June 5, 2020

Review: Nebula Awards Showcase 2018

On sale August 7th!

Ready for the best of the best? Every year, one of the biggest and best reads that we look forward to are the Nebulas. Not only are these tales a great read, but they also serve as a fine look at the state of modern science fiction, a cross-sectional look at where we’ve been, and where we’re headed.

This year’s bevy of tales are no different, with stories ranging from the rockets and ray-guns genre out to ones delving into complex social issues. Looking back through past Nebula Awards winners going back to 1965 is like reviewing the seminal novels of our youth, from Frank Herbert’s Dune to Larry Niven’s Ringworld to Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red, Green and Blue Mars Trilogy.

Alright. Onward to the 2018 Nebula Awards Showcase, edited by Jane Yolen and out from Pyr Books on August 7th, 2018. This year’s batch of tales run the gamut, reflecting the diversity of modern science fiction. It’s sobering to read these tales and stand in rapt wonder, as these expert wordsmiths craft their wares.

Some of our favorite reads in the 2018 Nebula Awards Showcase were:

-Blood Grains Speak Through Memories by Jason Sanford (Nebula Award Nominee in the Novelette category). The grains remember… sometimes, whether you want them to, or not. I really liked the Twilight Zone, dreamlike feel to this one, all against a fantasy apocalypse backdrop. Frere-Jones Roeder and other homesteaders are plagued by fairies, and must decide whether to help traveling caravans against their whims.

-The Long Fall Up by William Ledbetter (Nebula Award Winner in the Novelette category) Probably the closest entry in the true hard science fiction category in the batch. Veronica Perez has stunned the world by committing the ultimate crime: having a child in space. As Perez sets herself, her ship and her unborn child on a looping elliptical orbit around the Sun, it’s up to the chief protagonist to catch up with the fast moving ship, as the eyes of humanity watch the drama unfolding in solar orbit… but who really needs rescuing? The Long Fall Up comes to terms with a prime social question we’ll have to deal with soon once we start colonizing the solar system: is it ethical to have children who will never call Earth home? Indeed, do any of us really get to pick were we call home?

-Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies by Brook Bolander (Nebula Award Short Story Nominee) This was a short one indeed, but I always love those sorts of tales that can span eons of time and space and zoom from the extraordinary right down to the mundane. Maybe your talons can crush galaxies and your song can cause black holes to tremble, but you’ve still got to get that darned 1967 Mercury Cougar to start.

And those are only a few of our best picks: you may well have your own faves from this fascinating collection. Be sure to check out the Nebula Awards Showcase 2018 for a great summer read of some of the very best of modern fantasy and science fiction!

Read our reviews from previous years, including 2017, 2016, 2015, and 2014.

Postscript: Speaking of 2018 sci-fi, I have a question to you, the astute reader of this humble blog: should I give The Expanse another chance? I liked it OK on the watch through of the first season, don’t get me wrong… I just didn’t find the characters very engaging on the first pass. I know, I know… it gets tremendous accolades for bothering to “get the science right…” the problem is, this is frequently presented as a new and revolutionary idea in sci-fi… which it isn’t (realistic sci-fi goes all the way back to 2001: A Space Odyssey). With Amazon picking the series up after SyFy dropped it, should I give it another chance?

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