Review: Queen Wallis an inventive, suspenseful sequel to the dystopian alternate history of Carey’s Widowland

By Michael Grossberg

Sequels can be tricky and often disappointing, falling short of the originals in potentially all sorts of ways.

So it’s nice to report that C.J. Carey’s Queen Wallis (published by Sourcebooks in the U.S. and Quercus in the U.K.) is a worthy sequel that in several ways improves on Widowlandher 2023 Prometheus Best Novel finalist.

Overall, this feminist dystopian novel is one of the most enjoyable works of alternate history I’ve read in years.

Continue reading Review: Queen Wallis an inventive, suspenseful sequel to the dystopian alternate history of Carey’s Widowland

Review: Sandra Newman’s Julia a worthy companion to Orwell’s 1984

By Michael Grossberg

George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four remains one of the seminal novels of the past century.

An early inductee (appropriately enough, in 1984) into the Prometheus Hall of Fame, Orwell’s cautionary tale was inspired by the totalitarian horrors of Soviet Communism, yet remains a far broader warning about the perils of tyranny, no matter its variants and extremes of Left or Right.

Given the acclaim and reputation that Orwell’s classic has attained and deserves, it would seem foolhardy for anyone to dare to write a sequel. After all, how could it possibly measure up?

Yet, Orwell’s estate authorized novelist Sandra Newman to do just that with Julia – or more precisely, offer “a retelling of George Orwell’s 1984” (as subtitled on its hardback-book cover.)

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British Science Fiction Association Awards’ 2023 long list includes several Prometheus-nominated authors

Prometheus-winning author Charles Stross and Prometheus-finalists Martha Wells and John Scalzi are on the BSFA list.

So is Sandra Newman, author of Julia, the acclaimed sequel to Orwell’s 1984 that’s recently been nominated along with a dozen other 2023 novels for the next Prometheus Award for Best Novel.

What list are they on? It’s the fascinating and far-flung long list of nominees for the BSFA Awards, recently announced for works published in 2023.

Sponsored by the British Science Fiction Association, the BSFA awards have been presented annually since 1970 – and can be a harbinger of the Hugos, the Nebulas and other major sf/fantasy awards.

The BSFA awards also overlap to some extent with the Prometheus Awards over the decades, recognizing several of our favorite writers.

Continue reading British Science Fiction Association Awards’ 2023 long list includes several Prometheus-nominated authors

“The Emperor’s New Clothes” – Andersen’s fable remains a useful metaphor and illustrative lesson for today

By Michael Grossberg

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.”

Continue reading “The Emperor’s New Clothes” – Andersen’s fable remains a useful metaphor and illustrative lesson for today

From Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four to Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes, today’s discourse often evokes Prometheus-winning classics

By Michael Grossberg

You can’t get away from it these days, for good or ill.

Just about anywhere you look, from mainstream newspapers and magazines to Substack blogs and social-media references, writers, columnists and commentators frequently are referencing classic novels, stories and fables to forge timely metaphors about today’s trends.

George Orwell (Creative Commons license)

All too many prove to be cautionary warnings about the importance of telling the truth, in the midst of so many public falsehoods… and draw upon some of the most enduring Prometheus-winning works of fiction, from George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four to Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”

Continue reading From Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four to Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes, today’s discourse often evokes Prometheus-winning classics

Making ‘em laugh: Which Hall of Fame winners best incorporate comedy?

By Michael Grossberg

Everyone has their favorites among the fiction works that have won the Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction.

And by everyone, I mean virtually everyone – since at least some of the 46 winning works are enjoyed by libertarians and non-libertarians alike, and by both science fiction/fantasy fans and those who don’t often read that genre.

But how many rank the comedies that high?

Continue reading Making ‘em laugh: Which Hall of Fame winners best incorporate comedy?

Orwell’s 1984 vs Huxley’s Brave New World: Which fictional dystopia seems more timely today?

Who had the more prophetic and realistic vision of a dystopian future?

George Orwell? Or Aldous Huxley?

Orwell, most famous for Nineteen Eighty-Four (one of the earliest works inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame), was inspired by Stalinist communism in imagining his “hard tyranny” of brute dictatorship.


Huxley, best known for Brave New World, worried that a softer tyranny would ultimately prevail, one more insidious partly because it was more enveloping of both politics and culture and more seductive via a future of mindless pleasures.

Writing for the Institute for Art and Ideas, a British philosophical organization founded in 2008, British university instructor Emrah Atasoy compares Orwell and Huxley’s different dystopian visions in an informed and provocative essay: “Orwell, Huxley and the path to truth: How fiction can help us to understand reality.”

Continue reading Orwell’s 1984 vs Huxley’s Brave New World: Which fictional dystopia seems more timely today?

Cultivating virtue, respecting liberty & remembering history: Author J. Daniel Sawyer on the “new censorship” and bowdlerization of Roald Dahl and James Bond

By Michael Grossberg

Censorship, suppression of literature and “bowdlerization” of our culture has a long, harmful and shameful history – and is anathema to libertarians, who favor full freedom of expression and artistic liberty.

The Prometheus blog has posted several articles recently about the disturbing recent spate of efforts to suppress or change the original wording and author’s intent of Roald Dahl in his children’s fantasy classics.

Similar suppression sadly has been reported about efforts to shove down the Orwellian memory hole some wording in the original editions of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels.

It’s even extended to the Goosebumps children’s horror-comedy series, many books of which were changed by the publisher without the knowledge or consent of the series’ still-living author R.L. Stine.

This is a troubling time for libertarians, classical liberals and all lovers of liberty and art – which is why it’s important to seek out, read and digest the best insights about the roots of this anti-authoritarian trend and how we might strive to better support both liberty and literature that reflects the intent of its creators.

Perhaps the most illuminating, historically aware and wisest commentary I’ve come across about this disturbing modern recurrence of bowdlerization was written recently by J. Daniel Sawyer as a guest post on the Substack blog of Holly Math Nerd.

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Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, Orwell’s 1984 listed with other literary classics on international blog listing best “Books to Understand the World”

Many “bests” lists or ranked-reading lists tend to be matters of opinion, even if objective merit remains a meaningful standard of rational evaluation. Yet isn’t it interesting to compare favorite books and novels and discover that some our favorites also rank high on other lists?

For those libertarian sci-fi/fantasy fans who have the curiosity and time to look beyond our own Prometheus Awards track record of 100 past winners in all categories, an online list compiled of “Books to understand the world” makes for interesting reading….

…Especially because two of the most notable Prometheus Award winners are prominently featured on the list.

Continue reading Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, Orwell’s 1984 listed with other literary classics on international blog listing best “Books to Understand the World”

The John Christmas interview, part 3: Good guys, bad guys, Cold War politics, fiction writing and how Putin has delayed his next novel

KGB Banker, a contemporary financial-political thriller co-written by author and LFS Best Novel finalist judge John Christmas, has recently been recognized by the Best Thrillers website as the “Best Conspiracy Thriller of 2022.”
Meanwhile, Christmas’ first novel was Democracy Society, a futuristic and satiric libertarian novel about fighting corrupt government.

John Christmas (Photo courtesy of author)

In the third and final part of his Prometheus Blog interview, Christmas discusses literary styles, Cold War politics, what kind of “good guys” and “bad guys” he likes to create as characters, why he became a novelist and what he plans to write next.
Continue reading The John Christmas interview, part 3: Good guys, bad guys, Cold War politics, fiction writing and how Putin has delayed his next novel