Tag Archives: Libertarianism

And the Award Goes to…

This year’s winners of the Prometheus Award are Ready Player One, by Edward Cline, and The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman.  Given annually by the Libertarian Futurist Society, the award recognizes the best in libertarian fiction.

We are honored that In the Shadow of Ares was a finalist, and wish the winners a hearty congratulations.

A New Era?

Friday’s ISS docking of the SpaceX Dragon capsule received a good bit of media attention, but likely not anything near what it deserved.  Much of the public was at least peripherally aware that a private spacecraft (albeit heavily subsidized by NASA) had successfully launched and docked with the orbiting outpost, but aside from the delivery of needed supplies, most could probably not articulate the true significance of the mission. 

Besides reducing our reliance on Russia for access to space, this mission hopefully represents the genesis of a vibrant space-based economy dominated by private enterprise. 

And in my lifetime no less.

 If that vision comes to pass, May 25, 2012 could become nearly as significant as  July 20, 1969.  Or not.  Will the fledgling industry be crippled by excessive regulation?  Will shortsighted policy decisions gut the exploration programs that are arguably a proper role for public-sector programs?

Combined with last month’s announcement by Planetary Resources, I’m hopeful.  This despite the recent, foolish decision by the Obama Administration to abandon future robotic Mars missions.

“Darkship Thieves” – Not on Kindle?

Surprising, but true. I’m trying to read more new science fiction, particular SF with a libertarian slant (since we need more of that), so imagine my disappointment when I discovered that it’s apparently only available on dead trees. I thought Baen was all hip with the e-publishing nowadays.

Of course, my complaining about this is ironic, considering how many people have complained to me that In the Shadow of Ares is only available (for now) electronically. It took me a year, but I’ve gotten to the point that I’d almost rather have a Kindle version rather than the paper version of a book — fiction books, at least. I blame Cthulhu Chick: her H.P. Lovecraft collection led me to actually read the HPL stories I’ve had in book form for several years, and to get accustomed to using an e-reader extensively.

The End of the Future?

Abandon in Place (detail)
Pay Pal co-founder and hedge fund manager Peter Thiel, whom I previously discussed in this post, asks some important questions in the cover piece “Swift Blind Horsemen” in the October 3 edition of National Review.  Specifically, is the rate of progress slowing, what are the consequences, and what can be done about it?

[T]here is no law that the exceptional rise of the West must continue.  So we could do worse than to inquire into the widely held opinion that America is on the wrong track…to wonder whether Progress is not doing as well as advertised, and perhaps to take exceptional measures to arrest and reverse any decline.

He goes on to make a strong case that progress has slowed, but why does that matter?

The technology slowdown threatens not just our financial markets, but the entire modern political order, which is predicated on easy and relentless growth.  The give-and-take of Western democracies depends on the idea that we can craft political solutions that enable most people to win most of the time.  But in a world without growth, we can expect a loser for every winner.

He wraps it up with musings on what can be done, including the ability of government to jump start innovation, as has been done in the past.  Of course, that’s what we hope to inspire through In the Shadow of Ares, and the forthcoming sequels, and it seems it is needed now more than ever:

Science fiction has collapsed as a literary genre.  Men reached the moon in July 1969, and Woodstock began three weeks later.  With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that this was when the hippies took over the country, and when the true cultural war over Progress was lost.

Mr. Thiel proposes that the Progressive Left is incapable of recognizing that things are getting worse.  Personally, I think it’s more serious than that, in that many in that grouping would openly celebrate a tech slowdown as a good thing.

Islands in the sky?

Billionaire Pay Pal co-founder Peter Thiel has apparently donated $1.25 million to the Seasteading Institute, an organization seeking to build floating nation-states that would be able to experiment with innovative political and social systems.  Specifically libertarian political systems.

Floating City

Of course, that’s part of the rationale for going to Mars.  Not specifically to set up a libertarian society, although there’s certainly an element of that in the independent settlements depicted in In the Shadow of Ares.  The basic idea is to start from scratch, choosing from what you know works best and leaving behind what doesn’t.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

A driving force behind In the Shadow of Ares, going back to our 2001 decision to write the novel, was a desire for more optimism in science fiction.  We wanted to provide a vision of a hopeful future, as a counterbalance to all the negative, anti-human, post-apocalyptic stories that seem to dominate the genre today.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of outstanding stories that include some of those elements.  Still, a hallmark of the “Golden Age of Science Fiction” was certainly the bright, shiny future that was ours to grasp.  I for one miss that hopeful optimism.  Not only does the current wave of negativism drive away younger fans, but it’s unhealthy for society at large to fear technology and lack hope for the future.

There are a few others who see the same deficiency and are trying to fill it with the occasional positive novel or anthology.  I recently came across an interesting, if dated, discussion thread on Asimov’s Science Fiction, appropriately titled “Canon of Optimistic Science Fiction“.  One comment included the following observation:

A good deal of “Libertarian Science Fiction” is optimistic though and so is some Young-Adult SF.

Hey, we’re both!