Freedom-lovers and power-mongers on a terraformed and colonized asteroid: An Appreciation of L. Neil Smith’s Pallas, the 1994 Prometheus Best Novel winner

As part of our ongoing Appreciation series of  past Prometheus Awardwinners, here’s the Appreciation for L. Neil Smith’s Pallas, the 1994 Best Book winner:

By Michael Grossberg

Set in the 22nd century on the terra-formed and colonized asteroid of Pallas, L. Neil Smith’s Heinlein-esque novel imagines a believable future based on plausible scientific developments but one beset by familiar political divisions between freedom-lovers and power-mongers.

Two groups of colonists sharing the habitat in a 20th of Earth’s gravity come into conflict. The larger culture is a fully free gun-toting group of rugged individualists who live as they choose – but at their own expense, with strict accountability in “moon-is-a-harsh-mistress” respect for the harsh realities of asteroid existence in the outer solar system.

These colonists represent something of a libertarian utopia based on explicit consent, since all have signed a founding document modeled on the ideas of an Ayn-Rand-style woman philosopher.

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