My vote for the Nebula Award Best Novelette

For the past 58 years, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA) has presented the Nebula Awards. The finalists for the best works in 2022 in seven categories have been announced, and the awards will be presented in a ceremony on Sunday, May 14, streaming live from Anaheim, CA, as part of the 2023 Nebula Conference Online. Winners are determined by the vote of SFWA members.

I’m a member of SFWA, and I’ve read all the works in the novelette category, which is 7,500 to 17,500 words. Every nominee in this category could reasonably win the Nebula.

They vary so widely that they could also serve as a quick survey of the breadth of current science fiction and fantasy in style as well as subject. Past, present, and future. Here, there, and nowhere. Love, courage, and honesty. Heart-warming, heart-breaking, and heart-stopping. Here are my impressions and my vote. If you can, read them for yourself.

Two Hands, Wrapped in Gold” by S.B. Divya (Uncanny 5–6/22) – Everything a boy touches turns to gold, which is a curse, not a blessing, and as an adult, he tries to use it to do something good and loving. Two cultures and two histories clash in the story — no spoilers, but it will become obvious in a satisfying way.

“A Dream of Electric Mothers” by Wole Talabi (Africa Risen anthology) – Technology manages to make tradition come true: ancestors can be consulted. But should their messages be trusted? Time and place, character and theme mesh to bring the answer.

The Prince of Salt and the Ocean’s Bargain” by Natalia Theodoridou (Uncanny 9/22) – Salt in the sea wishes to live and becomes a man, or so the story is told. Living turns out to be complicated. A twist at the end fulfills the story, which manages to be timeless and placeless and yet convey a universal meaning.

Murder by Pixel: Crime and Responsibility in the Digital Darkness” by S.L. Huang (Clarkesworld 12/22) – Can an AI unintentionally become a killer? Using the format of a magazine article, this story has the creepy feel of our present-day reality more than science fiction. It even has footnotes.

We Built This City” by Marie Vibbert (Clarkesworld 6/22) – Workers maintaining the dome over a city on Venus fight for their right to do their job in reasonable working conditions. Science fiction is always about the present.

My vote: “If You Find Yourself Speaking to God, Address God with the Informal You” by John Chu (Uncanny 7–8/22) – Can you be friends with a superhero? Can a superhero solve one of today’s ugliest problems? John Chu explores these questions with a tender, breakable heart, and emotional honesty suffuses every sentence.

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