To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as notable pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian works, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of all past award-winners. Here is an Appreciation of C.M. Kornbluth’s The Syndic, one of two 1986 Prometheus Hall of Fame inductees for Best Classic Fiction.
C.M. Kornbluth’s novel The Syndic was an early winner of the Hall of Fame Award, in 1986.
Originally published in 1953, it was an example both of what Isaac Asimov called “social science fiction,” envisioning a change in technology or human behavior and working out its cultural implications, and of “thought variant” fiction, seeking to explore provocative ideas.
Such ideas were supposed to stir up discussion by going against conventional beliefs, in the style Robert Heinlein envisioned in Space Cadet as a required seminar in “Doubt”:
The seminar leader would chuck out some proposition that attacked a value usually attacked as axiomatic. From there on anything could be said.
Kornbluth picked a really provocative premise: A future North America ruled by organized crime, with the government driven into exile, creating a freer and happier society than that of his own time. This led to a story with a lot of action, but one where social speculation was never far from sight.
Continue reading How far can struggles against tyranny go without becoming tyrannical? C.M. Kornbluth’s The Syndic, a 1986 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner