Thoughts on the Nebula Award nominees

February 26, 2014 § 2 Comments

After a few years of feeling mostly apathy toward the Nebula Awards, mainly due to a few names that kept appearing on the shortlists despite churning out near-dreck for years, I will admit that the recently-announced shortlists for this year’s prizes do appeal to me more than they have in recent years.  This is not to say that it is a “perfect” shortlist or that there are not works on there that did not appeal to me, but it certainly is a promising sign to see more books that possess multiple audiences getting nominations (plus two of the novelist finalists I got to meet briefly at the 2013 Southern Festival of Books, so there is some bias here).  Now for my brief thoughts on the finalists (bolded titles mean that I have read them):

Novel:

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler (Marian Wood)
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman (Morrow; Headline Review)

Fire with Fire, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
Hild, Nicola Griffith (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
The Red: First Light, Linda Nagata (Mythic Island)
A Stranger in Olondria, Sofia Samatar (Small Beer)
The Golem and the Jinni, Helene Wecker (Harper) 

A nice variety here.  The Fowler and Wecker in particular I thought were excellent – I believe both made my year-end Top 25 – and both certainly have reached a large audience outside of SF community circles.  The Gaiman and Samatar I also liked and the latter I want to re-read, as I think it would benefit more from a re-read.  The Leckie I thought was mediocre.

Novella:

‘‘Wakulla Springs,’’ Andy Duncan & Ellen Klages (Tor.com 10/2/13)
‘‘The Weight of the Sunrise,’’ Vylar Kaftan (Asimov’s 2/13)
‘‘Annabel Lee,” Nancy Kress (New Under the Sun, Arc Manor/Phoenix Pick)
‘‘Burning Girls,’’ Veronica Schanoes (Tor.com 6/19/13)
‘‘Trial of the Century,’’ Lawrence M. Schoen (lawrencemschoen.com, 8/13; World Jumping)
Six-Gun Snow White, Catherynne M. Valente (Subterranean)

I guess I just haven’t really read any SF/F novellas in the past year.

Novelette:

 ‘‘Paranormal Romance,’’ Christopher Barzak (Lightspeed 6/13)
‘‘The Waiting Stars,’’ Aliette de Bodard (The Other Half of the Sky)
‘‘They Shall Salt the Earth with Seeds of Glass,’’ Alaya Dawn Johnson (Asimov’s 1/13)
‘‘Pearl Rehabilitative Colony for Ungrateful Daughters,’’ Henry Lien (Asimov’s 12/13)
‘‘The Litigation Master and the Monkey King,’’ Ken Liu (Lightspeed 8/13)
‘‘In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind,’’ Sarah Pinsker (Strange Horizons 7/1 – 7/8/13)

Same goes for novelettes, it seems.

Short Story:

‘‘The Sounds of Old Earth,’’ Matthew Kressel (Lightspeed 1/13)
‘‘Selkie Stories Are for Losers,’’ Sofia Samatar (Strange Horizons 1/7/13)
‘‘Selected Program Notes from the Retrospective Exhibition of Theresa Rosenberg Latimer,’’ Kenneth Schneyer (Clockwork Phoenix 4)
‘‘If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love,’’ Rachel Swirsky (Apex 3/13)
‘‘Alive, Alive Oh,’’ Sylvia Spruck Wrigley (Lightspeed 6/13)

 I liked the Schneyer story; haven’t read any of the others.

Ray Bradbury Award for Best Dramatic Presentation:

Doctor Who: ‘‘The Day of the Doctor’’ (Nick Hurran, director; Steven Moffat, writer) (BBC Wales)
Europa Report (Sebastián Cordero, director; Philip Gelatt, writer) (Start Motion Pictures)
Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón, director; Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón, writers) (Warner Bros.)
Her (Spike Jonze, director; Spike Jonze, writer) (Warner Bros.)
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Francis Lawrence, director; Simon Beaufoy & Michael deBruyn, writers) (Lionsgate)
Pacific Rim (Guillermo del Toro, director; Travis Beacham & Guillermo del Toro, writers) (Warner Bros.)

Haven’t seen a single one of these and have no plans to change that.

Andre Norton Award for YA Science Fiction and Fantasy:

 The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, Holly Black (Little, Brown; Indigo)
When We Wake, Karen Healey (Allen & Unwin; Little, Brown)
Sister Mine, Nalo Hopkinson (Grand Central)
The Summer Prince, Alaya Dawn Johnson (Levine)

Hero, Alethea Kontis (Harcourt)
September Girls, Bennett Madison (Harper Teen)
A Corner of White, Jaclyn Moriarty (Levine)

Out of the two I read, I liked the Hopkinson more than the Johnson, as I had problems with the characterization and setting with the latter.

§ 2 Responses to Thoughts on the Nebula Award nominees

  • James says:

    I haven't read any of the books listed, though I have attempted both the Fowler and Leckie. The former was abandoned during those hellish months that I couldn't finish anything and the latter had such dull prose that it was a plodding bore. I plan on returning to the Fowler and reading a few of the others listed here (minus the Gaiman because I somehow developed a bias against him and the Gannon because… Baen).

    From the short fiction categories, I have read only Six Gun Snow White and Selkie Stories Are for Losers and I enjoyed both.

    No comment on the rest of the list.

  • Ken Schneyer says:

    Thanks for the kind words! And as for the other short story nominees, I recommend them highly!

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