The latest in a long line of Nebula Awards anthologies has just arrived. By my reckoning it’s number #49 in the sequence – check out my archive of reviews/listings of the previous 48 here.
This year’s book has a striking cover design. It’s not the larger trade paperback size of recent volumes, and it’s an interesting contrast to the recent Meeting Infinity anthology, which had quite a large font size. This Nebula volume has a font size quite a bit smaller than the norm these days, which isn’t easy for me even with my reading glasses on!
Greg Bear gives an introduction to the collection reflecting on his experiences of previous Nebula ceremonies, then it’s straight into the content. What I, as a librarian and a bit of a fusspot, like with this year’s volume is that it provides the winner in each category, followed by several of the nominees in that of the category (at least for short story and novelette, as the volume can only stretch to the winner in the novella category).
I’ll run through the content from beginning to end, with notes about stories I’ve previously read. I will be making a point over the next few weeks of reading as many of the stories as possible, and will fill in the blanks as I progress. I will put links in to where stories are available online, but please do buy the book! If you must, buy the e-book, but trust me, in 20 years you’ll regret not having the print version!
First up is Rachel Swirsky’s ‘If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love’, published in Apex Magazine in March 2013, and winner of the Best Short Story Award. It is still online to read, and if you haven’t read it, I would suggest you do forthwith. It will only take a few minutes, as it’s only about 1,000 words. It’s a lovely story, and manages to get lovelier even as the true, horrific, import of what is happening is revealed to the reader. I haven’t read much by Swirsky but you’ll see that what I have read I have enjoyed, and praised her storytelling.
The only quibble you might have is that the story isn’t remotely sfnal. If you’re of the camp that believes that the Nebulas are about giving the highest award for a SF/F story to a story that is SF/F then you might take issue. If you don’t mind the highest award in the SF/F field going to an SF/F writer, regardless of what the story is, that’s not going to be an issue.
Nominees for the Best Short Story Award published in the volume are :
Matthew Kressel’s ‘The Sound of Old Earth, which was published in Lightspeed Magazine, January 2013, and still online. I shall make a point of reading this, particularly as his ‘The Garden Beyond Her Infinite Skies’ from Clarkesworld Magazine in May this year has been nominated (by me) for the Best SF Short Story Award 2015.
Sophia Samatar’s ‘Selkie Stories are for Losers’ was published in Strange Horizons, January 2013 and is still online.
Kenneth Schneyer’s ‘Selected Program Notes from the Retrospective Exhibition of Theresa Rosenberg Latimer’ appeared in Clockwork Phoenix 4 and has been put online by it’s publisher.
Syvlia Spruck Wrigley’s ‘Alive, Alive Oh’ appeared in Lightspeed Magazine, July 2013, and is also still available online.
Aliette de Bodard’s ‘The Waiting Stars’ won Best Novelette. Originally published in ‘The Other Half of the Sky’, and AdB has put the story online. de Bodard did appear in a ‘Writers of the Future’ anthology which I reviewed many years back (but which appeared not to make the transition from HTML to WordPress site a few years back), but she wasn’t one of the authors in the volume I picked out as being one of my tips for the future. But, hey, back in 1981 I went to see a young Irish band called U2 play one of their first gigs in England. I didn’t rate them, but preferred the support band called Fashion, whose single I went out and bought. So that puts her in pretty good company in terms of my eye for talent. (BTW I shared a pint with young Bono, but that’s another story…)
Nominees for the novelette award in this volume are :
Christopher Barzak’s ‘Paranormal Romance’ was originally published in Lightspeed Magazine in June 2013, and still online there.
Alaya Dawn Johnson’s ‘They Shall Salt the Earth with Seeds of Grass’ appeared in Asimovs, January 2013, and I would normally have read it, but was in the midst of a dalliance with e-books, and issues with The Day Jobbe and Other Shit, and ended up with a big backlog, and somehow ended up with neither the e-book nor the print version of a couple of volumes of Asimovs, which I have otherwise been reading religiously since 2001. Anyhoo, her ‘A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai’i’ subsequently got props from me, and, more importantly, a Nebula, this year.
Henry Lien’s ‘Pearl Rehabilitative Colony for Ungrateful Daughters’ was in Asimovs, December 2013, and didn’t do anything for me, as you can see from my review. I now see, after a quick Google, that the story, about teen girls, which I objected to in my review, was written as a YA story. So, no wonder this 55 year old man didn’t really engage with a story about teens written for teens. Go figure.
Sarah Pinsker. In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind was published in Strange Horizons in July 2013 and is still online.
Ken Liu’s ‘The Litigation Master and the Monkey King’ appeared in Lightspeed Magazine in August 2013 and is still available online.
Vylar Kaftan’s ‘The Weight of the Sunrise’ appeared in Asimovs, February 2013, of the aforementioned couple of issues that have slipped past me. It won the Best Novella. D’oh! Kaftan has it on her website here.
I realise one issue with this anthology at this point – it doesn’t give a full list of winners/nominees for the three main fiction categories. Whilst all the short story and the novelette winners and nominees are included in the volume, only the winning novella is included in the volume, and there is no mention (that I can see) of the nominees in the novella category.
The SFWA website tells us that the nominees were
‘Wakulla Springs’, Andy Duncan & Ellen Klages (Tor.com 10/2/13) – online here
‘Annabel Lee’, Nancy Kress (New Under the Sun)
‘Burning Girls’, Veronica Schanoes (Tor.com 6/19/13) – online here
‘Trial of the Century’, Lawrence M. Schoen (www.lawrencemschoen.com; World Jumping)
‘Six-Gun Snow White, by Catherynne M. Valente (Subterranean)’
That takes us up to about page 250 of the 350 pages, making a heck of a lot of quality SF & F. There then follows an extract from Best Novel – Ann Leckie’s ‘Ancillary Justice’; a rememberance of Frank M. Robinson; an extract from Nalo Hopkinson’s ‘Sister Mine’ (winner of the Andre Norton Award for YA SFF); an appreciation of Samuel R. Delany (recipient of the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award) and a reprint of his classic ‘Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones’; the Rhysling and Dark Star poetry award winners; and concludes with a list of previous Nebula Award Winners.
So, another excellent anthology, full of top quality SFF stories (which isn’t always the case). A handsome book, and time to find some more shelf space…