The 2011 Nebula Awards

I’m writing this post two days before the announcement of the Nebula Award winner for 2011. Having read only two out of the five nominated books, I don’t feel that I can fairly pick a winner. But Genevieve Valentine’s Mechanique was such an overwhelming surprise (and Jo Walton’s Among Others the saddest kind of disappointment) that I am naturally biased.

The shortlist for best novel:

  • Jo Walton – Among Others
  • Genevieve Valentine – Mechanique
  • Kameron Hurley – God’s War
  • Jack McDevitt – Firebird
  • China Miéville – Embassytown
  • N. K. Jemisin – The Kingdom of Gods

The shortlist for best YA novel:

  • Nnedi Okorafor – Akata Witch
  • Franny Billingsley – Chime
  • Laini Taylor – Daughter of Smoke and Bone
  • Greg van Eekhout – The Boy at the End of the World
  • Delia Sherman – The Freedom Maze
  • Rae Carson – The Girl of Fire and Thorns
  • R.J. Anderson – Ultraviolet

Truth is, I found Valentine’s novel so beautiful that all my fingers are crossed for her. I do suspect, however, that Jo Walton is going to make the race. Review of Among Others have been positive throughout. Except for my own opinion, I haven’t found a single reviewer as disappointed with the “fantasy element” in the novel as I was.

I’ve heard nothing but great things about China Miéville and I’m ashamed that I still haven’t read a single of his books. The Kingdom of Gods is the third instalment in Jemisin’s Inheritance trilogy, of which I’ve only read the first which I found both pleasantly refreshing and flawed (as a debut is prone to be). I do agree that Jemisin deserves some recognition though. So what’s left to say? I’m super curious about the winner but I intend to read all of them. (Haven’t uncrossed those fingers for Miss Valentine, though)

Oh well, we’ll all know in a couple of days, right?

UPDATE:

So the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America have announced the winners. And my prediction for best novel was correct (and I’m very sad to say that).

  • Novel: Jo Walton – Among Others
  • Novella: Klj Johnson – The Man Who Bridged the Mist
  • Novelette: Geoff Ryman – What We Found
  • Short Story: Ken Liu – The Paper Menagerie
  • Young Adult Novel: Delia Sherman – The Freedom Maze
    (Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Book)

I don’t want to sound like I didn’t want Jo Walton to win this award. She writes beautifully, but I just don’t see how this particular novel qualfies as Science Fiction or Fantasy at all. Yes, the protagonist can see fairies and work some magic – even though we’re never truly told how or even if it works – but the story would have worked just as well (even better, in my opinion) without the fairies as a simple coming-of-age story at a boarding school. The fact that Mor reads a lot of science fiction books does not make this a science fiction novel. That’s just my two cents, of course, and reviews all over the internets have shown that I’m in the minority, here. I’m just sad that other writers, whose work clearly is SFF did not get awarded the Nebula this year.

I haven’t talked about the YA novels at all, simply because due to some very bad choices, I’ve steered clear of the genre for a while. But The Freedom Maze sounds wonderful (as do a lot of the other shortlisted books) and I may even make it a monthly theme to read all of them.

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3 thoughts on “The 2011 Nebula Awards

  1. I agree about Among Others, for what it’s worth. I felt the same way about The City & The City two years ago (which didn’t win), although I thought that was an even stronger book. I’m only partway through Mechanique, but I would certainly have preferred that Firebird take home the prize — I’m a huge McDevitt fan, and that was definitely science fiction.

    • I still haven’t ready anything by McDevitt yet (though I own that whole series). If there’s even the slightest mention of space ships in that book, though, it’s more speculative fiction than Among Others.
      Also, thanks for making me feel not so alone. :)

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