SFWA Announces the 56th Annual Nebula Awards® Finalists

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (SFWA) announced the finalists for the 56th Annual Nebula Awards® on March 15.


  • Piranesi, Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury US; Bloomsbury UK)
  • The City We Became, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US & UK)
  • Mexican Gothic, Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey; Jo Fletcher)
  • The Midnight Bargain, C.L. Polk (Erewhon)
  • Black Sun, Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga; Solaris)
  • Network Effect, Martha Wells (Tordotcom)


  • “Tower of Mud and Straw”, Yaroslav Barsukov (Metaphorosis)
  • Finna, Nino Cipri (Tordotcom)
  • Ring Shout, P. Djèlí Clark (Tordotcom)
  • “Ife-Iyoku, the Tale of Imadeyunuagbon”, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki (Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora, Aurelia Leo)
  • The Four Profound Weaves, R.B. Lemberg (Tachyon)
  • Riot Baby, Tochi Onyebuchi (Tordotcom)


  • “Stepsister”, Leah Cypess (F&SF 5-6/20)
  • “The Pill”, Meg Elison (Big Girl, PM Press)
  • “Burn or the Episodic Life of Sam Wells as a Super”, A.T. Greenblatt (Uncanny 5-6/20)
  • “Two Truths and a Lie”, Sarah Pinsker (Tor.com 6/17/20)
  • “Where You Linger”, Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam (Uncanny 1-2/20)
  • “Shadow Prisons”, Caroline M. Yoachim (serialized in the Dystopia Triptych series as “The Shadow Prison Experiment”, “Shadow Prisons of the Mind”, and “The Shadow Prisoner’s Dilemma”, Broad Reach Publishing + Adamant Press)


  • “Badass Moms in the Zombie Apocalypse”, Rae Carson (Uncanny 1-2/20)
  • “Advanced Word Problems in Portal Math”, Aimee Picchi (Daily Science Fiction 1/3/20)
  • “A Guide for Working Breeds”, Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Made to Order: Robots and Revolution, Solaris)
  • “The Eight-Thousanders”, Jason Sanford (Asimov’s 9-10/20)
  • “My Country Is a Ghost”, Eugenia Triantafyllou (Uncanny 1-2/20)
  • “Open House on Haunted Hill”, John Wiswell (Diabolical Plots 6/15/20)


  • Raybearer, Jordan Ifueko (Amulet)
  • Elatsoe, Darcie Little Badger (Levine Querido)
  • A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking, T. Kingfisher (Argyll)
  • A Game of Fox & Squirrels, Jenn Reese (Holt)
  • Star Daughter, Shveta Thakrar (HarperTeen)


  • Blaseball, Stephen Bell, Joel Clark, Sam Rosenthal (The Game Band)
  • Hades, Greg Kasavin (Supergiant) 
  • Kentucky Route Zero, Jake Elliott (Cardboard Computer)
  • The Luminous Underground, Phoebe Barton (Choice of Games)
  • Scents & Semiosis, Sam Kabo Ashwell, Cat Manning, Caleb Wilson, Yoon Ha Lee (Self)
  • Spiritfarer, Nicolas Guérin, Maxime Monast, Alex Tommi-Morin (Thunder Lotus Games)


  • Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, Christina Hodson, Warner Bros. Pictures (Clubhouse Pictures/DC Entertainment/Kroll & Co. Entertainment/LuckyChap Entertainment)
  • The Expanse: “Gaugamela”, Dan Nowak, Amazon Prime (Alcon Entertainment/Alcon Television Group/Amazon Studios/Hivemind/Just So)
  • The Good Place: “Whenever You’re Ready”, Michael Schur, NBC (Fremulon/3 Arts Entertainment/Universal)
  • Lovecraft Country, Season 1, Misha Green, Shannon Houston, Kevin Lau, Wes Taylor, Ihuoma Ofordire, Jonathan I. Kidd, Sonya Winton-Odamtten, HBO Max (Bad Robot/Monkeypaw Productions/Warner Bros.Television)
  • The Mandalorian: “The Tragedy”, Jon Favreau, Disney+ (Golem Creations/Lucasfilm)
  • The Old Guard, Greg Rucka, Netflix (Skydance Media/Denver and Delilah Productions/Marc Evans Productions)
SFWA President Mary Robinette Kowal hosted the announcement ceremony.

The results of the final ballot will be announced at the 56th Annual Nebula Awards® ceremony on June 5, 2021, hosted by returning Toastmaster Aydrea Walden.  Walden has written for the series Yin Yang Yo! and created, written, and starred in the Webby-nominated series Black Girl in a Big Dress. She has worked in the animation department on the films The CroodsHome, and How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. Walden also performs, appearing in her one-woman show, The Oreo Experience: A Total Whitey Trapped in a Black Chick’s Body, the short film Sci-Fi 60, and an episode of The Mandalorian.

The 2021 Nebula Conference Online, June 4–6, 2021 is open to SFWA members and nonmembers alike. The annual Nebula Conference is taking place entirely online for a second year. For $125, registered participants will gain entry to professional development panels, virtual socializing spaces dubbed the “Airship Nebula,” mentorship opportunities, office hours with experts, an archive of the content, and access to ongoing educational events throughout the following year.

11 thoughts on “SFWA Announces the 56th Annual Nebula Awards® Finalists

  1. With all that happened in 2020, I didn’t read as much as I wanted to. But I did spend some time playing video games, so I know a couple of the games on the list.
    While I love Blaseball, I am surprised to find it on the Nebula list – the game has very little writing. Much of the ‘story’ of the game has been written by the community.
    Spiritfarer is charming and sweet and really really good.

    Edit: I can’t possibly be first … can I?

  2. And, of course, past the edit window: Congrats to all the nominees!
    Steph (who did read a lot last year) tells me that it’s an overall very strong ballot this year, and I believe her. The (far-too-few) items on the list I have read have been very solid.

  3. Congrats to all the finalists!

    Very happy to see A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking, The Midnight Bargain and Network Effect (Yay! Murderbot!)

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  6. @Eric R Franklin, I wanted to chime in with a similar comment. Blaseball is a fascinating phenomenon. Calling it a ‘game’ is ok for the Nebula nomination, but you and I don’t play it, we follow it (well, actually my daughter does. She roots for the Hellmouth Sunbeams and runs the unofficial-of-course Twitter account for Nerd Pacheco). For those who haven’t encountered it yet, Blaseball takes the concept of “fantasy league” and runs with it. Then it runs some more, often in unexpected directions. Games are just a few minutes long, seasons last a week. Inexplicable occurrences are frequent. It’s worth a look just for the team and player names.

  7. @Jack Dominey It’s also worth mentioning that a lot of the big Blaseball storyline events were player-driven.
    Like when we did a Necromancy to bring Jaylen Hotdogfingers back from the dead (which led to three seasons of story arc). Or when the Tacos made their Snackrifice. Other parts of the story have been driven by glitches and issues, like the Crowvertime game.
    Yes, the Game Band has responded and reacted in interesting and amusing ways to the community doing its best to break the game in interesting ways, but I’d argue that there’s less writing in the game itself than in a typical short story, and there’s not really a visual element to it, either – the team icons are all emoji, and most of the characters are clip-art with some modification (the Monitor this season has a toque, and his ‘hands’ now look as though he’s holding knives, for example).

    By contrast, Spiritfarer is a surprisingly deep meditation on loss and grief, and definitely adds weight to the “game as art” argument without giving up on being a game (which is a common failing when games are trying to be art). Just the intro had me tearing up. At the same time, there are moments in the game where I laughed with delight. It’s a powerful mingling of joy and grief and love all at once. One of the best video games I’ve played in decades.

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