Prometheus-winning author James P. Hogan was a maverick thinker who championed both liberty and technology while recognizing the reactionary and harmful impact of government, bureaucracy and irrationality on our lives.
Such themes are woven into his 26 novels, many short stories and essays – almost all of which remain available in print and mostly remain fresh and timeless today.
For posterity, the Prometheus blog is proud to be the first to post a lengthy and revealing interview that two-time Prometheus winner James P. Hogan gave just after the turn of the 21st century.
More than 90 percent of that interview was not included in a newspaper profile of Hogan, so it appears here uncut and complete for the first time.
Hogan (1941-2020) sadly is no longer with us, but almost all of his 26 novels remain in print – and many are worth reading or rereading for their ingenious premises, imaginative speculations (some of which have since come true) and their intelligent, insightful and realistic blend of science and politics.
After working for many years in England as an electrical engineer, computer salesman and digital-information executive, James P. Hogan wrote his first novel Inherit the Wind to win an office bet.
Against the odds, he won that bet. With his first novel an acclaimed bestseller that received quotable praise from Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov, Hogan was on his way – and he ultimately would write 26 novels before his untimely death in 2010 – including the Prometheus winners Voyage From Yesteryear and The Multiplex Man.
Here is the third part of a previously unpublished 2001 interview with Hogan, which sheds light on his work, philosophy and many novels:
I still remember reading James P. Hogan for the first time. What a discovery – and what a mind-expanding thrill.
His science-fiction novels were compulsively readable and scientifically plausible, while often upholding values I cherished, such as a commitment to reason, science, progress, persuasion, free inquiry and liberty.
I loved Inherit the Stars and The Genesis Machine – his first two acclaimed and bestselling novels – for their brilliant science-laced plots and fascinating ideas. And then I read Voyage From Yesteryear, an explicitly libertarian classic that won the 1983 Prometheus Award for Best Novel – and remains today one of the few novels that convincingly portrays a fully free society in a plausible future.
Two-time Prometheus winner James P. Hogan died in 2010, but his ideas, words and novels live on.
For the first time in print, here is the wide-ranging, full-fledged uncut interview (recently rediscovered among some boxes of papers and memorabilia) that Hogan gave in 2001 to LFS co-founder Michael Grossberg.
Before you can build and sustain a fully free society, in earth or in space, you have to be able to fully imagine it.
Positive and persuasive visions of liberty – that can capture people’s imaginations as both desirable and feasible – are crucial to help sustain free and diverse societies where people flourish. And whatever their differing perspectives, such visions must have plausibility, practicality and legitimacy.
That’s where science fiction can play a vital role – and Visions of Liberty, an anthology exploring different futuristic scenarios of freedom, fulfills that goal with fascinating, engrossing and surprisingly plausible stories.
Free Space, the first Special Prometheus Award-winner in 1998, has the distinction of being the first explicitly libertarian sf anthology.
Published in 1997 by TOR Books and edited by Brad Linaweaver and Ed Kramer, Free Space generated immense excitement among libertarian sf fans.
Today, almost a quarter century later, quite a few of its stories remain worth reading (or worth rereading) by freedom-lovers and, for that matter, anyone who enjoys interesting and imaginative sf speculations about humankind’s future in space.
The 352-page collection, dedicated to Robert and Ginny Heinlein, offers a wide range of stories and short fiction by 20 writers reflecting several generations and multiple perspectives.
Today marks nearly the end of a pivotal year marking the 40th anniversary of the Prometheus Awards, so it’s interesting to take a moment in 2019 and look back at the birth of the awards with the very first Prometheus Awards ceremony in 1979.
First envisioned and launched by sf writer L. Neil Smith, the Prometheus Award was first presented in 1979 in a high-profile ceremony at the year’s biggest Libertarian convention, which attracted several thousand people in Los Angeles.
Writer Robert Anton Wilson announced the winner – F. Paul Wilson’s sf mystery Wheels Within Wheels– after announcing three finalists, including Poul Anderson’s The Avatarand James P. Hogan’s The Genesis Machine. Here’s a glimpse of how the event was covered in Frontlines, a leading libertarian-movement-news newsletter published by Reason magazine’s foundation:
“The first-ever Prometheus Award was presented for the best libertarian science fiction novel of 1978. The finalists were Poul Anderson’s The Avatar, James P. Hogan’s The Genesis Machine and F. Paul Wilson’s Wheels within Wheels.
“Robert Anton Wilson did the honors, on behalf of the Prometheus Award Committee (an independent group of libertarian sf fans, who contributed the award), presenting the $2,500 in gold to (no relation) F. Paul Wilson. The prize (which has already increased significantly in value) is the largest award for science fiction given anywhere in the world.”
Here’s an Appreciation, for James P. Hogan’s Voyage to Yesteryear, the 1983 Prometheus winner for Best Novel:
By Michael Grossberg Two human civilizations, long separated across light years, confront significant philosophical and political differences when they make renewed contact decades after a World War III devastated the Earth and led to the rise of widespread authoritarian governments there.
When the Earth’s three superpower governments engage in a space race to renew contact with the lost colony on Chiron in the Alpha Centauri system colony’s descendants, the Americans arrive first with an authoritarian goal of invasion and domination.