Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Preliminary Thoughts on the Nebula Nominees

The Nebula Award nominees were announced on Friday and I wanted to wait a few days to think about what was nominated before posting.  Now that I've waited, I'm not sure my thoughts are any different.  Overall, this appears to be a very solid list of nominees, though I have read very few of the shorter works so I may change my mind on that.  I hope not. 

The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Tor)
Trial by Fire, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit)
The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu (Tor)
Coming Home, Jack McDevitt (Ace)
Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer (FSG Originals)

I have read three of the six nominated novels and they are all likely going to make my Hugo ballot. The Goblin Emperor, Ancillary Sword, and Annihilation are all outstanding works of fiction and area all more than worthy of a nomination.  I have a copy of The Three Body-Problem at home and had been looking forward to reading it regardless of any nomination it may garner.  The Nebula nomination just pushed it farther up my to-read pile.  Charles Gannon was nominated last year for his novel Fire by Fire.  I was a bit put off by the protagonist's dismissive sexism, but thought it was a well enough written novel that was easy enough to read and kept me just entertained enough to keep going.  Assuming the level of writing and storytelling in Trial by Fire is consistent with Gannon's first novel, it seems a little out of place on this ballot.

On the other hand, the SFWA is an organization with over 1800 members and as much as I think that my tastes should be much more widely shared, people enjoy and appreciate different things and they love what they love no less passionately than I do.  For them, Charles Gannon wrote outstanding novels two years in a row.  And while I haven't read Jack McDevitt before despite his frequent Nebula nominations, I understand that he writes a similar sort of science fiction.  The audience of Gannon and McDevitt are likely fairly similar.  I'll give McDevitt a shot this year.  I'm long over due. 

We Are All Completely Fine, Daryl Gregory (Tachyon)
Yesterday’s Kin, Nancy Kress (Tachyon)
The Regular,” Ken Liu (Upgraded)
The Mothers of Voorhisville,” Mary Rickert ( 4/30/14)
Calendrical Regression, Lawrence Schoen (NobleFusion)
 “Grand Jeté (The Great Leap),” Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Summer ’14)

I have read three of the nominated novellas and the Mary Rickert and Rachel Swirsky stories are both consistently excellent, which is what one has come to expect from those two.  They will both be on my Hugo ballot.  Nancy Kress's story is a worthy addition, though it gave me less of the knock out punch that Rickert and Swirsky delivered.  

Sleep Walking Now and Then,” Richard Bowes ( 7/9/14)
The Magician and Laplace’s Demon,” Tom Crosshill (Clarkesworld 12/14)
“A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai’i,” Alaya Dawn Johnson (F&SF 7-8/14)
The Husband Stitch,” Carmen Maria Machado (Granta #129)
We Are the Cloud,” Sam J. Miller (Lightspeed 9/14)
The Devil in America,” Kai Ashante Wilson ( 4/2/14)

I have not read any of the Novelettes and am not overly familiar with any of the authors, which means that there is a whole lot of discovery here for me.

Short Story 
The Breath of War,” Aliette de Bodard (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 3/6/14)
When It Ends, He Catches Her,” Eugie Foster (Daily Science Fiction 9/26/14)
The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye,” Matthew Kressel (Clarkesworld 5/14)
The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family,” Usman T. Malik (Qualia Nous)
 “A Stretch of Highway Two Lanes Wide,” Sarah Pinsker (F&SF 3-4/14)
Jackalope Wives,” Ursula Vernon (Apex 1/7/14)
The Fisher Queen,” Alyssa Wong (F&SF 5/14)

Likewise, I have not read any of the Short Stories, though last year I very much enjoyed Sarah Pinsker's "In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind".  I tend to enjoy Aliette de Bodard's fiction, whether it is a novel or short story.  The one thing that really struck me about this category, though, is that Eugie Foster's nominated story was her last story, published the day before she died.  Foster had previously won a Nebula Award in 2009. 

Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation 
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Edge of Tomorrow
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Lego Movie

When it comes to the Nebula Award, I tend to focus on the Nebula "Proper" and less on the Bradbury and Norton Awards.  With that said, while I haven't seen Birdman I am surprised to see a nomination here as I was not aware there were any genre elements beyond being about an actor who once played a superhero.  But maybe that's enough.  I still don't understand the raw love for The Lego Movie. 

Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy 
Unmade, Sarah Rees Brennan (Random House)
Salvage, Alexandra Duncan (Greenwillow)
Love Is the Drug, Alaya Dawn Johnson (Levine)
Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future, A.S. King (Little, Brown)
Dirty Wings, Sarah McCarry (St. Martin’s Griffin)
Greenglass House, Kate Milford (Clarion)
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, Leslye Walton (Candlewick)

I have not read any of these novels.

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