Nebula Awards Showcase 2008. ed Ben Bova, ROC, 2008

First up is the Nebula Award Best Short Story, ‘Echo’ by Elizabeth Hand, all the way back from the October/November 2005 issue of F&SF, which means that I probably read it exackerly three years ago, at which point I wrote:

    Part of a thematically linked series of stories which draw on ancient Greek myth. Sadly we never covered ancient Greek myth at school, and I’ve not rectified that omission in the quarter of a century since, so apologies for my shame failings in the erudite department. A sad, mournful mood piece in which an observer marks the fall of yet another empire (ours).

For the record (in this case the record being LocusMag’s award index, the nominees ahead of which Hand’s story was placed were

  • ‘An End to All Things’, Karina Sumner-Smith (Children of Magic DAW Books)
  • ‘Helen Remembers the Stork Club’, Esther M. Friesner (F&SF Oct/Nov 2005)
  • ‘Henry James, This One’s for You’, Jack McDevitt (Subterranean #2 2005)
  • ‘Pip and the Fairies’, Theodora Goss (Strange Horizons 3 Oct 2005)
  • ‘The Woman in Schrödinger’s Wave Equations’, Eugene Mirabelli (F&SF Aug 2005)

Next up is the Nebula Award Best Novella, ‘Burn’ by James Patrick Kelly, which I enthused over at length, to the extent that I dedicated a whole page review.

Other nominees for the award were

  • ‘Inclination’, William Shunn (Asimov’s Apr/May 2006)
  • ‘Sanctuary’, Michael A. Burstein (Analog Sep 2005)
  • ‘The Walls of the Universe’, Paul Melko (Asimov’s Apr/May 2006)

Bud Webster’s ‘Anthropology 101: The Books That Saved SFWA’ looks at anthologies published prior to 1970, by way of looking at the classic short SF prior to the Nebula Awards themselves.

Back to the fiction, with Nebula Award Best Novella, ‘Two Hearts’ by Peter Beagle, which appeared in the same issue of F&SF as the Hand story above. When it appeared I wrote:

    I’ll have a second mini-beef at editor GvG, in that his introduction mentions that the story is a tear-jerker, which rather spoils the fun of the reader finding out for themselves that a bit of grit has got my eye no it’s okay just a bit of hay fever maybe cough on the train. What a spoilsport. Especially for someone like me who regulary sits down to watch a film with a box of tissues next to me. (Did someone mention baby lotion?) Beagle goes back to his 1968 novel ‘The Last Unicorn’ to re-introduce Schmendrick and Molly Grue. I’m guessing that only a very small percentage of F&SF readers will remember this, so the story has to be evaluated as a singleton and, it measures up well. I’m not the biggest fan of fantasy, as you may have (ahem) spotted if you are a regular BestSF.net reader, but kept me intrigued as I followed the last noble sortie by an old king. Somewhat redolent of the scene from Peter Jackson’s LoTR when the faded king under the spell of Sauron, is freed from his shackles to ride off to smite his way to a last, noble sacrifice.

    He is out to redeem himself by killing a griffin which has been terrorising a village, and manages so to do, with the assistance of a young girl, her faithful dog, and the titular Last Unicorn. Doubtless an added layer for those who have read and remembered the original story, but with a faithful doggie flung to one side, crushed and bleeding, to expire in front of its young mistress, oh, I’m welling up again……

Other nominees in this category were

  • ‘Journey into the Kingdom’, M. Rickert (F&SF May 2006)
  • ‘The Language of Moths’, Christopher Barzak (Realms of Fantasy Apr 2005)
  • ‘Little Faces’, Vonda N. McIntyre (Sci Fiction 23 Feb 2005)
  • ‘Walpurgis Afternoon’, Delia Sherman (F&SF Dec 2005)

After some pomes, Orson Scott Card’s ‘The State of Amazing, Astounding , Fantastic Fiction in the Twenty-First Century’ takes a look at science fiction, fantasy and mystery and how we got to where we are now.

Back to the fiction again, with ‘The Woman in Schrodinger’s Wave Equations’ by Eugene Mirabelli, a runner-up to Hand’s story above, which appeared in F&SF in August 2005 at which point I wrote:

    The author’s ‘Only Known Jump Across Time’ (F&SF Sept 2003) was an elegant little story, and this also. The mad burst of passion which inspired Schrodinger some generations ago similarly ignites the creative process in a physics doctoral students, and the story traces his growing relationship with a girl who might, or might not (that much is uncertain) be a descendant of the alpine coupling. The story is probably an Analog-reader’s wet dream (stereotyping the readers of that magazine as male scientists with limited experience of the fairer sex).

Next up John Kessel pays tribute to James Gunn, recipient of the ‘Grand Master’ Award, and to mark this we are treated to Gunn’s novelette ‘The Listeners’, which also appeared in Nebula Award Stories 4. I’m guessing that there aren’t many stories to appear -twice- in the Nebula Awards series! It’s an interesting story – very much a ‘science thriller’ as they are called now, as there is no real SFnal element, but a strong emotional story about one scientist who has dedicated his left to SETI and the impact this has on himself and his relationshiops.

The Nebula Award for Best Script went to ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’, and Diana Wynne Jones relates her feelings at the process of seeing her book turned into a Miyazaki visual feast. Jack McDevitt’s ‘Seeker’ was the Nebula Award Best Novel, and an extract is provided.

Mike Resnick’s ‘I Have Seen the Future – and it Ain’t Got a Lot of Dead Trees In It’ closes the anthology with a look to the future.

Conclusion.

There’s a lot in here, as usual, with the Kelly story giving lots of SF bang-for-buck : if you haven’t read ‘Burn’ yet, then this is your chance so to do, and get some other high quality reading, and the professional writer’s take on what the 3 years leading up to 2008 meant to them.

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