Some Comments on the 2019 Nebula Award Winners

The winners of the 2019 Nebula Awards have been announced tonight. Like most events these days, the ceremony and the associated conference were virtual. There was a livestream of the ceremony, too, but I forgot that it was on and only remembered when I saw someone congratulating a winner on Twitter.

The winner of the 2019 Nebula Award for Best Novel is A Song for a New Day by Sarah Pinsker. I have to admit I am a little surprised about this win. Not because A Song for a New Day is not a highly deserving winner, for it absolutely is. However, 2019 was an extremely strong year for SFF novels and judging by the amount of buzz they got, I expected either A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine or Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir to win. Furthermore, A Song for a New Day is set in a world where live concerts have been banned because of infections risks, which hits a little too close to home given the current situation. I thought this might hurt its chances, because I for one don’t want to read/watch any kind of plague, pandemic or general post-apocalyptic fiction right now, not even my own (I read A Song for a New Day last year, shortly after it came out). However, other people feel differently and both The Plague by Albert Camus and the 2011 movie Contagion (which I disliked intensely back when it came out) are hugely popular right now.

Best Novella goes to This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. I for one am not at all surprised that This Is How You Lose the Time War won, because I loved the novella a lot and judging by the reviews, I’m not the only one. It’s also currently in first place on my Hugo ballot, though there’s one novella I haven’t read yet. However, several commenters at Camestros Felapton’s recent review of the novella did not care for it at all, so maybe it’s more of a Marmite book than I thought. Which makes me even happier that it won.

The 2019 Nebula Award for Best Novelette goes to Carpe Glitter by Cat Rambo. Once again, I’m really happy about this win, because Cat Rambo is a fine writer and incredibly nice person who deserves more recognition. I’m also happy for the publisher Meerkat Press, a small press that does great work. By the way, we featured Carpe Glitter at the Speculative Fiction Showcase last year, which makes Carpe Glitter the first Nebula winner we’ve featured at the Speculative Fiction Showcase so far, though we did feature finalists and winners of the Bram Stoker, Sir Julius Vogel, Aurora and Nommo Awards. And yes, I’m always thrilled when a book we featured is nominated for or wins an award.

Best Short Story goes to “Give the Family My Love” by A.T. Greenblatt. I read the story during the Hugo nomination period and while I liked it, I did not nominate it, considering how many great stories are out there. That said, it is a fine and deserving winner.

The winner of the 2019 Andre Norton Award for Outstanding YA Book is Riverland by Fran Wilde. The book is also nominated for the Lodestar/YA Not-a-Hugo this year, but I can’t say anything about it, because I didn’t get to it yet.

The winner of the 2019 Ray Bradbury Award for Best Dramatic Presentation is Neil Gaiman for the Good Omens episode “Hard Times”. This episode was one of my Hugo nominations and I’m happy it won. Of course, I would have loved for Baby Yoda to win a nice shiny trophy to play with, but I suspect a Hugo makes a better toy than a Nebula.

The new Best Game Writing Nebula Award goes to The Outer Worlds by Leonard Boyarsky, Megan Starks, Kate Dollarhyde, Chris L’Etoile. I’m not a gamer, so I really can’t say anything about this category.

The recipient of the 2019 Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award is Lois McMaster Bujold, which is highly deserved, because Lois McMaster Bujold is not only one of my favourite authors, but also one of the best living SFF authors today.

Julia Rios wins the Kevin O’Donell Jr. Service Award. The Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award goes to John Picacio and David Gaughran. Once more, all three are highly deserving winners. I’m particularly happy for David Gaughran, whose books not only helped countless authors take their first steps into indie publishing, but who also has done invaluable work exposing scammers looking to make a quick buck (and sadly often succeeding) in the Amazon Kindle store.

Those who worry that Tor is dominating the various SFF awards too much can stop worrying for now, because Tor did not publish a single Nebula winning work this year.

Those who worry that women are dominating the various SFF Awards too much can go on worrying, because the winners in the novel, novelette, short story and YA categories as well as the Grand Master and Kevin O’Donnell Jr. Service Award winners are all women. The winners in the novella and game writing categories are male/female writing team. Meanwhile, Neil Gaiman, John Picacio and David Gaughran are holding up the flag for the male gender.

This year’s Nebula Award post is much shorter than last year’s, but then there is little to say about the winners other than that they are all excellent choices and congratulations. There is no drama or controversy this year and some of those disgruntled following last year’s drama have gone on to form their own guild. And considering that 2020 is turning out to be a supremely shitty year otherwise, it’s a relief that at least the SFF Awards have no drama and lots of fine winners this year.

One thing that’s interesting is that there will be comparatively little overlap between the Hugo and Nebula winners this year, because neither A Song for a New Day nor Carpe Glitter nor “Give the Family My Love” are Hugo finalists in their respective categories this year and the Hugos do not have a game award. I for one like this, because it means that more deserving stories will get awards love and those who use the Hugo and Nebula winners and finalists as reading lists will have more stories to choose from.

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