“What you have in your hands is precious, not because the works here are being honored, but because they exist. Stories matter. Stories linger in the mind and change us. We want more. We need more – yes, from our beloved favorite authors, but also, and this is vital, from those new to us. You never know who will become a favorite.”
–Julie E. Czerneda
The Nebula Awards are given annually by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) for the best fantastical works published during the previous year. The Nebula Awards Showcase collects samples of nominated and winning short stories, poems, novelettes, novellas, and excerpts from nominated and award winning novels. The 2017 showcase features selections from the 2016 awards, given to works published in 2015.
The subject and nature of this collection’s stories wander from hard scifi, to dystopian near future, to horror, to the more fantastical and surreal. Yet all the stories that appear in the Nebula Awards Showcase are weighty things, and the 2017 showcase is no different. “Today I am Paul,” by Martin L. Shoemaker, tells a story about mental illness in the elderly, while “Our Lady of the Open Road,” by Sarah Pinsker, ruminates on the meaning of artistic integrity. Other highlights include Binti by Nnedi Okorafor, a beautiful scifi story about feeling alienated among your own kind, and what types of connections really bring people together; and the excerpts from C. J. Cherryh’s work, who won the Damon Knight Grand Master award. Each author explores not only an alternate version of reality, but also the nature of humanity. The nature of these stories makes them particularly suitable for students of writing, who will have a masterwork collection of genre fiction in a variety of styles to learn and draw from, and for those looking for new authors to discover and love, ones that have already been vetted by the scifi and fantasy community.
The only downside to the this collection is that some stories become more a vehicle for a clumsily delivered opinion than successfully engaging the reader with interesting characters and a compelling narrative. Fortunately, these stories are always in the minority.
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