Thursday, January 17, 2008

Nebula Awards 2007 - short stories: Brief summaries & my rankings

List below is based on the results of preliminary ballot, final ballot, & the official winners announcement.

Note that naming convention of Nebula Awards can be confusing. "2007" awards are actually the ones to be given in the year "2008"! And they refer to not only the stories published during 2007, but in 2006 as well, & can also include stories published in 2008 (but don't in the list below). They have something called 2-years rolling rule - I never bothered to learn its particulars.

List below is ordered by my preference - best first. My rating is in brackets (ABC: A = worth your time; C = don't bother). Where I have posted a separate review of the entry, link on story title takes you there. Where I am aware an authorized copy of the story is available online, I provide the download link too.

I am among those who actually cares about science fiction as distinct from rest of what goes as speculative fiction. And my classification is intentionally simplistic: if it is not science fiction, it's fantasy! Except when it is not even fantasy - I call that "non-genre". Occasionally, I add other tags to clarify what to expect when you pick up a story.

Story list (best first).

  1. [prelim] Mary Robinette Kowal's "For Solo Cello, op. 12" (B); download; Cosmos, February/March 2007; science fiction: A man is forced to make an impossible choice - get his hand lost in accident in return for the life of his unborn child!
  2. [final, prelim] Andy Duncan's "Unique Chicken Goes In Reverse" (B); download; Jonathan Strahan (Ed)'s "Eclipse 1: New Science Fiction And Fantasy", October 2007; non-genre, humor: A little child has met an avatar of Jesus Christ!
  3. [final, prelim] David D Levine's "Titanium Mike Saves the Day" (B); download; F&SF, April 2007; science fiction: An ordinary mortal becomes a hero in fantastic space legends. Organized as 5 separate stories that trace the evolution of the legends over a century. For me, most important take was a reminder in one the stories - when you want someone's attention, selling a dream works better than selling data.
  4. [winner, final, prelim] Karen Joy Fowler's "Always" (B); download; Asimov's, April/May 2007; non-genre: Description of life in a quasi-religious commune. Protagonist comes across as a loser, but otherwise a readable story - occasionally humorous.
  5. [final, prelim] Vera Nazarian's "The Story of Love" (B); download; (probably author's own collection titled) "Salt of the Air", September 2006; non-genre: Father/daughter estrangement, & finally patch up.
  6. [final] Mary Turzillo's "Pride" (B); download; Fast Forward 1, Pyr, February 2007; non-genre: Joys & pains of raising a big wild carnivore from a little cub. There is a very minor sf element, but it's essentially a non-genre story. Note this wasn't there on preliminary list (is probably a jury nominee).
  7. [prelim] Melanie Fletcher's "The Padre, the Rabbi, and the Devil His Own Self" (B); download; Helix #2 (Fall 2006); fantasy, humor: Justice is meted out to a conman priest. There are parts related to prejudices among Catholic, Protestant, & Jewish sects that you will probably enjoy more than me if you are familiar with these religions. Not very original plot - there are probably a half dozen Hindi movies that include threads with its theme, & innumerable local tales in India (may be elsewhere too). But I still liked the story.
  8. [final, prelim] Jennifer Pelland's "Captive Girl" (C); download; Helix #2 (Fall 2006); science fiction, horror: Gross abuse of three little girls by an agency of the State.


  1. 2007 Nebula Awards novelettes, novellas.
  2. 2008 Hugo Awards short stories.


Rusty said...


I am glad to see someone else who actually believes that science fiction should qualify as its own separate form, and not be lumped in with other forms of speculative fiction. It seems web sites that promote this philosophy are few and far between, with the majority of them catering to the larger "parent" genre.

This sad ambiguity in story types is very clearly seen in this year's ballot for the short story Nebula award. Of all those listed, I feel that David D Levine's "Titanium Mike Saves the Day" is the only one with a very clear science fiction slant to it. I also feel that it is the best story of the bunch, and for these reasons I am hoping that it comes out on top.