Here is the third and final part of the Prometheus interview with Wil McCarthy, the 2022 Prometheus Best Novel winner for Rich Man’s Sky.
Q: Talk about the impetus for your first novel Antediluvian, once you returned from your recent writing hiatus. I recently read and enjoyed it as an ingenious twist on the standard time-travel novel, offering a genetic-memory approach to experiencing what really might have happened millennia ago to our “cave man” ancestors. Your novel plausibly reimagines key events – like the massive flooding 12,000 to 14,000 years ago that’s the reality behind the story of Noah’s Ark – that gave rise through generations of oral history to our inherited (and likely highly distorted) mythologies about ancient history.
Here is the second part of the Prometheus Blog interview with Wil McCarthy, the 2022 Best Novel winner for Rich Man’s Sky.
Q: Were you aware of the Prometheus Awards before receiving your first Best Novel nomination this past year?
A: I have been aware of the award, yes. I used to think of it as a purely political award, which I think perhaps it was in the early days. But when you see it going to people like Cory Doctorow (Little Brother)and Charles Stross (Glasshouse) — both excellent, thoughtful writers, and clearly not Libertarians in any traditional American sense — I think it’s easier to see it as a genuine literary prize that rewards great ideas and great storytelling.
SF author Wil McCarthy, the 2022 Prometheus Best Novel winner for Rich Man’s Sky, took a long hiatus from writing science fiction, but now he’s back – and happy to answer a few questions about his work.
In the first part of this two-part interview, McCarthy explains why he went on hiatus, admires Robert Heinlein and reads the leading libertarian magazine Reason every day.
Q: You’ve written quite a few sf novels and stories. Why did you go on hiatus and what have you written since you returned?
A: I took a long hiatus from writing to run a tech start-up, among other things. When I came back, the first thing I did was write two novellas, the second of which ended up winning the AnLab award.
Then I wrote two novels, the second of which is Rich Man’s Sky, so it’s nice to see people actually taking notice. It’s a nice way to ease back in.
Rich Man’s Sky, the 2022 Prometheus winner for Best Novel, brims with the excitement, adventure, uncertainties and anxieties of real-world entrepreneurship.
Wil McCarthy’s kaleidoscopic novel, which thrillingly ventures beyond our Earth to chart the exploration, colonization and industrialization of our solar system, realistically and insightfully portrays the inevitably messy and risky progress of free men and women pursuing various goals through the cooperation of free markets.
Yet, the 291-page Baen Books novel – which launches a projected trilogy – also perceptively contrasts markets, warts and all, with the grimier and darker realities of politics – which unlike the voluntary transactions of the marketplace, unavoidably involves various forms and degrees of coercion, outright violence or the threat of violence and thus leads to some benefiting unjustly at the expense of others.
Here is the acceptance speech by sf writer Wil McCarthy, winner of the 2022 Prometheus Award for Best Novel for Rich Man’s Sky. McCarthy presented his speech Aug. 13, 2022, via Zoom as part of the LFS’ annual awards ceremony, which included two-time Prometheus winner Travis Corcoran as presenter of the Best Novel category.
BY WIL MCCARTHY
Howdy. I’m very happy to be here, and I’d like to thank all of you for inviting me. Yours is a great organization with a noble purpose, and I can only imagine the energy that goes into it. I think it’s ironic that I’m the one getting recognition today, when you all are the ones doing the work. My only regret is that I’m not able to thank you in person.
The 2022 Prometheus Awards, to be presented Aug. 13 in an online ceremony, will honor “something old” and “something new.”
In a wedding of circumstance and happy coincidence, a first-time Prometheus-nominated author (the “something new” according to wedding custom) has been declared the winner in the Best Novel category, while the golden-age sf author most honored in the four-decade-plus history of this award is recognized anew.
Wil McCarthy, a prolific sf writer nominated for the first time for this award, has been selected by Libertarian Futurist Society members as winner of the Best Novel category for Rich Man’s Sky.
Meanwhile, the late great Robert Heinlein – a Prometheus favorite – will be recognized for his novel Citizen of the Galaxy, which will be inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction.
Heinlein (1907-1988), now an eight-time Prometheus Award winner, has won more Prometheus awards than any other writer, living or deceased.
Fittingly, Heinlein’s zestful spirit of adventure – championing scientific and social progress against tyranny and oppression and exploring libertarian possibilities of the future – is reflected in both of this year’s winners.
Wil McCarthy has developed a reputation as one of today’s most imaginative, zestful, pro-science and realistic science-fiction writers.
His 11 novels and additional stories blend a Heinlein-esque flair for action and adventure with hard-science extrapolations, plausible futuristic scenarios and interesting characters.
And yet, McCarthy has never been recognized or nominated for a Prometheus Award – until this year.
McCarthy was nominated for the first time for Rich Man’s Sky, recently named by Libertarian Futurist Society judges one of five Best Novel finalists. The fast-paced 2021 novel dramatizes a near-future space race led by a group of four quite different billionaires.
Even after building up a relatively consistent track record over 43 years, the Prometheus Awards can surprise by venturing here and there into new territory and new authors.
This year’s interesting and varied slate of five Best Novel finalists, selected from 16 nominees by LFS members serving as judges on the Best Novel finalist-selection committee, happens to reflect several intriguing “firsts” or rarities in the history of the awards.
Here are the five finalists, all published in 2021 and contenders for the 2022 Prometheus Award, to be presented online in August at a time and place to be announced:
• Between Home and Ruin, by Karl K. Gallagher (Kelt Haven Press, 227 pages) • Seize What’s Held Dear, by Karl K. Gallagher (Kelt Haven Press, 244 pages)
• Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber and Faber, 321 pages) • Rich Man’s Sky, by Wil McCarthy (Baen Books, 291 pages)
• Should We Stay Or Should We Go, by Lionel Shriver (Harper Collins, 266 pages)
Just from looking over the finalists list, can you guess any of those “firsts?
As a sort of fun “pop quiz,” why not take a moment to ponder that – before clicking over to the jump page of this blog, which has the answers.