Volume 24, Number 1, Fall 2005

Best Novel Winner

The System of the World, Neal Stephenson (William Morrow)

The Libertarian Futurist Society, as you might expect, has gone against the grain of every other award-giving organization in the world by asking winners to deliver long acceptance speeches. This places me in a quandary in that I believe that there is a special circle of hell reserved for people who do that, especially those who deputize others to read those speeches in their places. If I were in Glasgow, I wouldn’t want to sit and listen to a windy speech. I’d want this thing to be over so I could head for the pub. Being one-quarter Scottish, I can see a long line of my MacPhail ancestors glancing at their watches, glaring at me, and drawing their thumbs across their throats.

So I will just say thank you to the Libertarian Futurist Society for honoring me with this award. I would also like to give my compliments to the other nominees. Given the subject matter, particularly of the final volume in The Baroque Cycle, I am delighted that the award is a golden coin. One of the tricks used by counterfeiters in the old days was to make a heads and a tails out of gold foil and then fill the middle with solder. There was a simple way to detect such fakes: put the coin between your teeth (assuming you still had any) and bite down. Solder, being a soft material, would come away with teeth marks. Now, if this gold coin had come from any other organization, I’d just put it up on the shelf and admire it, since one should never look a gift horse in the mouth, or put a gift coin between your teeth. But I know enough Libertarians to know that they would only be irritated by my unquestioning assumption that this thing was real, and so I would like you to know that, with respect, I’m biting down hard on this one.

Now off to the pub with you.

—Neal Stephenson, author, The System of the World, 28 July 2005

Hall of Fame

The Weapon Shops of Isher, A. E. Van Vogt (1951)

“I am happy and honored for this award. I am pleased that the works of A. E. van Vogt are still remembered today. I am so grateful to the Libertarian Futurist Society for honoring The Weapon Shops of Isher.”

—Lydia van Vogt

Special Award

The Probability Broach: The Graphic Novel

L. Neil Smith and Scott Bieser

It’s difficult to express adequately my delight that the graphic version of my 1980 novel The Probability Broach has won a special Prometheus Award of its own. For me, it’s a little like having sold the Brooklyn Bridge—twice!

I’m very happy that Win Bear and Lucy Kropotkin and all their friends (and mortal enemies) continue to win allies for the cause of liberty and libertarianism. The past 25 years have taken them (and me) on many strange and interesting adventures. I wonder what lies ahead for all of us now.

It’s especially pleasing that the great work of my friend and partner, Scott Bieser, is being recognized in this way. He has a fabulous knack for taking my words and turning them into the exact images that were in my head, and he has a great gift for words himself that is rare among graphic artists. I think it’s fair to say that we’re rapidly becoming the Gilbert and Sullivan (or at least the Martin and Lewis) of the movement. Sadly, there aren’t enough of us to be Marx Brothers.

So thank you, Libertarian Futurists, for making my year, and for what amounts to a three-and-a-halfth Prometheus Award to hang on my office wall. Whenever I feel professionally gloomy, all I have to do is look up at them, in order to convince myself that there is a point to the struggle, after all.

— L. Neil Smith, author,
The Probability Broach: The Graphic Novel (BigHead Press)
Fort Collins, Colorado
August, 2005

My thanks to the judges who chose to give us this award, which may be the second Prometheus award for The Probability Broach but it’s the first for me. There are few things in life sweeter than a public “atta-boy” from such a learned and discerning group as the Libertarian Futurist Society.

I’d like to acknowledge two more libertarians, besides Neil Smith and myself, without whom this book would not have been made.

On a Yahoo mailing list on 2002, it was Lux Lucre who first suggested re-writing Neil’s first novel as a comic-book series, which would later be re-published as a trade-paperback “graphic novel.” Lux is, as some of you know, the Cyberspace name for the late Kerry Pearson of Canada, who was a passionate supporter of both liberty and science-fiction and well known on, it would seem, virtually every Internet forum and mailing list dealing these topics. Lux and Neil and I and some others discussed the details, and the idea mutated somewhat—the story would not easily divide into 24-page segments, so we dropped the comic-book series and designed the project to be a full-size book from the outset.

Neil and I created several sample pages from the story and I shopped the book around to the half-dozen comic publishers I knew of who both produce graphic novels and respect creators’ rights. It was a time-intensive and sometimes daunting process, and I might have given up at several points, but Lux’s enthusiasm for this project convinced me that I was on the right track, so I persevered, and got some—interesting—comments, but no offers.

So up comes another libertarian sci-fi fan, my brother Frank Bieser, who had just recently cashed out of the dot-com business, decided this would be a good time to go into the publishing business, and founded BigHead Press. And as a result, our graphic novel idea could be made real.

By the time we set up the arrangements to start the art production, Kerry was working on other projects and did not become part of the production team. However we did touch base from time to time on the book’s progress. I was just a bit past two-thirds through the art pages when word of Kerry’s sudden demise reached me, and I was shocked and saddened along with the many hundreds of other friends he had made in cyberspace.

So Neil and I agreed to put Kerry into the book, assuming one of the roles from the original prose story. Kerry is the private security chief aboard the airship San Francisco Palace who we meet after the kidnappings, and I hope he would have liked the rendition.

Frank also appears in the book, as do many of my friends and family, as part of various crowd scenes. But as he is still, I’m very happy to say, still among the living, he seeks his reward in the form of a profitable publishing company. So I hope everyone who appreciates my brother’s role in providing quality libertarian science-fiction will show it by purchasing copies of The Probability Broach: The Graphic Novel for their friends as well as themselves.

Thank you

— Scott Bieser, artist,
The Probability Broach: The Graphic Novel (BigHead Press)

Special Award

Give Me Liberty & Visions of Liberty

Edited by Mark Tier and Martin H. Greenberg

As a libertarian and a science fiction fan it’s a real honor that the Libertarian Future Society has made these Special Awards to Give Me Liberty and Visions of Liberty.

The idea for these books began in conversations with a good friend of mine, Dan Rosenthal (the title Visions of Liberty was his idea, by the way). We both thought it would be great to have “hard libertarian” science fiction stories like Vernor Vinge’s “The Ungoverned” and Eric Frank Russell’s “And Then There Were None” collected together in one volume.

This was around 1990. Back then, there were no such anthologies—this was long before Free Space came out.

I gathered together some of the stories that finally appeared in Give Me Liberty. But I had no real idea about how to go about getting it published.

Then one day I had the idea of contacting Martin Greenberg whose name I knew of course from the anthologies of his that I had on my shelves. I knew from Asimov’s biography that he lived in Green Bay, Wisconsin. So I phoned information, got a phone number, talked to him and proposed the idea.

He seemed to think it was a good one which really tickled me pink. I guess I more or less expected that if some total stranger phones you out of the blue with an off-the-wall idea, the chances of having the idea welcomed would be negligible.

Nevertheless, quite some time went by until Marty managed to interest Jim Baen in the project—and even more time went by before they were published. Often, I thought they’d never come out.

Visions of Liberty is certainly a book that could never have happened without Marty’s involvement. I’m positive that if I had approached authors like Lloyd Biggle and James Hogan—and I’m not sure I’d have had the chutzpah to approach a Grand Master like Jack Williamson—with a request they write a story for me it would’ve been ignored.

So in addition to thanking the authors, who wrote such great stories, and the LFS for deciding they deserved this award, I want to especially thank Marty Greenberg and his associate John Helfers as without their involvement and dedication, neither Give Me Liberty and Visions of Liberty would ever have seen the light of day.

— Mark Tier, co-editor,
Visions of Liberty and Give Me Liberty (Baen Books)

Mark (Tier) deserves the credit here—he brought the idea to me, and he supported and worked hard on both books. I should also like to thank the LFS for this recognition, and of course, the writers that we reprinted and those who wrote such wonderful stories for us from scratch.

— Martin H. Greenberg, co-editor,
Visions of Liberty and Give Me Liberty (Baen Books)

As a longtime friend of Jim Baen, in addition to being the contributor of one of the stories in Visions of Liberty, I feel it doubly appropriate to be here on Baen Books’ behalf. The theme of this collection, societies free from government restraint on the creative powers of individual initiative, seems particularly timely.

In my own story, “The Colonizing of Tharle,” two administrative departments on Earth each think that the other is responsible for a colony established at a distant star, with the result that there is no contact with it for over a hundred years. It doesn’t strike anyone as significant that nobody from the colony has troubled to inform Earth of the fact. When the error is discovered, a diplomatic mission is hastily dispatched to rectify things.

Attempts to contact the governing authority get nowhere because there doesn’t seem to be one. And the natives have evolved their own notions of economics. To their way of thinking, the system that rules Earth—where everyone tries to grab as much as they can get, and give in return as little as they can get away with—simply can’t work. So how do they do it? To them, only one way is possible. They way they are taught is, “Always give a little more than you promised; take a little less.”

I am delighted to accept this award in recognition of such stories. Their message is surely relevant to realizing the kind of world we would all like to see one day. Thank you.

— James P. Hogan

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