2024 Prometheus Award Finalists For Best Novel

The Libertarian Futurist Society has announced the five finalists for the Best Novel category of the 44th annual Prometheus Awards.

  • Theft of Fire,  by Devon Eriksen (Devon Eriksen LLC); 
  • Swim Among the People,  by Karl. K. Gallagher (Kelt Haven Press); 
  • God’s Girlfriend, by Dr. Insensitive Jerk (AKA Gordon Hanka) (Amazon); 
  • Lord of a Shattered Land,  by Howard Andrew Jones (Baen Books);
  • Critical Mass, by Daniel Suarez (Dutton)

The Best Novel winner will receive an engraved plaque with a one-ounce gold coin. An online Prometheus awards ceremony is planned for August at a time and event to be announced.

Here are capsule descriptions of the Best Novel finalists, explaining how each fits the distinctive focus of the Prometheus Awards:

Swim Among the People, by Karl K. Gallagher (Kelt Haven Press) — The fifth novel in Gallagher’s Fall of the Censor series (following Captain Trader Helmsman Spy and three other previous Best Novel finalists) continues the struggle between a freer polity of planets and a much larger interstellar empire that maintains totalitarian control by censorship, the suppression of history, destruction of older books and other memory-holing to cement power. This sequel focuses on how a subjugated people on a reconquered planet can continue to pursue and preserve knowledge while resisting an occupying authoritarian regime through voluntary covert organization. Of fresh interest: an exploration of a previously unrevealed society of Jewish culture, maintaining its customs in hiding for centuries; and an early discussion of liquid democracy, as parliamentary candidates seek enough support from some minimum percentage of voters to get a seat with no restrictions on party or geography.

God’s Girlfriend, by Dr. Insensitive Jerk (AKA Gordon Hanka) (Amazon) — Subversive and satirical, the fifth and final novel in the Gaia’s Wasp series (and sequel to 2023 Best Novel finalist A Beast Cannot Feign) offers a mixture of unorthodox libertarian provocations and Christian eschatology amid taboo-smashing clashes of two cultures: Earth humans and Wyrms, human refugees from another planet. The story revolves around the rising tensions and increasing likelihood of nuclear war between Earth governments, desperate to preserve their power, and the Wyrms, genetically modified to resist disease and political-psychological control. As Wyrms settle Western Australia’s desert, building a radically free colony to survive the End Times, Earth’s rulers scheme to avert social collapse from the loss of millions of the world’s most productive men emigrating to this “Galt’s Gulch.” The novel raises thorny questions about coercion, consent, sainthood, morality, masculinity, femininity, and the use of weapons of mass destruction.

Theft of Fire, by Devon Eriksen (Devon Eriksen LLC) — Taking place mostly on an asteroid-mining ship diverted to reach what may be hidden alien technology, this chamber-sized space opera is set within an anarchocapitalist-style frontier where industrialization and colonization have spread throughout the solar system. Both formal and informal contracts are central here, with free-market innovations and alien artifacts unleashing vast wealth and progress as independent Belters conflict with enforcers hired by corporate elites. Conflicts (and sexual tensions) develop between the ship’s stubborn captain (a resourceful loner operating as an occasional pirate) and the robot-protected, super-smart, pintsized SpaceX heiress who has taken over his ship and locked him out of its computer controls. Notable for the originality and plausibility of Leela, an A.I. character, the novel offers a complex portrait of the pros and cons of its free-wheeling future while offering insights into agency, ethics, free will, contracts, property rights and other human rights.

Lord of a Shattered Land, by Howard Andrew Jones (Baen Books) — This epic sword-and-sorcery novel, first of a projected trilogy, revolves around Hanuvar, a grief-stricken former general risking his life to free the enslaved remnants of his peace-loving, free-trading people as he finds allies and travels through a brutal empire filled with human and inhuman dangers. Rather than seeking revenge, Hanuvar embraces a libertarian ethic of non-aggression while striving to avoid harming the innocent. Woven into its rich, far-flung narrative are more than a dozen key scenes underlining the meaning of freedom and why it motivates so many to try to achieve it for themselves and others. Loosely inspired by the conflict between imperial Rome and Hannibal’s defeated Carthage, the saga illuminates the deep passion for liberty while underlining the evils of slavery, the horrors of mind control, the cruelties of tyranny and the temptations of absolute power.

Critical Mass, by Daniel Suarez (Dutton) — Set in the inner solar system, this fast-paced sci-fi thriller follows engineer-entrepreneurs striving against the odds to use space-mined materials to build infrastructure in space for commercial development. Heroic characters risk their lives in an audacious mission to complete a space station, allowing construction of a nuclear-powered spaceship and rescue of stranded crew members on the distant asteroid Ryugu. The resourceful band must achieve their goals amid shortsighted opposition, censorship, shifting alliances and international tensions of Earth governments. Unusually realistic in depicting the perils of living and working in space, Suarez achieves a high level of plausible engineering speculation. Government is shown as the problem and cooperation through free enterprise as part of a space-based solution to problems on Earth. Included is a plausible depiction of the creation of a functional, private, decentralized currency beyond the reach of Earth, relevant in this era of inflationary government fiat money.

Seventeen 2023 novels were nominated by LFS members for this year’s award. The other nominees were: Futureproof, by Stephen Albrecht (Hybrid Global Publishing); Queen Wallis, by C.J. Carey (Sourcebooks Landmark);  The Long View, by Mackey Chandler (Amazon); Liberty’s Daughter, by Naomi Kritzer (Fairwood Press); Prophet Song, by Paul Lynch (Atlantic Monthly Press); Julia, by Sandra Newman (Harper Collins’ Mariner Books); House of Gold,  by C.T. Rwizi (47North);  Victory City, by Salman Rushdie (Random House); Trail of Travail, by R.H. Snow (Rosa de Oro); Black Hats, by Steve Wire (Plaintext Publishing); Hacking Galileo, by Fenton Wood (Amazon); and Misplaced Threats, by Alan Zimm (BookMarketeers).

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 given in sf. The Prometheus Hall of Fame category for Best Classic Fiction, launched in 1983, is presented annually with the Best Novel category.

All LFS members have the right to nominate eligible works for the Prometheus Awards. A 12-person judging committee, drawn from the membership, 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 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 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 ethical and 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.]

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4 thoughts on “2024 Prometheus Award Finalists For Best Novel

  1. Me, too. I didn’t care for the first Gallagher book and haven’t even heard of the others, but Lord of a Shattered Land is excellent and deserves a bigger audience than it got.

  2. I’m happy the Suarez novel got a nom. I enjoyed it very much, and it hit me right in the feels. The best space exploration book I’ve read in some time.

  3. Congrats to the finalists.

    I can see why C.T. Rwizi’s “House of Gold” didn’t make the shortlist. But it was still a finely told story. He’s someone to watch in the future.

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

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