Best Novel finalist review: Howard Andrew Jones’ Lord of a Shattered Land offers epic sword-and-sorcery saga with anti-slavery, anti-tyranny, pro-liberty themes

“Howard Andrew Jones is the leading Sword & Sorcery author of the 21st century… His Lord of a Shattered Land is his best work yet… It’s a magnificent achievement, destined to become a modern classic.”
— John O’Neill, World Fantasy Award-winning publisher of Black Gate

By Michael Grossberg

I admit I generally don’t enjoy fantasy as much as science fiction, but I loved Lord of a Shattered Land, one of the best sword-and-sorcery sagas I’ve read.

Howard Andrew Jones’s epic fantasy, published by Baen Books and one of 17 nominees for the next Prometheus Award for Best Novel, tells a gripping tale that powerfully and emotionally evokes the evils of slavery and tyranny and the passionate, unquenchable desire of people to be free.

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Heinlein Prize Trust working to sustain author’s legacy, spread liberty with digital archive, books, publishing contracts in Russia, China

By Michael Grossberg

With the late great Robert Heinlein having won more Prometheus Awards than any other author (including in 2023 for his story “Free Men,” inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame), LFS members and other Heinlein fans naturally should be interested in finding out more about organizations working to sustain his legacy.

Ginny and Robert Heinlein at their home in the 1980s (Photo from Heinlein Trust archives)

One of the most notable, visible and interesting groups is the Heinlein Prize Trust, established by Virginia (Ginny) Heinlein soon after her husband’s death in 1988.

Since then, the organization has published several books furthering commercial development in outer space, reprinted Heinlein’s entire body of writing in a deluxe leather-bound 46-volume edition, published graphic novels of two Heinlein classics and completed the preservation of Heinlein’s writings and memorabilia in a comprehensive digital archive.

Perhaps the most promising and newsworthy developments are the Trust’s recent efforts to make Heinlein’s stories and novels available around the world – including in countries under dictatorships.

“Only 15 to 20 percent of the world can be considered free, under even the most liberal interpretation of that world. That mans that about 80 percent of the world population today lives under an authoritarian government,” said Art Dula, primary trustee of the Heinlein Trust.

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A probing work of “social sf” and libertarian praxis: An appreciation of Barry Longyear’s The Hook, the 2021 Prometheus Best Novel winner

By Michael Grossberg

Many people have viewed science fiction as all about futuristic technology – starships, robots, interstellar travel, space habitats, vast mega-engineering feats, etc.

Yet, some of the best so-called “sf” of the past century has been what is sometimes called “social science fiction.”

Such works may incorporate various speculative forms of advanced technology, especially to work out how such technology affects people and changes culture.

Yet the most interesting aspects of such “social sf” is how it illuminates the various socio-political, economic and cultural implications of new ideas, different attitudes or fundamental changes in how a society’s norms, laws and system of government work.

In the rare and exemplary case of Barry Longyear’s The Hook, the 2021 Prometheus Best Novel winner, the dramatic and fascinating focus is on what happens to a society when its government is abolished – but other governments continue to threaten its freedom and independence.

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A song of community and resistance to tyranny, and the novella it inspired: An appreciation of Leslie Fish’s “The Horsetamer’s Daughter” and “Tower of Horses,” the 2014 Special Prometheus Award winner

Here is an appreciation of writer-songwriter-singer Leslie Fish’s song “The Horseman’s Daughter” and related novella “Tower of Horse,” together recognized with a 2014 Special Prometheus Award.

By Steve Gaalema and Michael Grossberg

“Tower of Horses,” Leslie Fish’s rich Darkover novella, may be one of the most libertarian stories ever recognized with a Prometheus Award.

With its very believable and human characters, suspenseful plot and resonant coming-of-age and temptations-of-power themes, Fish’s novella is certainly one of the most satisfying, and emotionally involving.

Together with Fish’s epic folk-song “The Horsetamer’s Daughter,” the novella received a Special Prometheus Award in 2014 – the first time within the history of the awards that a song was recognized, and the first time that a paired song and novella have received a joint award.

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Corruption of absolute power vs. the stateless Shire: J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the 2009 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

Here is the Prometheus Blog Appreciation for J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the 2009 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction:

“Power tends to corrupt; and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” – Lord Acton (1834-1902)

“One Ring to rule them all,
One Ring to find them,
One ring to bring them all,
and in the darkness bind them.”
– The Ring inscription in The Lord of the Rings

By Michael Grossberg and William H. Stoddard

The Lord of the Rings is not only one of the greatest works of fantasy but also a cautionary libertarian fable about the inevitable temptations of power.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic trilogy – a three-part novel (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King) published in 1954-1955 – charts a social, political, personal and supernatural struggle between freedom and absolute tyranny.

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Space exploration, A.I. and freedom: An Appreciation of Poul Anderson’s The Stars Are Also Fire, the 1995 Prometheus Best Novel winner

To highlight the four-decade history of the Prometheus Awards, the Libertarian Futurist Society is publishing a series of review-essays explaining why past winners deserved recognition and fit the distinctive focus of the award on Liberty vs. Power. Here’s our Appreciation for Poul Anderson’s The Stars Are Also Fire, the 1995 Prometheus Best Novel winner.

By Michael Grossberg and Victoria Varga

Poul Anderson’s 1994 novel offers a thought-provoking scenario in a distant future in which man-made artificial intelligences have come to dominate human beings, while many people still struggle for freedom and independence in a new era of space exploration.

The point of view of The Stars Are Also Fire alternates frequently over five centuries between an early 21st-century era of occupation of Earth’s moon and later Earth/moon conflicts as genetically-altered-human Lunarians seek independence from Earth’s World Federation and Peace Authority.
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