2020 Prometheus Award Best Novel Finalists

The Libertarian Futurist Society has announced the finalists for the Best Novel category of the 2020 Prometheus Awards.

The 2020 Prometheus Awards will be presented at Columbus NASFiC 2000 (the North American Science Fiction Convention) to be held Augus 20-23 in Columbus, Ohio, pandemic permitting. The Best Novel winner will receive a plaque with a one-ounce gold coin. 

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

  • The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood (Random House: Nan A. Talese):

In this long-awaited sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale (a 1987 Prometheus Award finalist), oppressed women and others struggle valiantly for freedom. Some face mortal risks undermining the Gilead dictatorship, struggling with thorny moral complexities and working within the halls of power while taking covert steps to subvert tyranny. Poignantly and with sly humor, Atwood weaves three narrative threads exploring enduring questions about liberty, power, responsibility, and resistance. An “Underground Femaleroad” network (much like 19th-century libertarian Abolitionists) smuggles women into Canada while intelligence provided to the wider world’s free press promotes re-establishment of a free United States. Atwood references the “eternal verities” about “life, liberty, democracy, and the rights of the individual” that remain at the heart of libertarian ideals.

  • Alliance Rising, by C.J. Cherryh and Jane S. Fancher (DAW)

Set in Cherryh’s Alliance-Rising Universe (before her novel Downbelow Station),this interstellar saga of technological upheaval, intrigue and romance explores the early days of the Merchanter Alliance. Independent spaceship families ally during complex, multisided political-economic rivalries to defend established rights and promote the common good through free trade. In one of the better fictional treatments of a complex economy, characters maneuver to prevent statist regimes from dominating space lanes, resist Earth’s centralized governance, and investigate the mysterious purpose of a ship, The Rights of Man, undergoing construction on an isolated space station. Classic libertarian themes emerge about what rights are and where they come from (often to resolve conflicts), and how commerce and property rights promote peace and prosperity as humanity spreads among the stars.

  • Ruin’s Wake, by Patrick Edwards (Titan Books)

This dystopian debut novel, set within a totalitarian world that emerged from catastrophe 500 years ago, weaves narrative threads from different sympathetic characters fighting for identity, love, and revenge amid repression. A young woman finds hope in an illicit love affair with a subversive rebel while trapped in an abusive marriage with a government official. An exiled old soldier searches desperately for his dying son, and a female scientist-archeologist discovers a mysterious technology that exposes the vulnerability of her world. A dictatorial government threatens their pursuit of happiness, knowledge, and family in a world recovering from ruin. This state has erased history and individual identity – a plausible scenario modeled by the author to evoke parallels to Stalinist Russia and today’s communist North Korea.

  • Luna: Moon Rising, by Ian McDonald (TOR Books)

In the sequel to the Prometheus-nominated novels Luna: New Moon and Luna: Wolf Moon, McDonald dramatizes the struggle for independence and sovereignty as feuding lunar factions unite against a threat from Earth. The trilogy’s thrilling finale builds on McDonald’s intricate future of moon colonization, buoyed by somewhat free markets marred by violence, corporate espionage, and political marriages as the Five Dragons family dynasties control the main lunar industrial companies. Characters empowered by personal freedom and individual/social achievement in a society where contracts with others define people. Rendering a more positive view of a free society than earlier novels, McDonald offers justifications for freedom and markets while showing more negative aspects of politics and human behavior dealt with by people addressing inevitable problems in more voluntary ways.

  • Ode to Defiance, by Marc Stiegler (LMBPN Publishing)

The forces of enlightenment, science, liberty, and truth battle factions of statism, bureaucracy, ignorance, superstition, and deception in this lighthearted, explicitly libertarian and occasionally satirical sci-fi/adventure novel, set in Stiegler’s BrainTrust Universe. To escape a United States impoverished by socialist bureaucracy, people live and work on innovative technology on a BrainTrust fleet of independent seastead ships. The story explores how a libertarian society can work and engage with rivals without violence and, ultimately, in peaceful co-existence (though some opponents receive the sharp end of the BrainTrust’s characteristically pointed violence.) This world-encompassing sequel to Stiegler’s Prometheus-nominated Crescendo of Fire and Rhapsody for the Tempest explores bio-engineered diseases and biological warfare – especially timely during the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.

All LFS members have the right to nominate eligible works for the Prometheus Awards. LFS members also nominated these 2019 works for this year’s Best Novel category: They Will Drown in Their Mother’s Tears, by Johannes Anyuru (Two Lines Press); Monster Hunter Guardian, by Larry Correia and Sarah H. Hoyt (Baen Books); The Good Luck Girls, by Charlotte Nicole Davis  (TOR Teen); Empire of Lies, by Raymond Khoury (Forge Books/TOR); The Year of Jublio!, by Joseph T. Major (Amazon); Atlas Alone, by Emma Newman (ACE Books/Penguin Group); and Stealing Worlds, by Karl Schroeder (TOR Books).

The Prometheus Awards, 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.

A 12-person judging committee selects the Prometheus Award finalists for Best Novel. Following the selection of finalists, all LFS upper-level members (Benefactors, Sponsors, and Full members) have the right to read and vote on the Best Novel finalist slate to choose the annual winner.

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.

2019 Novellapalooza

[Editor’s note: be sure to read the comments on this post for more novellas and more Filer reviews.]

By JJ:

TL;DR: Here’s what I thought of the 2019 Novellas. What did you think?

I’m a huge reader of novels, but not that big on short fiction. But the last few years, I’ve done a personal project to read and review as many Novellas as I could (presuming that the story synopsis had some appeal for me). I ended up reading:

  • 31 of the novellas published in 2015,
  • 35 of the novellas published in 2016,
  • 46 of the novellas published in 2017,
  • and 38 of the 2018 novellas.
  • (and this year I was waiting for access to a few novellas, so I was reading others, and thus my final total crept up to 55!)

The result of these reading sprees were

I really felt as though this enabled me to do Hugo nominations for the Novella category in an informed way, and a lot of Filers got involved with their own comments. So I’m doing it again this year.

The success and popularity of novellas in the last 5 years seems to have sparked a Golden Age for SFF novellas – so there are a lot more novellas to cover this year. By necessity, I’ve gotten to the point of being more selective about which ones I read, based on the synopsis being of interest to me.

It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book despite not feeling that the jacket copy makes the book sound as though it is something I would like – and to discover that I really like or love the work anyway. On the other hand, It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book which sounds as though it will be up my alley and to discover that, actually, the book doesn’t really do much for me.

Thus, my opinions on the following novellas vary wildly: stories I thought I would love but didn’t, stories I didn’t expect to love but did, and stories which aligned with my expectations – whether high or low.

Bear in mind that while I enjoy both, I tend to prefer Science Fiction over Fantasy – and that while I enjoy suspense and thrillers, I have very little appreciation for Horror (and to be honest, I think Lovecraft is way overrated). What’s more, I apparently had a defective childhood, and do not share a lot of peoples’ appreciation for fairytale retellings and portal fantasies. My personal assessments are therefore not intended to be the final word on these stories, but merely a jumping-off point for Filer discussion.

Novellas I’ve read appear in order based on how much I liked them (best to least), followed by the novellas I haven’t read in alphabetical order.

I’ve included plot summaries, and where I could find them, links to either excerpts or the full stories which can be read online for free. Short novels which fall between 40,000 and 48,000 words (within the Hugo Novella category tolerance) have been included.

Please feel free to post comments about any other 2019 novellas which you’ve read, as well. And if I’ve missed your comment about a novella, or an excerpt for a novella, please point me to it!

(Please be sure to rot-13 any spoilers.)

(fair notice: all Amazon links are referrer URLs which benefit non-profit SFF fan website Worlds Without End)

Continue reading

2019 Premio Italia Winners

The 2019 Premio Italia were presented on May 11 at Starcon 2019.

Congratulations to Ian McDonald, whose Ares Express won the International SF Novel category.

Illustrazione o copertina / Illustration or Cover

  • Franco Brambilla, Naila di Mondo9, Oscar Fantastica – Mondadori

Curatore / Editor

  • Giuseppe Lippi

Traduttore / Translator

  • Chiara Reali

Collana / Collection

  • Odissea Digital Fantascienza, Delos Digital

Rivista professionale / Professional magazine

  • Delos Science Fiction, Delos Books

Rivista o sito web non professionale / Fanzine or fan web site

Saggio / Essay

  • Walter Catalano, Gian Filippo Pizzo, Andrea Vaccaro, Guida ai narratori italiani del fantastico. Scrittori di fantascienza, fantasy e horror made in Italy, Odoya

Romanzo di autore italiano – Fantascienza / Science fiction novel

  • Dario Tonani, Naila di mondo9, Mondadori

Romanzo di autore italiano – Fantasy / Fantasy novel

  • Maico Morellini, Il diario dell’estinzione, Watson Edizioni

Antologia / Anthology

  • Giulia Abbate e Lukha Kremo, Next-Stream: Visioni di realtà contigue, Kipple Officina Libraria

Racconto di autore italiano su pubblicazione professionale / Story by an Italian Author in a Professional Publication

  • Dario Tonani, Sabbia nera, Robot, Delos Books
  • Donato Altomare, La seconda morte, Quasar, Edizioni Della Vigna
  • Giulia Massini, La colonia, Hypnos, Edizioni Hypnos
  • Lukha B. Kremo, Invertito, Robot, Delos Books
  • Maddalena Antonini, Il determinatore, Dimensione Cosmica, Tabula Fati

Racconto di autore italiano su pubblicazione amatoriale / Story by an Italian Author in an Amateur Publication

  • Claudio Chillemi, Il Grande Errore, Fondazione Sf

Articolo su pubblicazione professionale / Article in a Professional Publication

  • Giuseppe Lippi, I curatori di Urania, Robot, Delos Books

Articolo su pubblicazione amatoriale / Article in an Amateur Publication

  • Francesco Spadaro, Si può fare, Fondazione Sf

Romanzo internazionale / International sf novel

  • Ian McDonald, Ares Express, Zona 42

Fumetto di autore italiano / Comic by an Italian Author

  • Carlo Recagno, Giovanni Freghieri, Dylan Dog & Martin Mystere: L’Abisso Del Male, Bonelli

Fumetto di autore internazionale / Comic by an International Author

  • Tipton, Tipton, Lee, Purcell e Woodward, Star Trek The Next Generation / Doctor Who Assimilazione 2, Ultimo Avamposto

Film fantastico (premio non ufficiale) / Fantastic Film (unofficial prize)

  • Avengers: Infinity War

Serie televisiva (premio non ufficiale) / TV Series (unofficial prize)

  • The Man in the High Castle

2018 BSFA Awards

The British Science Fiction Association have announced the winners of the BSFA Awards for works published in 2018.

The Awards were presented on April 20 at Ytterbium, the 70th Eastercon in London.

Best Novel

  • Gareth L Powell – Embers of War (Titan Books)

Best Shorter Fiction

  • Ian McDonald – Time Was (Tor.com)

Best Non-Fiction

  • Aliette de Bodard – On motherhood and erasure: people-shaped holes, hollow characters and the illusion of impossible adventures (Intellectus Speculativus blog)

Best Artwork

  • Likhain – In the Vanishers’ Palace: Dragon I and II (Inprnt)

[Thanks to Mark Hepworth for the story.]

Gareth Powell

Lee A. Harris accepting for Ian McDonald

Aliette de Bodard accepting her Best Non-Fiction award

Aliette de Bodard accepting for Likhain

Host Jeanette Ng

2018 Novellapalooza

[Editor’s note: be sure to read the comments on this post for more novellas and more Filer reviews.]

By JJ: I’m a huge reader of novels, but not that big on short fiction. But the last few years, I’ve done a personal project to read and review as many Novellas as I could (presuming that the story synopsis had some appeal for me). I ended up reading 31 of the novellas published in 2015, 35 of the novellas published in 2016, and 46 of the novellas published in 2017 (though a few of those were after Hugo nominations closed).

The result of this was the 2016 Novellapalooza and the 2017 Novellapalooza. I really felt as though I was able to do Hugo nominations for the novella category in an informed way, and a lot of Filers got involved with their own comments. So I’m doing it again this year.

The success and popularity of novellas in the last 4 years seems to have sparked a Golden Age for SFF novellas, with Tor.com, Subterranean Press, NewCon Press, PS Publishing, Book Smugglers, Clarkesworld, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Tachyon bringing out a multitude of works, along with the traditional magazines Asimov’s, Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Analog – so there are a lot more novellas to cover this year. By necessity, I’ve gotten to the point of being more selective about which ones I read, based on the synopsis being of interest to me.

It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book despite not feeling that the jacket copy makes the book sound as though it is something I would like – and to discover that I really like or love the work anyway. On the other hand, It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book which sounds as though it will be up my alley and to discover that, actually, the book doesn’t really do much for me.

Thus, my opinions on the following novellas vary wildly: stories I thought I would love but didn’t, stories I didn’t expect to love but did, and stories which aligned with my expectations – whether high or low. Bear in mind that while I enjoy both, I tend to prefer Science Fiction over Fantasy – and that while I enjoy suspense and thrillers, I have very little appreciation for Horror (and to be honest, I think Lovecraft is way overrated). My personal assessments are therefore not intended to be the final word on these stories, but merely a jumping-off point for Filer discussion.

I thought it would be helpful to have a thread where all the Filers’ thoughts on novellas are collected in one place, as a resource when Hugo nomination time rolls around. Which of these novellas have you read? And what did you think of them?

I’ve included plot summaries, and where I could find them, links to either excerpts or the full stories which can be read online for free. Short novels which fall between 40,000 and 48,000 words (within the Hugo Novella category tolerance) have been included.

Please feel free to post comments about any other 2018 novellas which you’ve read, as well.

(Please be sure to rot-13 any spoilers.)

(fair notice: all Amazon links are referrer URLs which benefit non-profit SFF fan website Worlds Without End)

Read more…

It’s Official: 77th Worldcon Will Be in Dublin

For the first time in history of the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) the convention will take place in Dublin, Ireland.

Today, Dublin was confirmed as the 2019 location by site selection voters at Worldcon 75 in Helsinki. Worldcon 75 reports 1,227 votes were received.

Dublin 2019 will take place at the Convention Centre Dublin from August 15-19, 2019. The Guests of Honour range from writers to scientists and beyond – Bill and Mary Burns, Diane Duane, Ginjer Buchanan, Ian McDonald, Jocelyn Bell Burnell, and Steve Jackson.

Dublin 2019 chair James Bacon said:

The whole team are delighted to be bringing the Worldcon to Ireland for the first time. It’s a huge achievement and we are very proud to be able to welcome thousands of fans to this beautiful country that is steeped in storytelling. We have fantastic guests and we will building an exciting programme covering all aspects of science fiction, fantasy and horror in all media, including prose, comics, art, film, cosplay, science, TV to name a few in what will be a fabulous celebration here in Dublin.

The Worldcon is held in a different city every year and usually has around 5,000 attendees from around the globe.  Some of the highlights of the five day event include the Hugo Awards, the Masquerade and programming that runs all five days with over a thousand items including panels, talks, workshops, films, autograph sessions and more.

About the guests:

  • Bill and Mary Burns (New York):  Avid readers who have attended Worldcon since 1967.  Bill was the recipient of the Doc Weir Award in 2003 and both were Fan Guests of Honour at Eastercon LX.
  • Diane Duane (Wicklow): Diane’s first novel was published in 1979 and have sold more than fifty other novels during her career.  She has won numerous awards and has also written extensively for tv and film.
  • Ginjer Buchanan (New York): Ginjer has over fifty years in fandom and over 30 years as professional editor.  She has been nominated for the Best Editor- Long Form Hugo six times and won in 2014.
  • Ian McDonald (Belfast): Is a writer who has over written over 20 novels and numerous short stories.  In addition he has also worked in programme development in Ireland. He has won awards for his short fiction as well as novels.
  • Jocelyn Bell Burnell (Lurgan Co Armagh): Jocelyn is a Northern Irish astrophysicist who as a postgraduate student discovered the first radio pulsars.
  • Steve Jackson (Texas): Steve is a game designer by trade who owns Steve Jackson Games.  He has received 12 Origin Awards as well as various other honours for game design.

“World Science Fiction Society,” “WSFS,” “World Science Fiction Convention,” “Worldcon,” “NASFiC,” “Hugo Award,” and the distinctive design of the Hugo Award Rocket are service marks of the World Science Fiction Society, an unincorporated literary society.

[Based on a press release.]

Is the Emperor Naked?

SF Signal’s JP Frantz has posted Why I Stopped Reading: The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon, an iconoclastic slam against the Hugo-nominated and Nebula-winning novel. (I won’t call it a review – he didn’t finish reading the book, remember?)

I’ve been waiting for the Best Novel Hugo debate to “go negative,” as it’s termed in election-year jargon. And that choice of jargon is no coincidence, for this category turned into a campaign the moment the other four nominees (McDonald, Sawyer, Scalzi, and Stross) offered free electronic copies of their novels to 2008 Worldcon members, an unprecedented move. (We still have to buy Chabon’s.)

That brilliant gamble can only pay off if people like one of their books better than Chabon’s, and I’m sure they’ve anxiously been waiting for any sign they’re gaining traction against the perceived front-runner (thus playing Obama to Chabon’s Clinton?)

And they ought to worry. These are the same Hugo voters who gave a Neal Stephenson novel the award a couple of years ago. Those people might do anything!