Libertarian Futurist Society bestows its annual Prometheus Awards

Illustration for article titled Libertarian Futurist Society bestows its annual Prometheus Awards

This year at the World Science Fiction Convention, two works will be honored with Prometheus Awards for best works of libertarian futurism. And the winners are . . .

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The Libertarian Futurist Society has announced:

The winner of the Best Novel award is "The Unincorporated Man", by Dani and Eytan Kollin (TOR Books). The Hall of Fame award was won by "No Truce with Kings," a story by Poul Anderson, written in 1964. The Kollin Brothers will each receive a plaque and a one-ounce gold coin, while a smaller gold coin and a plaque will be presented to Anderson's estate.

"The Unincorporated Man" is the first novel publication by the Kollin brothers. [Read the io9 review of the book here.] It is the first novel in a planned trilogy to be published by Tor. "The Unincorporated Man" presents the idea that education and personal development could be funded by allowing investors to take a share of one's future income. The novel explores the ways this arrangement would affect those who do not own a majority of the stock in themselves. For instance, often ones investors would have control of a person's choices of where to live or work. The desire for power as an end unto itself and the negative consequences of the raw lust for power are shown in often great detail. The story takes a strong position that liberty is important and worth fighting for, and the characters spend their time pushing for different conceptions of what freedom is.

Poul Anderson's novels have been nominated many times, and have won the Prometheus Award (in 1995, for "The Stars are also Fire"), and the Hall of Fame Award (1995 for "The Star Fox" and 1985 for "Trader to the Stars"). He also received a Special award for lifetime achievement in 2001. This was the first nomination for "No Truce With Kings".

Poul Anderson's "No Truce with Kings" was first published in 1963. Like many science fiction stories of that era, it was set in a future that had endured a nuclear war. Anderson's focus is not on the immediate disaster and the struggle to survive, but the later rebuilding; its central conflict is over what sort of civilization should be created. The story's title comes from Rudyard Kipling's poem "The Old Issue," which describes the struggle to bind kings and states with law and the threat of their breaking free. Anderson's future California is basically a feudal society, founded on local loyalties, but it has a growing movement in favor of a centralized, impersonal state. As David Friedman remarked about this story, Anderson plays fair with his conflicting forces: both of them want the best for humanity, but one side is mistaken about what that is. This story is classic Anderson and, like many of his best stories, reveals his libertarian sympathies.

The other finalists for Best Novel were Hidden Empire, by Orson Scott Card (TOR Books); Makers, by Cory Doctorow (TOR Books); Liberating Atlantis, by Harry Turtledove (ROC/Penguin Books); and The United States of Atlantis, by Harry Turtledove (ROC/Penguin Books). Eleven novels published in 2009 were nominated for the 2010 award.

The other finalists for the Hall of Fame award were "As Easy as A.B.C.," a story by Rudyard Kipling (1912); Cryptonomicon, a novel by Neal Stephenson (1999); and "'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman," a story by Harlan Ellison (1965).

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DISCUSSION

Corpore Metal

It's been my experience in the US in debates over what libertarianism is, the people the rest of the world would label as left libertarians, have always been highly skeptical of the ideology espoused by periodicals like Reason, the Wall Street Journal and the Economist or groups like Cato Institute or people like Milton Friedman. The kind of ideology I align myself with would probably labeled as "social democratic" or "progressive" elsewhere in the world. In my opinon, classical liberalism is dead. I consider myself a modern leftist, more closely aligned with FDR than Andrew Jackson.

But having said that, I can like or dislike any of these novels or stories on this list on their own merits whether or not the Libertarian Futurist Society like them or not.