2016 Nebula Nominations

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America has announced the nominees for the 50th Annual Nebula Awards, the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, and the Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book. The awards will be presented in Chicago at the Palmer House Hotel on May 14.

Novel

  • Raising Caine, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
  • The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • The Grace of Kings, Ken Liu (Saga)
  • Uprooted, Naomi Novik (Del Rey)
  • Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard, Lawrence M. Schoen (Tor)
  • Updraft, Fran Wilde (Tor)

Novella

  • Wings of Sorrow and Bone, Beth Cato (Harper Voyager Impulse)
  • ‘‘The Bone Swans of Amandale’’, C.S.E. Cooney (Bone Swans)
  • ‘‘The New Mother’’, Eugene Fischer (Asimov’s 4-5/15)
  • ‘‘The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn’’, Usman T. Malik (Tor.com 4/22/15)
  • Binti, Nnedi Okorafor (Tor.com)
  • ‘‘Waters of Versailles’’, Kelly Robson (Tor.com 6/10/15)

Novelette

  • ‘‘Rattlesnakes and Men’’, Michael Bishop (Asimov’s 2/15)
  • ‘‘And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead’’, Brooke Bolander (Lightspeed 2/15)
  • ‘‘Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds’’, Rose Lemberg (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 6/11/15)
  • ‘‘The Ladies’ Aquatic Gardening Society’’, Henry Lien (Asimov’s 6/15)
  • ‘‘The Deepwater Bride’’, Tamsyn Muir (F&SF 7-8/15)
  • ‘‘Our Lady of the Open Road’’, Sarah Pinsker (Asimov’s 6/15)

Short Story

  • ‘‘Madeleine’’, Amal El-Mohtar (Lightspeed 6/15)
  • ‘‘Cat Pictures Please’’, Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld 1/15)
  • ‘‘Damage’’, David D. Levine (Tor.com 1/21/15)
  • ‘‘When Your Child Strays From God’’, Sam J. Miller (Clarkesworld 7/15)
  • ‘‘Today I Am Paul’’, Martin L. Shoemaker (Clarkesworld 8/15)
  • ‘‘Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers’’, Alyssa Wong (Nightmare 10/15)

Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation

  • Ex Machina, Written by Alex Garland
  • Inside Out, Screenplay by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley; Original Story by Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen
  • Jessica Jones: AKA Smile, Teleplay by Scott Reynolds & Melissa Rosenberg; Story by Jamie King & Scott Reynolds
  • Mad Max: Fury Road, Written by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nick Lathouris
  • The Martian, Screenplay by Drew Goddard
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Written by Lawrence Kasdan & J. J. Abrams and Michael Arndt

Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy

  • Seriously Wicked, Tina Connolly (Tor Teen)
  • Court of Fives, Kate Elliott (Little, Brown)
  • Cuckoo Song, Frances Hardinge (Macmillan UK 5/14; Amulet)
  • Archivist Wasp, Nicole Kornher-Stace (Big Mouth House)
  • Zeroboxer, Fonda Lee (Flux)
  • Shadowshaper, Daniel José Older (Levine)
  • Bone Gap, Laura Ruby (Balzer + Bray)
  • Nimona, Noelle Stevenson (HarperTeen)
  • Updraft, Fran Wilde (Tor)

77 thoughts on “2016 Nebula Nominations

  1. @Rose: Yeah; “Smile” really wouldn’t be my pick. It felt to me like a mostly-action episode where all the emotion and power are already firmly established.

    Ah well. TV episodes are a weird category and I’m glad Jessica Jones is on the ballot 🙂

  2. By coincidence, I saw this shortlist right after skimming again through those early volumes of the SFWA-voted Science Fiction Hall of Fame. Meh indeed.

    I’m reminded of that time in 2015 when I mentioned that I was particularly impressed by some of the recent Chinese stories.

    Kurt Busiek and Red Wombat proceeded to hound me across a half dozen File 770 comment threads, eager to make a mockery of Brian Z’s transparently disingenuous claim that he had read an award-worthy Chinese novelette.

    When I pressed them, in return, on what great stuff they’d read lately, after some dissembling Busiek was able to suggest “that one by Mary Robinette Kowal” from one of the online magazines. He helpfully explained that short fiction tended to appear on his radar based on what he saw promoted in his twitter feed. Red Wombat acknowledged up front that she typically looked to best of the year lists for her her cues on what to look for.

    Fair enough. The Sad Puppies had only 26 novelette recs at last count, with their most prolific contributor being our very own snowcrash, so it’s not like they are outdoing the SWFA Members.

    But this shortlist doesn’t disprove my tentative hypothesis that today’s awards voters pay a lot of attention to the things they see talked up on social media and their favorite blogs.

    (Whether those just snowballed, or got logrolled, is a different question.)

  3. I’ve really been enjoying the Chinese stories in Clarkesworld this year. Not only that, several times I find a title or review that looks intriguing, and it turns out to be one of those. (I particularly liked Ether, by Zhang Ran. The audio version, read by Alisdair Stuart, is particularly good.)

    Neil Clarke will definitely be on my Hugo ballot for Editor, Short Form, in part for the Chinese Translation project. And I wish I had an awesome way to recognize Ken Liu’s fantastic effort at translating so many Chinese stories, in Clarkesworld and in many other venues as well.

  4. @Vasha,

    * ‘‘Rattlesnakes and Men’’, Michael Bishop. Message fiction that’s heavy-handed as all get-out, and I say that as someone with similar opinions.

    I’m with Soon Lee and you on this, all the way.

  5. @Vasha: “Deepwater Bride” is actually one I quite enjoyed. The protagonist is sulky, sure, but also snarky and clever. I had fun tagging along with her. I’m somewhat reminded of what Anathema Device might’ve been like as a teen 🙂

  6. @Vasha

    Has anyone else read Cheryl Morgan’s “Writing Better Trans Characters”? Helped me identify a problem with “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds”.

    I just had a look at it. It seems very well-written. But what problem are you referring to? In my own review of Cloth of Winds I praised it for showing different sorts of tran issues in a different society.

    I’ve worked a lot with trans people over the years (as an activist, I knew they were our best volunteers), so I feel fairly well-informed on the key issues. My biggest accomplishment was probably convincing Steve Ballmer to change Microsoft’s policy regarding trans people (Microsoft adopted a non-discrimination policy) and on transitioning (Microsoft added a whole chapter to the HR handbook instructing HR staff in how to handle it–a chapter written by trans people at Microsoft). Exactly how that went down is a story by itself, probably best told over beer at MidAmeriCon II. 🙂

  7. @Paul Weimer I am sadly certain that the glory (at least to me; tastes clearly vary) of this Nebula List is not going to be reflected in the Hugo nomination list

    The Nebula is known to be a strong predictor of the Hugo nominations.

  8. @Lela

    What Paul means is that there’s a good chance of the Rabid Puppies slate sweeping the nominations again.

  9. @redheadedfemme @lela Yup, that is a good case of translating Paul speak. The Puppies are likely to once again break that correlation.

    Spoiler: A number of things from the Nebula nomination list have long since found their way on my nomination ballot.

  10. @Greg: (sorry for the late response)

    I thought it was not a particularly wise narrative choice to have the narrator of “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” be someone who is unaccepting and hostile to Bashri, who consistently refuses to call Bashri by the correct pronouns until he physically transitions. Aviya thinks of learning about Bashri’s gender as a betrayal, which is in character for the self-centered way she acts throughout, but does a disservice to him, placing him as mostly just a contributor to her internal drama.

    I will say that I have not seen any trans readers respond to this story. I definitely don’t want to speak for them, and I may be totally off the wall. After reading the story, I came across an article by Cheryl Morgan, “Writing Better Trans Characters,” which gave names to some of the ways to some of the ways I’d felt the narrative choices in the story were suboptimal. She wrote:

    What I’m looking for is books that are not written from the cis gaze. I want books that are happy to accept trans people as people who can do all sorts of things in life, not just make theoretical points about gender by transitioning from one to the other. Or suffer tragically because they are not accepted by society.

    Check on the first point, there. Mind you, Rose Lemberg has different ideas than Cheryl Morgan what sort of stories about gender she wants to tell. But she didn’t have to choose to tell the story from a cis point of view. One phrase in particular struck me badly, when Gitit assures Aviya that she is not also a man:

    I felt relief and simultaneously regret, regret at not needing to live through this, and what wisdoms loomed before me on that path like blood and rubies.

    Oh, Aviya, people aren’t the gender they are in order to bring you wisdom from you “living through” their choices. What better example of cis gaze?

  11. @Vasha

    @Greg: (sorry for the late response)

    No problem. Most of us have real lives too. 🙂

    I thought it was not a particularly wise narrative choice to have the narrator of “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” be someone who is unaccepting and hostile to Bashri, who consistently refuses to call Bashri by the correct pronouns until he physically transitions.

    But Aviya is a creature of her society. It’s not fair to expect her to behave like a 21st-Century American Progressive. She’s also very young, which means she can grow. Seeing someone grow to a position of better understanding is always a good thing. (Note also that Gitit follows the same pronoun rules as Aviya.)

    [Cheryl Morgan] wrote: . . . I want books that are happy to accept trans people as people who can do all sorts of things in life, not just make theoretical points about gender by transitioning from one to the other. Or suffer tragically because they are not accepted by society.

    I interpreted this differently. She doesn’t want trans characters who are tokens. She wants trans characters who are real people who happen to be transsexual. That doesn’t mean they don’t suffer. (That would just be a different kind of token.) It means they’re people first.

    When Aviya and Gitit were in mortal peril in the desert and Bashri appeared as a man with a spear of blinding light, he easily banished the attackers, but he also blew away all of my fears that he was just a token. The story made him worthy of respect. I give it big points for that.

    One phrase in particular struck me badly, when Gitit assures Aviya that she is not also a man:

    I felt relief and simultaneously regret, regret at not needing to live through this, and what wisdoms loomed before me on that path like blood and rubies.

    Oh, Aviya, people aren’t the gender they are in order to bring you wisdom from you “living through” their choices. What better example of cis gaze?

    This one bothered me too, but for a different reason: it’s utterly inconsistent with the character. It would be a huge step for Aviya if she merely felt ashamed at feeling relieved. I flat don’t believe she’d feel any regret.

    The bottom line was that I felt it was a story that respected the trans experience, as much as is possible in a fantasy story. Bashri-nai-Tammah is a great man, strong, honorable, devoted to his granddaughter, and he happens to be trans. That affects his experience, and he suffers for it (to do otherwise would be to trivialize it), but it’s only a small part of who he really is. Aviya, for all her childish flaws, comes to see that, and that’s not a small thing at all.

  12. But Aviya is a creature of her society. It’s not fair to expect her to behave like a 21st-Century American Progressive. She’s also very young, which means she can grow. Seeing someone grow to a position of better understanding is always a good thing.

    This is all true. However, I stick to my contention that it wasn’t the best narrative choice to have the story be Aviya’s first-person point of view and to have so much of it concern her growth. The quote I highlighted shows that even at the end of the story, she is viewing these events as valuable for the things they taught her: she may be becoming less self-centered, but not by much! I did not think the author did enough to push back against this emphasis of the story, which is a shame since Bashri is, as you said, a full character with all sorts of talents and quite a history. (And can we totally dismiss the idea that Aviya is, in part, a proxy for an assumed cis reader?) Opinions obviously vary there, though. I would like to see a detailed analysis of ways that the author subverts Aviya’s selfish narration, but I don’t have time to do that sort of close reading unfortunately.

    Feel free to copy my comments to RSR if you like. Thanks for the interesting discussion!

  13. @Vasha @Greg

    In reference to ‘‘Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds’’:

    I took a look at the post you link to by Cheryl Morgan, “How To Write Better Trans Characters”. It’s a useful post, in my opinion. Smart, articulate, clear. Lays out some important points for cis writers who are attempting to write trans characters.

    That’s how she frames the post, saying:

    “So what I want to do is to suggest some things for cis writers to think about that may help them to avoid such missteps.”

    This is a post for cis writers. And I hope that cis writers listen to it, because that will help their trans representation. It is not going to save cis writers from reproducing trans oppression and transmisogyny in their representation of trans characters, but it likely will help, particularly for folks writing trans women, as Morgan discusses herself near the end of the post.

    The thing is, Rose Lemberg is not a cis writer, but in fact is trans, and has been publicly open about that for many years. To quote their website with more details about their non-binary trans identity:

    “I am queer (in terms of sexual orientation) and a non-binary trans person. I often list my gender identity as bigender (sometimes as genderqueer). I strongly identify with both binary genders. My preferred pronoun is they.”

    This is a trans person who wrote a story that centers two trans characters with rather different trans identities. They decided to write that story from the POV of a cis family member of these two characters. There are a couple things that I want to draw your attention to with regards to this:

    Thing the first: As a trans reader, it feels vital for me to immediately mention that while your read of the story discusses one character that is trans, there are two trans characters in the story.

    Kimi is another trans character, a very important one for me as a trans reader. Tai (Lemberg’s neopronoun in this universe) would probably specifically identify as genderqueer, gender fluid, or non-binary, in my read of the story. I am saddened by the lack of inclusion of this character in your discussion of trans representation in this story; it felt like a sharp erasure when reading your comments. It is very difficult to find representation of autistic trans characters, and I personally resonated very deeply with Kimi as a character and was very glad tai was in this story.

    Thing the second: It is is important to distinguish the cis gaze in a story from the POV of the story. They are different things.

    You can write a story that is deeply entrenched in a cis gaze from the POV of a trans character. I’ve read a lot of those.

    You can also write a story from the POV of a cis character that is not written from a ciz gaze.

    In Morgan’s article, she is specifically talking about the cis gaze, not about writing a cis POV character:

    “There is such a thing as “cis gaze”; that is, a book can be written because cis people are fascinated by trans people. They want to see us doing those weird trans things that they think we do. Or they want to see us as victims that they can feel sorry for and rescue.”

    That is what cis gaze does in a story. It sets trans people up as Other, as objects, as “fascinating”, “interesting”, “strange”, sources of learning. It sets us up as objects of pity and rescue and study, far from the assumed readership that the writer is explaining us for or using us to teach a lesson to. It does that in the structure of the story. This isn’t about the POV character’s gender, but about what the story does, how it frames the trans characters, what information it decides to share about the trans characters, what language it uses, what questions it grapples with.

    Of course, it is possible for trans people to write stories from a cis gaze, because we can internalize it.

    It is also possible for trans writers (like Lemberg) to write stories from a cis character’s POV that do something else, something different. Stories that do not come from a cis gaze.

    In my read of this story, it does something different, and powerful, that felt deeply needed for me personally as a trans reader. I’m working on a blog post about that, because I think it is important to talk specifically about my experience of this story as a trans reader. I will link to it when I have posted.

  14. @Xan: Thank you so much! I very obviously should have looked harder for trans responses to this story and looked up what the author themself said. My reading was superficial. I had thougt about Kimi and didn’t mention taim, and I regret erasing taim. I will read the story again and some posts by Lemberg, and look forward to reading what you say.

  15. Pingback: 2016 Clarkesworld Reader’s Poll Winners | File 770

  16. PS I have been awful, making assumptions about Rose Lemberg and other trans readers and writers and speaking from profound cis arrogance. I am sorry and I apologize to those named people and others I hurt and spoke over. I will try very hard to not do so in the future, considering if I am making assumptions and if I am speaking when I should shut up and listen.

  17. Hi Vasha,

    Thank you – I appreciate the apology.

    Usually I let my stories stand on their own, but I drafted an entry about some of the issues you mentioned. I do think it’s good to discuss these topics. Not sure yet whether I will post it, but perhaps tomorrow.

    Take care,
    RL

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