2021 Prometheus Best Novel and Hall of Fame Winners

The Libertarian Futurist Society has announced the Best Novel and Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction Prometheus Award winners for 2021.

PROMETHEUS AWARD FOR BEST NOVEL. The War Whisperer, Book 5: The Hook, by Barry B. Longyear has won the 2021 Prometheus Award for Best Novel for novels published in 2020.

The citation says:

In one of the rare novels to imagine a fully libertarian society and attempt to do so realistically, Longyear depicts 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 without conscription or taxation, and develops an intriguing and plausible solution.

This is the first Prometheus Award recognition for Longyear, best known for the award-winning novella and film of Enemy Mine and as the first writer to win the Hugo, Nebula and Campbell awards in the same year. However, several of Longyear’s earlier works, most frequently his 1981 novel Circus World, have been nominated by LFS members for the Prometheus Hall of Fame.
The other 2021 Best Novel finalists were Who Can Own the Stars? by Mackey Chandler; Storm Between the Stars by Karl K. Gallagher); Braintrust: Requiem by Marc Stiegler; and Heaven’s River by Dennis E. Taylor.

PROMETHEUS HALL OF FAME FOR BEST CLASSIC FICTION. “Lipidleggin'”, a short story by F. Paul Wilson, won the 2021 Best Classic Fiction award and will be inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame.
First published 1978 in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine and part of Wilson’s Future History series, “Lipidleggin'” takes a humorous look at a future United States where saturated fats have become controlled substances and rebels resist such government prohibition.
F. Paul Wilson, now a six-time Prometheus Award winner, won the first Prometheus Award in 1979 for Wheels Within Wheels and also won in the Best Novel category for Sims in 2004. He’s won the Prometheus Hall of Fame award twice before, for Healer, in 1990, and An Enemy of the State, in 1991. For his overall career, Wilson received a Special Prometheus Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2015.
The other Prometheus Hall of Fame finalists were The Winter of the World, a 1975 novel by Poul Anderson; “As Easy as A.B.C.,” a 1912 story by Rudyard Kipling; “The Trees,” a 1978 song by the rock group Rush; and Emphyrio, a 1969 novel by Jack Vance.

While the Best Novel category is limited to novels published in English for the first time during the previous calendar year (or so), Hall of Fame nominees – which must have been published at least 20 years ago – may be in any narrative or dramatic form, including novels, novellas, stories, films, television series or episodes, plays, musicals, other video, graphic novels, song lyrics, or epic or narrative verse.

AWARDS CEREMONY.  The 41st annual Prometheus Awards will be presented online in late August with an awards ceremony and panel discussion, with Reason magazine as the media sponsor of the post-ceremony panel. Reason editor Katherine Mangu-Ward and Reason book editor Jesse Walker will join LFS President William H. Stoddard and others (to be announced) to discuss “SF, Liberty, Alternative Publishing Trends and the Prometheus Awards.”

PROMETHEUS AWARDS HISTORY. 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. All LFS members have the right to nominate eligible works for the Prometheus Awards. After separate judging committees select finalists in each annual awards category, LFS members read and rank the finalists to choose the annual Prometheus Award winners.

In the words of the LFS:

The Prometheus Award has, for more than four decades, recognized outstanding works of science fiction and fantasy that dramatize the perennial conflict between liberty and power. Such works critique or satirize authoritarian trends, expose abuses of power by the institutionalized coercion of the state, champion cooperation over coercion as the roots of civility and social harmony, and uphold individual rights and freedom for all as the only moral and practical foundation for peace, prosperity, progress, justice, tolerance, universal human flourishing and civilization itself.

The annual Best Novel winner receives a plaque with a one-ounce gold coin; and the Hall of Fame winner, a plaque with a smaller gold coin. Appreciation review-essays of each winner, explaining why LFS members view them as deserving of such recognition, will be published on the Prometheus blog as part of the ongoing appreciation series about all Prometheus winners.

13 thoughts on “2021 Prometheus Best Novel and Hall of Fame Winners

  1. Has anyone read these Longyear novels? I’m always open to a truly new, less predictably impracticable or impossible libertarian scenario. I gave up findling one a long time ago.

    Also, I have always hated the title “Lipidleggin.”. The story is goofy enough.

  2. I guess they wised up and the days of this being the accidental award for Best Weird Scottish Socialist are over.

  3. A libertarian society preparing for and responding to a category 5 hurricane. Hold on, I’ll get the popcorn.

  4. Looking on the Guinness Book of Records side: is this the first award in the history of human civilization to be given to book five of a seven-part sequence all published in the same year?

  5. And there’s the sixteenth consecutive loss for “As Easy as A. B. C.”

  6. I’m not about to read ‘Lipidleggin’, but want to point out that in this timeline, trans fats have been banned in the US since 2015,

  7. @Cat Eldridge, I find some libertarianism in shorter form enjoyable: Vernor Vinge’s The Ungoverned, where it kind of works, and Robert Sheckley’s A Ticket to Tranai, where only the locals claim it works.

  8. And Then There Were None by Eric FranK Russell could be considered a libertarian short story.
    Of course the author stacks the deck, but he makes it work.

  9. @Cat Eldridge: Put me on the spot to name the Great Libertopian Novel and I’ll probably say MacLeod’s The Stone Canal, which doesn’t suffer for being read before The Star Fraction which was published before it.

    (Or maybe Illuminatus!, but that will very much not be to everyone’s taste.)

  10. How the mighty have fallen. I’m re-reading through the pretty good Manifest Destiny fixup currently, and this sounds like a hundred-thousand light-years from the bright galactic centre that book is – a run-of-the-mill libertarian fantasy, which you find thirteen in a dozen.

  11. I read The Hook, and found it pleasant enough. The story is about about libertarianism getting established in a Mexican state after a government refusal to predict a cat 5 hurricane.

    There is more lecturing than a lot of people might want, and also some implausible tech– in particular, an infallible lie detector.

    The leader and almost all the characters are Mexicans and the US government is at least as bad as the Mexican government.

  12. The novel that’s usually cited as the founding work of libertarian SF is Heinlein’s The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, which still reads quite well, though I have to say it’s ultimately a tragedy.

    For fiction published since the Prometheus Award was established, I’d point out Vernor Vinge as the outstanding writer. When he received his Lifetime Achievement Award some years ago, he talked about being inspired by David Friedman’s The Machinery of Freedom, and Friedman (who was in the audience) commented that he in turn had been inspired by The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress; those are pretty solid libertarian credentials. I’d pick A Deepness in the Sky as the best novel of Vinge’s to read in this connection (and besides, it has some really wonderful aliens); but I’d also suggest his novella “True Names,” which has a solidly libertarian subtext (the IRS as the Great Enemy?) and prefigured the whole cyberpunk movement by a couple of years.

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