I just saw that the 2009 Nebula Award winners were announced while I was travelling, and the few I know are interesting choices. I’ve also read a few of the runners up in the Short Story/Novella/Novelette sections, which I remember as being particularly good. I’ll have to track down copies of the ones I haven’t seen, I’ve been trying to read at least most of the Nebula short form candidates for the last several years, and its always been a good experence.
The most interesting thing to me is that I had just read the Short Story winner (”Spar” by Kij Johnson) in the car on the way up to Madison … and been entirely underwhelmed, which was really surprising, since her previous successful short story “26 Monkeys, Also, The Abyss” was one of my favorites last year, and I’ve been found of most of her other short fiction. Figures that the first thing of her’s I’ve read that I didn’t like wins a Nebula. It definitely was the sort of thing that is challenging enough to be an award winner.
While talking about short stories, I want to note that I’ve always tended to like my fiction in extremely short form, or extremely long form, the past several years have mostly only afforded me time for the short form, and my main fix for the short form stuff has come from the “The Best Science Fiction And Fantasy Of The Year” series, which is excellently curated by Jonathan Strahan. I picked up the first one on a suggestion+Whim shortly after it became available, and have picked up the others as they became available because they are reliably excellent collections. I’m still working on this year’s, and am a little bit less impressed, but it is still riveting reading. My two favorites (which haven’t aligned terribly well with the various awards) in previous years have been:
“Pol Pot’s Beautiful Daughter (Fantasy)” by Geoff Ryman, and “D.A.” By Connie Willis
“Dead Horse Point” by Daryl Gregory, and “Sorrel’s Heart” by Susan Palwik
“Beyond the Sea Gates of the Scholar Pirates of Sarsköe” by Garth Nix, “26 Monkeys, Also, the Abyss” by Kij Johnson
With “Dead Horse Point” being most under-appreciated of the above.
I also like that there have been several in each, but particularly in Vol. 3, that are really rich literary riffs, references, connections or extensions with sometimes improbable famous works. As a particularly weird example, I had the powerful impression that “Uncle Chaim and Aunt Rifke and the Angel” is a riff off of Chaim Potok’s My Name is Asher Lev, but the genesis is officially explained differently. If you like SF/Fantasy, and especially if you have a limited amount of time to spend reading, this is the annual collection to get.