I’ve finished the seven short stories nominated for the Nebula Award (you can find links to all of them here). All of these stories are well-written and interesting, and they cover an impressive range of topics, styles, and emotional impact. I was particularly impressed by the diversity of settings and influences in these nominees: four are distinctly non-western in their characters and/or settings.
While I’ve not made any final decision as to which one will get my Nebula vote just yet, I particularly liked Adam-Troy Castro’s “Her Husband’s Hands” published in Lightspeed Magazine. Mr. Castro has a talent for using speculative elements to dig into the emotional core of his characters (this story is no exception), and I found this one to be haunting and a little disturbing, which I believe are good qualities. Ken Liu’s “The Paper Menagerie” did something similar, using a fantasy trope. I also liked how Nancy Fulda handled autism in “Movement.” This one struck a personal chord for me, because I have a sibling with autism, and Ms. Fulda handled her protagonist’s condition with grace.
If you haven’t read these stories yet, you’re missing out some interesting fiction and fine examples of what speculative can be. Due to their diversity, I suspect not all of them will appeal to you, but all are worthy of your time.
Grading papers today… These stories sound like the perfect reward for meeting my quota!
I don’t think you’ll be disappointed (they got nominated for a reason!). Let me know what you think of the one(s) you read.
I just finished “Her Husband’s Hands.” I agree that it’s both fascinating and disturbing. Castro also does a great job of heightening the tension at perfect intervals. Just in terms of pacing, I’m reminded of an essay by George Saunders titled “The Perfect Gerbil,” in which he examines the plot twist in a short story by Donald Barthelme. The essay appears in The Braindead Megaphone, but you can read bits of it here.
The excerpts were interesting so I went and looked up Barthelme’s “The School.” I’ve not read it before. Very entertaining, and I can see the parallels between this and Castro’s story.
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