To paraphrase the Libertarian Futurist Society:
In 1979, science fiction writer L. Neil Smith created the Prometheus Awards, intended to honor libertarian fiction. A panel selected F. Paul Wilson’s Wheels Within Wheels as the best novel, and a gold coin then worth $2,500 was presented to Wilson. Due to the cost of the award, and lack of a formal organization, the Prometheus Awards fell into limbo the following year.
The Libertarian Futurist Society (founded in 1982 to provide encouragement to science fiction writers whose books examine the meaning of freedom) revived the Prometheus Award soon after its founding. In 1983 it added a second annual award, the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award, designed to honor classic libertarian fiction.
Libertarians are an easy target for cheap shots and an award granted by them might seem doubly so. For example, how many of you are surprised that gun-waving anarchists lacked sufficient organization to ensure the continuation of the awards after the first given? Hands up in the audience? No one?
You might think that the awards would have soon become a ping-pong match, with a few people of very similar views batting the Prometheus Award back and forth between them.
You’d be wrong. For example, look at the list of authors who have won the award three times:
- Cory Doctorow (three times)
- Victor Koman (three times)
- Ken MacLeod (three times)
- L. Neil Smith (three times)
Koman and Smith fall within the American libertarian mainstream but look at the other two triple winners. Doctorow isn’t just a leftie. He’s a Canadian leftie. MacLeod is a recovering Trotskyite. A Scottish Trot at that. Somewhere along the line, the Prometheus Award began to take the mandate for their award at face value, casting its net well outside what I assume is the comfort zone for American libertarians.
This year’s finalists are:
- The Corporation Wars: Dissidence by Ken MacLeod (Orbit)
- The Corporation Wars: Insurgence, by Ken MacLeod (Orbit)
- The Mandibles: A Family, 2029 – 2047 by Lionel Shriver (HarperCollins)
- The Core of the Sun by Johanna Sinisalo (Grove Press/Black Cat)
- Blade of p’Na, by L. Neil Smith (Phoenix Pick)
Five books, four authors, two women, two men. How politically diverse are they? Well, let’s find out together over the next month.