Prometheus Award Finalists Chosen For Best Novel

The Libertarian Futurist Society has announced five finalists for the Best Novel category of the 41st annual Prometheus Awards.

The Best Novel winner will receive a plaque with a one-ounce gold coin. An online awards ceremony is planned for later this year at a time and venue to be announced.

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

• Who Can Own the Stars? by Mackey Chandler (Amazon Kindle):

Emancipation is the overall unifying theme in this story, part of a series about a human future in space. The multiple plotlines and large cast of interesting characters incorporate emancipation of children from their parents (many principal characters are minors emancipated formally, in space, or de facto, on Earth) and of space colonists from the governments of Earth – an analogy that helped inspire the American revolution. The central focus of this novel, the latest in Chandler’s April series, is the colonists’ efforts to limit American military presence in space, both as a proven threat to their own rights and as a risk of provoking war if they venture beyond the solar system.

• Storm between the Stars, by Karl K. Gallagher (Kelt Haven Press):

The first volume of Gallagher’s Fall of the Censor series explores a vast interstellar polity’s use of narrative control and memory-holing to cement power. Merchants in a ship from an isolated group of solar systems discover a new hyperspatial route to regain long-lost contact with the rest of humanity. They must deal with a centralized human empire founded on a fictitious history while establishing trade relations with businesses that operate through family ties and underground barter. Gallagher offers a timely cautionary tale about official truth, censorship, and the denial of history, while exploring strategies for economic survival and the pursuit of knowledge under a repressive government.

• The War Whisperer, Book 5: The Hook, by Barry B. Longyear (Enchanteds):

In one of the rare novels to imagine a fully libertarian society and attempt to do so realistically, Longyear imagines a near future in which the Mexican government’s bungled response to a devastating Category 5 hurricane prompts the people  of the border state of Tamaulipas to secede, declaring themselves an anarcho-libertarian freeland. The protagonist, Jerome Track, must first decide whether the freeland is worth his commitment, and then develop  an innovative strategy for its defense. In the fifth book of Track’s autobiography, Longyear grapples with how a society that refuses to use coercion against its people can defend itself against military aggression, developing an intriguing and plausible solution.


• Braintrust: Requiem, by Marc Stiegler (LMBPN Publishing):

A Great-Depression-scale crash of the world economy sparks an unholy alliance by socialist and fascist governments and their attack via three overwhelming fleets against a community of liberty-loving, tech-savvy seastead citizens in this adventurous, high-spirited, fast-paced and funny saga, the culminating fifth novel within the explicitly libertarian Braintrust Universe series. The struggle to preserve continued freedom and independence of the archipelago – with its highly innovative biotech, materials science, power generation and life-saving genetic engineering – is the central focus of the suspenseful and terrifying but also lighthearted finale, a fast-paced sequel to Stiegler’s previous Prometheus-nominated Braintrust novels  (Ode to Defiance, Crescendo of Fire and Rhapsody for the Tempest.)

• Heaven’s Riverby Dennis E. Taylor (Amazon):

Set in a future where the uploaded consciousness of a single programmer named Bob has changed, developed and drifted among 24 generations of replicants spreading through the galaxy as a non-coercive collective, Book 4 in the Bobiverse offers a new beginning beyond the original trilogy. The complex, far-flung and humorous saga alternates between an early Bob’s interstellar search for a long-lost replicant named Bender, sparking the discovery of an alien civilization and growing threats of civil war sparked by a younger generation of self-styled Starfleet fans who embrace a radical view of the Prime Directive. The novel raises questions about voluntarism, coercion, the freedom to disagree, and how cooperation can provide innovative and non-aggressive solutions to problems. 

LFS members also nominatedthese 2020 works for the Best Novel category: Assassin: High Ground, by Doug Casey and John Hunt (Highground Books); Ready Player Two, by Ernest Cline (Ballantine); Attack Surface,  by Cory Doctorow (TOR); The Pursuit of the Pankera: A Parallel Novel about Parallel Universes, by Robert Heinlein (Phoenix Pick, CAEZIK SF & Fantasy); Situation Normal,  by Leonard Richardson (Candlemark & Gleam); and Network Effect: A Murderbot Novel, by Martha Wells (TOR/MacMillan.) 

 All LFS members have the right to nominate eligible works for the Prometheus Awards. The Prometheus Award finalists for Best Novel are selected by a 12-person judging committee. Following the selection of finalists, all LFS upper-level members (Benefactors, Sponsors and Full members) read and vote on the Best Novel finalist slate to choose the annual winner. 

Membership in the Libertarian Futurist Society is open to any science fiction fan interested in how fiction can promote an appreciation of the value of liberty.

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. 

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

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

A full list of past Prometheus Award winners in all categories is here. For reviews and commentary on these and other works of interest to the LFS, visit the Prometheus blog

[Based on a press release.]

22 thoughts on “Prometheus Award Finalists Chosen For Best Novel

  1. I remember prior years’ Prometheus Winners that were not so blatantly grinding an ideological ax, many actually fit to read even if you didn’t agree with the underlying mythology. (I also notice that these seem to be mostly self-published.)

  2. Well, I’ve heard of Longyear, at least. Never heard of any of the other authors. OlavRokne, what do you like about Heaven’s River? (I’m not being snarky; it’s an honest question.) Is it actually funny? I don’t trust publicist’s descriptions….

    Cassy

  3. Stiegler’s been around since the 1980s; I’ve read a number of his stories and one novel.

  4. This is a really different selection compared to other years. All of the books are from series, and all but one are available for free if you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber.

  5. The genre has experienced the same expansion of self-published works as the rest of the literary world. Finding one of those works to be noteworthy should not be a surprise in 2021. Self-published works do face a larger challenge for the attention of genre readers.

    If these books aren’t familiar, then what does that say about the preferences of more traditional book publishers that are seeking new works/authors? What does it say about the advertising priorities of traditional book publishers? What does that say about the more prominent book reviewing publications?

    There were at least three works by traditionally published authors in the long list.

    Storm Between the Stars and Heaven’s River sound interesting enough to make my TBR pile.

    Regards,
    Dann
    The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom. – Isaac Asimov

  6. Dann665: If these books aren’t familiar, then what does that say about the preferences of more traditional book publishers that are seeking new works/authors? What does it say about the advertising priorities of traditional book publishers? What does that say about the more prominent book reviewing publications?

    It says that traditional publishers don’t see these works as being commercially viable, and that the more prominent reviewing publications don’t see them as being something for which a large number of their readers will be interested in seeing reviews.

    I think that’s called “free market-driven capitalism”.

  7. @Paul Weimer – first time i’ve seen this awad. i’ve read all of the april series – it’s quite good. also the bob’s were fun.

  8. @JJ

    It says that traditional publishers don’t see these works as being commercially viable, and that the more prominent reviewing publications don’t see them as being something for which a large number of their readers will be interested in seeing reviews.

    That assumes that the works were submitted to traditional publishers in the first place, which may or may not be true.

  9. bill: That assumes that the works were submitted to traditional publishers in the first place, which may or may not be true.

    In which case, it says nothing about traditional publishers, and only says things about the authors and their choices.

    The finalist works here, and their authors, aren’t oppressed underdogs, as Dann implies. They’re works which are written to appeal to a specific niche market – and that’s perfectly fine, but writing for a niche market is a choice, and it can’t be characterized as oppression by mainstream publishers.

  10. Dennis E. Taylor’s Bobbiverse series is a popular self-published science fiction series. I haven’t read them myself, but I’ve heard good things.

    Karl K. Gallagher’s name occasionally pops up on the shortlists of various right-leaning SFF awards. Barry B. Longyear actually used to be well regarded and won a Hugo and a Nebula, but that was forty years ago. The other two are completely unknown to me. From the covers and blurbs, they seem to be unremarkable run-of-the-mill Kindle Unlimited SF. None of the books except for Heaven’s River seem to be particularly successful either, judging by their Amazon ranks. But I guess the politics are right.

  11. I’ve heard good things about the Bobiverse books and they definitely seem to be popular – they have more Goodreads ratings than quite a few recent Hugo finalists, for what that’s worth.

  12. The Taylor has at last nothink in the discription or in the cover, that signals I should stay away from it. (Cover because of the Stiegler, there is one look and nope)
    It is perhaps the only one I would try mostly because there are a few people here who are saying it could be worth a look.
    Now this is a very american award or award for a very special american reader (not always in the past, Scotisch socialists can have a fandom in Europe, too) so I am not the target for it.

  13. @JJ

    The finalist works here, and their authors, aren’t oppressed underdogs, as Dann implies. They’re works which are written to appeal to a specific niche market – and that’s perfectly fine, but writing for a niche market is a choice, and it can’t be characterized as oppression by mainstream publishers.

    I didn’t say that they were oppressed in this thread. Nor did I imply it.

    The short version is that I look at the massive expansion in titles and authors published each year and find it routine to encounter works and authors to which I have not been exposed being recognized for excellence. Ten percent of a much larger total is also a much larger number. Repetition of nominees suggests to me a lack of attention to the broader field.

    I believe that you look at the same situation and see nothing wrong.

    I disagree.

    Regards,
    Dann
    One cannot and must not try to erase the past merely because it does not fit the present. – Golda Meir

  14. Dann665: Repetition of nominees suggests to me a lack of attention to the broader field.

    The purpose of the Hugo Awards / Nebula Awards isn’t to recognize a statistically-representative sample of the SFF field. The purpose of the Hugo Awards / Nebula Awards is to recognize what Worldcon members / SFWA members found exceptional.

    For statistically-representative recognition, the GoodReads Awards are your best bet.

  15. @JJ

    The purpose of the Hugo Awards / Nebula Awards is to recognize what Worldcon members / SFWA members found exceptional.

    I agree.

    My opinion is that having a handful of authors end up as repeat nominees in a genre with thousands of authors/books published every year is an indication that “Worldcon members / SFWA members” are becoming the niche market rather than representing the best of a broader genre. I’m OK with your disagreement on that topic.

    Thanks for putting this together. That’s a ton of work.

    Regards,
    Dann
    The answers you get from literature depend on the questions you pose. – Margaret Atwood

  16. Dann665: My opinion is that having a handful of authors end up as repeat nominees in a genre with thousands of authors/books published every year is an indication that “Worldcon members / SFWA members” are becoming the niche market rather than representing the best of a broader genre. I’m OK with your disagreement on that topic.

    The only part of that I disagree with is the “becoming”.

    Worldcon members have always been a niche market subset of SFF fans. This is not a news flash. It’s always been the case that Worldcon members have not been a statistically-representative sample of all fans. This has always been openly acknowledged, and no one expects them — or their Hugo Award choices — to be a statistically-representative sample of all SFF fans (or at least no one should be doing so, and if they are doing so, then they haven’t been paying attention).

    And that’s perfectly okay. It’s what makes the results of the Hugo Awards very different from the GoodReads and other awards. It’s what has made the Hugo Awards so highly esteemed. It’s a feature, not a bug.

  17. @Dann: Or maybe, just maybe, very good authors are likely to write more than one very good book. Are sports events flawed because the same team may win the championship two years in a row, while other teams go years or decades without a championship?

    “I liked this person’s last book, so I’m more interested in her next book than in a randomly selected book by someone else” isn’t exactly weird, statistically or in terms of how people think.

  18. Sorry about the delay

    @JJ

    IMO, “prestigious” and “niche” don’t fit well together.

    I’m not asking that the finalists represent a statistical cross-section of the larger genre every year. That would be a bit nuts.

    I am suggesting that there are many quality works published every year. Some of those works are recognized in other awards. It seems to me that if Hugo nominators (as a group) are well versed in the broader genre, then some of those other works might periodically make it into the short-list (or even the long list).

    At the very least, when initially encountering a work, the proper response should at least be curious respect rather than dismissal for [#reasons].

    As an aside, I appreciate many of your arguments over in the DisConIII CoC thread.

    @Vicki

    The sports analogy breaks down pretty quickly. The number of teams that are competitive are usually about 10% of the league. The exact teams that are competitive change from year to year even while one team is dynastic.

    Connie Willis is a rarity. NK Jemisin might be a second rarity (ask me again in 20 years). Aside from those two authors, there really shouldn’t be as many repeat nominees given that the total number of authors/works published each year has exploded in the last 40 years.

    I agree that it isn’t exactly unusual for someone to want to read the next book by an author after enjoying the previous book. It’s a form of bias that influences every reader. I still think readers (and more importantly nominators) are well served by being willing to read beyond their past experiences/biases/comfort zone.

    As always, I’m just as guilty of all of the above as anyone else.

    Regards,
    Dann
    You’ve got to vote for someone. It’s a shame, but it’s got to be done. – Whoopi Goldberg

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