and risky progress of free men and women pursuing various goals through the cooperation of free markets.

Yet, the 291-page Baen Books novel – which launches a projected trilogy – also perceptively contrasts markets, warts and all, with the grimier and darker realities of politics – which unlike the voluntary transactions of the marketplace, unavoidably involves various forms and degrees of coercion, outright violence or the threat of violence and thus leads to some benefiting unjustly at the expense of others.

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Rich Man’s Sky: Wil McCarthy’s Best Novel finalist imagines billionaire-led quest for private solar-system development

Introduction: This is the final review in a series that the Prometheus blog has been publishing this spring and summer to highlight the 2022 Best Novel finalists.

This review of Wil McCarthy’s Rich Man’s Sky follows previously posted reviews of the other four finalists: Lionel Shriver’s Should We Stay Or Should We GoKazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun and Karl K. Gallagher’s Between Home and Ruin and Seize What’s Held Dear.

By Michael Grossberg

Venturing beyond the Earth to explore, colonize and industrialize our solar system has been a dream of humanity – and that dream is beginning to materialize.

Four billionaires play key roles in striving to bring such dreams to life in Rich Man’s Sky (Baen Books, 291 pages), a 2022 Best Novel finalist by Wil McCarthy.

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Free trade, entrepreneurship and a swashbuckling merchant-hero: Poul Anderson’s Trader to the Stars, a 1985 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of all past award-winners that makes clear why each winner deserves recognition as notable pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian in theme. Here is an Appreciation of Poul Anderson’s Trader to the Stars, a 1985 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

By Michael Grossberg
    Trader to the Stars, part of Anderson’s interstellar and libertarian-themed Future History series written over four decades, offers three loosely interconnected and longer stories about the free-trade-oriented Polesotechnic League operating during a Terran Empire.

Blending adventure, mystery and sf with some swashbuckling heroism and vivid descriptions often evoking Norse sagas, this 1964 book centers on Nicholas van Rijn, a resourceful and clever Danish merchant-hero (Anderson was Danish-American).

Anderson, always a realist about humanity with a sensibility of a melancholy romantic, portrays both humans and aliens as self-interested, striving to make a buck and satisfy their various needs amid an imperfect world of struggling and flawed peoples – in short, a future just like today.

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Reason, voluntary private cooperation and entrepreneurship versus politics, irrationality and power-lust in facing apocalypse and extinction: An Appreciation of Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves, the 2016 Prometheus for Best Novel

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear why each winner deserves 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 Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves, the 2016 Best Novel winner:

By Michael Grossberg
Seveneves, an epic hard-science-fiction novel, focuses on a cataclysmic event that threatens human civilization and the planet Earth, and its long aftermath.

Neal Stephenson’s sprawling 2015 novel avoids ideology while dramatizing how a lust for power almost wipes out our species.

More impressively and much less common in such fiction these days, Stephenson also shows how the courage to face reality and tackle overwhelming problems through reason, individual initiative and the voluntary cooperation of private enterprise help tip the balance towards survival.

Especially inspiring, for advocates of reason and liberty, are Stephenson’s portrayals of the heroic efforts against terrific odds by a small group — including some of Earth’s bravest and richest entrepreneurs — who spend their fortunes and risk their lives to save humanity from extinction.
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Review: Arkwright by Allen Steele

Arkwright, by Allen Steele (TOR Books, March 2016)

By Michael Grossberg
Science-fiction writers and fans have imagined the spread of humanity to the stars for generations.
Allan Steele hasn’t given up the dream.

In Arkwright, Steele sketches out a generations-long saga in an effort to dramatize how we plausibly can get there – even if we can’t overcome or get around such implacable limitations as the speed of light, a major stumbling block to interstellar travel given the vast distances between solar systems in this spiral arm of our Milky Way galaxy.

A heartfelt valentine to the golden age of science fiction, which embodied an optimistic view of human progress and technology fueled by a stlll-potent Jeffersonian liberalism (i.e., libertarianism) that has since sadly faded, the novel is especially flattering to SF fans because of its focus on a popular science fiction writer whose financial success and legacy sparks a long-term plan to reach the stars.

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