Hall of Fame finalist review: Poul Anderson’s Orion Shall Rise offers masterful social-scientific world-building in clash of cultures (including a libertarian society)

By William H. Stoddard

One of the things Poul Anderson was known for throughout his literary career was world-building. Much of this was planetary design, based on the natural sciences, in which he started out with stellar type, planetary mass, orbital radius, and elemental abundances and worked out the geology, meteorology, and biology of a world.

Anderson was certainly one of the masters of this, up there with Hal Clement and Vernor Vinge. But he put equal effort into social scientific worldbuilding, creating economies, polities, and cultures, and developing plots for his stories from the conflicts they gave rise to.

Orion Shall Rise, a 2024 Prometheus Hall of Fame finalist for Best Classic Fiction, is a nearly pure example of social scientific world-building, set not in a distant solar system but on a future Earth.

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Enduring quotes from more classic Prometheus Award acceptance speeches (since 2000)

 

“When we started our writing career we never dreamt of winning the Prometheus Award. … Of all the awards in Science Fiction, … The Prometheus Award, above all others, became the one we truly wanted. [because] liberty must be championed and valued — of the myriad awards out there, only the Prometheus recognizes this essential fact. And the authors we respect the most have all won it.”

Eytan and Dani Kollin in 2010 (Creative Commons license)

– Eytan and Dani Kollin, co-authors of The Unincorporated Man, the 2010 Prometheus Awardwinner for Best Novel, from their Prometheus acceptance speech

By Chris Hibbert

Following up on a recent Prometheus blog post, here are more classic Prometheus Award acceptance speeches to savor.

These speeches, all since 2000, offer insightful quotes that still resonate today.

Continue reading Enduring quotes from more classic Prometheus Award acceptance speeches (since 2000)

Lord of the Rings: Economist uses Prometheus Hall of Fame classic to expose false complaints about capitalism – and about Tolkien’s underappreciated Eagles

Why didn’t the Eagles fly the ring to Mount Doom in The Lord of the Rings?

Even if you haven’t heard fans argue over the alleged “eagle plot hole” in J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic Prometheus-winning trilogy, you should find economist Bryan Caplan’s recent blog post illuminating – as well as Ilya Somin’s Reason posting about it.

An economics professor at George Mason University and a New York Times bestselling author, Caplan finds many parallels – and similar flaws – between such fan criticisms of Tolkien’s classic fantasy trilogy and socialist criticisms of free markets.

Thanks to Reason magazine, which published constitutional lawyer Ilya Somin’s column highlighting Caplan’s intriguing arguments (and some of his own) on Reason’s Volokh Conspiracy legal blog.

Continue reading Lord of the Rings: Economist uses Prometheus Hall of Fame classic to expose false complaints about capitalism – and about Tolkien’s underappreciated Eagles

Remembering Tolkien – and his cautionary theme about the lure of power – as Rings of Power series debuts opposite House of Dragons

“Power tends to corrupt; and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Lord Acton    (1834-1902)

“One Ring to rule them all,
One Ring to find them,
One ring to bring them all,
and in the darkness bind them.”
– The Ring inscription in The Lord of the Rings

Few Prometheus Award winners incorporate an anti-authoritarian theme with more haunting power than J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the 2009 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

With Amazon Prime recently unveiling its mega-budgeted and long-awaited prequel to Lord of the Rings, this is an apt moment to recall that theme – summed up so well in Lord Acton’s famous dictum and symbolized so archetypically by Tolkien in his “One Ring to rule them all.”

That’s especially timely when Rings of Power offers such a vivid contrast to House of the Dragon, the other super-expensive prequel to another landmark television-adapted fantasy, but one with a much different and more cynical view of power.

Continue reading Remembering Tolkien – and his cautionary theme about the lure of power – as Rings of Power series debuts opposite House of Dragons

A Prometheus milestone: a progress report on completion of the blog’s Hall of Fame appreciation series, and how to access it

The Prometheus Blog’s ongoing Appreciation series has reached a milestone -after two productive years of regularly published review-essays exploring and explaining the libertarian and anti-authoritarian themes of past Prometheus winners.

With the recent publication of an appreciative review-essay about the 2021 winner (F. Paul Wilson’s short story “Lipidleggin’), the appreciation series for the Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction is now complete – and conveniently accessible via links from our Prometheus Awards page.

Or at least it’s now as up-to-date as possible – until next year’s winner is announced.

Continue reading A Prometheus milestone: a progress report on completion of the blog’s Hall of Fame appreciation series, and how to access it

Corruption of absolute power vs. the stateless Shire: J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the 2009 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

Here is the Prometheus Blog Appreciation for J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the 2009 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction:

“Power tends to corrupt; and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” – Lord Acton (1834-1902)

“One Ring to rule them all,
One Ring to find them,
One ring to bring them all,
and in the darkness bind them.”
– The Ring inscription in The Lord of the Rings

By Michael Grossberg and William H. Stoddard

The Lord of the Rings is not only one of the greatest works of fantasy but also a cautionary libertarian fable about the inevitable temptations of power.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic trilogy – a three-part novel (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King) published in 1954-1955 – charts a social, political, personal and supernatural struggle between freedom and absolute tyranny.

Continue reading Corruption of absolute power vs. the stateless Shire: J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the 2009 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner