The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (SFWA) has announced the finalists for the 56th Annual Nebula Award. The awards will be presented in a virtual ceremony on Saturday, June 5, 2021.
I’m a member of SFWA, and that means I can vote. The novels tend to get the attention, so I like to focus on the short fiction because the works are short, which means I can finish my reading by the April 30 deadline, and because fewer people vote, which means my opinions matter more.
For me, a winning work either pushes the storytelling in a new direction, or it executes the craft with noteworthy skill. I faced tough choices with this year’s short stories. They’re all good.
• “Badass Moms in the Zombie Apocalypse” by Rae Carson (Uncanny 1-2/20). A woman gives birth in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. Well paced and vivid.
• “Advanced Word Problems in Portal Math” by Aimee Picchi (Daily Science Fiction 1/3/20). In this flash fiction piece, a girl who loves math but not her life seeks a way out. Clever, entertaining, with a wisp of righteous anger.
• “My Country Is a Ghost” by Eugenia Triantafyllou (Uncanny 1-2/20). People who immigrate leave behind ghosts: their memories and culture. Lyrical writing.
• “The Eight-Thousanders” by Jason Sanford (Asimov’s 9-10/20). While climbing Mount Everest, a man meets a vampire — but it’s much more than that, a study in morality, abuse, and responsibility.
• “Open House on Haunted Hill” by John Wiswell (Diabolical Plots 6/15/20). A haunted house wants a family and will do everything it can to make those people happy. Sweet without being sentimental.
• “A Guide for Working Breeds” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Made to Order: Robots and Revolution, Solaris). Two robots with mismatched personalities find ways to help each other.
I’d have liked to vote for all these stories, but I could only vote for one. I chose “A Guide for Working Breeds” because of the strong voices of its protagonists, the oblique but effective way it tells the story, and because I’m a fan of Vina Jie-Min Prasad.
But damn, these stories are all good. Follow the links and enjoy!