Which sf/fantasy literary awards are the most worthwhile? (You might be surprised how high the Prometheus award ranks)

Naturally, the Prometheus Awards are important to Libertarian Futurist Society members and other freedom-loving sf/fantasy fans.

Gold coins are used as prizes in the Prometheus Awards

But where does our award rank among other sf/fantasy literary awards in the considered opinion of leading sf/fantasy editors?

Prominent sf/fantasy novelist Charles Stross, who won the 2007 Prometheus Award for Best Novel for Glasshouse, shared a private conversation with a top editor that actually ranks the Prometheus Award quite high.

In a conversation circa 2005-2010 that Stross had with Ginjer Buchanan, now-retired but then his editor at Ace, he asked his editor what are the most useful sf/fantasy literary awards.

Buchanan’s short and savvy answer only rated four awards as worthwhile to win: the Hugo award (but only for best novel), and three others, each of which comes with a substantial prize: the Philip K. Dick, Arthur C. Clarke and Prometheus awards.

That’s pretty fine company to be in!

In Stross’ blog post earlier this year, he commented:

“Some time circa 2005-2010 I asked my then-editor at Ace, Ginjer Buchanan (who has now retired), what the most useful SF/F literary awards were.

“She chuckled, then replied to the effect that none of them were worth a bucket of warm spit except for:

(a) the Philip K. Dick and Arthur C. Clarke awards (because they came with a cheque for the winner) and the Prometheus Award (which comes with a plaque bearing a 1 Troy ounce 23 carat gold coin), and

(b) the Hugo for best novel (and only best novel), which doesn’t sell more copies, but Hugo-winning novels tend to stay in print longer.”


Of course, most authors appreciate receiving awards – whether or not they comes with gold or cash prizes.

Such recognition can hearten a writer, and perhaps motivate them to keep writing in the knowledge that they don’t just have a few fans but enough in a particular area to spark some type of awards recognition.

But the Ace editor did seem to have a practical point about the additional value of a handful of awards – in three of her four cases, offering tangible benefits beyond the honor itself.

It’s something to keep in mind, as LFS members read and rank the 2024 finalists for the annual Best Novel and Best Classic Fiction categories, knowing that the respective winners will each receive both a plaque and a gold coin.

L. Neil Smith in the 1980s (Creative Commons license)

And with the rising price of gold in this inflationary era of mounting debts and declining fiscal sanity, the Prometheus Award may be even more valuable by offering such a tangible and enduring sign of our respect and admiration for our annual winners.

The late novelist L. Neil Smith, who conceived the Prometheus Awards in the 1970s and established that the award would be given annually with a gold prize, would be proud that his vision has lasted over the decades, received such recognition and born such tangible fruit.


* Prometheus winners: For the full list of Prometheus winners, finalists and nominees – including 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 all published essay-reviews in our Appreciation series explaining why each of more than 100 past winners since 1979 fits the awards’ distinctive dual focus on both quality and liberty.

* 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 past Prometheus Awards ceremonies (including the recent 2023 ceremony with inspiring and amusing speeches by Prometheus-winning authors Dave Freer and Sarah Hoyt),Libertarian Futurist Society panel discussions with noted sf authors and leading libertarian writers, and other LFS programs on the Prometheus Blog’s Video page.

* Check out the Libertarian Futurist Society’s Facebook page  for comments, updates and links to Prometheus Blog posts.

Join us! To help sustain the Prometheus Awards and support a cultural and literary strategy to appreciate and honor freedom-loving fiction,  jointhe Libertarian Futurist Society, 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 in envisioning a freer and better future – and in some ways can be even more powerful than politics in the long run, by imagining better visions of the future incorporating innovation, peace, prosperity, positive social change, and mutual respect for each other’s rights, individuality and human dignity.

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.