Prometheus Award Finalists

Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow

The Libertarian Futurist Society issued a press release on Saturday, July 20th, announcing this year’s winners of the Prometheus Award for Best Libertarian Novel and the Hall of Fame Award.

Best Novel

Winner

Finalists

Hall of Fame

Winner

Finalists

My thoughts on the results briefly: I still wish actual libertarian authors would win more often. Step up, people!

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

There are a number of familiar names listed here, including past winners Cory Doctorow, Sarah Hoyt, Dani and Eytan Kollin, Neal Stephenson, Poul Anderson, and Donald M. Kingsbury.

Tobias S. Buckell, Daniel Suarez, Lois McMaster Bujold, Harlan Ellison, and Rudyard Kipling have been finalists before.

In other words, no newcomers made it to finalist this year. I hope this doesn’t become a trend and that fresh talent is not being overlooked.

I haven’t read Pirate Cinema, but I have reviewed three of Doctorow’s previous novels: Little Brother (2009 winner), Makers (2010 finalist), and For the Win (2011 finalist). I hope that Doctorow was able to sustain his radical momentum through the end of the book this time around, but if he follows the pattern set in these other books I expect Pirate Cinema to have a rather milquetoast ending as well. I hope I’m wrong, because it won and it deals with timely and important issues surrounding civil liberties, intellectual property, and resistance.

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Live Free or Die by John Ringo

Live Free or Die by John Ringo

In 2010, John Ringo published the first book of the Troy Rising trilogy. Titled Live Free or Die, it is a story on a grand scale, a great symphony of a book but by an author who probably should stick to bagatelles. Though it started well and had my interest, it was a chore to get through most of it. There was enough creativity and verve for a short story, but by the end these had faded and I was glad to be finished.

It is the kind of story I imagine Ted Nugent would enjoy reading. Filled with gun-toting, rugged individuals who thrive on infuriating the Thought Police and composing odes to capitalism, the book might almost seem libertarian until one realizes just how besotted with militarism and American exceptionalism the author is. I have no problem with a man a bit rough around the edges, a touch short on couth and decorum, but Ringo at times goes beyond that into deliberate callousness, especially as regards sex and race.

There are many sensitive liberals who both need and deserve a little rattling from time to time, if only for our amusement, but there are just as many conservatives who could use a dose of circumspection, introspection, and nuance. I am tempted to suggest we lock Ringo in a room with his diametric opposites, to see if there might be a mutually beneficial rubbing off, but I am afraid someone would end up dying.

Live Free or Die begins with an alien race that establishes a portal in our solar system. They have no goals except to neutrally manage the portal, but the next race that appears is bent on imperial control of Earth. They begin by destroying some major cities and then demanding tribute. Though this species, the Horvath, is technologically backwards in comparison to other civilizations in the galaxy, they are yet far ahead of humans.

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Snuff by Terry Pratchett

Snuff by Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett, the author of Snuff, our July Lightmonthly Read, has been diagnosed with an early form of Alzheimer’s. No longer able to type, he now reportedly dictates to a software program. This was the first time I had read a Pratchett novel, and in researching the author and his book, I came across a couple of interesting things. First, the novel was scoring significantly lower on sites like Amazon than other Pratchett novels, and second, many of the book’s detractors were bewildered by what they had read, some of them seriously proposing that someone other than Pratchett had written the work. I can have no opinion on that, but learning that his earlier works were of a markedly different style does make me more inclined to give them a try.

Snuff is a Discworld novel, the most recent in a long line of stories from that fictional world. It tells the story of Sam Vimes, a “copper” in the City Watch of Ankh-Morpork who has married into aristocracy. An incorrigible workaholic, he is practically forced into a vacation outside the city, at the manor that he has inherited. While there, he discovers a murder and, relieved to have something to do that is work-related, investigates.

There was more libertarianism in this work than in the other finalists for the Prometheus Award, save for one, and I appreciated that. The main thrust is an exploration of goblins as sentient beings and Vimes’s chafing at the society that so badly esteems them and so poorly treats them. While much of it is a mere libertarian-friendly argument against bigotry, the novel increasingly turns towards the question of law and rights. Though it never delves as rigorously into the question as one would expect from, say, Hans Hermann Hoppe, there are a number of comments and even a discussion or two that dance around the theme of natural law versus man’s execution of his laws.

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Wĭthûr Wē by Matthew Bruce Alexander

Wĭthûr Wē by Matthew Bruce Alexander

For the month of August we are reading and discussing Wĭthûr Wē, a science fiction novel influenced by anarcho-capitalism and Austrian School economics, written by our own Matthew Alexander.

Centuries hence, Man, seemingly alone in the universe, slowly spreads his civilizations across his corner of the galaxy. Tyrants vie for power, and in their fierce grip the colonies of the Milky Way are suffocating. In this society of many billions, a young marine, a highly trained war hero, returns home from his tour of duty. Physically powerful yet shy, awkward and unable to sway the masses with pretty speeches, Alistair Ashley 3nn makes a decision to strike at the hierarchy the only way he can. His decision starts him on a grand adventure, and as he is carried along by forces beyond his control, he comes to confront an ancient secret, one which may reveal humanity’s future.

You can get a free PDF copy at the author’s website. The book can be purchased for Kindle or in trade paperback at Amazon.com. Your purchase via our affiliate links will help support both Matthew’s writing and our work here at Prometheus Unbound.

Join us as we read and discuss Wĭthûr Wē.

You need not have voted on this month’s selection to join in the discussion, but you do need to be registered and logged in on this site to access the book club’s dedicated forums.

Book Giveaway / Newsletter Signup Results

Last month we gave away free Kindle (mobi) copies of Wĭthûr Wē in exchange for signing up for our email newsletter. We think the campaign was a big success. We attracted more than 80 new subscribers, more than quintupling our mailing list, and gave away at least that many copies of Matthew’s novel.

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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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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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