Ernest Cline

The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman

The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman

The Libertarian Futurist Society issued a press release on Friday, July 13th, announcing the winners (plural) of the 2012 Prometheus Award for Best Libertarian Novel.

The winners and finalists, with links to our reviews:

The Winners

The Finalists

The 2012 Prometheus Hall of Fame Award winner is “The Machine Stops” by E.M. Forster.

Our Take

We’re not sure we would have recommended any of the finalists for the Prometheus Award this year.

We haven’t read The Freedom Maze yet, so we can’t question its selection as a co-winner. Maybe it is worthy and we’ll discover this if and when we get around to reading it. Clearly it meets the criteria of the LFS voting membership.

While we enjoyed Ready Player One we do not think it was libertarian enough to qualify for the Prometheus Award. The same goes for The Children of the Sky and The Restoration Game.

While In the Shadow of Ares was libertarian enough, and apparently written by actual libertarians (unlike many Prometheus Award winners), and we enjoyed it, we do think the writing quality was not quite there. The authors are ones to keep an eye on, however.

We’re currently reading Snuff and, as one would expect from Terry Pratchett, it is well written. Whether we think it is unambiguously libertarian enough remains to be seen. We’ll publish a review in early August.

We’d love to publish a review of Delia Sherman’s The Freedom Maze, if anyone is interested in submitting one.

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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ernest Cline is a science fiction fan and video game enthusiast who, as a former tech support employee, has spent most of his working hours surfing ’80s pop culture on the internet. As an author, he has successfully drawn from these interests to write an engaging story that weaves new technology with low-tech nostalgia. Although he has previously written about the gaming world (his screenplay Thundercade follows a video gamer’s quest to restore his championship gaming title), Cline takes the concept to an exciting new level in his science fiction novel Ready Player One, Prometheus Award finalist and our June Lightmonthly Read, which offers the reader a full immersion into the world of virtual reality gaming.

Ready Player One begins in the year 2044, and protagonist Wade Watts doesn’t have much going for him in the desolate Portland Avenue Stacks. He’s an overweight, unpopular orphan living with his aunt in a crowded RV park, where the RVs are stacked up to 20 units high in an effort to accommodate everyone in an overpopulated city fraught with power outages and gunfire. Wade finds solace by playing video games and watching reruns of family sitcoms from the ’80s, trying to lose himself in a decade when the world was a simpler and friendlier place. He also spends much of his free time logged into the OASIS, a massively multiplayer online game that has evolved into a virtual reality-based global network.

The online world of OASIS is not without conflict, however. The creator of OASIS, James Halliday, died five years before without naming an heir. At his behest, a contest is being held to determine who will control the OASIS. In his video will, Halliday explains that he has hidden three keys (Copper, Jade, and Crystal) to three gates in the simulated world of the OASIS. The first person to pass through all three gates will become heir to Halliday’s multi-billion dollar estate and gain full control of the OASIS.

Desperate to find a way out of the Stacks, Wade becomes a gunter (short for “egg hunter,” a reference the Easter egg hidden in the video game Adventure). Because Halliday had an infatuation with ’80s pop culture, his death sparks a global obsessive interest; spiked hair and acid-washed jeans come back into style, and gunters attentively study the decade’s fads and trends in hopes of discovering a clue to the keys’ locations.

Wade hopes his own vast knowledge of the decade will give him an edge in the competition, but the odds are against him. He must race to find the keys before they are found by another gunter — or worse, by the Sixers, employees of the dangerous Nolan Sorrento and Innovative Online Industries, a corporation set on gaining control of OASIS at any cost.

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Snuff by Terry Pratchett

Snuff by Terry Pratchett

For the month of July we are reading and discussing another Prometheus Award finalist,

Snuff — A Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett (winner of a Prometheus Award for Night Watch, also set in Discworld), Snuff blends comedy, drama, satire, suspense, and mystery as a police chief investigates the murder of a goblin and finds himself battling discrimination. The mystery broadens into a powerful drama to extend the world’s recognition of rights to include these long-oppressed and disdained people with a sophisticated culture of their own.

It’s currently available on Amazon in hardcover and Kindle ebook and Audible audiobook formats. Buy your copy today, via the affiliate links above, and help support our work here at Prometheus Unbound.

Join us as we read and discuss Snuff.

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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

The second Lightmonthly Read hosted by Prometheus Unbound has begun!

For the month of June we will be reading and discussing another Prometheus Award finalist,

Ready Player One — Ernest Cline’s genre-busting blend of science fiction, romance, suspense, and adventure describes a virtual world that has managed to evolve an order without a state and where entrepreneurial gamers must solve virtual puzzles and battle real-life enemies to save their virtual world from domination and corruption. The novel also stresses the importance of allowing open access to the Internet for everyone.

It’s currently available on Amazon in hardcover and Kindle ebook. The paperback version is available for pre-order with a release date of June 5th, so I recommend going with the Kindle version. Buy your copy today, via the affiliate links above, and help support our work here at Prometheus Unbound.

Join us as we read and discuss Ready Player One.

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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Next month (June) we’ll be reading and discussing another Prometheus Award finalist:

Ready Player One — Ernest Cline’s genre-busting blend of science fiction, romance, suspense, and adventure describes a virtual world that has managed to evolve an order without a state and where entrepreneurial gamers must solve virtual puzzles and battle real-life enemies to save their virtual world from domination and corruption. The novel also stresses the importance of allowing open access to the Internet for everyone.

It’s currently available on Amazon in hardcover and Kindle ebook. The paperback version is available for pre-order with a release date of June 5th, so I recommend going with the Kindle version. Buy your copy today, via the affiliate links above, and help support our work here at Prometheus Unbound.

We’ll begin discussing the book on Friday, June 1st. Mark the date on your calendar!

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Books

Books

Nominations are now closed for our June read. It’s time to vote on the book we’re going to read next month.

Here are the candidates:

Shadow and Claw is comprised of the first two books of Gene Wolfe’s four-volume The Book of the New Sun (1980–83), which is a critically acclaimed work of far-future science fantasy in the Dying Earth tradition of Jack VanceThe Shadow of the Torturer is the tale of young Severian, an apprentice in the Guild of Torturers on the world called Urth, exiled for committing the ultimate sin of his profession — showing mercy toward his victim. The Claw of the Conciliator continues the saga of Severian, banished from his home, as he undertakes a mythic quest to discover the awesome power of an ancient relic, and learn the truth about his hidden destiny.

Farnham’s Freehold by Robert Heinlein — It’s a cross-time fight for freedom as a family retreats to a bomb shelter during a nuclear attack — only to emerge hundreds of years in the future, thrown forward in time by the blasts. There lifeboat ethics rule as they struggle to survive … until they’re discovered by up-time humans, the survivors of the apocalypse. These survivors are of African descent.  Down-time humans — in fact, all of the European-descended — are held guilty for the state into which the world has fallen and designated as automatic slaves.  The only escape is to find a way back down-time, to change events sufficiently to make absolute certain this nightmare future never get a chance to happen in the first place!

The Freedom Maze — Delia Sherman’s young-adult fantasy novel focuses on an adolescent girl of 1960 who is magically sent back in time to 1860 when her family owned slaves on a Louisiana plantation. With her summer tan, she’s mistaken for a slave herself, and she learns the hard way what life was like.  In the process, she comes to appreciate the values of honor, respect, courage, and personal responsibility.

Ready Player One — Ernest Cline’s genre-busting blend of science fiction, romance, suspense, and adventure describes a virtual world that has managed to evolve an order without a state and where entrepreneurial gamers must solve virtual puzzles and battle real-life enemies to save their virtual world from domination and corruption. The novel also stresses the importance of allowing open access to the Internet for everyone.

Snuff — A Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett (winner of a Prometheus Award for Night Watch, also set in Discworld), Snuff blends comedy, drama, satire, suspense and mystery as a police chief investigates the murder of a goblin and finds himself battling discrimination. The mystery broadens into a powerful drama to extend the world’s recognition of rights to include these long-oppressed and disdained people with a sophisticated culture of their own.

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Books

Earlier this month I floated the idea of starting a reading group or book club feature called The Lightmonthly Read. I think we’ve received enough interest to justify going ahead with it. The more the merrier — so if you are among those who expressed interest,  please spread the word, bring a friend.

To refresh everyone’s memory, the idea is that every month we’ll read and discuss a book that we selected the previous month. Generally I think we’ll have a nomination phase starting on the first of every month and then hold a vote, allowing a week for each phase. That should give everyone at least two weeks to acquire a copy of the book after voting is closed.

This time around, however, since next month will be the inaugrual Lightmonthly Read and we’re already 10 days into April, we’ll skip the nomination phase and go straight to voting on a short list.

Since the Prometheus Award finalists were just recently announced, we’ll choose our May read from the list of finalists — sans The Children of the Sky, because Matthew Dawson has already reviewed it, and The Restoration Game, because we’ve received a copy from Pyr that Matthew Alexander is going to review soon. That leaves the four finalists listed at the end of this post.

Discussions will take place mostly in the Prometheus Unbound forums. I’ve created a set just for the Lightmonthly Read: one forum for discussing the current month’s read, one subforum for voting on future reads, and another subforum to archive the discussions of previous month’s reads. Old threads on previous reads won’t be closed; this setup is meant to place focus on the current month’s read. To create and maintain a reading group or book club atmosphere, the Lightmonthly Read forums are members-only; you’ll have to register an account on Prometheus Unbound and be logged in to read and post in them. Anyone can register, and it’s easy.

We may occasionally hold live voice and video discussions using Google+ Hangouts or Skype.

One of the participants may be invited to write an official review of the selected book for Prometheus Unbound at the end of the month. If you’re interested, let us know at some point before the month is out. Otherwise, one of the staff will write the review.

We hope eventually to get authors involved in discussions of their work, whether they can only spare an hour in a Google+ Hangout or have time to participate in the forum over the course of a few days or even the entire month.

Authors, this is a great way to promote your work and to interact with your current and potential fans. It’s also a good opportunity for book giveaways. If you’re interested in participating in the Lightmonthly Read, let us know.

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