The best of the blog: Six posts to savor from 2022 (about Bujold, Heinlein, Longyear, McCarthy and more)

By Michael Grossberg

Happy new year! If you didn’t have a chance to catch up in 2022 with every post published last year on The Prometheus Blog, you missed some fascinating and illuminating reading.

On average, the LFS posted a fresh article on the blog about every five days – a little more often than our initial weekly publication goal, when establishing the Prometheus blog years ago.

Among the 67 blog posts of 2022 were a wide range of reviews, essays, author interviews and Prometheus-Award-winner appreciations – not to mention a variety of timely news updates and links to interesting international articles referencing past Prometheus winners.

Second chances don’t always occur in life, but the start of 2023 offers an opportunity to look back and enjoy some of the best Prometheus blog reviews, essays, interviews and appreciations of the past year.

Here are capsule descriptions, in reverse chronological order of publication, of the first six of my 12 favorites, along with helpful links to each article:

* “A Study in Subtexts: Freedom, slavery and control in Prometheus winner Lois McMaster Bujold’s Sharing Knife series

It’s a rare pleasure to read a literary essay about a favorite author and learn so much more than you ever imagined about that author and her works – including a novel theme that can be appreciated best from a libertarian perspective.

That’s just one of the achievements of this insightful essay by William H. Stoddard about this fantasy series by Bujold, whose unrelated sf novel Falling Free was inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame.

* The Prometheus Interview: 2022 winner Wil McCarthy on Rich Man’s Sky, Heinlein and his return from hiatus

One of the most interesting types of stories to read on the Prometheus Blog are Q/A interviews – especially with Prometheus-winning authors.

Wil McCarthy surrounded by books (Photo: Baen Books)

This timely interview with McCarthy – which ended up being posted in three parts – offers valuable perspective on his writing and thinking that enhances one’s appreciation of the 2022 Prometheus Best Novel winner Rich Man’s Sky, which launched what promises to be an exciting sf trilogy set in a future as humans expand to explore, industrialize and colonize our solar system.

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

 

If I may toot my own horn, I am especially proud of my review-essay appreciation of Longyear’s Prometheus-winning novel, itself notable among the most thoughtful, probing and explicitly libertarian novels to win the Prometheus award.

If you haven’t read The Hook yet, read this appreciation first to whet your appetite.

Barry B. Longyear (Courtesy of author)

By the way, this Prometheus Blog post marked the culmination and completion of our three-year project to write and post appreciations in chronological order of every past Prometheus-winning work – so that libertarian sf fans and the general public can better understand why each work deserved such recognition and how each work reflects and dramatizes libertarian themes.

* Origin Story: What Heinlein’s previously unseen fiction and never-produced TV series reveal about his libertarian classic The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

Robert Heinlein (Creative Commons photo)

Heinlein’s many fans aren’t the only ones who can enjoy and learn more about the Grand Master and golden-age-sf author from this revelatory and historically informed essay, yet another by knowledgeable and prolific essayist William H. Stoddard.

One telling detail from the essay: Stoddard reveals how Heinlein’s largely libertarian approach to sf and his future history series includes an important but largely underestimated component: opposition to racism as irrational, and a hopeful and prescient view of a future in which racial intermarriage becomes common and nearly universally accepted (as it has today the United States) and in which a person’s race isn’t viewed as important (a goal that both Left and Right are still working on, sadly.)

* Slavery, family and a fight for liberty in a “juvenile” for all readers: An appreciation of Heinlein’s Citizen of the Galaxy, the 2002 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner


William H. Stoddard’s knowledgeable review-essay – also notable as the final blog post bringing up to date our appreciation series for the Hall of Fame category of winners – reminds fans why many of us view Citizen of the Galaxy as the best of Heinlein’s juveniles.

The essay also explains why “hatred of slavery is itself a libertarian theme, and a powerful one.”

* SF under assault, but ripe for rebirth: Two-time Prometheus winner Travis Corcoran’s 2022 awards-ceremony speech on the value of libertarian science fiction

Travis Corcoran wins his first Prometheus Award Photo: Courtesy of author

Why is libertarian science fiction important – and not just to libertarians? Author Travis Corcoran answers this question in his wide-ranging and surprising speech presenting the Best Novel category of this year’s award.

This post makes that video (also posted on the LFS website under the Video page) more accessible for those who want to read his speech in print.

His intro to the speech sets an apocalyptic tone: “The state of written science fiction in 2022 is a bit like the state of western civilization: under assault from all sides, hollowed out, a pale shadow of what it once was.”

But Travis takes the time to support his thesis with telling evidence, argument and resonant metaphors – tools that come naturally to this award-winning novelist – and ends up making a persuasive case for long-term optimism about the success of “written science fiction,” even in an era where technology makes possible effects-filled movies and video games that have brought often-cruder and more superficial sci-fi to the masses.

Up next: Six more blogs worth savoring and rereading from 2022

 

IF YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT US:

* Prometheus winners: For the full list of Prometheus winners, finalists and nominees – for the annual Best Novel and Best Classic Fiction (Hall of Fame) categories and occasional Special Awards – visit the enhanced Prometheus Awards page on the LFS website, which now includes convenient links to the full set of published appreciation-reviews of past winners.

* Read “The Libertarian History of Science Fiction,” an essay in the international magazine Quillette that favorably highlights the Prometheus Awards, the Libertarian Futurist Society and the significant element of libertarian sf/fantasy in the evolution of the modern genre.

Watch  videos of the 2022 Prometheus ceremony with Wil McCarthy, and past Prometheus Awards ceremonies, Libertarian Futurist Society panel discussions with noted sf authors and leading libertarian writers, and other LFS programs on the Prometheus Blog’s Video page.

Join us! To help sustain the Prometheus Awards, join the Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS), a non-profit all-volunteer association of freedom-loving sf/fantasy fans.

Libertarian futurists believe that culture matters! We understand that the arts and literature can be vital, and in some ways even more powerful than politics in the long run, by sparking innovation, better ideas, positive social change, and mutual respect for each other’s rights and differences.

Through recognizing the literature of liberty and the many different but complementary visions of a free future via the Prometheus Awards, the LFS hopes to help spread better visions of the future that help humanity overcome tyranny, slavery and war and achieve universal liberty and human rights and a better world (perhaps eventually, worlds) for all.

 

 

Published by

Michael Grossberg

Michael Grossberg, who founded the LFS in 1982 to help sustain the Prometheus Awards, has been an arts critic, speaker and award-winning journalist for five decades. Michael has won Ohio SPJ awards for Best Critic in Ohio and Best Arts Reporting (seven times). He's written for Reason, Libertarian Review and Backstage weekly; helped lead the American Theatre Critics Association for two decades; and has contributed to six books, including critical essays for the annual Best Plays Theatre Yearbook and an afterword for J. Neil Schulman's novel The Rainbow Cadenza. Among books he recommends from a libertarian-futurist perspective: Matt Ridley's The Rational Optimist & How Innovation Works, David Boaz's The Libertarian Mind and Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress.

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