Hall of Fame finalist review: “The Trees,” a fantasy-themed rock song by Rush, resonates as cautionary tale

By Michael Grossberg

Even though they’re eligible for nomination, no songs have ever been inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame.

Neal Peart, Rush drummer and songwriter of “The Trees.” Credit: Creative Commons

I can’t imagine a good song more deserving of that honor, and that fits the distinctive focus of the Prometheus Awards better, than “The Trees,” a 1978 song by the Canadian rock group Rush.

Continue reading Hall of Fame finalist review: “The Trees,” a fantasy-themed rock song by Rush, resonates as cautionary tale

Columnist Ed West on Eugene Zamyatin, author of the first classic dystopian novel of the 20th century

By Michael Grossberg

When it comes to the birth and development of dystopian literature, Russian dissident writer Eugene (Yevgeny) Zamyatin may have the dubious distinction of being one of the most overlooked novelists of that disturbingly timely and emerging 20th-century genre.

Zamyatin’s We was the first dystopian novel of the 20th century, helping to pave the way for others, most notably George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four and Ayn Rand’s similarly-themed Anthem.

Yet, sadly, references to Zamyatin are rare in today’s culture, media and magazines.

So it’s nice to see an insightful column that not only mentions Zamyatin but offers revealing commentary about his fiction and places him within the historical and literary context of Russia in the early 1900s.

Continue reading Columnist Ed West on Eugene Zamyatin, author of the first classic dystopian novel of the 20th century

Author’s update: HarperCollins has published Mania, two-time Best Novel finalist Lionel Shriver’s alternate-history novel critiquing radical egalitarianism

By Michael Grossberg

Maverick bestselling novelist Lionel Shriver is at it again, skewering popular shibboleths of elite culture and critiquing false ideologies through her imaginative and insightful fiction.

Author Lionel Shriver in 2006 Photo: Walnut Whippet, Creative Commons license

Shriver, recognized twice over the past decade as a Prometheus Best Novel finalist, has written Mania, a new 286-page alternate-history novel published April 9 by HarperCollins Publishers.

The publisher’s description highlights a theme that seems promising from the perspective of the Prometheus Awards:

“With echoes of Philip Roth’s The Human Stain, told in Lionel Shriver’s inimitable and iconoclastic voice, Mania is a sharp, acerbic, and ruthlessly funny book about the road to a delusional, self-destructive egalitarianism that our society is already on.”

Continue reading Author’s update: HarperCollins has published Mania, two-time Best Novel finalist Lionel Shriver’s alternate-history novel critiquing radical egalitarianism

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?

God bless you, Mr. Vonnegut – and happy 100th birthday!

By Michael Grossberg

The alien Tralfamadorians surely won’t be the only sentient beings celebrating the 100th anniversary Nov. 11, 2022, of Kurt Vonnegut’s birth.

Kurt Vonnegut in 1972 (Creative Commons license)

Anyone who appreciates a blend of humor with social commentary in novels and stories that often incorporate science fiction should celebrate the memory of one of the most influential and popular American writers and novelists of the 20th century.

Continue reading God bless you, Mr. Vonnegut – and happy 100th birthday!

Liberty vs. equality: International magazine highlights timeless warnings of “Harrison Bergeron,” Vonnegut’s Prometheus-winning fable

By Michael Grossberg

Some Prometheus-winning fiction imagines a better, freer future for humanity, one that libertarian futurists yearn to see come true in some form.

Other Prometheus-winning fiction is more dystopian, offering cautionary warnings about totalitarian tendencies that their authors portray with hopes of preventing them from materializing.

“Harrison Bergeron,” Kurt Vonnegut’s now-classic 1961 short story, which falls into the latter category, satirically but seriously extrapolates the coercive, absurd and even monstrously inhuman possibilities of radical egalitarianism taken to extremes.

Read the Prometheus Blog Appreciation to appreciate why Vonnegut’s story deserved to be recognized by the Libertarian Futurist Society as the 2019 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner.

Overall and at least in theory, it’s a good thing to see outstanding fiction continue to resonate within the broader American and world culture – especially when it’s pro-liberty or anti-authoritarian sf/fantasy and has been recognized through the Prometheus awards.

Unfortunately, “Harrison Bergeron” is becoming all too timely.

Continue reading Liberty vs. equality: International magazine highlights timeless warnings of “Harrison Bergeron,” Vonnegut’s Prometheus-winning fable

Egalitarianism taken to coercive extremes in attacks on excellence: Kurt Vonnegut’s story “Harrison Bergeron,” the 2019 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as anti-authoritarian or pro-freedom, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of all past award-winners.

Here is an Appreciation for Kurt Vonnegut’s story “Harrison Bergeron,” the 2019 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

By Michael Grossberg
The government’s Handicapper General enforces new constitutional amendments mandating that no one can be stupider, uglier, weaker, slower – or in any way better – than anyone else.

To enforce this authoritarian and radical egalitarian edict, perfectly capable people are forced to accept and wear various disabling devices that handicap their capabilities and basic humanity.

Leave it to the great American novelist Kurt Vonnegut Jr. to come up with such a classic cautionary fable about a dystopian future in the United States in which coercive egalitarianism – a close cousin of progressivism – is taken to such radical and inhuman extremes in a perverse authoritarian revolt against personal excellence.

Continue reading Egalitarianism taken to coercive extremes in attacks on excellence: Kurt Vonnegut’s story “Harrison Bergeron,” the 2019 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

A dystopian landmark & cautionary tale about the Russian Revolution’s murderous consequences: Yevgeny Zamyatin’s pioneering We, the 1994 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

To celebrate 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 our recognition as pro-freedom.
Here is our Appreciation for Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, the 1994 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

By Michael Grossberg

We 
imagines a world of repressive conformity and stagnant stasis within a totalitarian State.

With his landmark novel Russian writer Yevgeny Zamyatin bravely pioneered and imagined what later came to be known as dystopian literature.

For better and worse, that dark and cautionary new genre was inspired by the millions of innocent people whose lives were destroyed by the Russian Revolution under Lenin’s communism. The genre took on even more moral weight after the world witnessed the horrors of all the other statist-collectivist variants (from socialism to national socialism and fascism) whose authoritarian excesses and violent extremes of dictatorship, war, famine, poverty and social collapse so brutally marked and disfigured the 20thcentury.

We, written in 1920-1921 by the Russian writer and first published in English translation in 1924 in New York, was so critical of collectivist authoritarianism that it wasn’t published in the Soviet Union until 1988, when the era of glasnost led to its first appearance with George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. A year later, the two dystopian novels were published together in a combined edition.

Continue reading A dystopian landmark & cautionary tale about the Russian Revolution’s murderous consequences: Yevgeny Zamyatin’s pioneering We, the 1994 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

Interview (part 2): William Stoddard on the challenges, rewards and future of the Prometheus Hall of Fame

“I think a full understanding of justice also has to include honoring and rewarding worthy acts and accomplishments. ” – William H. Stoddard

Here is part 2 of the Prometheus Blog interview with LFS President William H. Stoddard.

Editor-writer William H. Stoddard in his library, with his GURPS book on Fantasy, published in 2004 (Photo courtesy of Stoddard)

This part of the interview focuses on the Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction, which Stoddard has been closely involved with for two decades.

As chair of the Hall of Fame finalist judging committee, Stoddard leads a group of LFS members who read, discuss and rank the annual nominees to select a slate of typically five finalists for the entire LFS membership to rank and vote on. The winner is inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame, established in 1983.

 

Continue reading Interview (part 2): William Stoddard on the challenges, rewards and future of the Prometheus Hall of Fame

Videos: The 2019 Prometheus Award ceremony at the Worldcon in Dublin

The Prometheus Award this year went to Causes of Separation by Travis Corcoran, while the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award was won by “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

The awards were presented at the 77th World Science Fiction Convention, held in Dublin, Ireland, August 15-19 2019, by two members of the Libertarian Futurist Society, Fred Moulton and John Christmas.
If you didn’t make it to the Worldcon, you can watch our (three) videos to witness the event.
Continue reading Videos: The 2019 Prometheus Award ceremony at the Worldcon in Dublin