Here is the second part of the Prometheus interview with Australian/Tasmanian author Dave Freer, the 2023 Prometheus winner for Best Novel for Cloud-Castles.
Q: How did you first get interested in science fiction/fantasy?
A: I was born into it, you might say. No, not in a hut hopping the Taiga on a solitary chicken-leg as might seem likely, or even half way up a space-elevator, hanging between heaven and earth. Into a family where reading sf and fantasy were a norm.
If you think there to be nothing unusual about this, it is plain you know little of the country and times of my birth.
“The outback of Australia was a very individualist place. So: I had my model.” – Dave Freer
Dave Freer’s Cloud-Castles, the 2023 Prometheus Best Novel winner, offers a zestful and often funny coming-of-age adventure set on diverse habitats floating above a gas-giant planet.
The Australian author, who lives in Tasmania, considers himself “mostly a rational anarchist” in the tradition of Robert Heinlein. Freer was interviewed by email by Michael Grossberg, a Prometheus Blog editor.
Here is an Appreciation of Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, inducted into the 1987 Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction.
By William H. Stoddard Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land wasn’t just a best seller, and the book that made publishers take science fiction seriously as a commercial proposition; it was a major influence on the hippie movement, the counterculture more generally, and neo-pagan and New Age thought.
Given all this, it seemed paradoxical to some readers that Heinlein was also the author of Starship Troopers,with its praise of military service and especially, as Heinlein said, of the “poor bloody infantry” — the foot-soldiers who stood between their native planets and the desolation of war. Heinlein himself saw no such paradox; he said, in fact, that the two books reflected the same ethical and political ideas.
What did these two seemingly disparate works have in common? At the deepest level, the answer is “a sort of libertarianism”: not advocacy of the free market, or of specific constitutional arrangements, or of constitutional goverment as such (though such ideas appear in Heinlein’s other works), but a basic ethical principle.
Jack Vance, science fiction grandmaster, died on Sunday, May 26, 2013. Born on August 28 1916, John Holbrook Vance wrote over 50 novels and many more short stories, most published under the name Jack Vance. His works ranged from science fiction and fantasy to mystery and regional fiction. Vance’s first published story was “The World Thinker” in 1945 for Thrilling Wonder Stories, and his first published book The Dying Earth, by Hillman Press in 1950. His last novel, Lurulu, appeared in 2004, and an autobiography in 2009.
Though he was approaching 100, and I always expected to read something about his death, I felt a deep shock when I finally received the news. I have read all his books, many of them multiple times. They are like old friends. I have nominated and voted for many of his works for the Prometheus Hall of Fame. Now he is dead. Will it matter if he ever wins? Would he have cared to have won while still alive? I do not know. Reflecting on his books is like reflecting on the lives of long-time friends.