The Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing an Appreciation series of past Prometheus award-winners in all categories, offering review-essays that strive to make clear why each winner deserves recognition as a notable pro-freedom work.
Here is an Appreciation for C.J. Cherryh and Jane S. Fancher’s Alliance Rising, the 2020 Prometheus winner for Best Novel.
“The rights of man, in a nonfigurative sense, are what this novel is about.” – William H. Stoddard
Set in Cherryh’s Alliance-Union universe, Alliance Rising explores its backstory; it appears to take place at an earlier date than any other novel in the series.
Cherryh’s future history assumes that the new societies founded by outward migration will become politically dominant; its two great powers are the Alliance, based at Tau Ceti, and the Union, centered on Lalande 46650, with the whole of Earth as a less powerful backwater.
Alliance Rising, which Cherryh co-wrote with Jane S. Fancher, explores the emergence of this configuration of interstellar powers, taking place not long after the discovery of faster-than-light travel in the twenty-third century by a Union physicist, at a time when Earth is struggling to catch up and preserve its power by building a new ship at Alpha Station, in the solar system of Barnard’s Star.
The new ship’s name, The Rights of Man, offers a pointed bit of symbolism — but one that takes on an ironic quality when the ship’s first test run is a dismal failure that has to be aborted, largely because of the crew’s lack of practical experience.