LFS members have nominated eight works for the next Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction.
Among them are one song, a novelette, a collection of linked short stories, two short stories and three novels – reflecting the many forms of fiction that are eligible for consideration in this Prometheus category.
With the nominations deadline having passed in September, here is the final list of this year’s nominees:
* The End of Eternity, a 1955 novel by Isaac Asimov
* “Free Men,” a 1966 novelette by Robert Heinlein
* “Primary Education of the Camiroi,” a 1966 short story by R.A. Lafferty
* That Hideous Strength, a 1945 novel by C.S. Lewis
* Circus World, a 1981 collection of linked stories by Barry B. Longyear
* “The Trees,” a 1978 song by Neal Peart and Rush
* The Truth, a 2000 novel by Terry Pratchett
* “Or Give Me Death,” a 1955 short story by Donald Westlake
Overall, the above list of 2022 nominees for the 2023 award offers a diverse range of interesting sf/fantasy works, each with some pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian themes.
We invite LFS members – who vote to select the annual Hall of Fame winner after a slate of typically four or five finalists are selected – to begin familiarizing themselves with any works they may not have read (or heard) before.
Four of the above works have been nominated for the first time for the Hall of Fame: Heinlein’s “Free Men,” Lafferty’s “Primary Education of the Camiroi,” Pratchett’s The Truth and Westlake’s “Or Give Me Death.”
Heinlein has been recognized with more Prometheus Awards – all in the Hall of Fame category – than any other author. “Free Men,” available in the anthologies The Worlds of Robert A. Heinlein and Expanded Universe (volume one), centers on guerrilla fighters resisting an occupation and offers several inspirational quotations explicitly about the value of liberty.
“Primary Education of the Camiroi,” first published in “Galaxy” magazine in December 1966 and available in the Lafferty collections Nine Hundred Grandmothers and The Best of R.A Lafferty, offers a critique of government-run education.
Pratchett’s novel The Truth offers a satirical but insightful parallel history lesson about the rise of newspapers and the importance of freedom of expression.
Set in Discworld in the great city of Ankh-Morpork, the novel charts how the city got its first newspaper, how a free press affected one of the city’s repeated power struggles and how it is viewed by the city’s ruler.
Westlake’s story, which is available in his Meteor Strike anthology, focuses on Patrick Henry and freedom.
Under long-established rules, no work that wins a Prometheus Award is eligible to be nominated again in any category. Thus, if they don’t win right away, the LFS might well see some of these works nominated again by LFS members in future years – as some have been before.
The Truth, a 2001 Best Novel finalist, was eligible to be nominated for the first time in the Hall of Fame category because it’s been 20 years since its first publication.
Unlike the other Prometheus Awards annual category for Best Novel, limited to one-time nominations of novels published during each calendar year, the Prometheus Hall of Fame permits and even encourages repeated nominations of any eligible works that don’t end up winning.
Three of this year’s nominees were ranked as finalists last year:
* That Hideous Strength, a 1945 novel by C. S. Lewis (Book 3 of his Space Trilogy), revolves around a sociologist and his wife who discover a totalitarian conspiracy and diabolical powers scheming to take control of humanity, in the guise of a progressive-left, Nazi-like organization working for a centrally planned pseudo-scientific society literally hell-bent to control all human life. Its cautions about the therapeutic state and the rising ideology of scientism (science not as the value-free pursuit of truth, but as an elitist justification for social control) seem prescient today.
* Circus World, a 1981 collection of linked stories by Barry B. Longyear that imagines how Earth’s circus troupes have evolved on a far-distant planet into a circus- and magic-defined culture without a government but with strongly individualistic, voluntary and cooperative social norms and only One Law, designed to make it nearly impossible to impose government regulations or other legislation, that helps the planet’s citizens peacefully cooperate in resistance against coercive human invasion and statist tyranny.
* “The Trees,” a 1978 song with pointed lyrics by Rush (released on the Canadian rock group’s album Hemispheres), concisely and poetically presents a fable of envy, revolution, and coercive egalitarianism that threatens the survival and individuality of different kinds of trees.
Rounding out the slate of Hall of Fame nominees is Asimov’s The End of Eternity, first nominated in 2021.
Again, one potential benefit of the way our Prometheus Hall of Fame works is that candidates that prove of continued interest and worth may be reconsidered in subsequent years – and sometimes do work their way up in the judges’ rankings to become finalists, and thus more broadly known by LFS members.
In The End of Eternity, about a time-traveling organization that attempts to control and shape history on the basis of mathematical analysis, Asimov takes a probing look at the flaws in some of his own ideas – especially how biased motivations and unforeseen consequences can undermine the same type of technocratic central planning that he envisioned for the psycho-historians in his Foundation series.
THE HALL OF FAME JUDGING PROCESS
The LFS extends its appreciation to the judges serving on the Hall of fame finalist judging committee: Michael Grossberg, Tom Jackson, Bryan Knight, Tim Kompara, Eric S. Raymond, William H. Stoddard, and A.R. “Rich” Wasem.
Led by Stoddard, the judges are reading and discussing the nominees and are expected to vote for the next slate of finalists by December.
So stay tuned…
* 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.
* Prometheus winners: For the 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.
* 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.