Who are the most nominated authors in Prometheus history? Here’s the top-ten list


Who are the most popular authors in Prometheus Awards history?

Prometheus, the light bringer (Creative Commons license)

One could answer that question in several different ways, such as looking at a bestselling writer’s number of books sold or in print – or more narrowly, in terms of our award, comparing the number of Prometheus Awards different writers have won over the decades in different categories. (The Prometheus Blog will explore the latter perspective in later postings.)

But let’s focus first on one parameter that roughly reflects the ongoing popularity and relevance of different sf/fantasy authors among LFS members over more than four decades: How many times an author has simply been nominated by LFS members for a Prometheus Award.

Without peeking at the next page or examining the track record of past winners on the LFS website’s Prometheus Awards page, how many of the Top Ten most popular authors can you guess?

Just in terms of the number of nominations different authors have received since the Prometheus Award was first presented in 1979, interesting patterns emerge that reflect the broad and diverse individual tastes and values of Libertarian Futurist Society members.

F. Paul Wilson (Creative Commons license)

The most-nominated author also happens to be the writer who won the very first Prometheus Award: F. Paul Wilson.

Yet, close behind Wilson’s record 20 Prometheus nominations (in all categories) comes L. Neil Smith, with 18 nominations.

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

Smith conceived the Prometheus Award in the late 1970s and, after a group of libertarian science fiction fans presented the first one in 1979 to Wilson, the award fell into hiatus until the Libertarian Futurist Society was formed in 1982 to resurrect and sustain the award.

Ken MacLeod (Creative Commons photo)

After Wilson and Smith, the number of Prometheus nominations drops noticeably for other authors, with Ken MacLeod and the late James P. Hogan tied for third place – with 13 nominations each.

James Hogan (Creative Commons license)

Rounding out the top five is Neal Stephenson, with 10 nominations.

Here is the Top Ten list of the writers with the most Best Novel nominations, ranked with the largest number of nominations first:

F. Paul Wilson – 20
L. Neil Smith – 18
James P. Hogan – 13
Ken MacLeod – 13
Neal Stephenson – 10
Michael Flynn – 8
Charles Stross – 8
Cory Doctorow – 7
Marc Stiegler – 7
Harry Turtledove – 7

Two-time Prometheus winner Michael Flynn (Creative Commons license)

While Smith and Hogan are no longer with us – and most recently, Flynn also passed Sept. 30, 2023, prompting a Prometheus Blog obit and tribute – all the other writers are happily still alive and presumably still active in writing sf/fantasy – which means that more nominations might be in their future.

So stay tuned…

P.S. Keep in mind that LFS members have the right to nominate any eligible works for the Prometheus Award in both annual categories for Best Novel and Best Classic Fiction (the Hall of Fame) – as well as the occasional category for Special Awards.

Thus, the number of nominations different authors receive may not reflect the informed consensus of LFS awards-finalist judges or the ultimate verdict of LFS members when voting for each year’s award winners.


* 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 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, 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.

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