Volume 16, Number 2, Spring, 1998

News on libertarian fiction

Libertarians are mentioned in Nebula Awards 32 (Harcourt Brace), the latest collection of the Science Fiction Writers of America’s choices for the best sf and fantasy of the year.

In fact, the Prometheus Awards are implicitly mentioned in one of the introductory essays about the year in review.

In Ian Watson’s essay covering “The British Scene,” he has this to say about a former Prometheus Award winner whose latest book is a finalist this year:

“Scotsman Ken MacLeod’s splendid first novel, The Star Fraction, is currently a great success among American Libertarians, despite being slightly left of Trotsky. In The Stone Canal MacLeod ploughs the same individualistic furrow with bells and hyperboosters on. In the student union bar of Glasgow University in 1975, young militants hold forth about radical politics. Mine’s a pint, och aye, have another cigarette.

“Some centuries later, a robot resurrects one of the militants far away in the galaxy on a planet resembling Mars. Linking the two loci is a cosmic wormhole which artificial intelligences have created—and also a long-lasting rivalry over a lass. Unfortunately, the AIs have become dangerously loony. Many enigmas confront us, about identity and reality and imitation, which are the wellspring of this book.

“With superb dry wit and acumen and passion—and great alertness to tone of voice—MacLeod fuses futuristics and revolutionary activism. Action abounds. Gems of naughty, droll subtext bristle. Next century, of course traditional Afghan rug motifs will be AK-47s and MiGs. And everybody smokes cigarettes as often as possible, not to fill in lulls in the narrative (there aren’t any) but as a declaration of liberty.”

It’s an interesting mention of libertarians and one of the decade’s up-and-coming writers in one of the most important and influential anthologies recently published in both hardback and trade paperback editions.

—Michael Grossberg

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