This year’s nominees for the Prometheus Hall of Fame encompass several genres and types of fiction.
Of the eight works being considered by judges as potential finalists, one is a short story, one a song, one a TV episode, one a collection of linked stories and four are novels – plus, half are first-time nominees.
This year’s line-up of Best Classic Fiction nominees may be the freshest in years as well as the broadest, at least in terms of types of fiction, in the history of this Prometheus awards category, first presented in 1983.
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.
The Prometheus Blog’s ongoing Appreciation series has reached a milestone -after two productive years of regularly published review-essays exploring and explaining the libertarian and anti-authoritarian themes of past Prometheus winners.
With the recent publication of an appreciative review-essay about the 2021 winner (F. Paul Wilson’s short story “Lipidleggin’), the appreciation series for the Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction is now complete – and conveniently accessible via links from our Prometheus Awards page.
Or at least it’s now as up-to-date as possible – until next year’s winner is announced.
To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade 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 an Appreciation series of all past award-winners.
Here is an Appreciation for Poul Anderson’s story “Sam Hall,” the 2020 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.
In “Sam Hall,” published in 1953 in Astounding Science Fiction, Poul Anderson offers one of the earlier visions of a dystopian possibility based on the computers that had been invented only a few years before: a society with ubiquitous surveillance.
This is our age’s version of the panopticon described by Jeremy Bentham – one not confined to local sites such as prisons, but having an entire nation, or an entire planet, in its view. Anderson’s vision of computer technology is primitive, with a gigantic machine in a central government office that receives and stores information on punched cards. It has no hint of artificial intelligence, or of the ability to interpret voice or vision. But the job he sees it as doing is still the stuff of our nightmares.
The Libertarian Futurist Society’s ongoing Appreciation series, launched in 2019 to celebrate the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history, offers review-essays of past award-winners that aim to make clear why they merit recognition as pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian.
Here is an Appreciation for Poul Anderson’s story, “No Truce with Kings,” the 2010 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.
In David Friedman’s first book, the libertarian classic The Machinery of Freedom, the first entry in the bibliography describes Poul Anderson’s “No Truce with Kings”: “A libertarian novelette that plays fair. The bad guys are good guys too. But wrong.”
Between 2009 and 2014 NESFA press published seven volumes of short fiction and poetry by Poul Anderson in handsome hardcover editions for around $30 each.
These volumes were still available from the NESFA website, at least when I purchased them years ago, with volume seven released in 2017 as the final volume in the series. The stories do not appear chronologically.
Anderson, who has won several Prometheus Awards for best novel, four Hall of Fame awards, and a Lifetime Special Award, was a prolific writer who published his first science fiction story in 1947, some months before his twenty-first birthday.
He wrote fiction for more than half a century, so while these six volumes by no means collect all his short fiction, they contain a treasure trove for any fan of his fiction.
To celebrate the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history and make clear why winners deserve recognition as pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian works, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of all award-winners. Here’s an appreciation for The Survival of Freedom, edited by Jerry Pournelle and John F. Carr, the 2001 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner:
The Survival of Freedom was one of the first sf anthologies to explore the future of liberty.
It also has the distinction of being the first (and so far, only) anthology to be inducted (in 2001) into the Prometheus Hall of Fame. This broad awards category for classic fiction is open to any works first published, broadcast or staged more than 20 years ago and encompasses many types of fiction – including but not limited to novels, novellas, stories, plays, poems, songs, musicals, films, TV episodes, series, trilogies and anthologies.
Edited by Jerry Pournelle and John F. Carr, the 1981 anthology of stories and essays is notable for its wide-ranging and sometimes surprising collection of material.