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.

2019 Prometheus Hall of Fame Finalists

The Libertarian Futurist Society has selected five finalists for the 2019 Prometheus Hall of Fame Award

  • “As Easy as A.B.C.,” by Rudyard Kipling (first published 1912 in London Magazine), the second of his “airship utopia” stories, envisions a twenty-first century world founded on free travel, the rule of law, and an inherited abhorrence of crowds. Officials of the Aerial Board of Control are summoned to the remote town of Chicago, which is convulsed by a small group’s demands for revival of the nearly forgotten institution of democracy.
  • “Sam Hall,” a short story by Poul Anderson (first published 1953 in Astounding Science Fiction): A story set in a security-obsessed United States, where computerized record-keeping enables the creation of a panopticon society. The insertion of a false record into the system leads to unintended consequences. Anderson, the first sf author to be honored with a Special Prometheus Award for Lifetime Achievement, explores political implications of computer technology that now, decades later, are widely recognized.
  • “Harrison Bergeron,” by Kurt Vonnegut (first published 1961 in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction), a dystopian short story, set in a United States where constitutional amendments and a Handicapper General mandate that no one can be stupider, uglier, weaker, slower (or better) than anyone else, satirizes the authoritarian consequences of radical egalitarianism taken to an extreme that denies individuality and diversity. Vonnegut dramatizes the destruction of people’s lives and talents and the obliteration of basic humanity via a denial of emotions and knowledge that leaves parents unable to mourn a son’s death.
  • “Conquest by Default,” by Vernor Vinge (first published 1968 in Analog), Vinge’s first exploration of anarchism, offers a story about human civilization being overwhelmed by a superior alien force, told from the point of view of an alien sympathetic to the underdogs, who finds a way to save the humans by breaking up governments into much smaller components. The alien culture uses a legal twist to foster extreme cultural diversity, as characters draw explicit parallels between the plight of humanity in the face of superior alien tech and the fate of Native Americans faced with European invaders. 
  • Schrödinger’s Cat: The Universe Next Door, by Robert Anton Wilson (first published 1979 by Pocket Books), a parallel-worlds novel, draws upon theories from quantum mechanics to explore themes about the evil of violence, particularly political coercion and the carnage of the Vietnam War. The speculative fantasy features alternate versions of characters from the Illuminatus! trilogy by Wilson and Robert Shea, which won the Hall of Fame Award in 1986. 

In addition to these nominees, the Hall of Fame Committee considered nine other works: “The Man Who Sold the Stars,” by Gregory Benford; “ILU-486,” by Amanda Ching; The Mirror Maze, by James P. Hogan; That Hideous Strength, by C.S. Lewis; A Mirror for Observers, by Edgar Pangborn;  A Time of Changes, by Robert Silverberg; Demon and Freedom, by Daniel Suarez, as a combined nomination; The Once and Future King and The Book of Merlyn, by T.H. White, as a combined nomination; and “Even the Queen,” by Connie Willis.

The LFS says the purpose of the Prometheus Awards is to recognize

…outstanding works of science fiction and fantasy that dramatize the perennial conflict between Liberty and Power, favor private social cooperation over legalized coercion, expose abuses and excesses of obtrusive 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.

The final vote will take place in mid-2019. All Libertarian Futurist Society members are eligible to vote. The award will be presented at the Dublin Worldcon.

Nominations for the 2019 Hall of Fame Award can be submitted to committee chair William H. Stoddard (halloffame@lfs.org) at any time. All LFS members are eligible to nominate. Nominees may be in any narrative or dramatic form, including prose fiction, stage plays, film, television, other video, graphic novels, song lyrics, or epic or narrative verse; they must explore themes relevant to libertarianism and must be science fiction, fantasy, or related genres.

The Libertarian Futurist Society also presents the annual Prometheus Award for Best Novel. More information is available at their website, www.lfs.org.

Pixel Scroll 9/2/18 Elvish Has Left The Building

(1) DECOPUNK CITATION. Language Log quotes Cat Valente today in “Decopunk and other quasicompositional compounds”.

Complex lexical items generally have analogical historico-semantic accretions similar to those in the X-punk domain. This includes phrases like red tide, solar energy, or historical fiction,  as well as compounds like jumpsuitski lift, or break room. In the other direction, proper names are far from being semantically arbitrary in practice — to quote from a Decopunk work, Catherynne Valente’s Radiance

(2) THE MATTER OF ENGLAND. One people, divided by a common tongue…

https://medesha.tumblr.com/post/131750372841/altarandwitchinghour-kingfucko-gollyplot

(3) PETER CAPALDI, VENTRILOQUIST. This caught my eye –

(4) AND THEN, AT DRAGON CON. Remember what they said about “Inconceivable”?

(5) THE MEANING OF IT ALL. Bow Tie Writer asked an array of fans at Worldcon 76 to answer his question. I recognized Judy Bemis, Kevin Standlee, and Michelle Pincus among them.

Worldcon 2018 was held in San Jose August 15th – 20th. I went around and I asked people one simple question: What does Worldcon mean to you. This video is my homage to fandom, to internet friends, and to all the good people who come together to celebrate the things we love.

 

(6) RSR’S WORLDCON REPORT. At Rocket Stack Rank, Greg Hullender has an interesting set of “WorldCon 76 Takeaways” (including coverage of the Filer meetups).

…The audience for this panel had lots of people with many decades of experience with fanzines, so we had a lively but always cordial discussion. I was pleased to learn that even the folks who’d done fanzines back in the days of mimeograph machines all seemed to agree that online publications were definitely the future, particularly in terms of their ability to immediately involve fans via comments that don’t need to wait a month or more for publication. They worried that blogs in particular lack some of the feel of a fanzine, which has an arrangement of related stories. (At RSR, we’ll think about how a content-management system might capture that for an online publication.)

I was very pleased when someone in the audience told me that Rocket Stack Rank fit into a long tradition of “Review Fanzines,” of which Tangent is another surviving example. That made me feel a lot less like an impostor….

(7) TRUESDALE’S WORLDCON 76 PHOTO GALLERY. Dave Truesdale’s Worldcon 76 report for Tangent, “Photos from Worldcon 76, the 76th World Science Fiction Convention”, begins with coverage of Saturday’s alt-right demonstration, and ends by explaining what a raw deal he got when his 2016 Worldcon membership was revoked. In between there are a quite a few fine author photos. Here are the captions from one set —

Below Left: Lezli Robyn, helping out at the Galaxy’s Edge dealer’s table. Below Right: Galaxy’s Edge Publisher Shahid Mahmud. Both Lezli and Shahid are two of the most delightful people I’ve met in a long time. Shahid’s enthusiasm and love of SF is infectious. We talked for quite some time about this and that, and his intelligence and sense of humor shone through everything. I can’t imagine anyone not liking Shahid once they’ve met him.

(8) PROMETHEUS SPEECH. The Libertarian Futurist Society presented the Prometheus Awards at Worldcon 76. The author of the Prometheus Award-winning novel, Travis Corcoran, was unable to attend, so his acceptance speech for Powers of the Earth was read by Chris Hibbert. Its message is conveyed with classic libertarian subtlety.

…Since the first Worldcon in 1939 science fiction has been a libertarian territory under attack from authoritarians. Futurian Donald Wollheim was a communist, and argued that all of science fiction “should actively work for the realization of the . . . world-state as the only . . . justification for their activities”.

Wollheim failed with his takeover in 1939—he was physically removed from Worldcon—but he started a Gramscian long march through the institutions, and it worked. In the current year conventions, editors, and publishing houses are all cordy-cepted. The sociopaths have pushed the geeks out and have taken over the cultural territory.

“You made this? <pause> I made this.”

When the state tries to take your home, they come with guns, and you have to fight them with guns, if at all.

When a subculture tries to take your home, they come with snark and shame and entryism . . . and you fight them by making better art….

(9) DIRT FARMING. James Davis Nicoll has a long fannish exploration of “Science Fiction’s Trouble with Terraforming” at Tor.com.

Terraforming is, of course, the hypothesized art of converting an uninhabitable rock into a habitable world. Jack Williamson coined the term in his Seetee-related short story, “Collision Orbit”, published under the pen name Will Stewart in the July, 1942 issue of Astounding Magazine. While Williamson invokes non-existent super-science in order to make the task seem doable, he probably felt confident that terraforming would someday make sense. In the short run, we have seen humans shaping the Earth. In the long run—well, Earth was once an anoxic wasteland. Eons of life shaped it into a habitable planet. Williamson suspected that humans could imitate that process elsewhere…and make it happen in centuries rather than eons. Perhaps in even less time!

(10) AUGUSTULUS: With the help of a belated July issue, Jason has compiled a diminutive list of notable reading in Summation: August at Featured Futures:

This month has been doubly strange. Despite reading 42 stories of about 201K words from the August magazines, I’m in the unprecedented and unpleasant position of only being able to note one story (and that’s not even fully recommended). Counting a late July story and things for a couple of Tangent reviews, I read 59 stories of about 324K words this month and can at least add two recs and another honorable mention, all from the July/August Black Static, but only one of those is even speculative with the other two being straight horror.

(11) GIDDINGS OBIT. Sff writer and critic Joseph “Joe” Giddings passed away from ALS at the age of 45 on August 16. He was born April 6, 1973. His criticism appeared in Bull Spec and Tangent Online (among others). His fiction appeared in Mystic Signals and Dark Stars (more information in his entry at Internet Science Fiction Database.) Giddings blogged at “The Clockwork Pen”.

Joseph Giddings

(12) TODAY’S MEMORIAL DAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge. Who looked at the wrong ISFDB page today — but waste not, want not!]

  • Died September 2, 1973. J.R.R. Tolkien. It’d be extremely silly of me to list what he’s done given what the group knows, so instead I’ll ask instead what’s your favourite work by him. Mine’s still The Hobbit, a book I delight in re-reading in the Autumn as I think of him as being of that season.
  • Died September 2, 2000 – Curt Siodmak. He is known for his work in the horror and science fiction film genres, with such films as The Wolf Man and Donovan’s Brain with the latter being adapted from his novel of the same name. Siodmak is credited with creating the legend that only silver can kill a werewolf. He also wrote the screenplays for include Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, I Walked With a Zombie and The Beast With Five Fingers.
  • Died September 2, 2013 – Frederik Pohl. Obviously needs no introduction here. His first published was a 1937 poem “Elegy to a Dead Satellite: Luna”. Noted work include the Heechee series whose first novel, Gateway, was the winner of the Campbell Memorial, Hugo, Locus SF, and Nebula Awards, Man Plus , and The Space Merchants with Cyril M. Kornbluth. I won’t say that any of the short story collections thrill me but Platinum Pohl is a decent collection. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) HOGWARTS EXPRESS. More “Back to Hogwarts” hype: “Eddie Redmayne and Jude Law were at Kings Cross for the Hogwarts Express”.

As every good Harry Potter fan knows, the Hogwarts Express departs from Kings Cross station, London, platform nine and three-quarters at 11.30am on September 1. This year Professor Dumbledore and Newt Scamander themselves, aka Hollywood stars Jude Law and Eddie Redmayne, were there to kick off the new year.

(15) AND WHILE WE’RE HOGWARTING. Gwynne Watkins, in the Yahoo! Entertainment story “A ‘Harry Potter’ neophyte watches all 8 movies for the first time: Here’s what happened”  says that “my cred as a film nerd and a nerd nerd has been threatened by a shameful omission”– she had never seen a Harry Potter movie (not literally – she’d seen the first one in its initial theatrical release.)  So she decided to watch them all over a 24-hour binge. Some notes are better than others. Is Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix really about the problems of standardized testing? On the other hand, she had an interesting response to this 20-years-after rewatch of the very first movie —

What surprised me most on my second viewing of Sorcerer’s Stone was how much I loved Emma Watson’s Hermione. The first time around, I remember thinking that her show-offish, know-it-all nature was borderline unbearable. Now I love how unapologetic she is about her intelligence, how confidently she wields it in a room full of boys. (Seriously, where are the Hogwarts girls? Hermione needs some female friends!) Maybe as a girl who grew up downplaying her intelligence, Hermione made me uncomfortable in some primal, fourth-grade part of my subconscious. If that’s true, it only makes me more grateful that my daughter will grow up in a post-Hermione world.

(16) THE HORROR. From Agouti (@bitterkarella) comes news of the horror genre’s Midnight Society of writers. Dean Koontz, HP Lovecraft, Clive Barker, Edward Lee, Stephen King, and Edgar Allen Poe trade inspirations for their next novels. The thread starts here.

(17) NED KELLY AWARDS. My internet wanderings brought me the results of the Australian Crime Writers Association’s 2018 Ned Kelly Awards, and far be it from me to turn down literary award news…

2018 Ned Kelly Awards

Best Crime

  • Crossing the Lines by Sulari Gentill

Best First Crime

  • The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey

Best True Crime

  • Unmaking A Murder: The Mysterious Death of Anna Jane Cheney by Graham Archer

(18) NGAIO MARSH. Likewise, I learned the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Awards for the “very best in Kiwi Crime” were recently presented in New Zealand.

Best Crime Novel

  • Marlborough Man by Alan Carter (Fremantle Press)

Best First Novel

  • All Our Secrets by Jennifer Lane (Rosa Mira Books)

(19) RENAME THAT TUNE. The IAU will probably decide that Hubble needs to share credit – The Conversation has the story: “Game-changing resolution: whose name on the laws of physics for an expanding universe?”

Astronomers are engaged in a lively debate over plans to rename one of the laws of physics.

It emerged overnight at the 30th Meeting of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), in Vienna, where members of the general assembly considered a resolution on amending the name of the Hubble Law to the Hubble-Lemaître Law.

The resolution aims to credit the work of the Belgian astronomer Georges Lemaître and his contribution – along with the American astronomer Edwin Hubble – to our understanding of the expansion of the universe.

While most (but not all) members at the meeting were in favour of the resolution, a decision allowed all members of the International Astronomical Union a chance to vote. Subsequently, voting was downgraded to a straw vote and the resolution will formally be voted on by an electronic vote at a later date.

(20) BEWARE BENNU. The NASA mission to visit and sample Bennu — a “potentially hazardous asteroid” — has entered a new phase (“NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Begins Asteroid Operations Campaign”). The spacecraft has begun approach operations:

After an almost two-year journey, NASA’s asteroid sampling spacecraft, OSIRIS-REx, caught its first glimpse of asteroid Bennu last week and began the final approach toward its target. Kicking off the mission’s asteroid operations campaign on Aug. 17, the spacecraft’s PolyCam camera obtained the image from a distance of 1.4 million miles (2.2 million km).

…The spacecraft has traveled approximately 1.1 billion miles (1.8 billion km) since its Sept. 8, 2016, launch and is scheduled to arrive at Bennu on Dec. 3.

…During the mission’s approach phase, OSIRIS-REx will:

  • regularly observe the area around the asteroid to search for dust plumes and natural satellites, and study Bennu’s light and spectral properties;
  • execute a series of four asteroid approach maneuvers, beginning on Oct. 1, slowing the spacecraft to match Bennu’s orbit around the Sun;
  • jettison the protective cover of the spacecraft’s sampling arm in mid-October and subsequently extend and image the arm for the first time in flight; and
  • use OCAMS to reveal the asteroid’s overall shape in late-October and begin detecting Bennu’s surface features in mid-November.

Ultimately, the craft will map the asteroid, then perform a sampling “touch-and-go” maneuver. The sample will be dropped off at Earth in a Sample Return Capsule in September 2023. OSIRIS-REx itself will end up in a solar orbit.

(21) LOX WARNING. It used to be a thing — and may still be in some fannish circles — to whip up fresh ice cream at room parties using liquid nitrogen. The US Food and Drug administration has issued a safety alert about the danger of drinks and food prepared with LN2 at the point of sale (CNN: “FDA issues warning about liquid nitrogen on food”):

“The FDA has become aware of severe — and in some cases, life-threatening — injuries, such as damage to skin and internal organs caused by liquid nitrogen still present in the food or drink,” the FDA said in issuing its safety alert. “Injuries have occurred from handling or eating products prepared by adding liquid nitrogen immediately before consumption, even after the liquid nitrogen has fully evaporated due to the extremely low temperature of the food.”

In its warning, the FDA said inhaling the vapor “released by a food or drink prepared by adding liquid nitrogen immediately before consumption may also cause breathing difficulty, especially among individuals with asthma.”

…The FDA did not say how many reports of injuries it has received or provide details on life-threatening cases.

(22) MOON WALKER. The BBC’s Nicholas Barber gives “Five Stars for First Man”

The life story of Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon, is so full of astounding courage, tragedy and triumph that it is just begging for an old-school Hollywood biopic, with all the inspiring speeches, swelling orchestras and grand themes that the genre entails. First Man is not that biopic.

Directed by Damien Chazelle (La La Land) and scripted by Josh Singer (Spotlight), the film is an understated, economical drama which, like a rocket that has to escape from the Earth’s gravity, jettisons absolutely everything it doesn’t need. Dialogue is kept to a minimum. Exposition is edited out. Extraneous characters are stripped away to the point that you see almost nothing of Buzz Aldrin (Corey Stoll), who moonwalked with Armstrong, and even less of Mike Collins (Lukas Haas), who piloted the orbiting craft. You don’t hear about Armstrong’s Korean War heroics, for that matter, and the space-race politics that were behind Nasa’s Apollo programme remain in the background. And yet, as restrained as First Man is, this riveting, exhaustively researched and utterly believable film manages to shake you, take your breath away and even pull a few tears from your eyes.

(23) SCREEN PLAY. “Movie Madness: Why Chinese cinemas are empty but full”. Speculators think buying seats (to fake up hits, to push stock prices) is cheaper than making good movies.

For a country which will soon assume the mantle of the world’s largest cinema audience, China comes out with a surprising number of big budget B-grade flops.

Some blame this on censorship, others on a lack of creativity but there are also those who see a more sinister force at work, which has nothing to do with film-making.

It also has nothing to do with selling tickets: at least not real ones.

Some investors are apparently financially backing movies with the sole goal of boosting their stock price that can shift on the perception of a movie’s performance, irrespective of its true popularity.

(24) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “The Bridge Tongues” on YouTube is a look back at our times from the 25th century, where no one argues with each other and everyone lives in their own digital bubble.

[Thanks to JJ, Mark Hepworth, John King Tarpinian, Samuel Montgomery-Blinn, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Gregory Benford, Martin Morse Wooster, Bill Burns, Dann, James Davis Nicoll, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

2018 Prometheus Award Winners

The Libertarian Futurist Society has announced the 2018 Prometheus Award winners for Best Novel and the Prometheus Hall of Fame – Best Classic Fiction.

Best Novel

  • The Powers of the Earth, by Travis Corcoran

The Powers of the Earth (Morlock Publishing), the first volume in The Aristillus Series, is set in a near-future ungoverned lunar settlement, developed while Earth leaders ignored and denied its existence. The settlement struggles to retain its independence from Earth’s invading force in Corcoran’s panoramic story about people carrying on their lives in liberty. Corcoran’s novel is both a tribute to Robert Heinlein’s classic The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and a re-examination of its assumptions about how such a lunar colony would function, and what kinds of people would live there.

Other Best Novel finalists:

  • Drug Lord: High Ground by Doug Casey and John Hunt (High Ground Books);
  • Torchship, Torchship Pilot, and Torchship Captain, by Karl Gallagher (Kelt Haven Press);
  • Darkship Revenge, by Sarah Hoyt (Baen Books);
  • The Corporation Wars: Emergence by Ken MacLeod (Orbit); and
  • Artemis, by Andy Weir (Crown Books).

Prometheus Hall of Fame – Best Classic Fiction. 

  • With Folded Hands …” by Grand Master Jack Williamson (1947 short story)

Williamson (1908-2006) was the second writer after Robert Heinlein to be named Grand Master of Science Fiction (in 1976) by the Science Fiction Writers of America. His novelette “With Folded Hands …”, inspired by Williamson’s lifelong distrust of “benevolent” but intrusive paternalism and published in 1947 in Astounding, launched his Humanoids Series (including the 1949 novel The Humanoids and the 1980 sequel The Humanoid Touch) which explored the disastrous and authoritarian implications of powerful new technology (robots with an imperative to control and protect humans) to undermine individual liberty and moral autonomy.

Other Hall of Fame finalists:

  • “Starfog,” a short story (1967) by Poul Anderson;
  • “As Easy as A.B.C.,” a short story (1912) by Rudyard Kipling;
  • The Island Worlds, a novel (1986) by Eric Kotani and John Maddox Roberts; and
  • “Conquest by Default,” a short story (1968) by Vernor Vinge.

The annual Prometheus Hall of Fame award is open to works published or broadcast at least five years ago in any narrative or dramatic form, including novels, stories, stage plays, film, television, other video, graphic novels, song lyrics, or epic or narrative verse.

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 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 and the occasional Prometheus Special awards.

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 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.

The LFS will hold this year’s Prometheus Awards ceremony at 4 p.m. Friday, August 17, in the San Jose McEnery Convention Center during San Jose Worldcon 76.

2018 Prometheus Award Best Novel Finalists

The Libertarian Futurist Society has announced six finalists for the Best Novel category of the 2018 Prometheus Awards, presented annually at the World Science Fiction Convention.

  • Drug Lord: High Ground by Doug Casey and John Hunt (High Ground Books) – The near-future adventure thriller offers an unconventional hero challenging the government’s War on Drugs by promoting a new rationality/lucidity drug that lets people see through deception, fake news and government propaganda – thereby posing a dire and unforgiveable threat to politicians, bureaucrats and the very foundations of corruption and unjust power. (Note: Drug Lord, Volume 2 in the co-authors’ projected seven-part High Ground series, is the sequel to Speculator, nominated the previous year for the Prometheus Award.)
  • The Powers of the Earth, by Travis Corcoran (Morlock Publishing) – A near-future ungoverned lunar settlement, developed while Earth leaders ignored and denied its existence, struggles to retain its independence from Earth’s meddling bureaucracy in this panoramic story about people carrying on their lives in liberty. (Note: This finalist is the first volume of The Aristillus Series; the sequel Causes of Separation will be published in May 2018.)
  • Torchship, Torchship Pilot and Torchship Captain, by Karl Gallagher (Kelt Haven Press) – The space-opera – tightly written and plotted enough to count as one three-part novel –follows the adventures and intrigues of a smart but secretive woman who signs on as pilot of a free-enterprising interstellar freighter and becomes a player in humanity’s survival in a dangerous region of space with conflicting planetary governments and solar-system-devouring artificial intelligences that threaten the divided human colony worlds.
  • Darkship Revenge, by Sarah Hoyt (Baen Books) – This rapid-paced adventure dramatizes the heroism of an angry mother who risks herself, her child and kidnapped husband to fight a bio-engineered plague, genetically modified tyrants, and a fearful slavery centuries from now on and around Earth. (Note: This book is the latest in the Darkship series, which began with the 2011 Prometheus winner Darkship Thieves and continued with Darkship Renegades, a 2013 Prometheus finalist, and A Few Good Men, a 2014 Prometheus finalist.)
  • The Corporation Wars: Emergence by Ken MacLeod (Orbit) – In the suspenseful but humor-laced conclusion to The Corporation Wars trilogy, MacLeod weaves a cyberpunk-style AI-versus-human space opera that explores the foundations of self-awareness, autonomy, rights and liberties as newly sentient “freebots” battle for colonial-planet survival in a multi-sided interstellar 32nd-century war against threats in the real and virtual worlds from different factions of uploaded humans and rogue robots. (Note: The Corporation Wars: Dissidence and The Corporation Wars: Insurgence were 2017 Best Novel finalists.)
  • Artemis, by Andy Weir (Crown Books) – In this second novel by the bestselling author of The Martian, Weir offers a noir adventure and near-future heist thriller set on humanity’s first and only lunar colony, a market-oriented city in which a poverty-stricken but resourceful young smuggler must use her guts and skills to survive and thrive while discovering a dark conspiracy that threatens the colony’s freedom and future.

Thirteen 2017 novels were nominated by LFS members for this year’s award. (Note: Under a recently adopted new LFS award-eligibility rule, similar to one recently added for the Worldcon’s Hugo Awards, two or more novels can be nominated together as basically one novel if the judges determine that the books are so tightly linked and plotted, with continuing characters and a unifying conflict and theme, that they can be best read as one work.)

The other 2017 nominees, alphabetized by author: Walkaway, by Cory Doctorow (Tor Books), The Alexander Inheritance by Eric Flint, Gorg Huff and Paula Goodlett (Baen Books), Luna: Wolf Moon: A Novel by Ian McDonald (Tor), Autonomous, by Annalee Newitz (Tor), The Braintrust, by Marc Stiegler (LMBPN Publishing), Change Agent, by Daniel Suarez (Dutton, a Penguin Random House imprint) and The Genius Plague, by David Walton (Pyr Books)

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.

[Based on a press release.]

2018 Prometheus Hall of Fame Award Finalists

The Libertarian Futurist Society has selected five finalists for their 2018 Hall of Fame Award.

  • “As Easy as A.B.C.,” a short story by Rudyard Kipling (first published 1912 in London Magazine)
    — In the second of his “airship utopia” stories, an unpopular minority in a future society calls for the revival of democracy, and a largely hands-off world government is called in to protect them from mob violence.
  • “With Folded Hands . . .,” a short story by Jack Williamson (first published 1947 in Astounding Science Fiction)
    — A cautionary tale of a future society under the control of entirely benevolent AIs.
  • “Starfog,” a short story by Poul Anderson (first published 1967 in Analog)
    — An agent of a mutual aid association spanning many solar systems seeks a way to carry out a large-scale project without taxation or central planning.
  • “Conquest by Default,” a short story by Vernor Vinge (first published 1968 in Analog)
    — Vernor Vinge’s first exploration of the possible form of an anarchistically organized society, set on a post-nuclear war Earth visited by an alien culture.
  • The Island Worlds, a novel by Eric Kotani and John Maddox Roberts (first published 1986 by Baen Books)
    — A libertarian independence movement in the asteroids struggles against domination by an Earth-based bureaucracy — and its own disagreements over strategies for attaining freedom.

In addition to these nominees, the Hall of Fame Committee considered six other works: “ILU-486,” by Amanda Ching; That Hideous Strength, by C.S. Lewis; 2112, by Rush; A Time of Changes, by Robert Silverberg; “Harrison Bergeron,” by Kurt Vonnegut; and The Once and Future King and The Book of Merlyn, by T.H. White, as a combined nomination.

The final vote will take place in mid-2018. All Libertarian Futurist Society members are eligible to vote. The award will be presented at a major science fiction convention.

Nominations for the 2019 Hall of Fame Award can be submitted to committee chair William H. Stoddard (halloffame@lfs.org) at any time. All LFS members are eligible to nominate. Nominees may be in any narrative or dramatic form, including prose fiction, stage plays, film, television, other video, graphic novels, song lyrics, or epic or narrative verse; they must explore themes relevant to libertarianism and must be science fiction, fantasy, or related genres.

The Libertarian Futurist Society also presents the annual Prometheus Award and welcomes new members who are interested in science fiction and the future of freedom. More information is available at our website, www.lfs.org.

2017 Prometheus Awards


Johanna Sinisalo’s The Core of the Sun has been selected by the Libertarian Futurist Society as the winner of the 2017 Prometheus Award for Best Novel.

Robert A. Heinlein

LFS members also voted to induct Robert Heinlein’s story “Coventry,” first published in 1940 in Astounding Science Fiction, into the Prometheus Hall of Fame for best classic fiction.

The LFS, in a separate awards process reported earlier, also recently selected the first chapter of Freefall, a Webcomic by Mark Stanley, to receive a Special Prometheus Award in 2017.

The Prometheus Awards ceremony will be held August 11 at Worldcon 75 in Helsinki. Sinisalo will receive a plaque and a one-ounce gold coin; other winners receive plaques and smaller gold coins.

The LFS press release says about Sinisalo’s The Core of the Sun:

[The 2016 novel] translated by Lola Rogers and published by Grove Press/Black Cat, is both libertarian and feminist. In it, the well-known Finnish writer imagines a dystopian eugenics-dominated alternate history of Finland. While coping with strong feelings about her lost sister, the heroine battles an oppressive, manipulative and male-dominated regime that makes women subservient housewives and mothers and bans alcohol, mind-altering drugs, caffeine and hot peppers.

The Core of the Sun was selected from a slate of finalists, chosen by a 10-member LFS judging committee, that includes The Corporation Wars: Dissidence and The Corporation Wars: Insurgence by Ken MacLeod (Orbit), The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047 by Lionel Shriver (HarperCollins) and Blade of p’Na by L. Neil Smith (Phoenix Pick).

In addition to Heinlein’s story, the other Prometheus Hall of Fame finalists were Poul Anderson’s 1967 story “Starfog,” Rudyard Kipling’s 1912 story “As Easy as A.B.C.,” Vernor Vinge’s 1968 story “Conquest by Default,” Kurt Vonnegut’s 1971 story “Harrison Bergeron” and Jack Williamson’s 1947 story “With Folded Hands …”.

The annual Prometheus Hall of Fame award is open to works published or broadcast at least five years ago in any narrative or dramatic form, including prose fiction, stage plays, film, television, other video, graphic novels, song lyrics, or epic or narrative verse. As in all Prometheus Award categories, eligible works must explore themes relevant to libertarianism and must be science fiction, fantasy, or related genres.

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

LFS Special Award for Freefall, A Webcomic

The Libertarian Futurist Society has announced it will give a Special Prometheus Award to the first chapter of Freefall, a webcomic by Mark Stanley.

Freefall is set on a planet in another solar system, Jean, colonized by a small number of human beings and a large number of robots. Its main characters are a squidlike intelligent alien, Sam Starfall; a robot, Helix; and a genetically enhanced humanoid wolf, Florence Ambrose. The strip is largely humorous, but a major storyline has explored the rights and legal status of created beings.

The first installment appeared on March 30, 1998. Installment 2835, on July 11, 2016, announced the completion of the first chapter, making it eligible for nomination as a completed work. (An index of all episodes can be found at http://freefall.purrsia.com/fcdex.htm.)

In addition to the annual Prometheus Awards for Best Novel and Hall of Fame (Best Classic Fiction), the Libertarian Futurist Society gives a Special Award when an outstanding work with pro-freedom themes appears in a different form or medium.

Freefall, chapter one, is the first Webcomic to be honored, and the third graphic narrative work (following The Probability Broach in 2005 and Alex + Ada in 2016).

Mark Stanley will receive a plaque commemorating the award and a gold coin, “a symbol of free minds and free markets.”

2017 Prometheus Best Novel Award Finalists

The Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS) has announced five finalists in the Best Novel category of the 37th annual Prometheus Awards:

  • The Corporation Wars: Dissidence by Ken MacLeod (Orbit)
  • The Corporation Wars: Insurgence, by Ken MacLeod (Orbit)
  • The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047 by Lionel Shriver (HarperCollins)
  • The Core of the Sun, by Johanna Sinisalo (translated by Lola Rogers) (Grove Press/Black Cat)
  • Blade of p’Na, by L. Neil Smith (Phoenix Pick)

The 2017 awards will be presented at Worldcon 75 (August 9-13) in Helsinki, Finland. The winner will receive a plaque and one-ounce gold coin.

Sixteen novels published in 2016 were nominated for this year’s award, among the largest slates of nominees in the past two decades.

The other Best Novel nominees: Morning Star: Book III of The Red Rising Trilogy, by Pierce Brown (Del Rey); Speculator, by Doug Casey and John Hunt (HighGround Books); Dark Age, by Felix Hartmann (Hartmann Publishing); Kill Process, by William Hertling (Liquididea Press); Through Fire, by Sarah Hoyt (Baen Books); Too Like the Lightning, by Ada Palmer (TOR Books); Written in Fire, by Marcus Sakey (Thomas & Mercer); Arkwright, by Allen Steele (TOR Books); On to the Asteroid, by Travis S. Taylor and Les Johnson (Baen Books); Necessity, by Jo Walton (TOR Books); and Angeleyes by Michael Z. Williamson (Baen Books)

The finalists were chosen by a 10-member LFS judging committee.

Here is the short description of each finalist from the press release:

  • The Corporation Wars: Dissidence – Robots attain self-awareness and develop a pro-freedom philosophy while dead humans are revived in digital form to fight an interstellar virtual-reality war against the robot rebellion in the first novel in MacLeod’s projected trilogy, which raises intriguing questions about autonomy and free will.
  • The Corporation Wars: Insurgence – A ghost soldier and several new characters are introduced in the action-oriented second novel in MacLeod’s trilogy, which dramatizes a more complicated three-sided war between the freedom-fighting robots and two groups of humans.
  • The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047 – Shriver’s cautionary dystopian drama, informed by an understanding of free-market economics and how coercive government can undermine civilization itself, is set in a 2029 debt-driven apocalypse in which a once-rich family and a once-powerful America have gone bust but the family’s least-successful members prove the most resilient in the face of disaster.
  • The Core of the Sun – This dystopian novel, written by well-known Finnish writer Sinisalo and translated by Rogers, is both libertarian and feminist in depicting an alternate eugenics-dominated Finland where the heroine battles an oppressive, manipulative and male-dominated regime that makes women subservient housewives and mothers and bans alcohol, mind-altering drugs, caffeine and hot peppers.
  • Blade of p’Na – A wide variety of intelligent alien creatures co-exist in a free and free-wheeling society on an alternative version of Earth – including a sapient dog and his human tracking down a missing bridegroom while investigating mysteries and trying to prevent an interdimensional invasion – in this action-adventure-oriented prequel to Smith’s Prometheus-winning The Forge of the Elders.

The Prometheus Award, sponsored by the Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS), was established in 1979, making it one of the oldest fan-based awards currently being given in the sf field. Since 1982, the annual award has been presented at the Worldcon.

In the words of the Libertarian Futurist Society, the Prometheus Awards “[recognize] outstanding works of science fiction and fantasy that dramatize the perennial conflict between Liberty and Power, 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 civilization, cooperation, peace, prosperity, progress and justice.”

A full list of past Prometheus Award winners in all categories is available at the LFS website.

2017 Prometheus Hall of Fame Finalists

libertycoinThe Libertarian Futurist Society has chosen six finalists for the 2017 Hall of Fame Award, given in recognition of a classic work of science fiction or fantasy with libertarian themes. This year’s finalists are:

  • “As Easy as A.B.C.,” by Rudyard Kipling (first published 1912 in London Magazine), the second of his “airship utopia” stories, portrays a crisis in a twenty-first century society where an unpopular minority calls for the revival of democracy, and a largely hands-off world government is forced to step in and protect them.
  • “Conquest by Default,” by Vernor Vinge (first published 1968 in Analog) is his first exploration of the idea of anarchism, in which a stateless alien society visits an Earth recovering from nuclear war. The story combines a novel approach to the problem of avoiding the decay of anarchy into government with an evocation of the tragic impact of cultural change.
  • “Coventry,” by Robert A. Heinlein (first published 1940 in Astounding Science Fiction) envisions the Covenant, a social compact under which breaking the law, as such, cannot be punished unless actual harm to someone has been demonstrated. The story contrasts that society with a lawless “anarchy” into which those who break the covenant are sent.
  • “Harrison Bergeron,” by Kurt Vonnegut (first published 1971 in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction), satirizes the idea of radical egalitarianism with a portrayal of a society where all talented people are compulsorily brought down to average — until one gifted youth rebels against the system.
  • “Starfog,” by Poul Anderson (first published 1967 in Analog) envisions a widespread interstellar society millennia after the fall of a Galactic Empire, unified by the Commonality, a mutual aid organization. The story explores methods of carrying out large-scale projects through voluntary cooperation and market incentives under conditions where central control is unworkable.
  • “With Folded Hands …” by Jack Williamson (first published 1947 in Astounding Science Fiction), uses science fiction to satirize the modern “nanny state” and explore an ethical theme: the peril of unrestricted authority, even (or especially) when it is used totally altruistically to take care of those subjected to it.

In addition to the six finalists, the Hall of Fame Committee considered eight other works: “The End of the Line,” by James H. Schmitz; “The Exit Door Leads In,” by Philip K. Dick; The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood; The Island Worlds, by Eric Kotani and John Maddox Roberts; Lord of the Flies, by William Golding; Manna, by Lee Correy; “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,” by Ursula Le Guin; and A Time of Changes, by Robert Silverberg.

The Prometheus Awards, in the words of the LFS, recognize “outstanding works of science fiction and fantasy that dramatize the perennial conflict between liberty and power, 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 civilization, cooperation, peace, prosperity, progress and justice.”

The final vote by LFS members will take place in mid-2017. The Prometheus Hall of Fame award will be presented at a major science fiction convention.