“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, co-authors of The Unincorporated Man, the 2010 Prometheus Awardwinner for Best Novel, from their Prometheus acceptance speech
One of the things I do in my spare time is bring old issues of Prometheus onto the web. Prometheus, the LFS’ former print quarterly, was published from 1982 to 2015, and there are lots of articles of lasting value in this collection. Well more than half the issues are now available on the web.
One thing I noticed a little while ago is that we have transcripts of many of the Prometheus Award acceptance speeches that have been given over the years, and they are worth reading again. We also have recordings of several of the ceremonies, but uploading those will be a separate project.
Here’s a quick guide to all the speeches that appeared in Prometheus:
Work as if you lived in the early days of a better nation.” —Alasdair Gray.
“If these are the early days of a better nation, there must be hope, and a hope of peace is as good as any, and far better than a hollow hoarding greed or the dry lies of an aweless god.” —Graydon Saunders
Ken MacLeod’s blog, “The Early Days of a Better Nation,” takes its title from a quotation from Alasdair Gray. Obligingly, he provides that quotation, followed immediately by another quotation from Graydon Saunders that comments on the idea.
Who is Graydon Saunders? Eventually, I became curious, and found that he was, among other things, the author of a series of strikingly original fantasy novels, the Commonweal series.
The LFS Prometheus Awards badge, created last year as an option for finalists and winners to use to further publicize their awards recognition, is starting to be used – and in a highly visible way.
When the awards badge was designed and approved last year, LFS leaders expected that it would be used occasionally but most often as art visually enhancing an author’s blog or publisher’s website on the same page announcing the good news that a particular author or work of fiction has been recognized as a finalist or winner.
Even better, though, was the way the badge has been used this year for the first time by a Best Novel finalist: Author Gordon Hanka has just added the LFS badge to the front cover of his novel A Beast Cannot Feign.
CoNZealand, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention and the first Worldcon in history to be presented entirely online, pulled off the unprecedented feat with impressive organization and the dedication of countless volunteers and organizers.
In the process, the July 29 to Aug. 1 event offered the annual Hugo Awards ceremony and a dizzying variety of interesting panel discussions – including one suggested by the Libertarian Futurist Society to honor the Prometheus Awards’ recent 40thanniversary.
With a vast and potentially larger worldwide online audience watching from many countries on Zoom and Discord platforms but avoiding direct physical contact for safety during the pandemic, the New Zealand Worldcon seized the potential to be seen more widely. One happy consequence was raising the visibility worldwide of the Libertarian Futurist Society and the Prometheus Awards.
Libertarian science fiction has always been a seminal strand in the ever-evolving genre of science fiction and fantasy – and in significant and honorable ways, that socially conscious and liberty-loving subgenre continues as a force today, even amid regressive and reactionary forces flirting with the perennial temptations of statism, authoritarianism and centralized, institutionalized coercion on the Left and Right.
Libertarian futurists – within and outside the Libertarian Futurist Society (not to mention other organizations within the far broader libertarian movement, from Reason and Libertymagazines to the Cato Institute) – have understood that for a long time.
Yet, it’s salutary and newsworthy when our understanding of the broader intellectual and artistic currents that have helped shape the four-decade-plus history and diversity of the Prometheus Awards is shared and appreciated by an international, cosmopolitan publication outside the libertarian movement.
Such a relatively rare occasion has materialized this month (June 2020) with a fair-minded, open-minded, rich and rewarding essay on “The Libertarian History of Science Fiction” published in Quillette, an influential web-magazine that embraces what modern libertarians might generally recognize as classically liberal principles.
According to its mission statement, Quillette offers “a platform for free thought. We respect ideas, even dangerous ones. We also believe that free expression and the free exchange of ideas help human societies flourish and progress.”
Indeed, LFS members might say as much, using virtually the same words, to uphold important Bill of Rights aspects of our libertarian vision of a fully free future in which people strive to respect other people’s rights and live together through the voluntary cooperation and enterprise of a free society and a free market while steadfastly abjuring violence, the initiation of force or fraud and the institutionalized coercion of the unchecked State.