If you weren’t familiar with the books and essays of J. Daniel Sawyer until recently, join the club.
A prolific writer of more than 31 fiction and nonfiction books, including several in the sf and mystery genres, and 24 short stories – not to mention being a huge fan of Robert Heinlein – Sawyer deserves to be much better known by libertarian sci-fi fans and LFS members.
That’s especially because Sawyer has written two books about Heinlein and one of his nine novels is explicitly structured and billed as a “Heinlein juvenile.”
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 Syndicwas 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.