Volume 30, Number 3, Spring 2012

2012 Prometheus Award winners

For the second time in its history, there is a tie for the Best Novel award. The two winners are The Freedom Maze (Small Beer Press) by Delia Sherman and Ready Player One (Random House) by Ernest Cline. The award for Best Classic Fiction (the “Hall of Fame” award) goes to “The Machine Stops,” a short story by E. M. Forster, written in 1909.

This was the first Prometheus nomination for both Sherman and Cline. Sherman’s credits include five fantasy novels and editing two collections. Ready Player One is Cline’s first novel; his official bio includes a variety of odd jobs, poetry slams and writing screenplays.

Delia Sherman’s young-adult fantasy novel focuses on an adolescent girl of 1960 who is magically sent back in time to 1860 when her family owned slaves on a Louisiana plantation. She’s mistaken for a light-skinned slave fathered by a plantation owner. She endures great hardships, commiserates with others suffering worse, works in the household and the fields, and sees the other slaves demonstrating their humanity in the face of incredible adversity. In the process, she comes to appreciate the values of honor, respect, courage, and personal responsibility.

Ernest Cline’s genre-busting blend of science fiction, romance, suspense, and adventure describes a virtual world that has managed to evolve an order without a state in which entrepreneurial gamers must solve virtual puzzles and battle real-life enemies to save their virtual world from domination and corruption. The main characters work together without meeting in the real world until near the end of the story. The novel stresses the importance of allowing open access to the Internet for everyone.

“The Machine Stops” by E.M. Forster was published in 1909. Forster described it as a reaction to H.G. Wells’s fiction. The story describes a future in which most people never leave their rooms and interact only through the Machine’s video and text facilities. People in this dystopia depend on the Machine for all their needs. When the Machine falls into disrepair and fails, the people are isolated from one another and many die, though Forster depicts it as a hopeful ending with a few wild humans on the surface likely to carry on and learn to be self-sufficient again.

The other finalists for the Best Novel award were The Children of the Sky (TOR Books) by Vernor Vinge, In the Shadow of Ares (Amazon Kindle edition) by Thomas L. James and Carl C. Carlsson, The Restoration Game (Pyr Books) by Ken MacLeod, and Snuff (Harper Collins) by Terry Pratchett. MacLeod has won three Best Novel awards, Vinge has won twice, and Pratchett has won once before.

The other finalists for the Hall of Fame award were “As Easy as A.B.C.,” a story by Rudyard Kipling (1912); “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman,” a story by Harlan Ellison (1965); and Falling Free, a novel by Lois McMaster Bujold (1988).

A list of past winners of LFS awards can be found on the LFS web site at http://www.lfs.org

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