Prometheus Award Finalists: TGB is In

The Prometheus Award final list has just been e-mailed to me and The Ghost Brigades is on it. Here’s the full finalist slate:

Empire, Orson Scott Card
The Ghost Brigades, John Scalzi
Glasshouse, Charles Stross
Rainbows End, Vernor Vinge
Harbingers, F. Paul Wilson


For those of you wondering what the Prometheus Award’s about, it’s presented by the Libertarian Futurist Society and, in their words, “focuses on novels whose plots, themes, characters and/or specific issues reflect the value of personal freedom and human rights, or which seriously or satirically critique abuses of power– especially unchecked government power.”

Thoughts on the slate?

42 Comments on “Prometheus Award Finalists: TGB is In”

  1. the value of personal freedom and human rights

    Okay, so why would anything by Orson Scott Card, homophobe extraordinaire, be on any such list? Gimme a break.

  2. I didn’t much like Empire and found large chunks of it almost unreadable–pretty much a first for me and Orson, whose fiction work I’ve almost always inhaled whether I liked it or not–but I have to say it fulfills the latter part of that sentence:

    “…which seriously or satirically critique abuses of power– especially unchecked government power.”

    (There’s almost a Watchmen-like quality to Empire’s latter half in a weird way, although Watchmen is much superior, I thought.)

    If it was a race between Ghost Brigades and Empire alone, I’d definitely plunk for GB. Haven’t read the other three novels though, so it’s hard to make a call on the awards altogether.

    Congratulations on the award shortlist though. That’s quite an achievement.

  3. I have actually read 3 of those 5. I’m almost up to date!

    Out of the 3 I have read, I would put Rainbows End last, Empire second, and Ghost Brigades first.

  4. Glasshouse is quite good, although the idea of either you or Charles Stross winning a libertarian prize is more than a little amusing.

    I quite like both you guys, but it’s a bit like choosing between pyromaniacs for Fireman of the Year. That being said, I’m not aware of you ever expressing open support for a centralized transnational fascist empire like Mr. Stross does, so I’d give the Ghost Brigades the edge here.

  5. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me
    Chang, for rizzle.

    Looks awesome to me! My vote is for you and Stross. Baldies rule!

    Will there be cake served at the party? I like cake.

  6. OK, I invoke the “Center for WTF Full Disclosure Rule”. Never having heard of the LFS I went to its website to learn that it is composed of an “international membership of libertarians and freedom-loving science fiction fans” The movers and shakers of the society appear to be entirely (or almost entirely due to a couple of non-gender specific names) male.

    I note also that they sell the ability to vote for this award. $25 in dues gets you the ability to nominate candidate novels and vote on collateral awards but $50 allows you to vote for the Best Novel and $100 dues means the Committee MAY select you to be a member of the Best Novel Finalist Judging Committee.

    The “Center for WTF Full Disclosure Rule” arises from the frequency with which op-ed pieces appear authored by “senior fellows” of some Center for This n’ That. You are rarely told the membership/budget/background of the “Center” or sufficient information to know whether this group is a bunch of bought and paid for hacks or an independent organization with a large staff, smart people and a decent budget.

    The website of the LFS doesn’t reveal whether or not the Society is made up of thousands upon thousands of Government Fearing SF fans whose numbers and range of backgrounds can be depended upon to move choices toward the Golden Mean or if it is basically the folks whose names appear there who decided to form a club.

    So basically we don’t know if this is equivalent to being a finalist for a Pulitzer or for a Grimey (award given by Frank “Grimey” Grimes of Springfield.)

    Anyway, I hope you win the Gold Coin, you old literary tregetour, you!

    Old Jarhead

  7. I’ve always looked warily at awards given out by political or other advocacy groups, since they seem designed to focus more attention on the award giver, than on the award recipient.

    Nevertheless, best of luck, because awards and accolades are always fun. Especially if you hate the award givers’ politics.


  8. “Empire” or “In the state of the puppetmaster”
    as i call it is great at what i think is its one main goal… Showing that the Red Countryside will allways win a future Civil war unless Blue Cities develop Both power armor and Tesla coils.

    atleast thats what i came away thinking it was about!

    Glasshouse is a great future for the accelerondo universe, it would make a great future for a prequel novel or a sequel. I disagree that glasshouse is non libertarian because it shows a Godling Transhuman reduced to our own level and hating it. then risking his own life to save the humansphere from disaster.

    TGB -one word- Perfect!
    just cant wait for TLC: What about the consu?

    Vinge= Good! I want a virtu-view like Vinge and Wright suggest is around the corner. laughed at the library/Fahrenheit 151 scene

  9. It seems weird to me that they keep giving a libertarian award to socialist Ken MacLeod. But hey, they’re like *free* and can do whatever they want.

  10. PixelFish: That’s because the Red States have MECHS!

    B Reed: Thoh that storywise it was the blue With the mechs and EMPG’s and the reds with the tanks and planes?

  11. hmmmm…Read all except the Card piece. All struck me as pretty good, but Libertarian??? WTF?The past winners have been pretty good; so, I presume that you’re in reasonably good company here.I’ve met a few of the “libertarion” SF folks at various cons and consider them to be kooks of varying descriptions. They seem to have little sense of reality and little or no understanding of human nature (as described by sociology anyway).If you win yell “Yippee”, take the prize and run. I suggest you literally run… Dave

  12. Not to snark, but isn’t TGB all about the triumph of unchecked government power? Seeing how the CC is all secretive and mighty and other parts about the book that I realize will be spoilers if I talk about them?

    Or is it libertarian in the “I like the bang bang” sense?

  13. B Reed: I stand corrected. The Blue States have mechs! (Honestly, about the time the mechs showed up, my brain revolted, and I put the book down and went away to take a breather. This has never happened with a Card book, even the Bean ones, which I think are fanfic for the rest of the Ender-verse.)

  14. Old Jarhead:

    “So basically we don’t know if this is equivalent to being a finalist for a Pulitzer or for a Grimey (award given by Frank ‘Grimey’ Grimes of Springfield.)”

    Man, I want a Grimey.

    The Prometheus has been around a sufficiently long time (~30 years) that they are not thought to be unusually suspect. And, of course, I would also note that people who want to vote on Hugos can also buy in, simply by paying the membership fee for that year’s Worldcon.

    As for whether I am to be absconding with the gold coin, with the Prometheus Award, it’s always prudent to bet on the Scottish socialist. I am, to put it mildly, neither.

  15. Ugh, tough choice here. I can’t believe none of you have read Harbingers by F. Paul Wilson. Repairman Jack is one of the best characters in history. I’m waiting for TGB to come out in paperback before I pick it up, though I’m sure its awesome.

  16. Wow. Congratulations! That’s some awfully respectable company TGB is keeping there.

    I’ve read three of five, plan to read Wilson’s soon, and have mostly given up on Card.

    Of the three so far, I enjoyed them all immensely, and will continue to give my support in the way that matters most (the folding green kind, usually through my local book store, on the first day the hardback shows up, so they get the appreciation, too).

    But, of the three, I’d have to say Rainbows End. Near perfect, including the explanation of the grammatical error in the title, that irked me when I first read it.

  17. Just a heads up for any who are thinking of reading Harbingers…you can definitely read it on its own, but it helps if you read the other 8 in the series. Significant time investment, but certainly worth it.

  18. One of the best educated men I know is an old jarhead who went to VMI. Then there’s Jim Webb, a fine Marine, Senator, who has written in my estimation, the gold standard Vietnam novel, Fields of Fire. These jarheads tend to be pretty sharp, and as there was a platoon of those guys who kept my zoomie butt in one piece over thirty years ago, all I can say is Semper Fi and God bless the Marine Corps.

  19. Dave:

    “I’ve met a few of the “libertarion” SF folks at various cons […] They seem to have little sense of reality […]”

    And that is different from the other people at the cons how?

  20. The comment queue suddenly made a lot more sense once I figured out the original post said “libertarian” not “librarian.” No more Nyquil for me!

  21. The comment queue suddenly made a lot more sense once I figured out the original post said “libertarian” not “librarian.”

    The Vinge nomination would make a lot more sense to me if it really did say “librarian”…

  22. John MacScalizi:
    As for whether I am to be absconding with the gold coin, with the Prometheus Award, it’s always prudent to bet on the Scottish socialist. I am, to put it mildly, neither.

    Neither is Vinge and based on past voting patterns for this award, I’d give him the edge in this race.

    Why are there so many Celts writing SF, anyway? I’m working on a thesis that it’s the mirror image of the same process the famous Celtic tradition of misguided romanticism about the past, transformed into an activity where it isn’t quite so obviously demented. Wait, no. That’s all I have. It’s not so much a thesis as a sentence.

  23. I believe it is the 9th, with Bloodline to be the 10th.

  24. Anonymous: Although some might accuse me of practicing esquivalience I assure you that I do not and I am not giving up my pot of etymological gold, else I would lose the Bacon Crown of Pedantry.

    Nick: It’s another magnificent day to be of service to Corps, God, and Country, where every day is a holiday, every meal is a banquet, and every formation is a family reunion.

    Semper Fi,

    Old Jarhead

  25. oooo… Guess I should have said even LESS connection with reality than the average con-goer.Sorry for the lack of qualification.At least they (the libertarians) don’t run around in trek outfits…

  26. According to wikipedia (

    1 # The Tomb (1984)
    2 # Legacies (1998)
    3 # Conspiracies (1999)
    4 # All The Rage (2000)
    5 # Hosts (2001)
    6 # The Haunted Air (2002)
    7 # Gateways (2003)
    8 # Crisscross (2004)
    9 # Infernal (2005)
    10 # Harbingers (2006)

    However, The Tomb is also part of The Adversary Cycle, that ends with Nightworld.

    All of which I have learned in the last day, from Wikipedia and Amazon. I’m just hoping that I’ve found an untapped source of quality fiction to feed my habit.

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