This weekend, the Science Fiction Writers of America announced the winners of the 2012 Nebula Awards. For those not familiar with the Nebula Awards, they’re one of the genre’s two major “best of” awards (along the with the Hugo Awards). As an active member of SFWA, I was able to vote for this year’s awards, but due to limited reading time, I focused my attention to the short fiction categories.
I was especially pleased to see Aliette de Bodard win the short story Nebula for “Immersion,” which was one of my favorite stories of the year. “Immersion” is an outstanding story about cultural domination, colonization, and decolonization of both a society and an individual. Additionally, “Immersion” is a story that displays exception craft; it has perhaps the most effective use of 2nd-person point of view I’ve ever seen.
I wasn’t as impressed with any of this year’s novelette nominees, and, to be honest, this year’s winner, Andy Duncan’s “Strange Encounters,” did little for me. While Mr. Duncan captures a nice narrative voice, I’m not a big fan of “folksy” stories, especially when they meander around like this one did. I found this a difficult story to finish (but I did finish it). Obviously others didn’t feel the same way about this one.
Other winners included multi-award winner Kim Stanley Robinson for his novel 2312. Robinson is one of my favorite novelists, and I haven’t read this one yet, but it is on my to-read list and will be one of the first novels I read if when I eventually get back to reading longer works–I read more short fiction than long these days. In the novella category, Nancy Kress won for her story After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall. Again, I haven’t read this one either, but I have enjoyed much of Ms. Kress’ work over the years.
If you haven’t read these stories, I would recommend any and all of them, winners and nominees alike. While they might not all be to your personal liking, these stories illustrate the broad range of speculative fiction, and certainly something to excite your reading sensibilities can be found. Also many of the short works are available for free reading on-line (find the short story and novelette links here), so you have no excuse.