Some Thoughts on the 2022 Nebula Award Winners

The winners of the 2022 Nebula Awards were announced last night at 5 AM my time, which is why the commentary post is somewhat later than usual. It’s also a bit shorter than usual, because I’m off to Metropol Con in Berlin on Wednesday morning. The full list of winners may be seen here. For my comments on the finalists, see here.

So let’s take a look at the 2022 Nebula winners:

The 2022 Nebula Award for Best Novel goes to Babel by R.F. Kuang. This is not a huge surprise, since Babel got a lot of buzz and showed up on various “best books of 2022” lists. I have to admit that I haven’t read it yet, because R.F. Kuang’s Poppy War trilogy did not work for me at all. That said, I’m always happy to see a work of linguistic SFF gain attention and awards.

The winner of the 2022 Nebula Award for Best Novella is Even Though I Knew the End by C.L. Polk. This is one win I’m fully aboard with, because Even Though I Knew the End mixes a lot of elements I like – urban fantasy with a retro noir setting, a hardboiled detective story and a wonderful love story. It’s agreat novella and I hope to see it on the Hugo ballot this year.

The 2022 Nebula Award for Best Novelette goes to “If You Find Yourself Speaking to God, Address God with the Informal You” by John Chu. This is another win I’m really, really happy, because I enjoyed the story – a sweet gay romance between two guys who meet at the gym, only that one of them may be a superhero – a whole lot. This story was also on my personal Hugo ballot.

The winner of the 2022 Nebula Award for Best Short Story is “Rabbit Test” by Samantha Mills. I’m afraid this story completely passed me by, though I’m looking forward to reading it.

The 2022 Andre Norton Nebula Award for Middle Grade and YA Fiction goes to Ruby Finley vs. the Interstellar Invasion by K. Tempest Bradford. This is another winner I’m unfamiliar with, largely because I’m not the target audience for a middle grade novel about a little girl dealing with an alien invasion. That said, I have always enjoyed K. Tempest Bradford’s insightful commentary on racism and SFF.

The winner of the 2022 Ray Bradbury Nebula Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation is Everything Everywhere All At Once. If there is such a thing as a surefire winner, it is Everything Everywhere All At Once, which has already (deservedly) won all the awards everywhere in the multiverse. Now Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert can add a Nebula to their collection. It may not be as prestigious as an Oscar, but it’s prettier.

The 2022 Nebula Award for Game Writing goes to Hidetaka Miyazaki and George R.R. Martin for Elden Ring. This is another unsurprising winner. As I’ve repeatedly said, I’m not a gamer and often can’t really say anything about the game category, but even I have heard of Elden Ring.

Several special and lifetime achievement awards were awarded along with the Nebulas as well.

The recipient of the 2023 Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award is Robin McKinley.  This is a very good choice, since Robin McKinley has had a lengthy and well regarded career. Plus, she was doing fairy tale retellings before it was popular – at least in the US.

The brand-new Infinity Award, basically a posthumous Grand Master Award for authors who did not receive a Grand Master during their lifetimes, was awarded for the first time this year. Initially, there were some concerns that the Infinity Award would be yet another honour bestowed on dead white men, who already have accolades enough (and a lot of the obvious choices actually did receive the Grand Master Award in the past). So SFWA decided to preempt these concers and award the inaugural Infinity Award to a dead black woman, namely Octavia E. Butler. It’s an excellent choice, for while Octavia E. Butler was hardly obscure during her lifetime, her recognition has only grown since her untimely death. I’m certain that Octavia E. Butler would have eventually received a Grand Master Award, had she not died too early. The Infinity Award rectifies this.

As for future possibilities, one person I would love to see receiving an Infinity Award is C.L. Moore, because she was supposed to receive the Grand Master Award in 1985 as only the second woman ever (the first was Andre Norton). However, her second husband declined on her behalf, because by that time C.L. Moore was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and her husband feared that the ceremony would upset and confuse her. C.l. Moore’s second husband gets a lot of flak for that decision, though I believe it was made with the best of intentions. Nonetheless, the Infinity Award would be a perfect way to rectify this.

The winners of the 2023 Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award are Cerece Rennie Murphy and (posthumously) Greg Bear. The 2023 Kevin O’Donnel Jr. Service to SFWA Award goes to Mishell Baker. All strike me as very good choices.

Those who worry that men are no longer winning the major SFF awards will be happy that we have one male winner (John Chu) in a fiction category and four more (Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert, Hidetaka Miyasaki and George R.R. Martin) in the media categories (plus Greg Bear for the Solstice Award). Of course, the usual suspects will probably complain anyway that those are not the right sort of male writers.

One thing that struck me is that a lot of authors of colour won last night. Of the thirteen winners altogether (including the special awards), eight are writers of colour. This is excellent, especially considering how very white SFF still is in many parts.

All in all, this is a very good set of Nebula winners.


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