May 25, 2020

Review: The Nebula Awards Showcase 2012.

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Show biz has the Oscars and Emmys, Science has the Nobels, and Science Fiction has the Hugo’s and Nebula Awards. Established in 1965, the Nebulas celebrate the greatest in all that is science fiction. This week, we take a look at what will hopefully become a yearly tradition here at Astroguyz Central; A review of the Nebula Awards Showcase 2012 out in May 2012 from Pyr Books. Edited by John Kessel and James Patrick Kelly, the anthology spans the best of the genre, each with a short intro from the author. The tales contained herein are composed of the award winners announced for 2011. Whether you come at “speculative fiction” from the horror, fantasy, or hard-science sub-disciplines, you’ll find something for everyone within these hallowed covers. Its worth noting that while seminal works by authors such as Frank Herbert (author of Dune, the very first 1965 winner for best novel) and Ursula Le Guin have been recognized by the Nebula Awards for years of hard work, it’s not unheard of for an author to win a Nebula for his very first story ever published, such as was the case for Ted Chiang’s Tower of Babylon in 1990.

This year, the 2012 Nebula awards will be announced by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) during the 47th Nebula Awards Weekend at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia; expect a “who’s who” of modern science fiction to be in attendance including honored Grand Master Connie Willis. A list of the 2011 nominations for 2012 can be seen here.

So, what were our faves from the featured selection of 2011 winners? Well, we have to admit right up front that we have a soft spot for the hard-science fiction of our youth; while the vampire and werewolves community may groan at the mere mention of rockets and ray guns, we like to have some real “science” mixed in with our fiction. And before you set our comment board on fire, we do appreciate a well crafted fantasy or horror tale; just make sure all you aspiring authors are innovative and set-well defined limits and failings on those supernatural beasties. That’s our soap box sermon for this post; feel free to break a beaten-up writing mantra or three, and hey, YOU might just win a Nebula… anyway, here’s our faves from the Showcase as an aperitif for May;

The Sultan of the Clouds by Geoff Landis: Something’s rotten in the cloud realms of Venus, as David Tinkerman and Leah Hamakawa are bound to find out. Mr. Landis is a NASA scientist who worked with the Mars rover program, and this first exposure to his science fiction work will send you (and us) digging for more. The worlds painted across the cloudscapes of Venus are both beautiful and believable, and the interplay of science and society brings to mind a breed of hard science fiction reminiscent of Larry Niven or Ben Bova.

That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made by Eric James Stone: Weaving religion into science fiction is always a tricky proposition, but when it works, the pay-off can be magnificent. Mr. Stone was challenged in a writer’s work shop to write a story on the theme; “You are stuck in the center of the Sun and you can’t get a date”… from such humble beginnings, Leviathan was born. And to think that this Nebula winner for Best Novelette failed in a literary workshop environment, how cool is that? Just what would alien converts to Earth religions do with our cherished beliefs overlaid on their own society?

Ponies by Kij Johnson: A brutal loss of innocence tale, disguised as an innocent fantasy story. Just how far would you go for YOUR pet unicorn? Perhaps humans by nature aren’t capricious, just the young girls that represent them…

It’s also worth noting that some science fiction poetry and Dwarf Star, Rhysling and Solstice award winners are represented in the book, along with an appendix of past recipients; definitely worth reading as we await the ballot for the 2012 winners in May!

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