Nebula Final Ballot

I’m not even going to attempt to explain the eligibility criteria for the Nebula Awards, or why one of the shortlisted novelettes was published two years ago. You can go here and puzzle it all out for yourself. But the final ballot is out.


The Privilege of the Sword – Ellen Kushner (Bantam Spectra, Jul06)
Seeker – Jack McDevitt (Ace, Nov05)
The Girl in the Glass – Jeffrey Ford (Dark Alley, Aug05)
Farthing – Jo Walton (Tor Books, Jul06)
From the Files of the Time Rangers – Richard Bowes (Golden Gryphon Press, Sep05)
To Crush the Moon – Wil McCarthy (Bantam Spectra, May05)

I have to admit, I’ve read none of these; so although I suspect that David Marusek’s Counting Heads, which fell by the wayside, is better than all of them, I can’t say for sure. It’s not an uninteresting list, although it looks distinctly odd as a representation of the best sf of the past couple of years. The jury addition is Farthing.


Burn – James Patrick Kelly (Tachyon Publications, Dec05)
“Sanctuary” – Michael A. Burstein (Analog, Sep05)
The Walls of the Universe” – Paul Melko (Asimov’s, Apr/May06)
Inclination” – William Shunn (Asimov’s, Apr/May06)

Again, I’ve not read enough of the category to really have an opinion, here, but I’ve heard good things about the Melko and Shunn; then again, I’d heard good things about the Kelly, and that turned out to be tedious and overlong.


The Language of Moths” – Chris Barzak (Realms of Fantasy, Apr05)
Walpurgis Afternoon” – Delia Sherman (F&SF, Dec05)
Journey into the Kingdom” – M. Rickert (F&SF, May06)
Two Hearts” – Peter S. Beagle (F&SF, Oct/Nov05)
Little Faces” – Vonda N. McIntyre (SCI FICTION, 23 Feb05)

I’ve read four out of five of these (I’m missing the Sherman), and I’m disappointed. The Beagle and Barzak do nothing for me; the Rickert is good but not near her best; and the McIntyre is striking, but let down by its plot. I’d have liked to see “Second Person, Present Tense” make the ballot.

Short Story

Echo” – Elizabeth Hand (F&SF, Oct/Nov05)
Helen Remembers the Stork Club” – Esther M. Friesner (F&SF, Nov05)
The Woman in Schrodinger’s Wave Equations” – Eugene Mirabelli (F&SF, Aug05)
“Henry James, This One’s For You” – Jack McDevitt (Subterranean #2, Nov05)
“An End To All Things” – Karina Sumner-Smith (Children of Magic, Daw Books, Jun06)
Pip and the Fairies” – Theodora Goss (Strange Horizons, 3 Oct05)

This is more like it. It’s a crying shame that M. Rickert’s “Anyway” didn’t make it, but the Goss is delightful, the Hand is excellent, and I have good if vague memories of the Mirabelli. I haven’t read the McDevitt, or the Sumner-Smith (the latter is a jury addition).


Batman Begins – Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer (Warner Bros., released 17 Jun05)
Howl’s Moving Castle – Hayao Miyazaki, Cindy Davis Hewitt, and Donald H. Hewitt (Studio Ghibli and Walt Disney Pictures, U.S. Premier 10 Jun05. Based on the novel by Diana Wynne Jones.)
“Unfinished Business” – Michael Taylor (Battlestar Galactica, Dec06)
“The Girl in the Fireplace” – Steven Moffat (Doctor Who, BBC/The Sci-Fi Channel, Oct06 (broadcast 10 Oct06))

I admit I did a double-take when I saw this category. The Galactica episode is a jury addition, and I could not believe — still can’t believe — that anyone would choose to recognise it over, oh, I don’t know, The Prestige, or any of a dozen other worthy contenders from last year. What gets me most of all is that even if you want to recognise Galactica, this is surely the wrong episode to pick, because the reasons “Unfinished Business” sucks are reasons specific to the script: the structure is way off, focusing on the wrong emotional climax, and the flashbacks have nothing like the grace or the economy of, say, Firefly‘s “Out of Gas”. I can’t quite believe I’m saying this, but the Doctor Who episode looks like the most deserving entry on the ballot.

Also awarded by SFWA: Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy

Magic or Madness – Justine Larbalestier (Penguin Razorbill, May05)
Devilish – Maureen Johnson, Razorbill (Penguin Young Readers Group, Sep06)
The King of Attolia – Megan Whalen Turner, Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins, 2006)
Midnighters #2: Touching Darkness – Scott Westerfeld (Eos, Mar05)
Peeps – Scott Westerfeld (Penguin Razorbill, Sep05)
Life As We Knew It – Susan Beth Pfeffer (Harcourt, Oct06)

Again, not read any, though I’ve been meaning to pick up the Pfeffer for a while. Charles Coleman Finlay posted the official statement of the Norton jury here.

16 thoughts on “Nebula Final Ballot

  1. Actually, based on a cursory google, it looks like most of the crushing (making the moon sufficiently dense that it will retain a breathable atmosphere, or something) took place in the previous book in the series.

  2. One global point: apart from the novellas, that’s an incredibly poor showing for Asimov’s – and a very strong one for F&SF.

  3. I want to be clear that I do in fact love me some Jack McDevitt.

    That said, is it possible he signed a deal with the devil somewhere along the way?

  4. Lal: Spin was on the preliminary ballot, but didn’t make the final cut.

    Graham: yes, I noticed that. Although just to be contrary, I thought Asimov’s was the stronger last year.

  5. I was surprised the Batman script was eligible, there must be a long period that the Nebula’s cover. Doesn’t make sense to me. Haven’t read any of these but did recently buy the Jack McDevitt novels, including Seeker, that all feature the same character.

  6. I can see why you might find Burn tedious but I found it fascinating. It links well to its model, Walden and responds to it thoughtfully. Pretty much what I have come to expect from Kelly.

  7. At least there’s nothing by Neil Gaiman. I like him, but enough already. The voters can’t seem to get past the leather jacket and sunglasses and give the damn prize to someone else.

  8. Yeah… the script category is loopy but then so are most examples of awards that cover SFF books trying to include genre film.

    I mean, under the criterion they seemingly used you could include Primer (slickly constructed time-travel flick), The Host (brainy and symbolic monster film) or Serenity (not as good as the series but still a superior script).

    Meanwhile the Battlestar Galatica nomination is clearly a sop to public opinion JUST as public opinion on the SF scene starts to shift and the Howl’s Moving Castly nomination is just bizarre as the script’s a mess and the ending doesn’t even begin to make any sense.

    The only one I’d agree with is “Girl in the Fireplace” which was everything genre TV should be.

    It’s actually becoming something of an issue that there are NO legitimate genre film or TV awards affiliated with the SFF scene. There are some good dedicated festivals with prizes but between this and the Hugos it’s getting silly.

  9. Spin was eligible and should have made the final ballot … that said, it’s not a terrible list. I like Farthing, To Crush the Moon, and The Privilege of the Sword a lot … and I haven’t read the rest (though I’ve read most of the stories that make up the Bowes novel). Not sure which I’d vote for — perhaps Farthing. I really must read the Ford. I confess I gave up on McDevitt some long time ago … not out of active dislike, but out of lack of excitement.

    Incidentally, Farthing seems to have been the Jury Pick — a choice I profoundly disagree with. Not because it’s not worthy — it is, very much so — but because in my view the Jury pick should be reserved for a relatively obscure novel — either a worthy mainstream book, or a small press book. Something that might not otherwise have been recommended.

    Which is to say … Why not Against the Day? Though to be fair I doubt the jury had much time to read it! Or, at any rate, something similar.

    I like three of the novellas — even Burn! — and I dislike the other (Burstein’s, of course). Can’t pick a winner — would probably vote for “Inclination” but might change my mind.

    Of the novelettes my favorite is “Journey Into the Kingdom”, but I like “Two Hearts” as well. The others are all worthy enough … but not nearly as good as the top two. I will note that “Little Faces” is the only SF story.

    “Pip and the Fairies” simply towers over the other short stories. Though I did quite like “The Woman in Schrodinger’s Wave Equations”.

    The jury pick, I think, is Karina Sumner-Smith’s “An End to All Things”, which to be honest I don’t remember well, but which I had marked “Enjoyable” in my notes — meaning, more or less, that I thought it decent reading, but not really Nebula worthy. I will say that Sumner-Smith has impressed me in the past as a very promising newer writer. Again, this is from a major publisher (DAW), but you could make an argument that many readers ignore those anthologies (for fairly good reasons, unless Peter Crowther edited them) — so I can see the jury’s rationale.

    I continue to be frustrated by the rolling eligibility rule. To my mind, it distorts the “field of comparison” too much. Should we be mad that, for example, Blindsight or Soldier of Sidon, is omitted? Or should we assume they’ll make the list next year?

  10. Should we be mad that, for example, Blindsight or Soldier of Sidon, is omitted? Or should we assume they’ll make the list next year?

    I suppose we can at least be mad that Accelerando hasn’t appeared, since its eligibility period is now completely used up. (The short fiction categories are just as daft in this respect, of course; I’ve just noticed that the only nominated short story published in 2006 is the one added by the jury.)

  11. Books like Blindsight or Soldier of Sidon are the reason for the rolling eligibility rules, leaving time for word of mouth to draw the interest of the SFWA membership. Nothing, after all, makes the preliminary Nebula ballot unless at least ten SFWA writers recommend it. Most writers just don’t have time to read all that much. Worse yet, very few writers seem to be nominating at all, in the wake of the serious campaigning we saw several years ago.

    I seem to be in minority here. I’d vote for Farthing, Burn, and Little Faces (maybe). Little Faces creeps me out, but is certainly effective and science fiction to boot. While Burn is easily my favorite story on the entire ballot. “tedious and overlong”? No. No. Not at all. Lean and sparse is more like it. Depends, I suppose, if you read it as a long novella or as a short novel.

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