The Prometheus Award

I haven’t been very aware of the Prometheus Award, but James Nicholl has an interesting post about it at

The Prometheus Award is an interesting case. Founded by L. Neil Smith in 1979, the panel selected F. Paul Wilson’s Wheels Within Wheels as its inaugural winner. Then silence fell. 1980 and 1981 went by. It seemed that the first Prometheus Award would be the last. In 1982, Libertarian Futurist Society took up the job of administering the award, and the Prometheus was given once more, to Smith’s The Probability Broach. Since then, the award has been granted once per year (with the notable exception of 1985, when no book was deemed worthy of the prize). Four decades is an impressive achievement.

I didn’t know any of that, not even that it was administered by the Libertarian Futurist Society. Which, in fact, I don’t believe I ever specifically knew existed until now. Let me see. It says the Prometheus Award is supposed to:

… dramatize the perennial conflict between Liberty and Power, favor private social cooperation over legalized coercion, expose abuses and excesses of obtrusive or oppressive government, critique or satirize authoritarian ideas, or champion individual rights and freedoms as the mutually respectful foundation for peace, prosperity, progress, justice, tolerance and civilization itself.


Nicholl lists all the winners of this award. I read Wheels Within Wheels … I liked it, as I recall. It did stand out at the time as very different from other SF I’d read, I remember that. Let me look over the other winners — I’ve read a couple of these — they all seem very different from one another, I must say.

Oh, this is interesting: Pratchett’s Night Watch won in 2003! Well, that’s notable. It’s my personal favorite of all Pratchett’s books.

Oh, again, there’s Seveneves. You may recall I really liked it and enjoyed arguing about it with others who read it the year it was up for the Hugo.

Well, as I say, the handful I’ve read seem pretty different from one another. But! This is especially eyecatching:

The Murderbot novellas are inclusively up for this award. Very interesting choice! I can see it. The awful, intrusive company and its ilk definitely fit the “obtrusive, oppressive government” criterion.

Other nominees, none of which I’ve read:

Causes of Separation, by Travis Corcoran. This is the sequel to a previous winner.

Kingdom of the Wicked by Helen Dale

State Tectonics, by Malka Older

The Fractal Man, by J. Neil Schulman. This author has previously won this award.

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