Nebula_Award_logo
I’ve already got some discussion in the comments section on the Nebula results, so I’ll write a few thoughts here. The comment is to the effect that 15 of 16 winners in the fiction writing categories in the last three years have been women. I do agree that this seems to be an unusual result. It’s not like men suddenly quit writing, or even that men didn’t make it into the list of finalist.

Why were the winners all women? There are a few possibilities for this result. First, keep in mind that the Nebulas are a “closed shop” with the winners chosen by the approximately 50/50 male/female membership of professionals that belong to the SFWA organization. As I understand the process, members recommend stories over a reading period, and the Nebula jury takes the top few from the list. There’s an opportunity to make adjustments to the list if the jury thinks anything deserving has been passed over. Then the finalists are presented to the membership for vote, producing winners.

So what are the possibilities? 1) Women are just writing better stories than men these days. 2) There’s a perception among industry professionals (both male and female) that women are writing better stories. 3) There is affirmative action going on. 4) Men are uninvolved in the awards process so aren’t recommending or voting for stories that men are writing.

Taking a quick look at this year’s list-in-the-making, it appears that women are making way more recommendations than men. Is this the key? Checking the 2015 novella recommendations (easiest to count), it looks like the number of recommended stories ended up about 50/50 men/women. The top ten on the list were still 5/5. For Best Short Story the top ten on the list were 6/4 women/men. For Best Novel the top ten were again 6/4 women/men. The novelette list is currently down, so I can’t check that one.

So this looks reasonably fair. However, men lost out in the final vote. To me, that suggests that either the men in the SFWA aren’t voting in the numbers women members are, or else they’re voting for the women’s stories. That means we shouldn’t hear any grousing from guys about the results—they had their opportunity to check in and vote.

Advertisements