2016 Nebula Finalists

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The SFWA published the list of Nebula Award finalists on schedule this week. There was one bit of awkwardness, as Cat Rambo’s story “Red in Tooth and Cog” was initially listed in the novelette category, but turned out to be slightly below the required word count (7500 words). Rambo withdrew the story from consideration rather than upset the published short story results. Interestingly, there was a 3-way tie for 5th place in the short story category, leading to a list of 7 finalists. As expected, most of these were stories with fairly high numbers of recommendations.

For this year’s minority count, I’m slightly confused by learning that some groups are no longer considered minorities for diversity purposes. For the count below, I’m ignoring sexual orientation and Jewish heritage, for example, but including trans/non-binary and Asians. Others might feel the minority count is higher or lower. Adding things up: 16 women finalists, 7 men, 1 non-binary. This suggests that women will figure strongly among the winners again this year.

Novel (4 women, 1 man, 5 minorities)

All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders (Tor; Titan)
Borderline, Mishell Baker (Saga)
The Obelisk Gate, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
Ninefox Gambit, Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris US; Solaris UK)
Everfair, Nisi Shawl (Tor)

Novella (3 women, 3 men, 3 minorities)

Runtime, S.B. Divya (Tor.com Publishing)
The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, Kij Johnson (Tor.com Publishing)
The Ballad of Black Tom, Victor LaValle (Tor.com Publishing)
Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)
“The Liar”, John P. Murphy (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction)
A Taste of Honey, Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com Publishing)

Novelette (4 women, 2 men, 1 minority)

“The Long Fall Up”, William Ledbetter (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction)
“Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea”, Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed)
“Blood Grains Speak Through Memories”, Jason Sanford (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
“The Orangery”, Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
“The Jewel and Her Lapidary”, Fran Wilde (Tor.com Publishing)
“You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay”, Alyssa Wong (Uncanny)

Short Story (5 women, 1 man, 1 nonbinary, 4 minorities)

“Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies”, Brooke Bolander (Uncanny)
“Seasons of Glass and Iron”, Amal El-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood)
“Sabbath Wine”, Barbara Krasnoff (Clockwork Phoenix 5)
“Things With Beards”, Sam J. Miller (Clarkesworld)
“This Is Not a Wardrobe Door”, A. Merc Rustad (Fireside Magazine)
“A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers”, Alyssa Wong (Tor.com)
“Welcome to the Medical Clinic at the Interplanetary Relay Station│Hours Since the Last Patient Death: 0”, Caroline M. Yoachim (Lightspeed)


Review of “Runtime” by S.B. Divya


This is a novella published by Tor. It currently has 21 recommendations on the Nebula Recommended Reading List.

Marmeg is unlicensed, has cobbled together a set of exos and some illegal embed chips so she can work as a club security guard. The Minerva Sierra Challenge is coming up, and Marmeg dreams of winning the race so she can get real gear and trans surgery to become a beautiful asexual moot. Her Filipino mother works as a health aide and dreams of Marmeg going to school to become a nurse. Instead, Marmeg has spent the tuition money on the entry fee for the race. She spends the last of her wages to get to the site, lies about a support team and starts the race. She quickly runs into bad weather, dangerous competitors and survivalist nats who offer her an opportunity to cheat. What will she do?

As Greg Hullender has promised in recent comments, I’ve gotten a solid story right at the top of the novella recommendations. Pros: This is science fiction, as there wouldn’t be a story without the technology and the moots. It’s got pretty well defined characters, strong imagery, good human elements and a strong plot. The main theme is about honesty and values, but sub-themes about body alteration, survivalism, illegal status and the American caste system ask questions and add complexity. Cons: The prose is a little clunky. Plus, I’m suspicious of the HEA (happily ever after) ending and that Marmeg is rewarded so generously for her value choices. Given the setting, I’d expect the adults and the wealthy class would be as far into the caste system as anybody else. I’m also a little concerned that she gives up her own dreams so quickly.

Solid competitor. Four stars and a half.

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