To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as a notable pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian work, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of all past award-winners.
Here is an Appreciation for Sinclair Lewis’ novel It Can’t Happen Here, a 2007 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.
By Michael Grossberg
“It can’t happen here.”
That common American comment, widely uttered in the 1920s and 1930s as the rest of the world seemingly was going crazy or descending into tyranny and barbarism, became the resonant title of Sinclair Lewis’ cautionary 1935 novel.
First published during the dark era of 1930s collectivism marked by the rise of fascism in Italy and Hitler’s National Socialism in Germany, It Can’t Happen Here offers a semi-satirical tale and timely warning about the potential rise of similar totalitarianism within the United States.
The central character Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip is a demagogue who incites fear while promoting traditional patriotism and ends up elected U.S. President. Windrip takes complete control of the government by exploiting a ruthless paramilitary force, outlawing dissent, ending women’s and minority rights and eliminating the influence of the U.S. Congress.
Continue reading Tyranny? in America? Sinclair Lewis imagined it in his cautionary 1935 tale It Can’t Happen Here, the 2007 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 an 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 murderous fruits of the Russian Revolution: Yevgeny Zamyatin’s pioneering We, the 1994 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner
To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as notable pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian/dystopian sf/fantasy, the Libertarian Futurist Society has been publishing since 2019 a weekly series of Appreciations of all past award-winners, beginning with the first category for Best Novel and now focusing on the Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction.
Here is an Appreciation of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, a co-winner of the 1984 Prometheus Hall of Fame award for Best Classic Fiction.
By Michael Grossberg
“Big Brother is Watching” is just one phrase that’s become widely known from Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell’s cautionary 1948 novel about a future totalitarian society in which almost everyone is caught up in the power-worshiping cult of the charismatic ruler.
Few works of fiction have connected so deeply to popular culture that they introduce even one catchphrase or line of dialogue that still resonates today, but Orwell’s cautionary tale generated several that even in the 21st century haven’t yet been flushed down the “memory hole” of popular culture.
Among the neologisms that continue to be quoted widely and resonate through American and world culture: Thought Police, Newspeak, “proles,” “thoughtcrime,” “doublethink,” Room 101, Two Minutes Hate, and “unperson.”
Continue reading Big Brother, doublethink, thoughtcrime, Newspeak & memory holes: George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, a 1984 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction