The SFWA has just announced the shortlist for the 2014 Nebula Awards:
- The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Tor)
- Trial by Fire, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
- Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
- The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu ( ), translated by Ken Liu (Tor)
- Coming Home, Jack McDevitt (Ace)
- Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer (FSG Originals; Fourth Estate; HarperCollins Canada)
I’ve read two of the six novels on this list, Annihilation and Ancillary Sword. Both The Goblin Emperor and The Three-Body Problem have had a lot of online buzz, with people I trust liking both. As per usual there’s a Jack McDevitt novel on the list, because he either has a lot of friends in SFWA or a lot of blackmail material, as he’s the dullest writer in existence. Gannon I’ve no clue about, but he’s published by Baen and with a few exceptions, the best their writers aim for is “decent”.
- 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 (Tor.com 4/30/14)
- Calendrical Regression, Lawrence M. Schoen (NobleFusion)
- “Grand Jeté (The Great Leap)”, Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Summer ’14)
Of these, only Mary Rickert and Rachel Swirsky are on the list of critically acclaimed short SF I’m reading my way through on the booklog. An indication perhaps that there is a rough consensus on what last year’s best stories were, but only a rough consensus.
- “Sleep Walking Now and Then,” Richard Bowes (Tor.com 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 (Tor.com 4/2/14)
In the novelette category, traditionally the most …awkward… category with both the Nebula and the Hugo as nobody really knows what is and isn’t one, there’s more of a consensus: Richard Bowes, Tom Crosshill, Carmen Maria Machado and Kai Ashante Wilson all are on my list with the same stories. This may just be because fewer novelettes than novellas or short stories are written.
- “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)
In the short story category, there are once again only two stories that overlap: Usman T. Malik’s and Alyssa Wong’s. Again evidence of a lively short story field?
What struck me also is that how little in all these three categories was published in the traditional venues; basically anything that doesn’t have a link above. Two novellas, one novelette and two short stories. The novellas published as chapbooks by Tachyon, the rest in Fantasy and Science Fiction.
Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation
- Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
- Edge of Tomorrow, Screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie and Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth (Warner Bros. Pictures)
- Guardians of the Galaxy, Written by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
- Interstellar, Written by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan (Paramount Pictures)
- The Lego Movie, Screenplay by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller (Warner Bros. Pictures)
This award has the same problems as the media Hugos: it’s not where the Nebulas’ focus lies, so the selection is predictable and limited to big budget blockbusters rather than anything surprising. Are these really the best science fiction or fantasy movies from 2014, or just the ones the Nebula nominators have heard of?. I suspect the latter and I don’t see the point in yet another award rewarding the already known and unsurprising.
Granted, you can make the same claim for the novel award, but the difference there is that the Nebula is one of the two top awards in the particular field of SFF novels, while nobody cares about winning the Bradbury. Moreover, while the novel Nebula can be predictable, it isn’t to the extent shown here.
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)
If the Nebulas do have to have speciality awards, I’d rather it’s for categories like this, of more direct concern to the SFF field and highlighting a critically underserved branch of SFF.