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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A celebration of old and new: The 2022 Prometheus Awards recognize Heinlein, McCarthy novels

The 2022 Prometheus Awards, to be presented Aug. 13 in an online ceremony, will honor “something old” and “something new.”

In a wedding of circumstance and happy coincidence, a first-time Prometheus-nominated author (the “something new” according to wedding custom) has been declared the winner in the Best Novel category, while the golden-age sf author most honored in the four-decade-plus history of this award is recognized anew.

Novelist Wil McCarthy (Photo courtesy of Baen Books)

Wil McCarthy, a prolific sf writer nominated for the first time for this award, has been selected by Libertarian Futurist Society members as winner of the Best Novel category for Rich Man’s Sky.

Meanwhile, the late great Robert Heinlein – a Prometheus favorite – will be recognized for his novel Citizen of the Galaxy, which will be inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction.

Robert Heinlein (Creative Commons license)

Heinlein (1907-1988), now an eight-time Prometheus Award winner, has won more Prometheus awards than any other writer, living or deceased.

Fittingly, Heinlein’s zestful spirit of adventure – championing scientific and social progress against tyranny and oppression and exploring libertarian possibilities of the future – is reflected in both of this year’s winners.

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