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Nebula Awards Showcase 2008 by Ben Bova
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Nebula Awards Showcase 2008

by Ben Bova

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Nebula Award Stories (42)

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» See also 6 mentions

Showing 3 of 3
I liked the novelette Two Hearts by Peter Beagle, the essay, All Our Yesterdays by Bud Webster, and the essay about Grandmaster James Gunn.Of course, not may stories as pointed out by Amazon readers. ( )
  jerry-book | Jan 26, 2016 |
I decided to go back and fill in some of the gaps in my reading of the Nebula Awards collections, and while I’d read the 2007 and 2009 volumes, I’d missed this one. Sadly, this is one of the years where the collection was lighter on content, with only five complete stories included. Naturally, there’s the winner in each of the short story, novelette and novella categories, alongside one runner up short story and a story by James Gunn, who won that year’s Grand Master award.

The book opens disappointingly with the winning short story, Echo by Elizabeth Hand. It seemed a rather pointless story, where the narrator talks about how her long distance lover never talked to her much, and now there’s been a disaster and communications are cut off most of the time, she hears from him even less. And that’s about it. The runner up story later in the book, The Woman in Schrodinger’s Wave Equations by Eugene Mirabelli, wasn’t a bad story, and was superior to the winner, though wasn’t outstanding. It’s about a man studying physics and his relationships with two women, and other than his area of interest, I’m not sure what qualifies it as science fiction. I try not to worry too much about genre boundaries, but I’m almost certain these can’t have been the best two stories they could have found out of an entire years output.

The novella dominates the book, and in fact was originally published as a book on its own. At over 120 pages, Burn by James Patrick Kelly takes almost a third of the space on its own. It’s based around the fighting of forest fires and the author’s apparent hatred of Henry David Thoreau, being set on a planet called Walden where everyone has to live a simple life and remain generally isolated. It’s not destined to become a favourite, but it was at least an enjoyable and well written story.

As was Two Hearts by Peter S. Beagle, the winning novelette. It’s a classic fairy tale fantasy story and perhaps my favourite of the book, despite the fact that I’m generally more interested in science fiction. It’s apparently a sequel to The Last Unicorn, which I’ve never read, so I don’t know how it links in with the original, but it worked perfectly well as a story in its own right.

There’s also the Rhysling Award winners for science fiction poetry included, which is a nice touch, especially as they don’t take a great deal of space. After that though, it’s onto the filler, of which there’s way too much in this volume. It’s nice to have a story from the year’s Grand Master winner, but James Gunn’s The Listeners is not only a fairly famous story already, it was already included in an earlier Nebula Awards volume back when it was a nominee itself, and I feel it would be better to include more of this year’s nominees. The novel excerpt is another completely pointless way of taking thirty pages away that could have been used for other stories in order to give you a random chunk of story with no beginning or end. The essays aren’t bad, but aren’t especially thrilling and don’t seem to have a great deal to say, and I could do without Orson Scott Card’s baffling talk about science fiction being a literary movement rather than just a genre.

That could sum up the problem I have with this volume. Some years the collection is amazing and some years disappointing, and this is one of the worst, but I don’t think it necessarily reflects on the quality of the fiction that year, just on the judging criteria. I understand that everyone is going to have different tastes, but the short story winner this year was so feeble, and half the stories barely fit into the genre anyway. I get the impression that the judges for that year were just going for anything that seemed “literary”, to use a term I particularly dislike, with references to Thoreau in Burn, mythology in Echo and untranslated foreign language quotes in The Listeners. Whether or not that is the case, this had the least content of any Nebula Award volume I’ve read, and none of what was there stood out enough to really make the book worthwhile.
  valkyrdeath | Feb 4, 2015 |
(The following sentence pains me greatly.) This is the worst collection of stories I have ever encountered in a Nebula Awards collection.

I am a huge fan of these collections and they have always represented an excellent opportunity to visit some of the finest science fiction written every year. But this particular collection has nothing to make it stand out from any other collection. Oh, the stories are okay. But there are none of them that jump from the page as a Nebula Award winner should. Further, the essays that are so integral to the success of this series (on various subjects related to the current condition of science fiction) just talk and little else. (Well, one exception – the essay by Bud Webster on how The Science Fiction Hall of Fame books were constructed – is interesting, but only because I was a fan of those books.)

I don’t think this collection is a reflection of the state of science fiction or the Nebula Awards - last year’s collection was five-star. But it is a reflection of the selections that were made this year. Overall, the collection just sits there and wilts, and it is a collection I would recommend to no one. ( )
1 vote figre | Nov 11, 2009 |
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ben Bovaprimary authorall editionscalculated
Allen, MikeContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beagle, Peter S.Contributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Berman, RuthContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Card, Orson ScottContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Evans, KendallContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gunn, JamesContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Haldeman, JoeContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hand, ElizabethContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, Diana WynneContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kelly, James PatrickContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kessel, JohnContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kopaska-Merkel, DavidContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Larbalestier, JustineContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McDevitt, JackContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mirabelli, EugeneContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Resnick, MikeContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Webster, BudContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wynne Jones, DianaContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451461886, Paperback)

This annual tradition from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America collects the best of the year's stories, as well as essays and commentary on the current state of the genre and predictions for future science fiction and fantasy films, art, and more.

This year's award-winning authors include Jack McDevitt, James Patrick Kelly, Peter S. Beagle, Elizabeth Hand, and more. The anthology also features essays from celebrated science fiction authors Orson Scott Card and Mike Resnick.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:29 -0400)

This annual tradition from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America collects the best of the year's stories, as well as essays and commentary on the state of the genre and predictions for future science fiction and fantasy films, art and more.… (more)

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