Volume 16, Number 4, Fall, 1998

Prometheus Awards

The 1998 Prometheus Awards were presented at Bucconeer, the 56th Worldcon, held in Baltimore, Md., on Thursday, August 6. An audience of forty or so people attended the late afternoon ceremony.

Scheduling problems required a quick shuffling of presenters. Science fiction fan and Libertarian Party activist Ron Crickenberger graciously agreed on the spot to present the Prometheus Award.

Ron Crickenberger: There’s actually a small problem with me presenting the Prometheus Award tonight, and that’s because I’m not yet a member of the Prometheus Society (LFS). And it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and I figured that right now would probably be the most appropriate time, before I present the Award, so in order to become an Advisory member, I’d like to present you with—unfortunately I don’t have any real money, I’m going to have to use Federal Reserve notes, is that okay? (Much laughter from audience).

A lot of people know that if I’m at a libertarian gathering it’s not uncommon for me to stand up and ask other people to donate to whatever cause I’m working for at that particular moment, so I’d like to encourage the folks in the room as well if you are not yet a member of the Prometheus Society please do what I’ve just done and join at the end of the program.

The Prometheus Award was started back in 1979, I believe by L. Neil Smith, and has been presented for the best libertarian science fiction work ever since then. The award is a very very nice award. It has a very libertarian theme to it, it is a gold coin, which we can all appreciate as being real money, not the federal reserve notes that our government prints out for us. The finalists of the Prometheus Awards for this year:

And the winner is—and we’ll have to fake the envelope being ripped open here—the winner of the Prometheus Award for this year is Ken MacLeod for The Stone Canal.

Ken is unfortunately not able to be with us this evening so accepting the award for him is his friend and writer Pat Cadigan.

Pat Cadigan: As someone pointed out this is not unlike having Hunter S. Thompson address a meeting of the DEA. But the fact is it is a tribute to the spirit of libertarianism that not only can an old Bolshevik like me address a gathering like you, but Robert Heinlein and I were friends from 1976 to the day he died. And he taught me an awful lot about freedom and how to be civilized.

Anyway, on behalf of Ken MacLeod I’m very happy to accept this award and Ken says, “Well folks, you seem to have done it again. You’ve gone and given the award to a book which American publishers think American readers would’t understand. Too British don’t you know. Too left-wing.” Did you guys give him the right award?

“And we all know that a serious interest in libertarianism and a serious interest in sf just don’t overlap right?” And I quote, “Hah!” That’s just the way he wrote it, too.

“So what can I say. First of all thanks. Thanks to all of you for considering it and to the judges for choosing it. The award means a great deal to me personally and professionally. It means a lot to me to be mentioned in the same breath as the other finalists. To mention only one because he’s been around longer than any of us: Poul Anderson. His stories, ‘The Last of the Deliverers,’ and ‘The Three-Cornered Wheel’ had a permanent effect on my mind for which I want to specially thank him now.” I second that. Works for me, how about you?

“Second I have to say I agree with another finalist, L. Neil Smith on one thing at least: ‘You can’t win a culture war when you ain’t got any culture.’” Hey, I’m quoting okay?

“We have got the beginnings of a culture, like Jon Wilde says in The Stone Canal, ‘My shaky pile of books by Proudhon & Tucker & Herbert & Spencer, Robert Heinlein and Robert Anton Wilson was building up to a reliable launch tower of the mind.’ Let’s add to it, let’s join with the Libertarian Futurist Society in building more launch towers of the mind.” Even an old Bolshevik like me isn’t going to argue with that.

“Third, thanks again and best wishes to you all for space and freedom and the green hills of earth.”

And I must say thank you. It’s nice to have some real money to get back to the UK with so just in case I get into trouble. Can I call you guys if I get caught at customs with this gold coin?

To present the Hall of Fame award which goes to one of the classic sf books that also has a libertarian theme our next presenter will be Bill Ritch.

Bill Ritch: I’d like to continue a certain tradition established here three minutes ago by renewing my membership. Back when I was editor I actually got a free membership, but you know there ain’t no such thing as a free membership.

The Hall of Fame is an award given to books that might have been overlooked for previous Prometheus Awards because it didn’t exist when this book was published or because the book has withstood the test of time and may not have been honored when the book first came out. There has been some severe competition in the past years. The nominees for the Hall of Fame award are:

The winner is Time Enough for Love by Robert A. Heinlein.

I’m also accepting this award for Mrs. Virginia Heinlein. With all but two of the Hall of Fame nominees currently deceased so they cannot accept it themselves, I really want to thank you all for letting me accept this award for Mrs. Heinlein. Robert Heinlein has been the keystone to my libertarianism.

A few years ago Jerome Tuccille wrote a book about how people become libertarian, called It Usually Begins with Ayn Rand. And I’m sure for lots of libertarians out there it began with Ayn Rand. With me it began with Robert A. Heinlein and it began with a novel called Have Space Suit Will Travel, which I read when I was in third grade, a brilliant subtly libertarian book. So I’m very pleased whenever Heinlein wins the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award.

This is actually nice for a time for love because the later Heinlein is quite often criticized especially among sf fans who aren’t libertarians. And this is a novel that is really wonderful in its libertarian theme and its exploration of the character of Lazarus Long. It is a wonderful book and I’m really thankful to have it honored here today. Also, there is a current trend in modern sf to say that Robert Heinlein wasn’t a libertarian, wasn’t even right wing. There are people out there who say this, I swear there are people out there who say this and all I have to do is tell them read the damn books, read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, read Starship Troopers, read Time Enough for Love, read Doublestar. Read almost any book, read If This Goes On published in 1940. If Robert A. Heinlein isn’t a libertarian, then what are we? Jesus Christ, you know? I digress.

Mrs. Heinlein will be receiving this in September when we go visit her and I want to thank you all who voted for this book and even thank you people who didn’t vote for it. She’ll appreciate it. She has several Prometheus Awards and several Hugos and I know she values the Prometheus Awards even more. Thank you very much.

LFS next presented a special award to Free Space, the first ever libertarian sf anthology, edited by Brad Linaweaver and Edward Kramer. Kramer was on hand to accept the award.

Edward Kramer: Thank you very much for this opportunity. Brad and I spent a lot of time thinking about how we would achieve an anthology like this. How we would get this out to the general population. How not to have it billed overtly as a libertarian anthology to get in the way of sales to the general marketplace. We spent a lot of time and effort directing how the book would be put together and the selection of stories and authors making sure that every Prometheus Award winner was included in this anthology. We’re very incredibly happy with this book as is TOR and Tom Doherty. Kings of the High Frontier

The trade edition of this book will come out this October through TOR. It says a lot that it went to trade as opposed to paperback and we want to start another push using the reviews that have been exceptionally good for the stories. And especially Bob Sawyers’ which is nominated for a Hugo for best short story. If he wins the Hugo Award—which I really would like him to do—that would be a huge bonus for the book and for the additional reviews it may get.

Thank you all for your support, for purchasing the book; the book has done very well as hardcover. And TOR is exceptionally pleased with the results and with the product and I think this is a start. I think an additional book like this will follow.

One final thing just making note again of Victor Koman’s Kings of the High Frontier. Vince Harper of Bereshith Publishing is here. We’re taking the field by storm. Thank you very much.

The Prometheus Award ceremony then concluded. Next year’s award ceremony will most likely take place at the NASFiC in Anaheim, Calif.

Editor: Above is the cover of Victor Koman’s Kings of the High Frontier. See page 2 for ordering information. Let me add that this is a personal endorsement. Nonetheless, when this book won the 1997 Prometheus Award it was available only as an electronic book. This is the first print edition, and deserves attention on this page that deals with the Prometheus Awards.

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