Rambunctious adventure, detective drama and Jeffersonian vs. Hamiltonian conflicts in a rollicking multiverse: An Appreciation of L. Neil Smith’s The Probability Broach, the 1982 Best Novel winner

Introduction: To highlight the four-decade history of the Prometheus Awards, which the Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS) is celebrating in 2019, we are posting a series of weekly Appreciations of past Prometheus Award-winners, starting with our earliest Best Novel awards and moving forward to today. (The first Appreciation, posted recently on this blog, focused on F. Paul Wilson’s Wheels within Wheels, which won the first Prometheus Award in 1979.)

This second Appreciation focuses on L. Neil Smith’s The Probability Broach, the 1982 Prometheus Award winner for Best Novel presented by the Libertarian Futurist Society:

By Michael Grossberg
L. Neil Smith’s rollicking, fun-loving sf adventure novel, one of the most influential books of the Libertarian movement as its ideas were spreading in the early 1980s, imagines alternate time lines accessible through the probability broach, a portal to many worlds.

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Videos: The 2019 Prometheus Award ceremony at the Worldcon in Dublin

The Prometheus Award this year went to Causes of Separation by Travis Corcoran, while the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award was won by “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

The awards were presented at the 77th World Science Fiction Convention, held in Dublin, Ireland, August 15-19 2019, by two members of the Libertarian Futurist Society, Fred Moulton and John Christmas.
If you didn’t make it to the Worldcon, you can watch our (three) videos to witness the event.
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Interview: LFS founder Michael Grossberg on how he became a writer, critic, sf fan & helped save the Prometheus Awards

 

Michael Grossberg, 2016 Photo courtesy of M.G.

Note: In this wide-ranging autobiographical interview, Grossberg shares his encounters, conversations and/or connections with Timothy Leary, George R.R. Martin, L. Neil Smith, Bruce Sterling, David Brin, Sissy Spacek, Gore Vidal, Ray Bradbury, Roy Rogers, Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, Roberto Rossellini, Nicholas Ray, Marianne Williamson, Susan Sontag, Roy Childs Jr., James Hogan and Robert Heinlein, among others.

TOM JACKSON: Could you tell us about yourself, including how you became a writer and arts critic?
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Brad Linaweaver has died

Brad Linaweaver (Creative Commons photo)

Libertarian science fiction writer Brad Linaweaver has died from cancer; he would have been 67 on Sunday. He was a two-time winner of the Prometheus Award and was known for Moon of Ice, his brilliant alternate-history novel expanded from a Nebula Award-nominated short story.
 Mike Glyer has an obituary posted at File 770. 

R.I.P., Prometheus-winning author J. Neil Schulman has died

Very sad news: The Prometheus-winning author J. Neil Schulman, a veteran libertarian activist for decades, has died Aug. 10, 2019.

Schulman most recently was recognized for his surreal semi-autobiographical novel The Fractal Man, a 2019 Prometheus Award finalist for Best Novel.

Schulman wrote scripts for episodes of The Twilight Zone and wrote and directed several independent films, including most recently an adaptation of his Prometheus-winning novel Alongside Night.
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Tor.com looks at the Prometheus Award on its 40th anniversary

James Davis Nicoll, a recent nominee for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer, writes about “40 Years of the Prometheus Award,” for Tor.com.  He concludes that “following this particular award can be rewarding for readers of all stripes. Probably not every work above will be to your taste, but certainly some will be.”

The comments, including back and forth between Nicoll and readers, also are interesting.
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Review: Drug Lord by Doug Casey and John Hunt

By William H. Stoddard

Drug Lord is the second volume in the authors’ High Ground series about international entrepreneur and libertarian idealist Charles Knight. I can’t fault it as a libertarian work; of course, libertarians disagree about a lot of specific issues, but any libertarian reader will recognize the basic point of view. And I didn’t bog down in reading it, or find it a struggle to turn the next page.

Nonetheless, I have to say I’m ultimately not satisfied with Drug Lord as a book.
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Freedom in the Future Tense: A Political History of SF

 

By Eric S. Raymond

The history of modern SF is one of five attempted revolutions — one success and four enriching failures. I’m going to offer a look at them from an unusual angle, a political one.
This turns out to be a useful perspective because more of the history of SF than one might expect is intertwined with political questions, and SF had an important role in giving birth to at least one distinct political ideology that is alive and important today.

CAMPBELL AND HEINLEIN

The first and greatest of the revolutions came out of the minds of John Wood Campbell and Robert Heinlein, the editor and the author who invented modern science fiction. The pivotal year was 1937, when John Campbell took over the editorship of Astounding Science Fiction. He published Robert Heinlein’s first story a little over a year later.
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