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Prometheus Unbound Podcast

The new year has started off slow for us at Prometheus Unbound as we prepare some major new features and changes, but things are about to take off and I think 2013 is going to be an exciting one.

The Prometheus Unbound Podcast

The Prometheus Unbound Podcast

We’ve been republishing some science-fiction-related episodes from the Mises Institute and Jeff Riggenbach’s Libertarian Tradition podcast, but within the next couple of days we’ll be launching our own original podcast. You’ve probably already listened to our promo for the podcast. We hope you like it and will help us promote the podcast by sharing it around to anyone you think might be interested in liberty and speculative fiction.

For our first episode, we have for you an interview with libertarian legal theorist and patent attorney Stephan Kinsella. If you’re not familiar with Stephan and his work, you may be wondering why we interviewed a patent attorney. Well, Stephan is a leading figure in the movement against intellectual property. After talking about his favorite science fiction and fantasy novels, and the new Hobbit movie, we go on to discuss with him the history and origin of intellectual property; how copyright has shaped and distorted the publishing and film industries; how the internet, piracy, and advancing technology are undermining the intellectual property regime and the antiquated business models built on it; the rise of self-publishing; and more.

In our second episode, we’ll be discussing libertarian speculative fiction. What qualifies a work of fiction as libertarian? What are the best, or our favorite, works of libertarian speculative fiction? Do libertarian authors tend to be too heavy-handed and preachy?  Does the Prometheus Award to a good job of finding and promoting libertarian science fiction? Why are so many winners of the award written by authors who are not themselves libertarian? We’ll seek to address these questions and more.

And in episode three, in February, we’ll be interviewing Jeffrey Tucker, the editor of Laissez Faire Books.

Subscribe to our podcast-only rss feed to get episodes directly on your phone, tablet, or mp3 player: http://feeds.feedburner.com/prometheusunbound/podcast.

We hope you enjoy the show and will help us spread the word.

Site Redesign

I’m redesigning the site from the ground up on the new version 2.0 of the Thesis Theme Framework for WordPress. I think it will be much more slick, professional-looking, and powerful than the current design.

[Keep reading…]

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Prometheus Unbound has moved!

Prometheus Unbound has moved!

As part of a move toward more consistent branding, I have moved Prometheus Unbound to a new domain and changed the Feedburner url for our main posts rss feed.

Prometheus Unbound is now located at prometheus-unbound.org.

The old url, prometheusreview.com, will continue to redirect to the new one for the foreseeable future. But the site has permanently moved from the old url, so please update any links you have on your site or in your bookmarks.

If you don’t already have us on your “blogroll,” we’d appreciate it if you would add the new url to it. Give us some link love, baby, yeah.

The old Feedburner url for our main posts rss feed was feeds.feedburner.com/prometheusreview. The new one is feeds.feedburner.com/prometheusunbound/posts. The old url will remain active at least until January 2013 in order to give our community plenty of time to switch, but it will be shut down eventually so please do subscribe to the new url now rather than later.

Our apologies for the inconvenience, but we do think these changes will be better for Prometheus Unbound and our community in the long run.

If, while browsing through the site, you notice anything that looks broken or any strange characters like this “é,” we would greatly appreciate you letting us know so that we can fix the problem.

To make up for the inconvenience, some new features have been added to our community forums: unanswered posts list, polls, post previews, topic descriptions, and more.

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I’ve made a number of changes and improvements to Prometheus Unbound recently.

I think the three most important are our new mailing list, Support page, and Dwolla account.

Email Newsletter

Previously, you could subscribe to our posts via email using a widget in our sidebar powered by Feedburner. That you could do this was not obvious, however.

We now have a new and improved mailing list powered by MailChimp. And there’s a new email subscription form at the top of the sidebar. It should be hard to miss.

I’ve kept the subscription form simple. All you have to do is enter your email address and click “subscribe.” Later, you can choose to add more information to your account profile, such as your name. You can also choose to receive the email newsletter in html (default), plain text, or mobile format.

Once subscribed, you will receive an email in your inbox at the end of any day on which we have published new posts. We may also use the mailing list to send out the occasional special announcement. We promise not to spam your inbox.

If you’re subscribed to our posts via Feedburner or WordPress.com (Jetpack), please switch over to the new mailing list.

Support Page and Dwolla

Over the past few weeks and months I’ve added more ways that you can support Prometheus Unbound. I’ve also added a Support page that lays out clearly all of the ways you can support our work, both financially and non-financially, as well as what we plan to do with any money we receive. Big plans. But we need your help to accomplish them. Head on over there and check it out.

[Keep reading…]

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Google Currents is a just-released free news reader app for iOS and Android that is intended as a competitor for Flipboard and Yahoo! Livestand.

Once you have installed the app on your phone or tablet, you can add the Currents edition of Prometheus Unbound by navigating to this url in your browser:

http://www.google.com/producer/editions/CAow7P0U/prometheus_unbound.

If you haven’t installed the app already, you will be prompted and given options to do so.

Google already has “more than 150 publishing partners to offer full-length articles from more than 180 editions including CNET, AllThingsD, Forbes, Saveur, PBS, Huffington Post, Fast Company and more. Content is optimized for smartphones and tablets, allowing you to intuitively navigate between words, pictures and video on large and small screens alike, even if you’re offline.”

Find out more from the official announcement on the Google Mobile blog.

Here’s a video introduction:

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I’m pleased to announce that you can now subscribe to Prometheus Unbound on your Kindle ereader.

Simply follow the link to the product page or click on the ad-button below, in the sidebar, or at the bottom of each post.

Amazon sets the price, which is currently at $0.99/month, with a 14-day free trial.

We get a cut of 30%, which will go toward operating costs: domain registration, hosting, mailing review materials to reviewers, and the like. If we build a big enough revenue stream, I’d like to also begin paying contributors by the word, so that we can bring you more and better content, but that’s probably a ways off.

If you have a Kindle ereader — not an app, sorry, but the physical device (the service is limited to them for the time being) — consider the advantage of subscribing to Prometheus Unbound. Posts will be delivered to your Kindle wirelessly (when you’re connected) when they’re published on the site. You’ll be able to read our news and lengthy reviews at your leisure on a lightweight, very portable device, in sunlight, away from a decent wireless or 3G/4G connection. Good for commutes, plane flights, camping trips, and similar situations in which you’re not consistently connected to the world via the internet and can’t reach our site — particularly if you don’t own a 3G/4G-connected tablet pc and don’t like reading on a computer screen or lugging around your heavy laptop.

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I’m pleased to announce the launch of phpbb-powered Simple:Press-powered community discussion forums for Prometheus Unbound.

You can reach the forums by following the link or clicking on the new tab in the site’s navmenu. The url is prometheus-unbound.org/forums.

We hope to build a community of libertarian and libertarian-leaning readers, viewers, and writers here on Prometheus Unbound.

To that end, we’ve set up not only some forums in which you can discuss Prometheus Unbound posts, give us feedback, and ask questions, but also forums on various fiction genres and awards (science fiction, fantasy, the Prometheus Awards, and more) in various mediums (print, tv, film, the web).

If you’re a writer, we have forums for discussing the craft and business of writing, for workshopping your current short story or novel project, and for spotlighting yourself and showcasing your work. We hope to encourage and facilitate more liberty-loving individuals to produce higher and higher quality fiction.

We even have some forums on non-fiction subjects that impact and influence our fiction: philosophy, science & technology, history, politics, economics.

Best of all: you’ll be able to use the same user account for both the main site and the forums.

So come — join the conversation, help build our community, and promote good libertarian fiction!

 

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Prometheus Unbound

My name is Geoffrey Allan Plauché. I’m a philosopher and an academic. I decided to launch a libertarian review of fiction and literature as a sort of online “magazine” because I’m not aware of any other such site and I think there is a need for one.

The closest things I can think of to Prometheus Unbound are the quarterly newsletter of the Libertarian Futurist Society, similarly titled Prometheus, and a new blog called Austrian Economics and Literature. The former is print-bound and focused almost exclusively on science fiction, the latter online but narrowly focused on — you guessed it — Austrian Economics and literature. I’m glad these publications exist but, taken individually and even together, they’re not exactly what I’m looking for.

Prometheus Unbound will be entirely online. I think print-only is a dead and antiquated medium, particularly for a small niche publication with a heavy emphasis on science fiction (the literature of the future and change,1 science and technology) and catering to libertarians. We can publish more frequently online, in more discrete chunks, for less money, and reach far more people in a variety of ways (the website, myriad rss feeds, email, Google+, Twitter, Facebook, and the like).

Prometheus Unbound will have a broader scope. Not simply Austrian Economics but libertarianism, albeit a libertarianism informed by Austrian Economics. Not simply literature but also popular fiction that does not (yet) qualify for that high distinction in the eyes of literary critics or the masses. Not simply science fiction but also fantasy and other genres, but still primarily science fiction and fantasy (as they are my primary interest). Not just prose but, probably to a lesser degree, other media as well — such as film, tv, comics and graphic novels, poetry, and games. Our focus will not be on libertarian fiction (though we are on the lookout for it) or fiction by libertarian authors (who are distressingly too few in number) but on reviewing and commenting on fiction from a libertarian perspective.

As I said, I plan to build Prometheus Unbound into something like an online magazine. I hope this will not be a one-man show. We will feature news, reviews, editorials and other commentary, non-fiction articles, eventually interviews (I hope), and, in the undetermined future, possibly some original fiction. I’m looking for fellow libertarians, particularly fans of science fiction and fantasy, who would be interested in contributing on either a regular or an irregular basis. We’re in need of editors, regular writers or columnists, and irregular or part-time contributors. Even if you only contribute a few reviews a year on your own schedule or lack thereof, we’d be happy to consider your submissions.

If you’re interested in becoming a regular or part-time contributor, you can send a submission query or contact me about a position via the Contact form. See the About and Submissions pages for more information.

Finally, a few words about why I chose the title Prometheus Unbound: I took inspiration from Percy Bysshe Shelley’s closet drama, a play not intended for the stage, of the same name. There also happens to be an episode of the science fantasy tv series Stargate SG-1 with the same title as well as a seminal book of economic history titled The Unbound Prometheus. The latter, by David S. Landes, was influential for labeling the Second Industrial Revolution, which was also known as the Technological Revolution for its abundance of innovations and inventions that drove modernization and technological development in Western Europe beginning in the mid-1800s.

While Landes’s book tells the economic-historical story of the results of relatively unchained minds — unprecedented progress and prosperity — Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound dramatizes a related political message in mytho-poetic form. Shelley’s play was inspired by the Greek tragedian Aeschylus’s own telling of the myth of the Titan punished by Zeus for “stealing”2 fire from the gods and giving it to Man. But whereas Aeschylus had oppressor and victim reconcile, Shelley thought such an ending to be unfitting:

But, in truth, I was averse from a catastrophe so feeble as that of reconciling the Champion with the Oppressor of mankind. The moral interest of the fable, which is so powerfully sustained by the sufferings and endurance of Prometheus, would be annihilated if we could conceive of him as unsaying his high language and quailing before his successful and perfidious adversary.

Instead of reconciliation, Shelley gives us a revolution “championing free will, goodness, hope and idealism in the face of oppression.” Zeus (Jupiter) is overthrown and Prometheus is thereby freed. But rather than replace one tyrant with another, as so often happens with revolutions, particularly exemplified by the recent (at the time) French Revolution, the play ends with no one in political power at all — an anarchist’s paradise.

On the importance of dramatizing our values (pdf), Shelley ends the preface to his play:

My purpose has hitherto been simply to familiarize the highly refined imagination of the more select classes of poetical readers with beautiful idealisms of moral excellence; aware that, until the mind can love, and admire, and trust, and hope, and endure, reasoned principles of moral conduct are seeds cast upon the highway of life which the unconscious passenger tramples into dust, although they would bear the harvest of his happiness.

Fiction plays important roles in our lives and I think it is an important medium for expressing libertarian values. Our Prometheus Unbound will aim to identify libertarian values dramatized in works of fiction and literature and to bring works that contain those values to the attention of our readers. But I also hope that by doing so Prometheus Unbound will help promote the inclusion of libertarian values in more published fiction.


  1. Science fiction author David Brin recently wrote: “Science fiction is one of the most “American” literary genres, because, like America itself, SF has a relentless fascination with change. In fact, I believe that this trait — rather than technology — is what most distinguishes SF from fantasy.” 

  2. More on this in a later post. 

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