LFS member John Christmas, a Prometheus Best Novel judge for the past decade, has written and published two novels.
Most recently, Christmas co-wrote KGB Banker, a contemporary political thriller recently recognized by Best Thrillers as the “Best Conspiracy Thriller of 2022.”
In this second part of his Prometheus Blog interview, Christmas discusses what he looks for in judging Prometheus nominees, and shares more about what he’s learned about writing fiction and appreciating good fiction.
“My experience as a writer helps me as a judge. And, my experience as a judge helps me as a writer.” – John Christmas
LFS member John Christmas, a published novelist, has served as a Prometheus Best Novel judge for about a decade now.
Christmas co-wrote KGB Banker, a contemporary political thriller recently recognized by Best Thrillers as the “Best Conspiracy Thriller of 2022.”
Christmas’s first novel was Democracy Society, a futuristic libertarian novel about fighting a corrupt government.
In this interview, Christmas discusses some of his favorite Prometheus-winning novels, how his creative writing has helped him be a better awards judge, and how serving as a Best Novel judge has benefited him as a writer.
The Christmas interview also seems timely in how it sheds light on the awards-judging process, since the Best Novel finalist judging committee is currently reading and discussing more than a dozen nominees and candidates for nomination in the final month or two before voting to select the annual slate of finalists.
How can science fiction be used to explore and perhaps take steps to prevent the darker possibilities of the future?
Writer-historian Niall Ferguson examines the benefits and prophetic classics of science fiction in an intriguing essay in The Spectator magazine.
Several Prometheus-winning authors – including Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451), Sinclair Lewis (It Can’t Happen Here), George Orwell (Nineteen Eighty-Four), Neal Stephenson (The System of the World, Snow Crash) and Yevgeny Zamyatin (We) – are discussed with intriguing and incisive commentary in Ferguson’s recent article, “How Science Fiction Novels Read the Future.”
Here is the acceptance speech by sf writer Wil McCarthy, winner of the 2022 Prometheus Award for Best Novel for Rich Man’s Sky. McCarthy presented his speech Aug. 13, 2022, via Zoom as part of the LFS’ annual awards ceremony, which included two-time Prometheus winner Travis Corcoran as presenter of the Best Novel category.
BY WIL MCCARTHY
Howdy. I’m very happy to be here, and I’d like to thank all of you for inviting me. Yours is a great organization with a noble purpose, and I can only imagine the energy that goes into it. I think it’s ironic that I’m the one getting recognition today, when you all are the ones doing the work. My only regret is that I’m not able to thank you in person.
The sympathetic character at the center of Klara and the Sun is profoundly human in her caring, determination, curiosity, loyalty and observant intelligence.
And yet, Klara is an artificial being, an android branded and sold as an Artificial Friend in Kazuo Ishiguro’s acclaimed novel, one of five 2022 Prometheus Best Novel finalists.
Set a generation or two into the future and strictly told from the highly limited point of view of Klara, the novel never fully answers the question of whether Klara has achieved full self-awareness (and thus should be treated as a person with rights.)
Yet, Ishiguro carefully drops enough clues and hints to make Klara and the Sun both a tantalizingly ambiguous mystery about the threshold of full consciousness and a haunting meta-libertarian parable about the foundations of rights and the tragedy that can occur when basic “humanity” and basic rights go unrecognized.
As an eventful year ends, the Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS) is approaching a milestone: 100 Appreciations of past Prometheus Award-winners, all posted on this LFS/Prometheus blog.
That’s a milestone to savor, especially given the ongoing efforts and commitments by LFS leaders and contributors over the past 30 months to write and post these informative and insightful review-essays.
Here’s an overview of our progress, an explanation of why the Appreciations are important (including tips on how you can use and refer to them), and a preview of some of the upcoming articles you can expect from the Prometheus Blog in 2022.
Prometheus-winning author Neal Stephenson will discuss his latest novel Nov. 19 in an American Purpose podcast.
Stephenson, a two-time Prometheus winner for Best Novel, will discuss his 2021 novel Termination Shock at 12 p.m. Friday Nov. 19 (Eastern Time) in an online discussion with Francis Fukuyama, chairman of the editorial board of American Purpose magazine.
Widely acclaimed both within the field of science fiction and outside it, Stephenson is known for writing speculative fiction, cyber punk, and other related genres. Termination Shock is his 13th book.
To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade-plus history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as a pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian work, the Libertarian Futurist Society has been publishing since 2019 a series of Appreciations of all past award-winners.
Here is an Appreciation of Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon, the 2013 Prometheus Hall of Fame co-winner for Best Classic Fiction.
One of Neal Stephenson’s most-memorable novels, Cryptonomicon, was inspired by developments in cryptography during World War Two.
Published in 1999, Cryptonomicon won the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award in 2013. Given the novel’s focus on topics such as electronic money and cryptography, it seems prescient in anticipating the current moment’s obsession with cryptocurrencies.
Few individuals have made more of a difference to the Libertarian Futurist Society and the Prometheus Awards in the 21st century than William H. Stoddard.
Bill, as he’s known to friends and fellow LFS members, has led the nonprofit, all-volunteer group of freedom-loving sf fans for more than a decade as president of the board of directors.
But Stoddard has done far more for many years, writing reviews of sf/fantasy for the Prometheus newsletter and more recently, this blog, and serving for decades as a key judge on both finalist-judging committees for the Best Novel and Best Classic Fiction categories of the Prometheus Award.
Here is LFS Secretary Michael Grossberg’s interview with Stoddard about how he became an sf fan, a libertarian and an active LFS member and what are some of his favorite writers and Prometheus-winning works.
Q: What Prometheus Award winners especially excited you or pleased you when they won for Best Novel?
A: For the Best Novel Award, I’d name two.
Michael Flynn’s In the Country of the Blind (1991 award) asked “what if Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine had come into use in the nineteenth century?” in the form, not of an alternate history, but of a hidden history where multiple secretive groups used predictive social science (made possible by Analytical Engines) to create the actual history of the twentieth century from behind the scenes; it was one of my main influences when I wrote GURPS Steampunk for Steve Jackson Games in 2000.
To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as notable pro-freedom sf/fantasy, the Libertarian Futurist Society is presenting weekly Appreciations of past award-winners. Here’s the latest Appreciation for Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves, the 2016 Best Novel winner:
By Michael Grossberg Seveneves, an epic hard-science-fiction novel, focuses on a cataclysmic event that threatens human civilization and the planet Earth, and its long aftermath.
Neal Stephenson’s sprawling 2015 novel avoids ideology while dramatizing how a lust for power almost wipes out our species.
More impressively and much less common in such fiction these days, Stephenson also shows how the courage to face reality and tackle overwhelming problems through reason, individual initiative and the voluntary cooperation of private enterprise help tip the balance towards survival.