2019 Prometheus Award Best Novel Finalists

The Libertarian Futurist Society has announced the finalists for the Best Novel category of the 2019 Prometheus Awards.

The Best Novel winner will receive a plaque with a one-ounce gold coin. Plans are under way, as in past years, to present the 2019 awards at the 77th Worldcon (World Science Fiction Convention): “Dublin 2019 – An Irish Worldcon,” set for Aug. 15-19, 2019 in Dublin, Ireland.

Here are the five Best Novel finalists, listed in alphabetical order by author:

  • Causes of Separation, by Travis Corcoran (Morlock Publishing):

In this sequel to The Powers of the Earth, the 2018 Prometheus winner for Best Novel, the renegade lunar colonists of Aristillus fight for independence and a free economy against an Earth-based invasion that seeks to impose authoritarian rule and expropriate their wealth, while the colonists struggle not to adopt taxation or emergency war powers. The panoramic narrative encompasses artificial intelligence, uplifted dogs, combat robots, sleeper cells and open-source software while depicting the complex struggle on the declining Earth and besieged Moon from many perspectives.

  • Kingdom of the Wicked by Helen Dale (Ligature Pty Limited) including Order: Book One and Rules: Book Two

The author, a legal scholar, creates a world inspired by comparative law, rather as Middle-Earth was inspired by comparative linguistics. In an alternative Roman Empire, an early scientific revolution and expanding free markets led to industrialization, the abolition of slavery, increasing wealth, and modernity – and to clashes with more traditional societies. In one such clash, a Jewish preacher, Yeshua ben Yusuf, is arrested and tried on charges of terrorism in a narrative that makes ingenious use of the Gospels to reach an unexpected outcome.

  • State Tectonics, by Malka Older (TOR Books)

This story explores questions of governance and legitimacy in a future world shaped by technology-driven “infomocracy” and subdivided into centenals – separate micro-democracies, each an electoral district with a population of 100,000 or less. A multitude of political parties vie for control of each centenal, as well as global supermajority status in a problematic system where access to approved news is ensured by Information, which also oversees elections. In this third novel in Older’s Centenal Cycle, various parties struggle not only over election outcomes, but also whether Information’s monopoly will and should continue.

  • The Fractal Man, by J. Neil Schulman, (Steve Heller Publishing)

The Prometheus-winning author (The Rainbow Cadenza, Alongside Night) offers a fanciful and semi-autobiographical adventure comedy about the “lives he never lived,” set in multiple alternate realities where people and cats can fly but dogs can’t, which in one world casts him as a battlefield general in a war between totalitarians and anarchists. The space-opera-redefined-as-timelines-opera romp, full of anarcho-capitalist scenarios, also celebrates the early history of the libertarian movement and some of its early pioneers, such as Samuel Edward Konkin III.

  • The Murderbot Diaries, by Martha Wells (TOR Books) (including All Systems Red, Artificial Condition, Rogue Protocol, and Exit Strategy)

– The tightly linked series of four fast-paced novellas charts the emergence of humanity, empathy, self-awareness and free will in an android, whose origins are partly biological and partly cybernetic. The android, who guiltily dubs himself “Murderbot” because of his past acts of violence while enslaved, fights for his independence but also is motivated to save lives by growing awareness of the value of human life and human rights in an interstellar future of social cooperation through free markets driven by contracts, insurance-bond penalties, and competing corporations.

(Note: Under a recently adopted LFS award-eligibility rule, two or more books can be nominated together as one novel if the judges determine that the stories are so tightly linked and plotted, with continuing characters and unifying conflicts/themes, that they can best be read and considered as one work. Applied this year, that rule combined the two Kingdom of the Wicked volumes into one nomination and the four sequential novellas in The Murderbot Diaries into one nomination.)

All LFS members have the right to nominate eligible works for the Prometheus Awards. LFS members also nominated these 2018 works for this year’s Best Novel category: Exile’s Escape, by W. Clark Boutwell (Indigo River Publishing); Gnomon, by Nick Harkaway (Alfred Knopf); Mission to Methone, by Les Johnson (Baen Books); Anger is a Gift, by Mark Oshiro (TOR); and Crescendo of Fire and Rhapsody for the Tempest, by Marc Stiegler (LMBPN Publishing.)

The Prometheus Award, sponsored by the Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS), was established and first presented in 1979, making it one of the most enduring awards after the Nebula and Hugo awards, and one of the oldest fan-based awards currently in sf.

Presented annually since 1982 at the World Science Fiction Convention, the Prometheus Awards include a gold coin and plaque for the winners – with a one-ounce gold prize for Best Novel and smaller gold coins for the Prometheus Hall of Fame (for Best Classic Fiction in all written and broadcast/on-screen mediums) and the occasional Prometheus Special awards.

The Prometheus Award finalists for Best Novel are selected by a 10-person judging committee, and the winners are chosen by vote of “LFS upper-level members.”

The LFS says these are the kinds of work recognized by the Prometheus Award –

For close to four decades, the Prometheus Awards have recognized outstanding works of science fiction and fantasy that dramatize the perennial conflict between Liberty and Power, favor cooperation over coercion, expose the abuses and excesses of coercive government, critique or satirize authoritarian ideas, or champion individual rights and freedoms as the mutually respectful foundation for peace, prosperity, progress, justice, tolerance, mutual respect and civilization itself.

For a full list of past Prometheus Award winners in all categories, visit www.lfs.org.

10 thoughts on “2019 Prometheus Award Best Novel Finalists

  1. State Tectonics, by Malka Older (TOR Books)
    The Murderbot Diaries, by Martha Wells (TOR Books)

    Wow — how interesting to see these on both the Hugo and Prometheus lists. I wonder what the puppy types will make of that….

    Congrats to all the nominees!

  2. Um, I’m wondering if the nominators for the Prometheus noticed that in the Murderbot Diaries, the corporations were the bad guys….?

  3. Either the person who wrote this release hasn’t read the Murderbot stories, or they missed that Murderbot’s pronoun is “it”–and that it specifically declined the offer of modifications to make it either male or female.

    (If the press release used “they” I probably wouldn’t have commented here, because it can be uncomfortable to use “it” for a sentient being even if that’s what the person in question prefers–but “he” is a flat-out error.)

  4. Cassy B: This is hardly the first of our nominees where the bad guys were corporations. See for example Lois McMaster Bujold’s Falling Free, or for that matter at the very dawn of the LFS, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, where the novel’s single worst villain is the president of a powerful corporation (the one that runs the largest railroad in the United States) and the villain who has the most redeeming features is a labor racketeer. Some of Robert Heinlein’s portrayals of large corporations were fairly hostile, too, as Farah Mendelsohn’s recent book on him points out—and not just the ones from his early Social Credit days; Rudbek and Shipstone are both pretty dubious.

  5. Maybe Martha Wells should cater to her libertarian fan base by renaming “Murderbot” to “Non-Initiation-of-Force-bot”…

  6. Whelp….gotta bump the Murderbot series up on the old TBR list.

    Cocoran’s “Powers of the Earth” was really good (but not great). One of the facets that I thought was pretty thoughtful was the inclusion of issues/problems where having a government actually makes things better. In a book dedicated to demonstrating why having no government is great in theory, it was refreshing to see the author confront theory with practicality.

    @Cassy B – libertarian-leaning folks prefer the individual over the collective regardless of the form that “the collective” takes. IME…FWIW….etc.

    Regards,
    Dann
    I am the American Dream. I am the epitome of what the American Dream basically said. It said you could come from anywhere and be anything you want in this country. That’s exactly what I’ve done. – Whoopi Goldberg

  7. Dann665: Is there a reason not to use the complete quote?

    Whoopi Goldberg: I am the American Dream. I am the epitome of what the American Dream basically said. It said you could come from anywhere and be anything you want in this country. That’s exactly what I’ve done. The great divide between my era and the eras that come after me is that you are not getting the encouragement and the “hands-on” from your government. A lot of times your teachers have been left out in the cold. So it’s hard for them to focus the way that teachers were focused when I was a kid. There’s not a lot of work out there as there were when I was a kid. We had programs that were set up by the country. So, the fact that you’re making it now, makes you 5,000 times the person that those who came before you were. Because we had a lot of help, and there’s very little help out there now.

  8. @OGH – only in that taglines are supposed to be lines and not essays. I had not seen that more extensive quote. Thanks very much.

    That being said, I love Whoopi for her attitude even when I don’t always agree with everything that comes along with it.

    Regards,
    Dann
    “To have peace with this peculiar life; to accept what we do not understand; to wait calmly for what awaits us, you have to be wiser than I am” – M.C. Escher

  9. Pingback: Finalistas premios Prometheus 2019 – Fantástica – Ficción

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