Thoughts on the 2014 Nebula Awards

The debate about the Hugo Awards is still going on and reaching ever more ridiculous proportions. If you feel like wading into all that, the tireless Mike Glyer at File 770 offers daily summaries of the latest entries in the debate. And if you’re in need of a laugh, check out “Sad Puppies Review Books” by Alexandra Erin, parody reviews of popular (American) children’s books written Sad Puppy style.

With all the controversy surrounding the Hugos, it’s easy to forget the other important SFF award, which would be a pity, because the winners of the 2014 Nebula Awards have been announced this weekend.

As I said in my Nebula nominations reaction post from February, this year offered a worthy and pleasantly diverse group of Nebula nominees and the winners reflect this.

Jeff Vandermeer wins in the Best Novel category for Annihilation, the first book in his Southern Reach trilogy. It’s certainly a worthy winner, though personally I prefer both Ancillary Sword and The Goblin Emperor (and it’s going to be very hard to decide which one to give the top spot on my Hugo ballot). What is more, Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy very likely lost a Hugo nomination due to puppy shenanigans, so I’m happy to see him win the Nebula.

I loved Ursula Vernon’s “Jackalope Wives”, which won in the short story category, and indeed the story was on my Hugo nomination ballot. Alaya Dawn Johnson took home two well-deserved Nebulas, one in the novelette category as well as the Andre Norton Award for the best YA book. Nancy Kress in the novella category is another worthy winner, though I haven’t read the work in question.

Guardians of the Galaxy won in the dramatic presentation category, proving that at least this year, colourful and fun science fiction won out over dull and earnest entries like Interstellar. But then I feel that Guardians of the Galaxy is really the SFF movie to beat this year, even though puppy shenanigans may have harmed its chances at the Hugo due to several voters having vowed to place all slate nominees (and Guardians was on the puppy slate, because even crying canines occasionally have taste) under “No Award”.

The recipients of the Grand Master and Solstice Awards are all very worthy choices as well, though it’s a pity that Joanna Russ couldn’t receive this honour in her lifetime. I also agree with some of the commenters at File 770 that deserving as Larry Niven is, it would be great to see more Grand Master Awards go to the many great women writers in the genre.

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8 Responses to Thoughts on the 2014 Nebula Awards

  1. Mark H. says:

    I assume that the Grand Masters will continue to be dominated by male writers for at least a couple more years. Connie Willis was (relatively) young when she got her’s in 2012, and I guess when we get to the writers born in the late 40s and early 50s the female contenders are getting stronger. I bet Lois McMaster Bujold will get one during the next five years.

    I think Carol Emshwiller would make a great Grand Master. Margaret Atwood also, but I guess she would refuse. And like you mentioned, Joanna Russ and a number of other worthy Grand Masters (like James Tiptree Jr.) died too young.

    But I think it’s like with the Nobel Prize for Literature. You can easily name a dozen of really great Science Fiction Writers, both female and male, that never got that honor, even though their work is outstanding.

    • Mark H. says:

      Just to clarify my comparison with the Nobel Prize for Literature (my wording was a bit awkward and misleading): I wasn’t complaining about the fact that SF writers didn’t get the Nobel Prize, but I was hinting at the fact that the Nobel Prize for Literature is somewhat famous for very obvious omissions, and that the list of Nebula Grand Masters may have a similar problem.

      • Cora says:

        Don’t worry, I understood you all right. Ironically, I think that Margaret Atwood is the only occasional SFF writer who is likely to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in the foreseeable future, since she seems to be a perennial hot candidate.

        And of course, J.R.R. Tolkien was famously passed over in 1961 in favour of Ivo Andríc, a decision the Nobel committee is probably regretting.

    • Cora says:

      I totally agree on Lois McMaster Bujold and Carol Emshwiller (and Margaret Atwood, if she would accept it). A couple of other names that were mentioned over at File 770 included Kate Wilhelm, C.J. Cherryh, Joan Vinge, Vonda McIntyre and probably others I’ve forgotten.

      I also hear you on how many worthy SFF writers of any gender never received the Grand Master Award. In fact, I was quite shocked that Larry Niven was only honoured this year, since I would have assumed that he’d been made Grand Master years ago.

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