They Did the Nebulas Last Night
They gave out the Nebula Awards in Austin last night to this year's best science fiction and fantasy writers, or however that goes.

You've got the Nebulas and you've got the Hugos. The Nebulas are awards given out by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Robots, and the Hugos are awards given out by the FANS, the hoi polloi, the page-turners in the trenches.

So that's how you can tell the difference. The Nebulas are the critical and aesthetic nod from your peers and editors. The Hugos are the popularity contest run by fans and well-wishers. Nebulas is to Hugos as beauty is to charm, and as privilege is to luck. Nebulas is to Hugos as a plateful of delicious sweetbread-stuffed olives is to a sackful of sweetbread-stuffed-olive flavored potato chips.

Anyway, here's who won this year:

BEST NOVEL (40,000 words+):

"The Yiddish Policemen's Union," by Michael Chabon.

This is a murder-mystery about an alternate world where things are slightly harder for the Jews than they are now, and they all have to live in Alaska. I guess Yiddish sounds like Elvish? I don't know why this is considered a fantasy or science fiction book, but nobody fucking asked me.

Michael Chabon is a good writer, and he deserves money, praise, fame, and happiness. But I bet Michael Chabon didn't even go to the Nebula Awards. He was probably busy flirting with Francis McDormand while the Coen Brothers figured out how to win another Academy Award for the film adaptation of the "The Yiddish Policemen's Union," which is COMING, BABY, IT'S COMING.

This book is basically a cheat. If it wins the Edgar Award, the Hugo, and the Nebula (it has been nominated for all three), then they really ought to consider changing their requirements for entry into these competitions. There are people who dedicate their whole lives to this stuff. It is just CUTE when Chabon does it.

This book is not free to read, of course, but the paperback just came out today. So now it is an authen-ti-cal-ly cute fake-genre-paperback. It costs 15 bucks. Treat yourself!

(Don't get me wrong: this is a good book. Hell, I'm reading it and enjoying it right now. Still, though. Cheating! Man, you know it Chabon -- you are reading this and grinning and hanging your head, going: "Yeah, Jones, but I had to see! I had to see if I could win!" Can't fool me, though.)

BEST NOVELLA (17,500 - 40,000 words):

"Fountain of Age," by Nancy Kress

Classic sci-fi featuring genetic manipulation, robo-butlers, crazy corporations, and people stealing immortality. Sci-fi bread and robo-butter.

You can read it for free: here.

BEST NOVELETTE (7,500 - 17,500 words):

"The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate," by Ted Chiang

Every time this guy gets nominated for a Nebula, he wins. I guess he is someone to read. This is his fourth Nebula, and all for short stuff so far. This story is a first person account of a merchant in ancient Baghdad who discovers a time portal:

"O MIGHTY CALIPH AND Commander of the Faithful, I am humbled to be in the splendor of your presence; a man can hope for no greater blessing as long as he lives. The story I have to tell is truly a strange one, and were the entirety to be tattooed at the corner of one's eye, the marvel of its presentation would not exceed that of the events recounted, for it is a warning to those who would be warned and a lesson to those who would learn."


You can read it for free: here.

BEST SHORT STORY (Anything under 7,500 words):

"Always," by Karen Joy Fowler

Fowler wrote "The Jane Austen Book Club," and controversially won the Nebula Award once before for her story called "What I Didn't See," which is a feminist response to pulp literature and -- like Chabon's novel -- contains no phantasmagoria or balderdash.

"Always," however, is about a folksy immortality cult. Immortality seems to be a common theme among these shorts. Everything used to be about what to do with all that space. Now it is about what to do with all that TIME.

You can read it for free: here.


Perhaps Chabon's victory here is a sign that we are entering an age when genre distinctions disappear altogether and there are only good stories and bad ones. Can you write the first sci-fi-fantasy, slash-fic literary, mystery-horror-comedy religious-memoir?

You know, something like: this.


Posted by miracle on Sun, 27 Apr 2008 07:16:04 -0400 -- permanent link

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