Before 2022 ends, it’s worth noting that the Prometheus Awards reached a pretty big milestone this year.
It involves a nice round number, too: 100 – the total number of works recognized by the Prometheus Awards in all three categories since the award was established more than four decades ago.
From 1979, when the very first Prometheus Award was presented to F. Paul Wilson’s novel Wheels Within Wheels, through 2022, 90 works of fiction have been recognized in the Libertarian Futurist Society’s two annual categories for Best Novel and Best Classic Fiction.
That includes 44 novels that have won a Prometheus for Best Novel, including this year’s newest winner: Rich Man’s Sky by Wil McCarthy.
And it includes 46 works – novels, novellas, stories, a graphic novel, an anthology and a TV series – that have been inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction.
Plus, 10 works have received Special Prometheus Awards – including three libertarian sf anthologies, two films, two graphic novels, a novella, a filk song and (most recently in 2017) a webcomic series.
That adds up to 100 Prometheus-recognized works in all three categories, a milestone that deserves to be celebrated for several reasons.
DEDICATION, PERSISTENCE HELPED SUSTAIN AWARDS OVER DECADES
First, those 100 Prometheus winners reflect a whole lot of mostly hidden work, dedication and persistence that Libertarian Futurist Society members have invested over more than four decades.
So special thanks go to the many LFS judges who’ve served over the years on different finalist-judging committees. Judges, drawn from volunteer LFS members and approved by the LFS board, read the nominees and select a slate of annual finalists in both categories to be submitted to the general membership.
LFS members, who participate in reading and ranking the finalists every spring and summer to determine the winners, also spend countless hours, days, weeks and months each year searching for and reading eligible and worthy candidates that fit the distinctive focus of the Prometheus Awards. (Frankly, in some weaker years, it can feel like searching for needles in a haystack – or perhaps a better metaphor, like mining for gold or rare gems.)
Not all of the potential candidates that are read end up being formally nominated by LFS members in either annual category, but enough do that the respective finalist-judging committees for Best Novel and Best Classic Fiction can spend a good part of their time through roughly six months reading them, discussing them, ranking them and ultimately judging which works deserve the honor of becoming Prometheus Award finalists.
At that point, once finalists are announced in each category, all LFS members have the right and privilege to consider the finalists and vote to select the annual winners.
Thus, an enormous amount of thoughtful effort goes into each year’s awards process, and even more has gone into sustaining both the awards and the LFS over the past four-plus decades.
Thanks go to every LFS member and libertarian sf-fan who has helped sustain the Prometheus Awards since the late 1970s – with special appreciation for Victoria Varga, the LFS Director from the mid-1980s through 1998, who coordinated awards judging and the annual mailed ballots (back before email became the default) before more formal awards-finalist-selection committees were established.
A DISTINCTIVE TWO-PART JUDGING PROCESS
Our multi-leveled awards-judging process makes the Prometheus Awards notable and perhaps unique in sf/fantasy and even the wider realm of mainstream literary awards.
“The Prometheus Award is an interesting case … Four decades is an impressive achievement.The current process is an interesting mixture of popular award (all members of the Society can nominate works for any category) and juried (committees for each category use ranked ballots to produce the finalist slate),” columnist James Davis Nicoll wrote in “40 Years of the Prometheus Award,” overall a highly admiring article published in April 2019 on TOR.com.
“The results are as remarkable as the award’s longevity … the LFS ranges far outside the borders of conventional American libertarian thought … with equally diverse selections on the nominee lists.This [past winners and finalists’] list is, I think, a reminder of just why following this particular award can be rewarding for readers of all stripes,” Nicoll wrote.
In its longevity as well as its track record, the Prometheus Awards has been growing in visibility and respect over the decades – as author-songwriter Leslie Fish, a frequent sf-con guest of honor, noted in a recent interview.
“(In sf fandom), the Prometheus is now considered third place after the Hugo and Nebula,” Fish said.
A HANDY SUGGESTED READING LIST
Finally, as a result of the Prometheus Awards, both libertarians and sf/fantasy fans now have a recommended reading list of pro-freedom and anti-authoritarian sf and fantasy that’s worth perusing – not only to check against your favorites but also to find hidden and overlooked gems.
Moreover, the honor roll of past Prometheus winners is an impressive one, reflecting a wide variety of topnotch authors, themes, subjects, stories and views about the possibilities of freedom – in the future, in space and right here on Earth.
Any interested parent or grandparent can check out the Young Adult Honor Roll, listing the past winners that are most appropriate for younger readers, for birthday and holiday gifts or to pass on recommended-reading suggestions to their children or grandchildren.
And any member of the public, curious about the Prometheus Awards and wondering how particular works of fiction reflect its focus, now can discover the answers with a few quick clicks.
Just visit the LFS website’s Prometheus Awards page, which now has a full set of links next to each winning title that quickly connect you to each of the review-essay Appreciations of each winner that have been published on the Prometheus Blog over the past three years.
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.