In the Shadow of Ares

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.

[continue reading…]


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In the Shadow of Ares by Thomas L. James and Carl C. Carlsson

In the Shadow of Ares by Thomas L. James and Carl C. Carlsson

In the Shadow of Ares is a tale with a marvelous setting and a great central idea that, as it unfolds, wraps the reader up and will not let go. It is also a minarchist libertarian tale, in that the dangerous, punitive, and stupid aspects of government are laid bare while the readers are urged to hold government in check to allow the market to better flourish. There is a lot here to like, but there are also a number of defects that mar the work, though nothing to such a degree and of such a nature as to make one pessimistic about better future prospects for the first-time authors. They have shown that they can design and fashion a stirring tale; let us hope that they polish the next one.

Amber Jacobsen is the First Kid on Mars, the first child born there to parents who were among the earliest colonists. It is thought that Mars is too dangerous for children, and Amber’s parents have been chided for deciding to remain and have a child there. Even in her teenage years, she remains the only child ever to be born on Mars.

Having homesteaded some land where they live in an airtight “hab,” sheltered from the lethal conditions on the Martian surface, Amber’s parents, Aaron and Lindsey, have earned the ire of the Mars Development Authority, a quasi-governmental organization that no one will stand up to and that wishes to extend its power and control over every colonist on the red planet. In addition to the effrontery of daring to live free, Aaron Jacobsen has also made enemies with one of the officials at the MDA. When the MDA secretly sabotage the Jacobsen residence, they are forced to find another place to live.

They make their way to The Green, a relatively large settlement that figures to be of central importance in the new Martian society as soon as their land claim vests. This the MDA does not want to see happen, because it means they will lose all authority over them, both the authority spelled out in The Charter — analogous to the US Constitution — and any authority that the MDA has helped itself to.

Amber finds herself unwanted because of her age, though she yearns to be taken seriously. While trying to prove herself to the people of The Green, she also becomes deeply invested in the mystery of the Ares III mission, which disappeared a couple decades before under perplexing circumstances. She starts to suspect that someone who knows more than she is trying to prevent her from making any headway in her search and is willing to take criminal measures if necessary.

[continue reading…]


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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.

[continue reading…]

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In the Shadow of Ares by Thomas L. James and Carl C. Carlsson

In the Shadow of Ares by Thomas L. James and Carl C. Carlsson

The first Lightmonthly Read hosted by Prometheus Unbound has begun!

For the month of May we will be reading and discussing,

In the Shadow of Ares (Kindle, Nook) — This young-adult first novel by Thomas L. James and Carl C. Carlsson focuses on a Mars-born female teenager in a near-future, small civilization on Mars, where hardworking citizens are constantly and unjustly constrained by a growing, centralized authority whose excessive power has led to corruption and conflict.

It appears to be available only as an ebook, so there’s no need to worry about delivery times. You can download your copy today and start reading right away. If you don’t own a Kindle or a Nook, there are free Kindle and Nook reading apps available for almost all major platforms.1

Join us as we read and discuss In the Shadow of Ares.

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  1. Except desktop Linux, but the Windows Kindle app runs just fine in WINE. Or use the Kindle Cloud Reader

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The unanimous winner of our vote for the first-ever Lightmonthly Read on Prometheus Unbound is:

In the Shadow of Ares (Amazon Kindle edition) — This young-adult first novel by Thomas L. James and Carl C. Carlsson focuses on a Mars-born female teenager in a near-future, small civilization on Mars, where hardworking citizens are constantly and unjustly constrained by a growing, centralized authority whose excessive power has led to corruption and conflict.

It’s available as a Kindle ebook only, so there’s no need to worry about delivery times. But there’s no reason to procrastinate either. Buy and download your copy today, via the affiliate link above, and help support our work here at Prometheus Unbound.

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

[continue reading…]

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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.

[continue reading…]

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The Children of the Sky by Vernor Vinge

The Children of the Sky by Vernor Vinge

Back in February, the Libertarian Futurist Society announced the 2012 Prometheus Hall of Fame Award finalists. Over the weekend, on March 31st, they announced the 2012 finalists for the Prometheus Award for Best Libertarian Novel.

Below is the most of the press release.

io9 picked up the press release as well; the comments offer up a predictable ton of FAIL, so you might want to read them for a good laugh or avoid them if you have a low tolerance for stupidity and ignorance.

The first finalist on the list, The Children of the Sky by Vernor Vinge, was reviewed by Matthew Dawson back in February. But we still need reviews of the rest of the finalists, preferably before the winner is voted on.

As a reminder to our readers, we are open to submissions of reviews (as well as news, articles, interviews), whether you’d like to contribute regularly, irregularly, or just once.

So if you’d like to read and review one of the finalists, nominees, past winners, or another piece of fiction, we’d be happy to consider it for publication.

[continue reading…]


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