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.
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
A rock song, a linked collection of stories, a classic sf juvenile novel and the culmination of a trilogy of novels will be considered for induction into the Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction.
Four works have been selected as finalists for the 2022 award, to be determined by Libertarian Futurist Society members over the next half year.
Moreover, this year’s slate of finalists reflects a good deal of change and variety, compared to last year slate of finalists, with only one of those five finalists reappearing on this year’s ballot. In addition, one of this year’s finalists was nominated for the first time, while two others had not been nominated in quite a few years.
Here are this year’s finalists, in alphabetical order by author, along with their and their author’s history in the Prometheus Awards:
Here is F. Paul Wilson’s acceptance speech for winning the 2021 Prometheus Award for Best Classic Fiction (the Hall of Fame) for his short story “Lipidleggin'”, which he delivered Aug. 21, 2021, during the online ceremony for the 41st annual Prometheus Awards:
By F. Paul Wilson
Many thanks to the members of the Libertarian Futurist Society for this honor.
I’ll be brief. (“Lipidleggin’” is a short story, after all.)
Back in the 1970s, a national health care system was a major political topic. (Some things never change, do they?) So I asked the next question: If the State is paying for your health care, won’t the State demand a say in behaviors that it considers hazardous to your health? Like, oh, say, banning saturated fats?
So, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, I wrote this little cautionary tale about a day when foods with saturated fats – such as butter and eggs – would be banned by the government. I mean, I saw how it could happen, but never for a moment did I believe it would happen. Not in a free country like our good old U.S. of A.
Don’t forget to watch the free online 2021 Prometheus Awards ceremony and LFS-Reason panel Saturday.
This is a rare opportunity to watch one of the annual Prometheus Awards program live, via Zoom. (The free link is posted below.)
First up will be a relatively short awards ceremony, followed immediately by a panel discussion, with Reason magazine as the media sponsor and two Reason editors as panelists, on “SF, Liberty, Alternative Publishing Trends and the Prometheus Awards.”
To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as a pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian work, the Libertarian Futurist Society has been publishing since 2019 an Appreciation series of all past award-winners.
Here is an Appreciation for Poul Anderson’s story “Sam Hall,” the 2020 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.
In “Sam Hall,” published in 1953 in Astounding Science Fiction, Poul Anderson offers one of the earlier visions of a dystopian possibility based on the computers that had been invented only a few years before: a society with ubiquitous surveillance.
This is our age’s version of the panopticon described by Jeremy Bentham – one not confined to local sites such as prisons, but having an entire nation, or an entire planet, in its view. Anderson’s vision of computer technology is primitive, with a gigantic machine in a central government office that receives and stores information on punched cards. It has no hint of artificial intelligence, or of the ability to interpret voice or vision. But the job he sees it as doing is still the stuff of our nightmares.
To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing Appreciations of all past award-winners that make clear why each winner deserves recognition as pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian in theme.
Here’s an Appreciation of Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea’s Illuminatus! trilogy, a 1986 Prometheus Hall of Fame inductee for Best Classic Fiction.
An article at Vox.com helpfully explained that Walker is a fan of David Icke, and “Icke is best known for arguing that the world is run by a secret cabal of alien lizard people, many of whom are Jewish.”
Which brings me to Illuminatus!, and my attempt to explain a rather unusual literary work, one that won the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award in 1986, in a tie with Cyril Kornbluth’s The Syndic.