Sunni: Hi Anders! Thanks so much for allowing me to take a big chunk of your time for this interview. You seem to be always busy, but this time of the year—right before the Prometheus Award voting—I imagine you're like a lot of us, scrambling to read all the finalists before the deadline.
Anders: Hi Sunni, the honor is mine. With two small children in the house, much of my time now is spent figuring out how to be a good parent. One of the consequences is that I have far less time available to read books. This year was unusual because I tend to have read two or three of the Prometheus Award finalists long before they're finalists, but this year even though I long had wanted to read most of the finalists, I had only seen one of the novels before I received them to read. I'm usually a terrible procrastinator, but this year I read four books in one week, and the other two a short while later. My other problem is my stack of review copies of other books piling up. I do feel as editor of Prometheus the responsibility to read all the books that I receive, plus there always are a few others that I seek out on purpose to read and review. Usually I end up having to write a handful of book reviews for each issue, and so I'm constantly reading at the last minute. Still, I can't say I don't enjoy reading books, though I think I become more critical and less patient each year when it comes to what I enjoy in fiction.
More critical and less patient applies to me, too. I bet this is something you're familiar with—F Paul Wilson did something very sweet, but also very evil to me last week: he sent me an advance copy of Harbingers. I'm aching to dive into it but still have a Prometheus finalist to read. It's amazing how I'm finding more time now for finishing my reading responsibilities, though! [laughs]
Anders: Yeah, a free book is always evil. That's the first step down the road to addiction [laughs]. I guess Paul knows the temptation of a Repairman Jack novel. Each time one of them comes out I promise myself I'll savor it over several days, but inevitably I end up hunched over the book until 2 or 3 a.m., even on a weeknight, sweating through the buildup and final scenes. Deadlines are great motivators, but not even deadlines can withstand the terrible temptations out there that tend to sidetrack us from the, ahem, real important stuff.
Sunni: Well, truth be told, I have read a few chapters of Harbingers. [laughs] But I think I'm getting ahead of myself here already, Anders. Just in case some readers don't know, the Prometheus Award is an annual award, given to the best libertarian science fiction novel of the year. The Libertarian Futurist Society is the group that sponsors the Prometheus Award. And you're currently the editor of LFS's newsletter. Since it's a print newsletter, I imagine that keeps you quite busy. Do you have any other LFS responsibilities?
Anders: This is actually my second tenure as editor, following five years away from the role. I first took over the reins in 1994, after the newsletter had ceased publication for over a year. The LFS then really consisted of one person, Victoria Varga, in the role of director. The membership lived on despite the lack of a newsletter, and associate members kept the award alive. When Victoria wrote asking for volunteers for the editor, I jumped at the chance. I'd wanted to edit a newsletter since I first heard Vince Miller, then president of the International Society for Individual Liberty, speak at Beitostølen in 1985 about editing and creating newsletters. This was the first libertarian convention I ever attended, at age 19. It also happened to be in Norway where I lived at the time. Anyway, I'd subscribed to Prometheus since 1986 or '87, as soon as I found out about the LFS. I submitted a couple of reviews which for one reason or another never saw publication, all the time wondering how to get more involved. When I started editing the newsletter in 1994, I had no idea what it all implied, and early on I ended up writing 90% of the content for each of the quarterly issues. After a few years I relied far more on other contributors and wrote less, but that required a great deal of outreach to writers and potential contributors. At the same time, I ended up assuming a great deal of LFS responsibilities, from handling the entire voting process, acting as treasurer, being in charge of membership, creating the LFS web pages, and for one year also acting as director. Plus, I coordinated the awards presentation for a few years. In the end it was too much. I burned out and quit after five years.
When the editor position opened up again in 2004, I thought sufficient time had passed, and tossed my name in
in case no one else stepped forward. Maybe it's slightly akin to someone having a baby; you forget how painful the birthing experience was, and look instead at how cute the little ones are. Not that anything compares to the effort and pain of pregnancy or birth! I said I could do the job if limited to just the newsletter. Thankfully, things put in motion the year I left were still in place, and now the LFS had a pretty good structure, with a webmaster, committee chairs for the various judging groups, and other people in the roles that sort of fell into my hands the last time.