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Nebula Awards Showcase 2015
By Greg Bear
Prometheus BooksCopyright © 2015 Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA, Inc.)
All rights reserved.
THE LONG, HOT SUMMER OF SCIENCE FICTION
I was clueless. Enthusiastic, idealistic, and clueless. It was April of 1978, and I had been publishing some decent stories that had attracted gratifying attention, but no novels. Everything was potential. I was still doing illustrations of one sort or another, anything to make a little money ...
I had established a track record with the Los Angeles Times Calendar section, publishing think pieces about the current run of blockbuster science-fiction films — Star Wars among them. I suggested to the LA Times Book Review — at that time a substantial pull-out section in the paper — that perhaps I should act as a stringer and cover the 1978 Nebula Awards ceremony being held in down-town San Francisco. The editor agreed, and I arrived at the hotels around Union Square full of energy and ideas, hoping to help spread the word about the ever-ascending marvel that was science fiction and fantasy.
I should have known that this was all too good to be true. At that time, there was an undercurrent of contempt that I did not feel at Calendar. A sub-editor at the Book Review strongly advised me that if I didn't get pictures of people in Spock ears and wild costumes, my piece might not run — clearly implying that the subject was faintly risible. I tried to explain that this wasn't a costume event; professional writers were gathering to celebrate the achievements of their peers. This was serious (mostly); this was about literature.
"Ears, costumes," the subeditor insisted.
Of course, there were no Spock ears, and my relationship with the Book Review went south from there. I wrote up my piece, with subtle and wise criticisms of some of the more conservative publishing trends of the day, and the text was awkwardly trimmed (without my approval) in such a way that I ended up pissing off Judy-Lynn del Rey, probably the most powerful editor in the field. Maybe I would have irritated her anyway; we'll never know. (I later tried to make it up to her with an apologetic letter and another Calendar piece lauding the supremacy of Ballantine/Del Rey's marketing skills.)
I fled from the Book Review but continued my fruitful work with Calendar editor Irv Letofsky, a lovely and intelligent man. Getting into the movie studios to see previews of new features was fabulous. Irv published my film pieces through the 1980s, including examinations of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Alien, Superman, and Raiders of the Lost Ark — as well as an Omen/Exorcist 3 mashup. He rejected my piece on Dune. It was an interesting film and a good article, but Irv didn't think the movie would stay in theaters long. It didn't, but it's still a favorite — despite its flaws.
When not going to previews or running around Long Beach visiting bookstores and record shops, I was busy writing novels, which began to be published. In 1979, James Turner of Arkham House requested a short-story collection. Things were looking up!
The 1984 Nebula Awards ceremony was held at the Queen Mary Hotel in Long Beach, California. The event was in a wide, bright dining room — I don't remember where on the ship, but it was well decked out with white tablecloths. The food was okay, I recall.
The highlight for me was when toastmaster Gregory Benford arranged the list of presenters. My wife, Astrid, and her parents, Poul and Karen Anderson, were in the audience, along with my agent, Richard Curtis, and my own parents, Dale and Wilma Bear. Elizabeth "Bette" Chater — one of my favorite people and very favorite professors from my alma mater, San Diego State University — was also able to attend and was accompanied by her daughter Patty. What a setup! None better since.
As the awards moved along that evening, Poul Anderson and Gregory Benford switched off to hand me two Nebulas: one for Hardfought and one for Blood Music. Fellow Killer B David Brin picked up Best Novel for Startide Rising.
Richard Curtis approached Lou Aronica and ebulliently proclaimed, with reference to advances, "To the moon, Lou! To the moon!"
And so it all began.
To this day, I hate losing awards, and I feel guilty winning them. What is this "best" nonsense? I know far too much about modern literary judgments to put much stock in contemporary assessments.
But it is fun to win! And so congratulations to our winners and a sideways wink to the nominees. I've been there. Some of my best novels were never even nominated. What's that about? Award ceremonies are designed to make writers suffer, and then, on occasion, to feel overwhelming pride. So be it.
My other favorite Nebula moment was when I was elected SFWA president in 1988. Back then, it was the president's sole discretion as to who would be awarded the Grand Master Award. I chose Ray Bradbury. Trying to be a little coy, I called him at his office in Los Angeles and suggested that he needed to be in New York City on a certain date, in appropriate attire — an ice cream suit would do fine. He demurred at first, but I was still too coy to tell him straight out, so I said, "Ray, you will really, really want to be in New York on this night, at this location! And invite your friends and editors. This is big."
He finally got the point, arrived in New York, and was duly celebrated. The night before the Nebula event, a group of us, including Donn Albright, a collector, archivist, and dear friend of Ray's, took a limo down to the South Street Seaport. While we were waiting for our table, the Irish singer holding forth from the stage spotted Ray and dedicated a song to him. The dinner itself was jovial and lasted a couple of hours, with copious servings of wine. I'm not sure what Ray ate, but it wasn't fish — he was deathly allergic to seafood!
The next night at the banquet, Ray's first agent and early promoter, Julius "Julie" Schwartz, a famous "Silver Age" editor at DC Comics, handed Ray a magnificent hunk of Lucite with nebula and mineral specimens inside. In turn, Ray delivered a stirring speech, and a fine time was had by all. Shortly there- after, Bantam Books released special Grand Master editions of Ray's paperbacks.
That was the most fun I had being president.
So here's my love and fond hopes to all who compete — and to all those fine authors who create amazing works year after year and keep running up the odds!
My wife, Astrid, is rightfully coeditor of this anthology, due in part to my medical emergency. She's done a marvelous job communicating with the authors, preparing the manuscript, and generally running the show. I'm the figurehead here. Love and thanks to this marvelous woman, my partner of many decades!
Excerpted from Nebula Awards Showcase 2015 by Greg Bear. Copyright © 2015 Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA, Inc.). Excerpted by permission of Prometheus Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsIntroduction: The Long, Hot Summer of Science Fiction Greg Bear, 13,
About the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, 17,
About the Nebula Awards, 19,
2013 Nebula Awards Final Ballot, 21,
Nebula Award Winner: Best Short Story,
"If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love" Rachel Swirsky, 25,
Nebula Award Nominees: Best Short Story,
"The Sounds of Old Earth" Matthew Kressel, 28,
"Selkie Stories Are for Losers" Sophia Samatar, 43,
"Selected Program Notes from the Retrospective Exhibition of Theresa Rosenberg Latimer" Kenneth Schneyer,
"Alive, Alive Oh" Sylvia Spruck Wrigley, 62,
Nebula Award Winner: Best Novelette,
"The Waiting Stars" Aliette de Bodard, 70,
Nebula Award Nominees: Best Novelette,
"Paranormal Romance" Christopher Barzak, 96,
"They Shall Salt the Earth with Seeds of Glass" Alaya Dawn Johnson, 116,
"Pearl Rehabilitative Colony for Ungrateful Daughters" Henry Lien, 142,
"In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind" Sarah Pinsker, 164,
"The Litigation Master and the Monkey King" Ken Liu, 185,
Nebula Award Winner: Best Novella,
"The Weight of the Sunrise" Vylar Kaftan, 207,
Nebula Award Winner: Best Novel,
Excerpt from Ancillary Justice Ann Leckie, 257,
Nebula Awards 2013 Distinguished Guest: Frank M. Robinson,
"Finding Frqnkie: Remembering Frank M. Robinson" Robin Wayne Bailey, 263,
Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Winner,
Excerpt from Sister Mine Nalo Hopkinson, 268,
About the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award, 274,
"A Life Considered as a Prism of Ever-Precious Light: An Appreciation of Samuel R. Delany" Nalo Hopkinson,
Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master: Samuel R. Delany,
"Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones", 280,
About the Rhysling And Dwarf Stars Awards, 318,
2013 Rhysling Award Winner: Best Short Poem,
"The Cat Star" Terry A. Garey, 319,
2013 Dwarf Stars Award Winner,
"Basho after Cinderella (iii)" Deborah P Kolodji, 321,
2013 Rhysling Award Winner: Best Long Poem,
"Into Flight" Andrew Robert Sutton, 322,
Past Nebula Award Winners, 329,
About the Editor, 347,
About the Cover Artist, 349,