When my novel Alongside Night was published 10 years ago, people called the book science fiction because it portrayed a vision of the near future which included street people dominating New York's Fifth Avenue, Europe as a single confederation, the government of the United States held hostage to its own massive debt, and an army of black market dealers so powerful that the United States of America shuddered before it.
Now these are today's headlines.
Well, so much for the thought that science fiction is escapism.
This is an important award.
No, it doesn't have half a million dollars attached to it like the Nobel Prize.
No, we aren't being broadcast into half the living rooms on Earth like the Academy Awards.
No, the winner of this award will not have his picture in the New York Times tomorrow.
This award does not even have the prestige with the general public to ensure that a work winning it will remain in print. Alongside Night went through a hardcover edition and two paperback editions; it is currently out of print and the Hall of Fame Award will not convince a publisher to put it back into the bookstores. It doesn't matter; the next edition of Alongside Night will be available in a few weeks … direct to your personal computer. I'll be signing disks after next year's Prometheus Awards ceremony.
This is nonetheless an important award. It may well be the most important award being given out on the planet today.
The year in which this award is being given out is the year of Tienanmen Square … where the world saw a freedom movement assassinated with guns, gas and clubs…and one lone freedom fighter hold back a tank with nothing more than courage.
The year in which this award is being given out is also the year that, almost 50 years to the day from its invasion by a foreign power, the people of Poland found themselves free from domination by foreign powers.
The year in which this award is being given out is the year that the United States government finding itself without a foreign power of any magnitude to oppose it, decided to begin expanding its empire over the continent to its south, because while the War on Drugs may not be much of a war, it's the only war we've got
We live in a world in which freedom of any sort is a precarious and expensive commodity. The victories by the forces of darkness are the lead stories in every newscast, on the front pages of every news publication. I find that about 75 percent of what is labeled news on the evening newscast is government propaganda, not even rewritten enough to disguise its purpose.
Those who choose to see the world as it is, and write about how it might be and ought to be, are a small but hardy band. I am proud to be in a room with Prometheus laureates Victor Koman and Brad Linaweaver. When our oppressors no longer write the books on literary history, these names will shine.
I am proud to win an award whose previous winners include George Orwell, Robert Heinlein, Ayn Rand, Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea, C. M. Kornbluth, Alfred Bester and Ray Bradbury. When our oppressors no longer write the books on literary history, these names will shine.
I am proud that my book was chosen out of as prestigious a collection of works as Zamyatin's We, Rand's We the Living, Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and Le Guin's The Dispossessed. When our oppressors no longer write the books on literary history, these names will shine.
Great oaks from little acorns grow. The literature of liberty contains the seeds of our liberation. The war to liberate the human race will not be won with guns. Guns can only kill people; they can't kill ideas. It is a wrong idea that enslaves us: the idea that human beings can't be trusted with their own lives. It is a right idea that will free us: that if we do not begin taming each other. No one else will.
Each of the books that has won either the Prometheus Award or has been inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame is a weapon in the War to Liberate the Human Race. It may not be the last War the human race must fight but if we do not win it, we will not survive to fight any others.
This is an important award because it is the only award that recognizes we are engaged in a War of Liberation, that recognizes what the price of losing this war is, that camped behind enemy lines, calls the honor roll of the solders who dedicate their lives to victory. This is a military decoration in a War of Idea.
I stand here because my name has been called. And someday … some day … the War for Freedom will be won and the names on that honor roll will shine.
I thank you all very much.
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