I know a guy who knows a gal who knows someone (another guy? another gal?  a super-intelligent chimp?) who knows a gal who got me an advance copy of…

1Nebula Awards Showcase 2013 edited by Catherine Asaro

The book includes Nebula winners in the categories of Best Short Story, Best Novelette, Best Novella, Best Novel, the winner of the Andre Norton Award for YA Science Fiction and Fantasy, various nominees and other goodies.  Like any collection of this sort, there will be subjective hits, misses, and delightful surprises.

Some of the entries that stood out for me…

“The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu (Nebula Short Story Winner).  I gave this short story a shout-out last year (November 14, 2012: Sweet, sweet, elusive sleep! News of note!) after reading it during my annual Tokyo trip.  I described it then as “mighty brilliant” and “incredibly touching”.  Some five months later, on re-reading it, it still resonates as strongly with me – the tale of a boy struggling with his sense of identity.  Despite the story’s fantasy elements, the heart of the narrative is grounded in the strained relationship between the young protagonist and his mother, a cultural outsider who silently suffers and sacrifices for her son.  Check out my previous post for a link to the story.

“Ado” by Connie Willis (2011 Damon Knight Grand Master Award Winner).  I imagine that, in the not too distant future. there will come a time when people will look back on our politically correct society with the same amusement and bafflement we, today, reserve for quaintly antiquated notions like “duck and cover” PSA’s, blue eye shadow, and flat Earth theory.  But, before we attain enlightenment, we’ll have to hit critical mass.  And, in “Ado”, Connie Willis presents us with that point in society.  A teacher, eager to have her class study the bard, is informed that some of his work won’t be permissible for various reasons.  Othello is racist.  Romeo and Juliet promotes teen suicide. There’s all that Devil worship in Macbeth, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Winter’s Tale, and Richard III.  In the end, after exhaustive research, the teacher proceeds with her lesson and her class is finally able to read The Complete (permissible) Works of William Shakespeare – all four inoffensive lines of Hamlet.  It’s funny, pointed, and a little maddening because it’s not that ridiculous a premise.

“The Axion of Choice” by David W. Goldman (Nebula Short Story Nominee).  A story structured like one of those “create your own adventure” books that, in a humorous, winding way, questions the very notion of free will.

“Movement” by Nancy Fulda (Nebula Short Story Nominee).  The story of Hannah, a five year old girl with temporal autism, who perceives time differently.  While her parents wrestle with a decision on an experimental treatment that could “make her normal” (at the cost of her gift), Hannah eventually arrives at her own conclusion.  Having just completed some research on autism spectrum disorder, I found this story fascinating and dead-on.

Among Others (novel excerpt) by Jo Walton Nebula Novel Winner). Diary excerpts tell the tale of a fifteen year old girl who is sent away to a boarding school following the death of her twin sister.  Her mother, a powerful witch, holds her responsible for the tragedy – but young Morweena has some supernatural connections of her own.  In addition to elements of fantasy, the book is peppered with SF references as well, making for a nostalgic, magical, wholly absorbing read.  How much did I enjoy the excerpts?  Enough to pick up the novel – which I’m presently reading.

The Freedom Maze (novel excerpt) by Delia Sherman (Andre Norton Award for YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Winner).  In 1960’s Lousiana, 13 year old Sophie is spending the summer with her aunt and grandmother when she happens upon a trickster spirit in the old family maze.  Sophie is eager to embark on an adventure that will whisk her away from her difficult situation – specifically, her strained relationship with her divorcing parents – so the trickster honors her request. Sophie is transported 100 years into the past, back to her own family’s plantation, where previous perceived hardships pale in comparison.  It may be a YA (Young Adult) entry, but it’s well-written and engaging.

The Man Who Bridged the Mist by Kij Johnson (Nebula Novella Winner).  Our protagonist is a bridge builder, charged with the task of connecting the towns of Nearside and Farside, long separated by a treacherous Mist river.  While he may be good at what he does, he, ironically, has always had trouble connecting with others.  Things change with this new assignment.  With it comes friendship, inner awakenings, and a chance at love.  A wonderful journey.

Thanks to the fine folks at Pyr Science Fiction & Fantasy for the sneak peek.

14 thoughts on “April 5, 2013: Nebula Awards Showcase 2013!

  1. When I cut and pasted “The Axion of Choice” by David W. Goldman” into google, you were the first two hits. 😉

  2. Which story was the cover image based on?

    Why are you researching autism? Have you figured out why so many of your blog followers have a child with autism? I think I can speak for my own case what the connection is.

  3. Totally OT – Tonight my parents and in-laws really surprised us with a surprise anniversary party! I was totally blown away – absolutely NO clue that they were up to something (though in retrospect there were a couple ‘odd’ things that happened over the past week that should have alerted me that something was up, but I never, ever suspected something like this). One odd thing was my in-laws coming down today late and wanting to go to Lucky Bones for dinner – it’s not their type of place and a late Friday visit is not their typical routine. But they had a totally logical explanation for it. Second odd thing was my parents insisting I take Thursday and Friday off from work. But I had to work those days because I wasn’t able to work Monday and Tuesday. Still, they seemed to want me to take off today, and since I had a dentist appointment I thought I would end up taking the day off. However, I was finished early at the dentist so went into work anyway to finish up billing. My parents didn’t seem pleased to see me. Hmmmm…I should have suspected SOMETHING! I mean, these are people who would have me in the office 24/7 if they could.

    Meanwhile, hubby is working and his folks are driving down to take us to dinner. In an odd twist, Mr. Das ends up on the highway driving right behind his parents. They are not please to see him, either…

    His folks eventually meet us at our house, and say that they have reservations at Lucky Bones. But, but, but…Lucky Bones doesn’t take reservations! Hmmmm… I figure it was my father-in-law’s way of hurrying me out of the house. 😛

    We get to the restaurant, walk in, and they show us to our table…but people are already there…lots of people…and they look oddly familiar…and then I look around, and at the other tables are more oddly familiar faces….and they’re all standing, and shouting ‘SURPRISE!!’

    And I nearly fainted. Literally. I have never, ever been surprised like this. I am usually keenly aware of things that are out of the ordinary, and though I noticed some odd behavior the last few days, it wasn’t enough to arouse my suspicions. I was totally blindsided by this! In all, 27 family and friends joined us in our celebration, including hubby’s brother and my sister and brother-in-law, the latter who never comes up to Jersey anymore because he hates it here. “Too cold!” Weenie. 😛

    The two funniest stories out of this are that my sister and brother-in-law were staying the last two days in my grandmom’s old house, just feet from my office…and I never knew!! No wonder mom and dad wanted me to take Thursday and Friday off from work. Even better, when my in-laws were speeding down to pick us up for dinner, hubby’s brother was with them. So, when Mr. Das came up behind them on the highway, they made my b-i-l lay down on the floor of the car and they covered him with their coats so hubby wouldn’t see him! It was like Mission Impossible, or something. 😆

    I’m still in a bit of shock. I am not used to parties, and especially not used to surprises, and ESPECIALLY not used to my brother-in-law coming up from Florida for something like this. Usually it takes someone going into hospital to get him back to Jersey…certainly not a party. I was totally blown away. Mom said that the only way they would ever be able to surprise us (esp. me) on our 25th anniversary was to have it two years early! 😆 She’s probably right since I’m usually a suspicious thing. But they got me, they really got me, and Mr. Das, too. It was great!! (And now I must get them all back!! 😀 )

    (Side note for anyone who watched Castle this week – yeah, it felt JUST like that!! )


  4. @ Das – Great story! So heartwarming! You have a neat family! Congratulations!

  5. I am sorry things aren’t going well as far as getting answers on work, and that Jelly is not doing good.
    I love “melty sleepy” as it is perfect. 🙂 I shall incorporate it immediately.

    Sadly I have no use for punching sweet as I am a true Southerner and nothing is too sweet. My dd would be able to use that for most things. Sometimes I think she is a pod person. She also doesn’t eat mammals. What can I say?

  6. @DAS
    hmm… a Temporally Anomalous Celebration… SWEET!! 😀
    CONGRATS!! **HUGS**!!

  7. @DP – there are an above average number of Joe’s followers who have kids with Autism/Aspergers syndrome, my son included. Since Autism has genetic factors, maybe it means that Joe’s followers are mostly socially inept? Of course, incidences of autism have jumped by huge numbers in the past 40 years, suggesting that there is a genetic predisposition triggered by environmental factors. This would kick the thought of socially inept Joe fans out the window. Hmm…maybe I’m over-thinking this…a symptom of Aspergers perhaps?

    @DAS – you have the coolest family ever. While I’m visiting you to wash those windows, would you adopt me? 😉

  8. Great story, das! What a lovely thing for your family to do! I’m glad you had fun (and I DID watch Castle this week so I know just what you mean).

    No one ever surprises me. They gave up on it long ago. And mostly I don’t like surprises (or practical jokes for that matter) – too much of a control freak I guess. Aspie tendencies?

    @Joe – I read several of those last year, and especially enjoyed The Paper Menagerie. Among Others was another that I enjoyed, but not one I would have recommended to you. I’ll be interested in how you like the book once you’ve read the whole thing.

    And, yeah, so why are you researching Autism spectrum disorders?

    And on a completely unrelated note: have you watched Cabin in the Woods yet? I’m not usually a horror movie fan, but I liked this one.

  9. Joe, speaking of books, authors, and science fiction, Scalzi will be at Phoenix Comicon during the Memorial Day weekend. Sure would be nice to see you and Akemi there! 🙂

  10. Sweet story Das! Sounds like a great anniversary all the way around.

    Thanks for the story reviews Mr. M.! I will definitely look up those authors and see if I can find two or three of them.

  11. G’day

    Great story Das. My family have only ever surprised me once. Great to see family do things out of the ordinary for their loved ones.

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