Monday, May 12, 2014

Thoughts on the Nebula Award Nominees: Short Stories

Monday, May 12, 2014
‘‘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)

With the Nebula Awards to be given out this coming weekend, I would like to discuss the nominees with a series of wrap-up posts.  This first one is for the short stories. Happily, I have read all of the stories this time around and as a whole found this to be a solid line up.  I will talk a little bit about each one in reverse order of how I felt about the stories, with links to anything I previously wrote about them.

"Selected Program Notes from the Retrospective Exhibition of Theresa Rosenberg Latimer" (my review): This was always going to be a tough sell for me as fiction about art and the formatting of program notes is just something that I have a difficult time engaging with.  This was easily my least favorite of the stories and there is a pretty noticeable gap between how I felt about this one and the other four.

"The Sounds of Old Earth" (my review): This is where putting the stories in any type of ranking is madness and becomes frustrating. I like all four of the remaining stories and they each impinge upon a different part of my heart and on what I like about fiction.  They all do different things.  But, I think the Kressel story, as much as I like it, takes up a smaller part of my heart than the rest. I like this damn story.

"Selkie Stories Are for Losers" (my review): Based on what I've been reading online about this story, about the Nebulas, and even about how some writers were talking about the Hugos, I would not at all be surprised if this story wins the Nebula this weekend. Samatar has received a lot of good press this year and this story is a very good one.  I feel that this one may be a favorite, even if it is not my favorite.  It is a wonderful story dealing with loss and leaving and not being where you belong.

"Alive, Alive Oh" (my review): Ask me on a different day, and I might flip this and the Samatar, but today it goes like this.  I loved this story for what I had to imagine between the lines, for all of the story left untold that I so very much wanted to know about, that I was almost desperate to know about.

"If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love" (my review): It is no secret that I am a fan of Rachel Swirsky's fiction.  I've been reading her for years and I know each time I read one of her stories that there is a strong chance I am reading one of the best stories of any given year. It is a difficult reputation to live up to, but she does so, and on a consistent basis.  This one twists and breaks my heart and it's the one I've read multiple times and want to pass around and make sure that other people read this.

My guess is that the Sofia Samatar story is the one that will win the Nebula and that Matthew Kressel will be the runner up.  My heart, however, does belong to Rachel Swirsky's story.  It was easily the most moving and impactful story of the nominees, which isn't necessarily a marker for how "good" a story is but it is what made it the most remarkable.  Overall, though, this was a solid lineup of fiction.


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