Who was Prometheus? Writer Virginia Postrel exposes modern misconceptions while highlighting the Greek myth’s pro-liberty, pro-technology themes

“The ancient myth of Prometheus is not a cautionary tale. It is a reminder that technē raises human beings above brutes. It is a myth founded in gratitude.” – Virginia Postrel

By Michael Grossberg

Who was Prometheus?

Despite modern misconceptions and fears, why does the titan of Greek mythology remain a positive and inspiring symbol of freedom, hope, revolution and progress today?

Virginia Postrel – the former Reason-magazine editor and Atlantic and New York Times columnist, and notable author of the seminal The Future and Its Enemies – brilliantly but concisely challenges common contemporary misunderstandings about the Greek legend in a fascinating and insightful essay on her Substack column.

Continue reading Who was Prometheus? Writer Virginia Postrel exposes modern misconceptions while highlighting the Greek myth’s pro-liberty, pro-technology themes

A ‘Mad Genius’ commentary: Best Novel finalist Dave Freer on Prometheus as trickster and role model of ingenuity

“As a monkey, the idea of a trickster and mischief-maker, who none-the-less is the champion of mankind, stealing fire from the gods for them, has always been something of a beau ideal and role model for me. I am not very large or powerful, and my only tool is ingenuity against various gods.”

“While I always thought Hanuman as my kind of trickster, Prometheus is a good role model, down to the bit about that bastard Zeus binding him to a rock and having eagles attack his liver for helping humans with technology….”

If there were an award for most unusual, charming and amusing response to being recognized with a Prometheus Awards nomination, then Australian science fiction/fantasy writer Dave Freer would be a strong contender.

Continue reading A ‘Mad Genius’ commentary: Best Novel finalist Dave Freer on Prometheus as trickster and role model of ingenuity

A lyrical ode to Prometheus, according to Hoyt

Award-winning novelist Sarah Hoyt has written a lovely and lyrical ode to Prometheus on her “According to Hoyt” blog.

Hoyt won the 2011 Prometheus Award-winner for Best Novel for Darkship Thieves, a Heinleinesque adventure-romance and the first novel in her exciting Darkship series about bioengineered humans, an insidious tyranny on Earth and a fully libertarian anarcho-capitalist society amid the asteroids in a future where humans have colonized our solar system.

Yet, Hoyt’s ode to Prometheus isn’t about the awards themselves, but a tribute to the mythical character that inspired their name.

Continue reading A lyrical ode to Prometheus, according to Hoyt

An early “juvie” adventure in liberty on a Wild West Mars: Robert Heinlein’s Red Planet, the 1996 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

As part of the Libertarian Futurist Society Appreciation series of past award-winners, here is our Appreciation for Robert Heinlein’s Red Planet, the 1996 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner:

By Anders Monsen

Many of Robert Heinlein’s novels featuring children have been lumped together and called “juvies” (or juveniles), as if they are children’s books. But, just like many Disney or Pixar animated movies, there are aspects of these works that go over the heads of a younger audience, whether those teens read the books as they first were published in the 1940s or 1950s, or whether they’re read today.

Red Planet, first published in 1949, is significant in terms of Heinlein’s bibliography, both as being one of the earliest juvies, and also because it introduces elements of Martian mythology that later appeared in Stranger in a Strange Land .

Ostensibly an adventure story centered around two boys on the run from an oppressive schoolmaster and conniving colony governor on Mars, Red Planet has two other themes or threads that elevate the novel beyond an adventure story. And make no mistake, this is written as an adventure story, with trials and tribulations that propel the action, for both the young and adult characters.

Continue reading An early “juvie” adventure in liberty on a Wild West Mars: Robert Heinlein’s Red Planet, the 1996 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

Interview: L. Neil Smith on his work, the Prometheus Award and his influences

L. Neil Smith in June 2019. (Photo courtesy L. Neil Smith).

L. Neil Smith is a libertarian activist and pundit, a musician, the founder of the Prometheus Award, a firearms enthusiast and a longtime Colorado resident. (Born in Denver, he grew up all over as an Air Force brat but eventually returned to Colorado for good.)

But he’s perhaps best known as a prolific science fiction writer, who often incorporates libertarian ideas into his novels, which usually have plenty of action and humor. He has written more than 35 books, including many science fiction novels, but also graphic novels, a vampire novel and political/philosophical commentary.

Continue reading Interview: L. Neil Smith on his work, the Prometheus Award and his influences

Review: Walkaway by Cory Doctorow

By Chris Hibbert

Walkaway by Cory Doctorow

I really enjoyed reading Cory Doctorow’s Walkaway, though it was more the setting than the story that had me entranced.

Doctorow envisions a relatively high tech future with a strong upper class with strict controls on many aspects of society, but there’s an informal, unsupported safety valve that makes it possible for people to get out from under the plutocrats (called Zottas here). Doctorow’s society is fraying around the edges, so there are lots of abandoned industrial facilities and vacant land that people who are fed up can Walkaway to. Once there they create informal voluntary societies, and exploit the abandoned wealth they find around them. As with Doctorow’s Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom this is a reputation based society, but many of the people who fuel this iteration explicitly reject the ideas of ratings and rankings and tracking contributions. People work together for the joy of it, and record their ideas and plans so others can replicate what works and improve on what doesn’t.
Continue reading Review: Walkaway by Cory Doctorow

Johanna Sinisalo accepts her Prometheus Award

Johanna Sinisalo accepts her Prometheus Award for Core of the Sun. It was presented to her at the recent Worldcon in Helsinki, Finland. (Photo by Ryan Lackey).

Finnish science fiction writer Johanna Sinisalo with John Christmas, left, an author and LFS member, and Dr. Steve Gaalema, a scientist and LFS board member. Photo by Ryan Lackey.

The Libertarian Futurist Society gave Finnish science fiction author Johanna Sinisalo, a guest of honor at the recently concluded worldcon in Helsinki, her Prometheus Award at the convention. The LFS was represented by John Christmas and Steve Gaalema.

John reports, “The award ceremony went well. Steve and I both sat at the front and made some opening comments about the LFS and the Hall of Fame Award, Special Prometheus Award, and Prometheus Award. Then, we presented the award to Johanna and she made an acceptance speech.”

Read the award announcement.

Read Chris Hibbert’s review.

John Christmas at the Worldcon.

Review: The Corporation Wars: Insurgence, by Ken MacLeod

By Chris Hibbert

Ken MacLeod’s The Corporation Wars: Insurgence is the second book of a trilogy. It (along with the first book in the series, Dissidence, is a finalist for the Prometheus award this year.

Insurgence continues the story of awakened robots struggling for freedom, and uploaded human ex-combatants fighting to retake the planetary system the robots had been mining and exploring.

This installment focuses less on the robots’ claim to be agents worthy of separate respect, and more on the uploaded warriors struggle to figure out the nature of the reality they inhabit while mostly following orders to fight the battles their supervisors are pursuing.

Continue reading Review: The Corporation Wars: Insurgence, by Ken MacLeod

Review: The Corporation Wars: Dissidence, by Ken MacLeod

By Chris Hibbert

Ken MacLeod’s The Corporation Wars: Dissidence is the first book of a trilogy. It (along with the second book in the series, Insurgence) is a finalist for the Prometheus award this year.

Book CoverThe story starts with a scene in which a pair of mining robots exploring an asteroid (in a distant solar system) and representing different corporate interests have an encounter, which leads them to realize they have opposing interests, which leads them each to recognize that they have interests, which leads them to self-awareness.

The corporations are in a tenuous situation, trying to assert their ownership of the robots, trying to be civil about their contractual cooperation, but objecting strenuously to breaches by the opposing robots.

Continue reading Review: The Corporation Wars: Dissidence, by Ken MacLeod