Libertarian Futurist Society Announces 2020 Hall of Fame Finalists

The five 2020 finalists for the Prometheus Hall of Fame award for Best Classic Fiction have been released by the Libertarian Futurist Society judging committee:

  • “Sam Hall,” a 1953 novelette by Poul Anderson
  • “As Easy as A.B.C.,” a 1912 novelette by Rudyard Kipling
  • “The Trees,” a 1978 song by the Canadian rock group Rush (recorded as part of the group’s 1978 album “Hemispheres”)
  • A Time of Changes, a 1971 novel by Robert Silverberg
  • “Lipidleggin,” a 1979 short story by F. Paul Wilson

LFS members will receive a Prometheus Awards ballot in May.

The Libertarian Futurist Society’s Prometheus Awards ceremony will be a centerpiece of the 2020 North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC) scheduled for August 20-23 in Columbus, OH.

LFS and NASFiC also are cooperating to bring in F. Paul Wilson (An Enemy of the State, Wheels within Wheels, Sims, the Repairman Jack series, etc.), one of only four LFS Special Prometheus Award-winners for Lifetime Achievement, as a joint guest of honor.

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17 thoughts on “Libertarian Futurist Society Announces 2020 Hall of Fame Finalists

  1. That’s the fifteenth nomination for “As Easy as A.B.C.”, the Angela Lansbury of the Prometheus award…

  2. I’m sure I must have read at least some of them (I’ve read a lot of Kipling and Anderson and Silverberg), but not a single one left a mark on my memory….

  3. Hampus Eckerman: Although people were still recommending Anderson’s story “Sam Hall” when I was a new fan, almost 20 years after it was published, the story is now close to 70 years old and I can’t be surprised that its fame has not endured. Likewise, the Silverberg novel despite the fact it won the Nebula Award. Just the same, I see these titles and it feels like we were talking about them only yesterday….

  4. As it happens, the Kipling came up this week in the latest post on Charlie Stross’s blog.
    (I don’t think I’ve read any of those.)

  5. I know of the Silverberg, but the Wikipedia summary doesn’t sound like one I’ve read. (I knew I’d read several of his depressing-era works — Tower of Glass, The Book of Skulls, Dying Inside and probably others — but not this one.) I’ve definitely read the Anderson and the Kipling; they were the sort that got collected 50-70 years ago, and 50 years ago there was so little SF in print that I was reading a lot of old collections and anthologies. (That paid off in its own way; the bibliography for my term paper for 12th-grade English was mostly editors’ forewords to said assemblages.) Like @OGH, I’m not surprised that they’ve faded now; they’re the sort of absolutist works that are less popular now that (most of) the genre has learned about nuance.

  6. “With the Night Mail” is much better than “As Easy as A.B.C.”, but the Rush track suggests they’re not really looking for subtlety. And I’m not 100% convinced “A Time of Changes” is libertarian in the sense they mean – what little I remember of it is mostly the usual sex-and-guilt stuff of Silverberg’s literary period – though that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

  7. @Sophie Jane – lol, yes. The Trees was not the most understated of Rush’s message songs :). I did like it musically, though, back in the day. My memory of A Time of Changes is similar to yours, and similarly not strong. It came as part of a quartet of Silverberg’s novels which also included Dying Inside, which blew me away.

  8. @Sophie Jane: What they mean by “libertarian” seems to be both broad, enough so that Ken MacLeod has won it three times, the first for The Star Fraction. My impression (and this is entirely an impression) is that the award was created by people who wanted to promote private-property style libertarianism (from anarcho-capitalist to “Republicans who smoke dope”) but defined it broadly enough to include anarcho-socialist works as well.

    I wouldn’t call Jo Walton’s Ha’penny, Terry Pratchett’s The Night Watch, or any of the Ken Macleod books they selected libertarian as that term is generally used in the US. (Otoh, Ken MacLeod used to use the subdomain, which apparently confused some people on our side of the Atlantic.)

  9. @Cliff
    The Book of Skulls made a deeper impression on me but I remember liking Dying Inside when I was a teenager. I don’t think I’d try re-reading them now though. What was the fourth book in the quartet? Thorns? The Second Trip? I can think of a few possibilities.

    And I really do recommend With the Night Mail to anyone who’s not read it. It’s smoothly executed piece of indirect worldbuilding in a recognisably SFnal style, without As Easy as A.B.C.’s pulp excesses. Makes me wonder what else was going on in the proto-SF/technothriller genre at the time that we’ve lost track of.

  10. @Sophie Jane. I’ve not read Book Of Skulls, and I can’t remember the other novels in the quartet. My copy is stuck in Seattle with the rest of my books (I’m now in London) so I can’t double-check. After some quick googling, I don’t recognize any of the other novels by him except for Across A Billion Years, which I found in my high school library and remember for its depiction of FTL as being like threading a needle through bunched up cloth.

  11. The Trees is a Rush classic that is, sadly, evergreen. The LFS might have also gone with their song Freewill as it is thematically congruent with their general perspective.

    It’s nice to see the consideration of music within the genre making a bit of a resurgence. The Mission to Mars album by Styx didn’t get much attention despite it being relevent…and a great album regardless of the subject matter.

    The essence of America – that which really unites us – is not ethnicity, or nationality or religion – it is an idea – and what an idea it is: That you can come from humble circumstances and do great things. — Condoleezza Rice

  12. @Sophie Jane: the Wikipedia summary I read describes the world of A Time of Changes as being one in which (e.g.) the use of “I” is forbidden, and goes on to make the book sound as if it rings a number of {L,l}ibertarians’ Pavlovian bells. I don’t know why he took that line — my memory says it’s not true of any of his other depressing-era novels — but if the summary is even vaguely accurate I can see why this one was nominated.

  13. @Chip Hitchcock

    I guess so, but the actual theme (to my mind) is psychological repression – hence the drugs and telepathy. Which doesn’t make it a bad choice; just an unexpected one among all the thuddingly doctrinaire alternatives.

  14. John Hertz responds by carrier pigeon:

    “As Easy as A.B.C.” (1912) has been translated into French and German. It’s in the 1992 John Brunner collection Kipling’s Science Fiction.

    “Sam Hall” (1953) has been translated into Dutch, French, German (twice), Italian (twice), Japanese, and Portuguese. It made the 2004 Retro-Hugo ballot.
    It’s in the 1954 Groff Conklin anthology Science Fiction Thinking Machines, but the later Selections from (1954, 1955) has a swell Richard Powers cover
    The 2002 Tor Books collection Going for Infinity has a Vincent Di Fate cover.

  15. I’m surprised to see “As Easy as A.B.C.” described as “lacking in nuance.” It seems to me that on the one hand it portrays a society that Kipling found desirable in many ways, but on the other he shows it as having problems, including a birthrate well below replacement (in a world with around 500 million people) and extreme difficulty in finding anyone for executive roles. Really it struck me some time ago that it merited the subtitle “an ambiguous utopia” long before Le Guin came up with it.

    I’d also note that the core of Kipling’s story is a bitter denunciation of American racism and specifically of lynching (a prevalent practice when he wrote it). I’m not sure I would say that having a nuanced view of racial hatred is a merit, literary or otherwise.

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