Nebula Awards Showcase 2016


Edited by Mercedes Lackey


If you’re late to the party, the Nebula Awards are chosen every year by the members of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America); in other words, they are chosen out of all of the science fiction and fantasy literature written that year by the peers of those writers. By writers, for writers. As such, the nominators and voters tend to have a slightly different outlook on the work that comes up for the Nebulas than the average reader.

Those who nominate and vote want something more. Something different. It may or may not equate to what has gotten popular acclaim that year. It probably won’t be what the “average reader” would like.

Kafka said it best, I think:

Altogether, I think we ought to read only books that bite and sting us. If the book we are reading doesn’t shake us awake like a blow on the skull, why bother reading it in the first place? So that it can make us happy, as you put it? Good God, we’d be just as happy if we had no books at all; books that make us happy we could, at a pinch, also write ourselves. What we need are books that hit us like a most painful misfortune, like the death of someone we loved more than we love ourselves, that make us feel as though we had been banished to the woods, far from any human presence, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is what I believe.

—Franz Kafka, from a letter to Oskar Pollak dated January 27, 1904

Ideally, there is nothing in the works that follow this introduction that will make you feel cozy and comfortable. Ideally, they will challenge you. Ideally, while they might leave you deciding you are absolutely never going to reread a story, you will never be sorry you read it in the first place.

A Nebula winner should be, as Harlan Ellison put it in the anthologies he edited, a “dangerous vision.” Danger wakes us up, makes us realize we are alive, makes us realize why we want to stay alive. It may move us to terror, to joy, to tears, but it should never leave us unmoved.

Here’s to danger.

Mercedes Lackey


The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (formerly known as the Science Fiction Writers of America; the original acronym “SFWA” was retained), includes among its members many active writers of science fiction and fantasy. According to the bylaws of the organization, its purpose “shall be to promote the furtherance of the writing of science fiction, fantasy, and related genres as a profession.” SFWA informs writers on professional matters, protects their interests, and helps them in dealings with agents, editors, anthologists, and producers of nonprint media. It also strives to encourage public interest in and appreciation of science fiction and fantasy.

Anyone may become an active member of SFWA after the acceptance of and payment for one professionally published novel, one professionally produced dramatic script, or three professionally published pieces of short fiction. Only science fiction, fantasy, horror, or other prose fiction of a related genre, in English, shall be considered as qualifying for active membership. Beginning writers who do not yet qualify for active membership but have published qualifying professional work may join as associate members; other classes of membership include affiliate members (editors, agents, reviewers, and anthologists), estate members (representatives of the estates of active members who have died), and institutional members (high schools, colleges, universities, libraries, broadcasters, film producers, futurist groups, and individuals associated with such an institution).

Readers are invited to visit the SFWA site on the internet at


Shortly after the founding of SFWA in 1965, its first secretary-treasurer, Lloyd Biggle, Jr., proposed that the organization periodically select and publish the year’s best stories. This notion evolved into the elaborate balloting process, an annual awards banquet, and a series of Nebula anthologies.

Throughout every calendar year, members of SFWA read and recommend novels and stories for the Nebula Awards. The editor of the Nebula Awards Report collects the recommendations and publishes them in the SFWA Forum and on the SFWA members’ private web page. At the end of the year, the NAR editor tallies the endorsements, draws up a preliminary ballot containing ten or more recommendations, and sends it all to active SFWA members. Under the current rules, each work enjoys a one-year eligibility period from its date of publication in the United States. If a work fails to receive ten recommendations during the one-year interval, it is dropped from further Nebula consideration.

The NAR editor processes the results of the preliminary ballot and then compiles a final ballot listing the five most popular novels, novellas, novelettes, and short stories. For purposes of the award, a novel is determined to be 40,000 words or more; a novella is 17,500 to 39,999 words; a novelette is 7,500 to 17,499 words, and a short story is 7,499 words or fewer. Additionally, each year SFWA impanels a member jury, which is empowered to supplement the five nominees with a sixth choice in cases where it feels a worthy title was neglected by the membership at large. Thus, the appearance of more than five finalists in a category reflects two distinct processes: jury discretion and ties.

A complete set of Nebula rules can be found at



Winner: Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer (FSG Originals; Fourth Estate; HarperCollins Canada)


The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Tor)

Trial by Fire, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)

Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)

The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu (Tor)

Coming Home, Jack McDevitt (Ace)


Winner: Yesterday’s Kin, Nancy Kress (Tachyon)


We Are All Completely Fine, Daryl Gregory (Tachyon)

“The Regular,” Ken Liu (Upgraded, Wyrm)

“The Mothers of Voorhisville,” Mary Rickert (, April 30, 2014)

Calendrical Regression, Lawrence M. Schoen (NobleFusion)

“Grand Jeté (The Great Leap),” Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean, Summer 2014)


Winner: “A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai’i,” Alaya Dawn Johnson (Fantasy & Science Fiction, July/August 2014)


“Sleep Walking Now and Then,” Richard Bowes (, July 9, 2014)

“The Magician and Laplace’s Demon,” Tom Crosshill (Clarkesworld, December 2014)

“The Husband Stitch,” Carmen Maria Machado (Granta, October 27, 2014)

“We Are the Cloud,” Sam J. Miller (Lightspeed, September 2014)

“The Devil in America,” Kai Ashante Wilson (, April 2, 2014)


Winner: “Jackalope Wives,” Ursula Vernon (Apex, January 7, 2014)


“The Breath of War,” Aliette de Bodard (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, March 6, 2014)

“When It Ends, He Catches Her,” Eugie Foster (Daily Science Fiction, September 26, 2014)

“The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye,” Matthew Kressel (Clarkesworld, May 2014)

“The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family,” Usman T. Malik (Qualia Nous, Written Backwards)

“A Stretch of Highway Two Lanes Wide,” Sarah Pinsker (Fantasy & Science Fiction, March/April 2014)

“The Fisher Queen,” Alyssa Wong (Fantasy & Science Fiction, May/June 2014)


Winner: Guardians of the Galaxy, written by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)


Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr., and Armando Bo (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier, screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Edge of Tomorrow, screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, and John-Henry Butterworth (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Interstellar, written by Jonathan Nolan ...