Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 478, July 27, 2008

"Our would-be keepers in both 'major'
parties want you to accept a lower
standard of living, and begin a long
slide back into the Dark Ages"

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Letter from Chris Hibbert of The Libertarian Futurist Society

Letter from Bill Koehler

Letter from A.X. Perez

Letter from Jeff Chan

Letter from SciArt Media

The Libertarian Futurist Society will present awards to the winners of the annual Prometheus Award in Denver, Colorado at Denvention 3, the 66th World Science Fiction Convention.

For the first time since the award was established in 1979 there was a tie in voting for the Best Novel award, so Jo Walton and Harry Turtledove will each receive a plaque and a one-ounce gold coin. The Co-winners are Ha'penny, by Jo Walton (Tor Books), and The Gladiator, by Harry Turtledove (Tor Books).

The Hall of Fame Award goes to A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess.

At its award ceremony to be held at the WorldCon in Denver, the Libertarian Futurist Society will present its annual Prometheus Award for Best Novel to Jo Walton and Harry Turtledove and the award for Best Classic Fiction (the "Hall of Fame" award) to A Clockwork Orange, a 1963 novel by Anthony Burgess.

Harry Turtledove received a previous Best Novel nomination in 1999 for Between the Rivers from TOR Books, but this is his first time to win the award. The Gladiator is part of Turtledove's Crosstime Traffic series, which is aimed at young adults. The story follows some teenagers in an alternate Italy with a communist government and a mostly compliant society. The youngsters discover a store selling role-playing games that promote entrepreneurial behavior and independent thinking and learn a lot about their society as they explore the games.

This was Jo Walton's first nomination for a Prometheus. Ha'penny is a follow-up to Farthing, published in 2006. The novels are alternate histories that take place in a Britain that made peace with Hitler in 1941 and has slowly been turning more fascist itself. In Ha'penny, Scotland Yard Inspector Peter Carmichael is assigned to investigate an explosion in a London Suburb that leads to evidence of a conspiracy. The story portrays the fall of a society into totalitarianism, emphasizing subtle moral corruption rather than overt brutality.

A Clockwork Orange has been nominated several times in the past. Burgess's novel is a graphic depiction of a dystopian and authoritarian society. Alex is an unapologetic ultraviolent criminal who is eventually captured and sent to prison. The ultimate horror occurs when he is subjected to an experimental form of aversion therapy, and his love of music is taken away along with his taste for violence.

The other finalists for Best Novel were Ragamuffin, by Tobias S. Buckell; The Execution Channel, by Ken MacLeod; and Fleet of Worlds, by Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner. Seven novels published in 2007 were nominated for the 2008 award.

The other finalists for the Hall of Fame award were "As Easy as A.B.C.", a short story (1912) by Rudyard Kipling; That Hideous Strength, a novel (1945) that completes C.S. Lewis's space trilogy; the Lord of the Rings trilogy, a three-volume novel (1954) by J.R.R. Tolkien; and The Once and Future King and The Book of Merlyn, a five-part novel (1938-1958) by T. H. White.

In the past, the LFS has followed conventional practice and attempted to keep our winners a surprise for attendees at the awards ceremony, while notifying the press earlier so they could publish announcements in their earliest issue after the event. Before the rise of the Internet this generally worked well; however news travels much faster these days. This year, the LFS decided to take advantage of the trend to give fans of the winners the opportunity to attend the awards ceremony and hear the authors' remarks. Both Walton and Turtledove are expected to attend the ceremony to accept their awards.

The Prometheus awards for Best Novel, Best Classic Fiction (Hall of Fame) and (occasional) Special awards honor outstanding science fiction/fantasy that explores the possibilities of a free future, champions human rights (including personal and economic liberty), dramatizes the perennial conflict between individuals and coercive governments, or critiques the tragic consequences of abuse of power—especially by the State.

The Prometheus Award, sponsored by the Libertarian Futurist Society (, was established in 1979, making it one of the most enduring awards after the Nebula and Hugo awards, and one of the oldest fan-based awards currently in sf. Presented annually since 1982 at the World Science Fiction Convention, the Prometheus Awards include a gold coin and plaque for each of the winners.

The Hall of Fame, established in 1983, focuses on older classic fiction, including novels, novellas, short stories, poems and plays. Past Hall of Fame award winners range from Robert Heinlein and Ayn Rand to Ray Bradbury and Ursula LeGuin.

Publishers who wish to submit novels published in 2008 for the 2009 Best Novel award should contact Michael Grossberg (, 3164 Plymouth Place, Columbus OH 43213), Chair of the LFS Prometheus Awards Best Novel Finalist judging committee.

Founded in 1982, the Libertarian Futurist Society sponsors the annual Prometheus Award and Prometheus Hall of Fame; publishes reviews, news and columns in the quarterly "Prometheus"; arranges annual awards ceremonies at the WorldCon; debates libertarian futurist issues (such as private space exploration); and provides fun and fellowship for libertarian SF fans.

A list of past winners of LFS awards can be found on the LFS web site at

For more information, contact LFS President Chris Hibbert

Chris Hibbert


$1,500 with 5 winners
1st $500 — 2nd $400 — 3rd $300 — $th $200 — 5th $100
Drawings will be held when 500 entries are received.

Help distribute Bastiat's The Law and win cash.
$5 for one entry or $15 for 4 entries.
Get 4 entries, sell three and your entry is free.

To help this cause
Give the person presenting it to you $5
Mail your entry to:
Bill Koehler
11516 Pine Top Ln NE
Albuquerque, NM 87111
PayPal accepted

If you want the 4 entry option
include a check or money order for $10
Your 3 additional entries will be sent to your
address unless you specify otherwise.

Bill Koehler

Why has no politician whose campaign ads appear on TV made the following promise "If elected I will keep my oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution?"

Why has no one asked "If keeping your campaign promises requires you to break your oath of office, which promise will you keep?"

Just wondering.

A.X. Perez

The Constitutional Sources Project is an important new open source of founding-era constitutional documents. Its documents were probably used by all sides of the Heller case.

High Court Justices Go Digital to Access Founding-Era Documents
by Tony Mauro
Legal Times
July 25, 2008

U.S. Supreme Court justices on both sides in the landmark D.C. v. Heller gun rights case resorted to original documents in making their case about the meaning of the Second Amendment. But they used a little-known digital resource to get there, a project whose mission is to digitize thousands of Founding-era documents that shed light on the original meaning of the Constitution.

The Constitutional Sources Project, which launched publicly last September, has digitized and made freely available online more than 11,000 historical documents relating to the Constitution and the amendments. Among them are at least 20 documents cited by majority and dissenting opinions in Heller, says the project's co-founder and executive director Lorianne Updike.

Jeff Chan

New Novella Explores the Fight for Freedom in the Tech Age

"Zero," by James Maynard, is the story of a distant, ancient civilization, not so different from our own. They find a precious new technology: nanobots that cure disease, heal handicaps and provide instant, worldwide communication and social networking. The trouble is, their government finds other uses for the same technology: tracking and controlling their population, and "enhancing" their soldiers. Using the threat of war as an excuse to trample the freedom of their people, the government begins a descent into tyranny. A small group of rebels begins to stand up for liberty. Suddenly however, the growth of the new systems creates a paradigm shift that no one saw coming.

The novella was released for sale online on July 19th, as part of a new collection of short stories from New Hampshire authors entitled "Carved in Granite: Storytellers of New Hampshire." The book contains fifteen stories from over a dozen New Hampshire authors, in a variety of genres and was published by SciArt Media of Temple, NH.

Coffee Coaster Book Reviews is calling the collection "...[F]irst rate... the quality one expects if one were to walk into Barnes and Noble and purchase a book of stories from one of your favorite international celebrity authors..."

Maynard, a long-time libertarian activist, says his story was inspired by two main bodies of ideas—the first of which concerned how Star Trek's Borg could have let themselves become so totally controlled by machines. Accompanying that were thoughts of the loss of freedom in today's world, with REAL-ID, FISA, the PATRIOT Act and more.

"Although the story itself is not a Star Trek story," Maynard explains, "I was careful to make sure that the story was consistent with everything known about the rise of the Borg culture in that universe." The novella could certainly be read as the story of the rise of the Borg, and be consistent with Star Trek lore.

He added that "Given the great centralization of power to the Executive branch over the last few years, as well as seeing how easily people fell into the belief that Iraq had WMDs, ready to launch any minute into the United States, led me to ponder how many people would hand over complete control of themselves to government, just to be ‘safe.'" The two ideas soon melded into one.

The collection itself is not a libertarian-minded project, but the spirit of the Granite State provides some wholeheartedly libertarian moments: "Trash Talk," by Melissa Rossetti, is a look at mandatory recycling and a man who doesn't like it one bit at all. In another story, "Minute Man," by Mike Dempsey, demonstrates courage, literally under fire, by the members of the Epsom, NH volunteer fire department. New Hampshire was one of the first states to reject the REAL-ID program and is the home of the Free State Project.

This is not Maynard's first foray into writing: in 2005, he wrote "The Light of Alexandria," a book about the first 1000 years of science in Greece, Rome and Egypt. This earlier work also spent time exploring problems in the ancient world that led to the downfall of science. Big government and bureaucracy, perhaps not surprisingly, caused most of these, as Maynard shows in the book.

"A lot of great moments in freedom were inspirations for various scenes in the novella," Maynard explains, "and not just the obvious ones that you might expect. I tried very hard to not only engage people in the story, but to use the actions of real-life events to make the fictional events more believable." However, it wasn't only public events, but private ones as well. He drew upon his experiences like any good author would, including the death of his father one year ago.

In 2001 and 2003, Maynard ran for City Council in what was then his hometown of Keene, New Hampshire. He found that being neither a Democrat nor a Republican, even in a non-partisan race, can prove difficult. The city's newspaper, just before the 2003 general election, called him both "a right-wing wingnut" and "a bleeding heart liberal" in the same issue of their paper.

Summing up the premise of "Zero," James Maynard pondered for a moment, and then brought up one of his favorite bands, Rush. "It's like that song, ‘Freewill:' ‘You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill. I will choose a path that's clear. I will choose freewill.' The greatest danger ever seen by the society in the story is brought on by just that—phantom fears and kindness that can kill. Then, we follow the people who choose another path—freewill." "I just realized, I probably should send a copy of the book to Neil Peart," he joked.

To purchase a copy, or for more information, please visit:

SciArt Media

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