My choice for the Nebula Award for Novelette

As a member of SFWA, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association, I can vote for the Nebula Awards. Usually I focus on the shorter works  — short stories, novelettes, and novellas —  due to time constraints and because these categories tend to attract fewer voters, so my vote matters more.

The 57th Annual Nebula Awards will be presented on May 21 during the Nebula Conference Online. Although the conference is for paid attendees, the award presentation will be live-streamed.

A novelette, according to the Nebula rules, is at least 7,500 words but fewer than 17,500 words. There’s more depth than a short story but many of the same constraints. Here’s a brief evaluation of each finalist, ending with my choice, but every story is worth reading, and I had a hard time picking only one.

“O2 Arena” by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki (Galaxy’s Edge 11/21) – In a dystopic Nigeria, a law student decides that survival is overrated. “This world needs a wake-up call that might be only found in an arena of our own making.” Taut and gritty.

“(emet)” by Lauren Ring (F&SF 7–8/21) – “Emet” means truth in Hebrew. An IT worker finds the path to truth runs through golems, and self-discovery leads to a very reasonable paranoia. Timely issues add to the depth of the story.

“That Story Isn’t the Story” by John Wiswell (Uncanny 11–12/21) – A terrified young man overcomes his fears, just barely, of a vampire. The story is really a beautiful tribute to friendship.

“Colors of the Immortal Palette” by Caroline M. Yoachim (Uncanny 3–4/21) – An immortal painter struggles with art, recognition, and meaning. Quiet and philosophical.

“Just Enough Rain” by PH Lee (Giganotosaurus 5/21) – God is lonely and gets involved in a woman’s life, but God doesn’t plan ahead very well. I laughed out loud. This gets my vote because there’s never enough humor in speculative fiction and because I need a reason to pick just one story for my vote, so laughter wins. Any of the stories is worthy of the award.

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