My vote for the Nebula Award Best Novella

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. 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 novella category, 17,500 to 40,000 words. None of them are romances per se, but love has a place in the plots. Here are my impressions and my vote. If you can, read them for yourself.

Bishop’s Opening” by R.S.A. Garcia (Clarkesworld 1/22) – The crew of a space ship, a romantic triad, gets dragged into a planet’s deadly political games. Innocence could be a successful gambit, along with forgiveness.

I Never Liked You Anyway by Jordan Kurella (Vernacular) – Love at its most foolish. Emo music students at a college reiterate the Orpheus and Eurydice myth. While they can’t avoid tragedy, Hades, the king of the dead, has godlike wisdom and compassion, which might rescue the afterlife.

High Times in the Low Parliament by Kelly Robson (Tordotcom) – A scribe gets sent to record tense and desperate debates that, if not resolved, will result in disaster. Then she falls in love. Genuinely funny, light-hearted, and light-weight, in a good way. Expect shenanigans, not a treatise on governance.

Even Though I Knew the End by C.L. Polk (Tordotcom) – In Chicago in the 1930s, the “White City Vampire” seems to be an ordinary serial killer, but a private detective knows that a lot more is at stake — more than she thinks, in fact. Can she protect her beloved? Demons, warlocks, and angels keep the plot twisting and turning.

My vote: A Prayer for the Crown-Shy by Becky Chambers (Tordotcom) – Monk and Robot — that is, Dex and Mosscap — travel together and slowly tackle more and more complex (or simple, depending on your viewpoint) philosophical questions. You’ll see the love: a lot of love in all directions.

I was torn between voting for A Prayer for the Crown-Shy and Even Though I Knew the End, and the originality of Becky Chambers’ story won me over. But you may reach a very different conclusion, and in keeping with Monk and Robot’s theme of acceptance, that would be just fine. We all love reading, and that’s what matters.

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