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.

14 thoughts on “2017 Prometheus Awards

  1. As the person who nominated “Coventry” I can perhaps shed light on why: Most basically, Heinlein shows the judge saying that even though the protagonist has broken the law, if he had not actually damaged anyone by doing so, he could not be punished, which is at least fairly close to the libertarian position on victimless crimes. Second, the usual libertarian view is that if you want freedom, you have to have law, to define limits on each person’s actions so that they don’t impair other people’s freedom; even anarchist libertarians want a functioning legal system, though they disagree about how to provide it (see for example part III of David Friedman’s The Machinery of Freedom). Heinlein shows his character being exiled to a region beyond the law, and discovering that lawlessness enables anyone who wants power to go after it without restraint—which is both the bad form of law (the command of a sovereign who cannot be restrained) and the bad sense of “anarchy” (whether or not there’s a good one).

  2. So exile isn’t considered a punishment? That interpretation strikes me as… unorthodox, at best.

  3. Ah, no, Rev. Bob. Punishment was not allowed if the criminal had not damaged anyone. But the protagonist had punched another man in the nose. I think that counts as “damage.” Having inflicted damage, he was not exempt from punishment. The judge’s mention of criminals who had not damaged anyone was a false-to-fact conditional. (Heinlein liked to present false-to-fact conditionals, perhaps as a result of his study of mathematics.)

  4. So the judge said something irrelevant and untrue, but since the irrelevant untruth matches libertarian dogma, the story merits an award for advancing libertarian principles?

    I’m having trouble following your logic. I mean, I like the story just fine, but your argument for honoring it with this particular award isn’t making a lot of sense.

  5. This really is a good story, and I probably shouldn’t’ve been trolling the comment section over it. It is an interesting question just how libertarian the government is in this story, and just how the government is libertarian. I wouldn’t be shocked if it had Social Credit in its economy, given when Heinlein wrote it.

    Libertarianism over the years has had a consistent interest in personal freedom and a variety of economic positions to maximize said freedom. It hasn’t all been Ayn Rand.

  6. How do you figure “untrue”? We aren’t shown someone smoking hashish, or engaging in sodomy, or practicing nudism, and being punished for it. Absent such evidence, it seems reasonable to suppose that Heinlein intends the judge’s statement about the law to be taken as a factually accurate description of the future society Heinlein is envisioning.

  7. @John A Arkansawyer:

    I wouldn’t be shocked if it had Social Credit in its economy, given when Heinlein wrote it.

    If I recall “For Us the Living” correctly, the society in that book (which was explicitly based on Social Credit) had a legal system similar to the one described by the judge who exiles David MacKinnon to Coventry – corrective therapy for crimes that cause harm and no category of crimes without a measurable harm (I could be wrong, since it’s been a while since I’ve read FutL).

    P.S. A (godstalk) is A (godstalk).

  8. @Bill: “How do you figure “untrue”?”

    That’s typically how “false-to-fact” translates: “not true.”

  9. Are “a false-to-fact conditional” and “something irrelevant and untrue” being used to refer to the same thing? Because if they are, I have to side with William H. Stoddard here. The judge is infodumping for us, and part of the infodump is fleshing out the reasoning behind this odd form of justice. The particular passage in question is, I believe, this:

    “…Even an act specifically prohibited by law could not be held against you, unless the state was able to prove that your particular act damaged, or caused evident danger of damage, to a particular individual.”

    I could pick that apart, but it’s not an unreasonable standard on its face for criminal guilt. It falls way short as a matter of civil law, and I can only imagine the lawyering on behalf of those who can afford it, enabling them to do damage to particular individuals and get away with it. But it’s not a bad standard to aspire to just because it can be hacked.

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