Prometheus Award Winners

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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Alongside Night by J. Neil Schulman

Alongside Night by J. Neil Schulman

On September 10th at 8 PM EST, Laissez Faire Books will be hosting what I assume is going to be a Q&A-type event on their blog. Wendy McElroy posted the announcement and will be moderating the event. J. Neil Shulman, Prometheus Award–winning author of Alongside Night, and graphic novelist Scott Bieser, will be participating.

The event is meant to celebrate and publicize commencement of the shooting of a movie adaptation of Schulman’s novel. Kevin Sorbo (Hercules, Andromeda, Kull the Conqueror) will star in the movie as Dr. Vreeland. Alongside Night is billed as “a prophetic movie about the economic and social collapse of society. At its core, however, Alongside Night is an optimistic vision of rebellion and the triumph of freedom.”

Head over to the LFB blog for more information and McElroy’s review of the novel. [Update: And her new interview with Schulman.] Come back to read our interview with Schulman.

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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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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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Alongside Night by J. Neil Schulman

J. Neil Schulman

AM:  Right off the bat, it strikes me that I don’t know what to call you.  Will Neil work?

JNS:  Sure. It’s J. Neil Schulman in credits, and Neil in person.

AM:  Anyway, thank you for doing this interview, Neil.  You’ve had a fascinating and unique career.  You’ve written novels, short fiction, nonfiction, screenplays, and other works.  Which of your works is your favorite and why?

JNS:  Every artist gets asked this question sooner or later. I asked it of Robert A. Heinlein when I interviewed him in 1973, and his answer was, “The latest one I’ve been working on.”

I’ve only completed one movie so far — Lady Magdalene’s — so it’s a Hobson’s Choice on that one. Ask me again when I’ve made two! But a lot of people also seem to like the script I wrote for The Twilight Zone, “Profile in Silver.”

I’ve written three novels. My first, Alongside Night [editor’s note: free in pdf], seems to be my most accessible and popular. I consider my second novel, The Rainbow Cadenza, to be my most layered, literary, and richest in explicit philosophy. My third novel, Escape from Heaven, is my favorite. It may not be as timely as my first novel or literary as my second novel, but it’s the one that’s closest to my heart…both the funniest thing I’ve ever written, and the one which is most deceptively simple. It appears to be a lightweight piece of comic fantasy, but it’s full of ideas that if examined more closely turn both traditional theology and rationalist philosophy on their heads.

Short stories? I’ll pick a few: “The Musician,” “Day of Atonement,” and “When Freemen Shall Stand” — all in my collection Nasty. Brutish, and Short Stories — and my latest short story, “The Laughskeller,” published on my blog, J. Neil Schulman @ Rational Review.

AM:  Your worldview is, in a word, libertarian.  Why is that?  How does libertarianism come across in your writing?

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Visions of Liberty
Martin H. Greenberg
Martin H. Greenberg

I’m rather late with this sad news, but I just read the obituary in the August digital issue of Locus Magazine a couple of days ago. Martin H. Greenberg died on June 25, 2011 after a long struggle with cancer. A political scientist like myself, Greenberg had a long, prolific, and influential career in genre fiction as an anthologist. He edited and co-edited more short fiction anthologies than I can probably read in a lifetime.

Freedom!

Greenberg’s death is particularly worth noting for libertarians because of two of his anthologies, co-edited with Mark Tier, that won the Prometheus Special Award in 2oo5: Give Me Liberty and Visions of Liberty, which have been collected into an omnibus anthology titled Freedom! The anthologies are stacked with top talent, including short stories by Vernor Vinge, Murray Leinster, A.E. van Vogt, Frank Herbert, Eric Frank Russell, Robert J. Sawyer, Mike Resnick and Tobias S. Buckell, Brad Linaweaver, Michael A. Stackpole, Jack Williamson, and more.

The back cover description of Freedom! reads in part:

As Thomas Jefferson put it, “That government is best which governs least.” And, as Will Rogers wryly quipped, “We’re lucky we don’t get the government we pay for!” In the future, eternal vigilance against our own government will be even more important than vigilance against hostile outsiders.

This stellar roster of writers consider how a truly free society could operate, how the Soviet Union might have fallen apart even earlier because of an apparently harmless device, how a low-tech society might throw off the influence of more “advanced” intruders, how the right to own weapons is fundamental to freedom, and more.

In the future, freedom may be even more threatened than in our present — and this volume suggests original and unusual ways of defending it.

I’m very much interested in publishing a review of Freedom!, or reviews of Give Me Liberty and Visions of Liberty, although I will review Freedom! myself eventually if I don’t receive any submissions.

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NEWS | 2011 Prometheus Award Winners Announced Thumbnail

Darkship Thieves by Sarah HoytThe Libertarian Futurist Society has announced this year’s winners of their Best Novel and Hall of Fame awards.

Alas, I didn’t get around to reading and reviewing Cory Doctorow’s For the Win in time for the voting, but I still plan on doing so. Matthew Alexander reviewed another of the finalists, L. Neil Smith’s Ceres.

Here’s the official press release:

The Libertarian Futurist Society will hold its annual awards ceremony for the Prometheus Award during Renovation, the 69th World Science Fiction Convention, to be held Aug. 17-21 in Reno, Nevada. The specific time and location will be available in the convention program.

The winner of the Best Novel award is Darkship Thieves, by Sarah Hoyt (Baen Books). The Hall of Fame award was won by Animal Farm, a short novel written by George Orwell in 1945. Sarah Hoyt will receive a plaque and a one-ounce gold coin, while a smaller gold coin and a plaque will be presented to Orwell’s estate.

Darkship Thieves features an exciting, coming-of-age saga in which a heroic woman fights for her freedom and identity against a tyrannical Earth. Hoyt’s novel, dedicated to Robert A. Heinlein, depicts a plausible anarchist society among the asteroids. Hoyt is a prolific writer of novels and short fiction, though this is her first time as Prometheus finalist.

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