In his apt introduction and presentation of the Prometheus Hall of Fame category at the recent 2022 Prometheus Awards ceremony, LFS President William H. Stoddard explains why this annual awards category is such an important part of the Libertarian Futurist Society’s awards program – and why this year’s inductee by Robert Heinlein is so deserving of recognition.
“Give me liberty or give me death.”
— Patrick Henry’s speech to the Second Virginia Convention on March 23, 1775, at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia
Give Me Liberty, an anthology of freedom-loving science fiction, is one of two linked Baen Books anthologies recognized together with a 2005 Special Prometheus Award.
Give Me Liberty and Visions of Liberty, both co-edited by veteran libertarian Mark Tier and veteran sf editor Martin H. Greenberg, make an apt pair of bookends of freedom-loving sf anthologies.
Looking for libertarian fiction to read over the holidays?
Fiction that dramatizes the value of freedom and/or exposes the tragic horrors and injustices of tyranny, slavery and other forms of extreme statism isn’t published every day, but there’s more of it than many liberty lovers may know about.
Of course, the Prometheus Awards constitute such a list, with a focus on science fiction and fantasy. That’s always a good place to start looking, because the awards have racked up an impressive track record of Best Novel winners since 1979 and of Best Classic Fiction works inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame since 1983.
But in addition to that, other recommended-reading lists exist – including a just-updated and expanded article at www.artforliberty.com that mades interesting rationales for listing “The 26 Best Free Libertarian Novels.”
This annotated list, by “ADuckNamedJoe” (a pen name for writer J.B. Medved) focuses on fiction available free – and often online,, available for downloading without charge. (The list was just updated Dec. 14, 2020 to include three new novels.)
“Let’s face it, novels celebrating the free market and individual rights are pretty hard to come by. Most everything in the fiction section of your local bookstore is some paean to collectivism, or diatribe against the evils of capitalism and the “soul killing” nature of consumerism. But you don’t believe that stuff,” Medved writes.
“You know capitalism, mixed with a political system that protects individual rights, has been the single greatest force for good on the planet, lifting billions out of crushing poverty. You don’t want to read all that bilge about how you’re a bad, bad person for supporting it.
So what is a wayward libertarian to do? Especially when so much of your money is stolen by the government each year that you have very little left over to buy books?”
To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing Appreciations of past award-winners that make clear why each winner deserves recognition as a pro-freedom work.
Here is a combined Appreciation of F. Paul Wilson’s Healer, the 1990 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner, and Wilson’s An Enemy of the State, the 1991 Hall of Fame winner.
“There used to be high priests to explain the ways of the king – who was the state – to the masses. Religion is gone, and so are kings. But the state remains, as do the high priests in the guise of Advisors, Secretaries of Whatever Bureau, public relations people, and sundry apologists. Nothing changes.”– From THE SECOND BOOK OF KYFHO
When the first Prometheus Award was presented in 1979 to F. Paul Wilson for Wheels within Wheels, few realized that the sf mystery novel was an absorbing piece of what would become a much larger future-history saga.
Together with Wheels within Wheels, An Enemy of the State and Healer– respectively the 1990 and 1991 Prometheus Hall of Fame inductees for Best Classic Fiction – form one of the most libertarian sf trilogies ever written.
Set in a positive but realistically flawed interstellar future in which human beings have spread among the stars, the LaNague Federation trilogy focuses on an imperialist central State and empire that is toppled by Peter LaNague, a far-sighted revolutionary who abjures violence in favor of a subtle, long-term plan based on a sophisticated understanding of economics, markets, money and inflation.
To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ diverse four-decade history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as pro-freedom, anti-authoritarian or dystopian sf/fantasy, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of all past award-winners.
Here is an Appreciation of Eric Frank Russell’s The Great Explosion, a 1985 Prometheus Hall of Fame co-winner for Best Classic Fiction.
By Michael Grossberg
The power of peaceful behavior and non-violent resistance is explored in The Great Explosion.
British author Eric Frank Russell’s satirical 1962 novel, which incorporates in its final third section his classic golden-age-sf 1951 short story “…And Then There Were None,” is set in an expansive interstellar future in which millions have used a faster-than-light transport system to escape an increasingly bureaucratic and statist Earth and have settled countless planets.
When ships with soldiers and bureaucrats and pompous officials from a still-statist and aggressively imperialist Earth arrive four centuries to visit and take over three of the planets, they find a penal colony with a corrupt and despotic government on the first, health and fitness fanatic nudists on the second and no signs of human life on the third planet, colonized by a religious group.
But they face their biggest mystery – and largest challenge – on a final fourth planet, filled with people who calls themselves Gands (after Gandhi) and whose agrarian culture and economy have embraced a classless libertarian anarchy based on passive resistance to unjust authority.
Libertarian futurists champion peaceful, non-violent behavior over acts of aggression, whether committed by individuals, groups or governments.
In fact, modern libertarian political philosophy is based on the principle of non-aggression – coupled with self-ownership (and self-defense against aggression) as the core of property rights, the strongest and most practical base for all human rights, properly understood.
So it’s fascinating to read science fiction and fantasy that explores such themes.
In the latest issue of Tor.com, writer James Davis Nicoll surveys the sf/fantasy literature and offers several examples of works that fit that focus in “SFF Works In Which Violence is Not the Solution.”