Mon
Sep 8 2008 4:19pm
Preliminary Nebula Award Nominations

Recently, an initial version of the Nebula Preliminary Ballot was announced. Pertinent to my expertise here at Tor.com, here are the short fiction pieces on this ballot:

NOVELLAS:
Gregory Benford, “Dark Heaven,” Alien Crimes, Resnick, Mike, Ed., SFBC
Kelley Eskridge, “Dangerous Space,” Dangerous Space, Aquaduct Press

NOVELETTES:
Richard Bowes, “If Angels Fight,” F&SF
Michael F.  Flynn, “Quaestiones Super Caelo et Mundo,” Analog
John Kessel, “Pride and Prometheus,” F&SF
Ted Kosmatka, “The Prophet of Flores,” Asimov’s
Johanna Sinisalo, “Baby Doll,” The SFWA European Hall of Fame: Sixteen Contemporary Masterpieces of Science Fiction from the Continent, James Morrow & Kathryn Morrow, Ed., Tor
K.D. Wentworth, “Kaleidoscope,” F&SF

SHORT STORIES:
Michael Cassutt, “Skull Valley,” Asimov’s
Sheila Finch, “Stranger Than Imagination Can,” The Guild of Xenolinguists, Golden Gryphon Press
Jeffrey Ford, “The Dreaming Wind,” The Coyote Road, Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, Ed., Viking Juvenile
Samantha Henderson, “Bottles,” Realms of Fantasy
M. K. Hobson, “The Hotel Astarte,” Realms of Fantasy
Gwyneth Jones, “The Tomb Wife,” F&SF
James Patrick Kelly, “Don’t Stop,” Asimov’s
Brian Plante, “The Astronaut,” Analog
Mary Rickert, “Holiday,” Subterranean
Ken Scholes, “Summer in Paris, Light From the Sky,” Clarkesworld Magazine

Earlier this year, Dave Truesdale had a post about the original fiction anthologies from 2007 wherein he recommended stories. I talked about Truesdale’s post myself, mostly to note which stories from Logorrhea that he recommended. I lamented that with so many great original fiction anthologies I wished I had less competition so that perhaps a story from the anthology would make the ballot. In the end, nothing from Logorrhea made the preliminary nor final ballot.

Over on The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (F&SF) message boards, my post was referenced and discussed. Sam Hamm wrote:

Klima seems to be under the impression that “now none of the stories from the overlooked anthologies can make the final ballot.” Given the SFFWA’s bizarre rolling-eligibility rules, I would assume that many, if not most, of the stories Dave plugged are still eligible and could conceivably turn up on NEXT year’s ballot, no?

To which Truesdale replies:

Yes, they would still be eligible, depending on the exact publishing date. They have 12 months from time of publication to garner the necessary number of nominations to make the prelim ballot.
The thing is (as I stated in my column) that many will most likely be forgotten in the flush of all the new stuff coming out in 2008, and the fifteen minutes for some of these collections and stories might therefore be over by next year. Of the 7 *preliminary* nominations on this year’s ballot (out of 25 stories) from *2006* there were exactly Zero from original anthologies. If that holds true for next year, then Zero will again be the number of original anthologies from 2007 on the prelim ballot for 2008.

And Truesdale was essentially correct. Of the 18 pieces of short fiction currently on the ballot, only three of them are from original short-fiction anthologies and one from a single-author collection. And none of them are from my anthology: Logorrhea. From what I can interpret of the rules, work is eligible for 12 months from the date of publication, and since the anthology came out in May of 2007, we are past the point where anything could make the ballot, correct? However, if I’ve got that wrong, and the fact that zero stories from Logorrhea appeared in any version of the ballot this year, they would all still be eligible. Right?

So, while I know this looks like me shilling for my anthology, I’m actually trying to show how Truesdale’s point and my lament are both correct. While the stories may be ellgible, they will not be remembered to make the ballot. Work from original anthologies rarely makes the award nominations. I’m very proud of the fact of the recognition the anthology has already gotten. So I’m not trying for some sympathy to get the stories on the Nebula ballot. There are a lot of worthy stories from this year, many yet to come, that deserve to make the ballot.

And honestly? I don’t think that material published in 2007 should make a ballot for an award given out in 2009. I can understand, and expect the awards juries to decide to place something older on the ballot, particularly if it was in a small publication or late in the year. But Logorrhea was published in the middle of the year by a major publisher. While I would love to see a story from Logorrhea on the Nebula ballot, I think those stories missed their chances.

Nonetheless, there were a bunch of great short-fiction anthologies last year, and Truesdale’s post provides an execllent round-up. It’s worth reading through the post to see what stories you may have missed and what anthologies are worth getting.

7 comments
Ellen Datlow
1. Ellen Datlow
John,
If the book came out in May 2007 then the stories ended their eligibility May 2008. If none of them made the preliminary ballot by then, that's it.

Btw, I consider the issue of Subterranean an anthology (60,000 words and a one shot for me)...if one does, then you have to count "Holiday"...

I'm hopeful that stories from my Del Rey Book of SF&F will make the preliminary ballot this year, too.
Joe Sherry
2. jsherry
What the hell? It's likely not nearly as early as it feels to me, but this just seems so early to even have a preliminary list out.

I like "The Prophet of Flores" an awful lot.

I'd also like to see more nominees from anthologies, so hopefully there is still time. Not sure if Lou Anders's forthcoming Fast Forward 2 would be eligible or not.

Not sure if there would be enough traction for this, and maybe it wouldn't qualify because it isn't technically "professional", but I'd love to see something from Shadow Unit at least make a long list. If it isn't eligible now, maybe when the first SU collection is published.
John Klima
3. john_klima
Ellen, that's what I thought. Like I said, this wasn't about shilling for nominations. I hope you get your Del Rey Book of SF&F stories on the final ballot, too. I personally don't consider any periodical an anthology no matter its length, but that's just me. :)

Joe, it does seem early. I assume it's out to get people thinking about what they're reading the rest of the year in order to get nominations.
Ellen Datlow
4. Ellen Datlow
Joe, yes. That's exactly the point. It's to offset the complaints that there's nothing on the preliminary ballot, come December--there are things now and if readers/members push and read there will be hopefully be a lot of other terrific stories, novels, and work in all categories to make it a worthy horse race. :-)

John, it was more my editing of the one issue than the length that I was referring to. But yes, it was in magazine form, so that's what Subterranean #7 is.
Ellen Datlow
5. David de Beer
@Joe:
when a story has received 10 recommendations it is on the Preliminary list, regardless of when that happens. There is no reason not to make them publicly available as soon as that happens, and on a continual basis. As Ellen has said, it does show that there is some movement all the time which I don't think is a bad thing at all. Hopefully, next month there will be even more in each category.
At the end of the year, the NAR Editor will compile a list of all the stories&books that are on the Prelim and mail them out to the active members so they can vote on which ones make it to the Final Ballot.
The ones on this ballot that John Klima linked to are guaranteed to be there and come into consideration for the Final Ballot. It is not to say, however, that they will be the only ones on there.

@John Klima:

I've been thinking a bit on the matter of original anthologies and their lack of representation on the ballots (specifically after the most recent grumble on the Asimovs forum), and while there is some truth to Truesdale's complaint, he does fail to factor in 2 vital aspects:
1) people do not have unlimited amounts of money (to purchase anthologies to begin with);
2) people do not have unlimited amounts of time in which to read everything that's published in a given year.

Now, my understanding is that magazines in general still sell better -- and therefore have more readers -- than original anthologies, so I don't know why it continues to be a surprise that anthos struggle to make the ballots.
This is just a thought, mind you, but I wonder if maybe there aren't too many anthologies being published right now? original anthologies, that is, not reprints or author collections.
An idea I would like to see being experiment with a great deal more would be to combine anthologies and magazines. Instead of putting out a new book, bring in a guest editor and run a themes issue for an established shorts magazine.
Shimmer put together a lovely Pirate themed issue guest edited by John Joseph Adams. I don't see why that idea can't work on a regulas basis across all the magazines (also breaks up some of the monotony that can creep into a given magazine who uses the same 1 or 3 editors all the time. And it is a form of conservative experimentation which in the long run could turn out very healthy for the mag& its readers).

From the writer's (short term) pov, it makes sense to want more anthos -- more sales opportunity.
But in the long-term, and from a reader&publisher's pov, I'm not so sure. You want to get a story in front of the maximum possible readership.

Halving the amount of anthos being published will cut down a lot on the competition in that field, easier on the wallet; combining the remaining half with established magazines brings those stories to an already established readership, and at no additional cost to the readers which is of vital importance. Also negates the need for additional printing costs. The magazine issue would have to be put out anyways.

I'm not comfortable with the phrase "the best stories get published in the anthologies" that gets bandied around forums, since it pre-supposes a universal sameness in taste and want which is simply not true. But, let's assume at least those stories are quality. You'd want them in front of as many readers as possible, and combining with an established magazine for a guest issue seems logically like one of the most efficient ways to do that.

anyways, it's just a thought. I know little about the publishing end of things, and this is something those of you involved on that side would be better able to consider.
Ellen Datlow
6. David de Beer
and maybe it wouldn't qualify because it isn't technically "professional",

whether a publication is considered "professional" or not, is only under consideration for membership requirements. It has no bearing of any kind on the Nebula voting.

a work is eligible when:

print -- 12 months starting from the month it was published in North America.
online --12 months starting from the date of first publication, regardless of country of origin of the publishers.

A livejournal post from Charles Coleman Finlay, for example, received a recommendation. It's on the list for recommended shorts. More tongue in cheek than anything else, but it does illustrate the point.
Doubt it will make the Final Ballot though.

that's how I understand the rules in any case. more or less.
Joe Sherry
7. jsherry
And this is what we call Nebula Education Hour. :)

Thanks, David. I had thought, or assumed without looking anything up, that because the Nebulas are via the SFWA that only works published in SFWA qualifying markets would be eligible.

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