The Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS)
The Prometheus Awards are selected in a two-stage process by LFS members and judges.
LFS members have the right to nominate works for all categories of the award.
In the first stage, separate awards committees of member-judges (one committee for each award category) read and discuss the nominated works throughout the judging year – for example, works published in the calendar year 2010 are eligible for nomination for the award presented in 2011 at the annual Worldcon – and vote to whittle down the nominees to (usually five) finalists for Best Novel and Best Classic Fiction (Hall of Fame). (The Special Awards committee operates somewhat differently, since this category is not an annual but occasional award. Therefore, each candidate must separately receive a majority vote from the Special Awards judges to be passed on for consideration by the general membership.)
In the second and final stage of the awards, a larger group of veteran and higher-level LFS members read the finalists and use a ranked ballot to determine the winner, while all LFS members vote to choose the Hall of Fame and Special Award winners.
The Prometheus Awards focus on works of science fiction that dramatize the perennial conflict between liberty and authority, expose or satirize abuses of government power, and champion individual rights.
The award goes to the work, not the author — meaning that the author’s philosophy or ideology is not considered by judges, who focus exclusively on how well the work of fiction dramatizes libertarian values, broadly defined.
For example, a work may focus on one narrow pro-freedom issue rather than a broader and more consistent libertarian philosophy, such as a battle against censorship (Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, an early Hall of Fame winner).
A work also may be broadly anti-authoritarian (such as another early winner, Orwell’s 1984) rather than specifically Libertarian in modern terms.
Judges look for well-written works of imagination, ingenuity, suspense, drama and wit within the parameters of awards eligibility.
While works of high drama often win the award, comic novels also are welcome (such as John Varley’s The Golden Globe, the 1999 winner for Best Novel, or Terry Pratchett’s Night Watch, the 2003 winner).
While works must fall into the category of science fiction/fantasy, that also is viewed very broadly by judges and members to encompass speculative fiction, alternate-history works (such as Brad Linaweaver’s 1989 Best Novel winner, Moon of Ice), near-future scenarios involving technological and social/political changes, and all types of fantasy and horror.
- Hall of Fame
- Special Award
The special award is not always used and appears to be given for anything that does not fit into the other two categories. Past winners include a movie, a graphic novel and a pair of anthologies.
A gold coin, “representing free trade and free minds”, mounted on an engraved plaque.
Authors, publishers and non-members are encouraged to submit works of fiction for consideration for possile nomination by bringing eligible works to the attention of the LFS by contacting awards committee chairs through the LFS website.
- Michael Grossberg, LFS board secretary: Jul. 27, 2010