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Joel Cunningham

Blogging the Nebulas Predictions: Place Your Bets

The Nebula Awards could be described as the Academy Awards of SFF literature; they are voted on by the professional peers of the award nominees—members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. There are six nominees in the best novel category this year and I’ve now reviewed each of them in turn,  figuring their odds of taking home the prize. Now it’s time to make my final predictions. This is Blogging the Nebulas 2020.

The Nebula for Best Novel is my favorite award in genre fiction. Sure, everyone loves to kvetch about the Hugos, but there’s too much drama there, especially lately, and until recently at least, the winners rarely reflected my own personal taste. The Philip K. Dick Award, which goes to a paperback original, tends to skew weird, which is always interesting, but rarely am I intimately familiar with the entire shortlist, which makes things a bit less fun. The Locus Award shortlist is always fantastic, but that’s… a lot of nominees.

[But the Nebulas are my jam…]

Blogging the Nebulas: Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Gods of Jade and Shadow Explores Life and Death in Jazz Age Mexico

The Nebula Awards could be described as the Academy Awards of SFF literature; they are voted on by the professional peers of the award nominees—members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. There are six nominees in the best novel category this year. Every day this week, I will be reviewing each of them and figuring their odds of taking home the prize. Welcome to Blogging the Nebulas 2020.

The Pitch

Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Gods of Jade and Shadow begins as a Cinderella tale of sorts. In the wake of her father’s death, young Casiopeia Tun moved with her mother to live with her wealthy, standoffish grandfather on his estate in  Uukumil, a small town in southeastern Mexico. It is the 1920s, the dawn of the Jazz Age, but Casiopeia’s life is filled with anything but glitz and glamour: she is barely tolerated by her grandfather, who holds the promise of her meager inheritance over her head like a boulder, and looked down upon by her relations, who treat her like the help.

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Blogging the Nebulas: Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth Is Space Opera Unhinged

The Nebula Awards could be described as the Academy Awards of SFF literature; they are voted on by the professional peers of the award nominees—members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. There are six nominees in the best novel category this year. All this week I will be reviewing each of them in turn and figuring their odds of taking home the prize. Welcome to Blogging the Nebulas 2020.

The Pitch

Tamsyn Muir’s gonzo debut is the kind of book that demands to be discussed solely in exclamations: Necromancers! Swords! Skeletons! Secrets! Space castles! Giant bone monsters! Dirtbag romance! Shitty teens! A Poochie reference! It is, as the kids say, a lot. And in the absolute best way.

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Blogging the Nebulas: Alix E. Harrow’s The Ten Thousand Doors of January Unlocks the Magic of Portal Fantasy

The Nebula Awards could be described as the Academy Awards of SFF literature; they are voted on by the professional peers of the award nominees—members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. There are six nominees in the best novel category this year. All this week, I will be reviewing each of them in turn and figuring their odds of taking home the prize. Welcome to Blogging the Nebulas 2020.

The Pitch

My introduction to fantasy took place through the back of a wardrobe that opened up onto a magical land. Portals to other worlds are one of the genre’s definitional tropes, making a plot tool out of the metaphorical relationship between reader and novel: Books are gateways.

[That’s the operating thesis of Alix E. Harrow’s The Ten Thousand Doors of January]

Blogging the Nebulas: Charles E. Gannon’s Marque of Caine Is Packed With Old-School Adventure

The Nebula Awards could be described as the Academy Awards of SFF literature; they are voted on by the professional peers of the award nominees—members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. There are six nominees in the best novel category this year. Every day this week, I will be reviewing each of them and figuring their odds of taking home the prize. Welcome to Blogging the Nebulas 2020.

The Pitch

I should say up front that Marque of Caine is not a book for me. I knew this before I even cracked the cover, and my supposition was soon proven correct. For one thing, it’s a military sci-fi novel, a subgenre I generally am not drawn to despite having read and enjoyed an admittedly small number of them, including those still-read classics from Heinlein and Haldeman, more modern updates from the likes of John Scalzi (the Old Man’s War series) and Linda Nagata (the marvelous The Red trilogy), and purposefully subversive trope-skewerers like Kameron Hurley’s The Light Brigade (which missed a Nebula nod this year but is rightly ensconced on the Hugo ballot). I know there’s a lot of great milSF out there. It just doesn’t call out to me, so I don’t read much of it. (I’m a slow reader, and my time for reading books I don’t want to read—even really good ones—is limited.)

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Blogging the Nebulas: Sarah Pinsker’s A Song for a New Day

The Nebula Awards could be described as the Academy Awards of SFF literature; they are voted on by the professional peers of the award nominees—members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. There are six nominees in the best novel category this year. Every day this week, I will be reviewing each of them and figuring their odds of taking home the prize. Welcome to Blogging the Nebulas 2020.

The Pitch

Sarah Pinsker’s A Song for a New Day is a different novel today than it was when she dreamed it up (growing from the seed of the 2015 novelette “Our Lady of the Open Road”), different than when it was published last September, than when it was nominated for the Nebula, than when I read it last week (and this review isn’t scheduled to publish until more than a week from when I am writing these words, by which point it will have changed again).

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Blogging the Nebulas: Arkady Martine’s A Memory Called Empire Marries Cyberpunk, Space Opera, and Political Thriller

The Nebula Awards could be described as the Academy Awards of SFF literature; they are voted on by the professional peers of the award nominees—members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. There are six nominees in the best novel category this year. Every day this week, I will be reviewing each of them and figuring their odds of taking home the prize. Welcome to Blogging the Nebulas 2020.

The Pitch

I’d like to begin with a bit of a mea culpa; I started writing this review series back in early March, at a point when it seemed unimaginable I’d have trouble finding time to write a few thousand words about six fantastic sci-fi and fantasy novels before the deadline of the Nebula Awards ceremony on May 30. But then I got a new full-time writing and editing job, which became a work-from-home job when the pandemic shut down New York City, including—perhaps most significantly w/r/t my productivity—its elementary schools. Regardless, I’m back, and I still have…a couple of weeks to go until we have a new Nebula winner to celebrate, and I’d certainly be remiss not to discuss the rest of this shockingly good ballot. Beginning with…

[A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine]

Blogging the Nebulas: Sarah Pinsker’s A Song for a New Day Is 2020 Captured Between Two Covers

The Nebula Awards could be described as the Academy Awards of SFF literature; they are voted on by the professional peers of the award nominees—members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. There are six nominees in the best novel category this year. Every few weeks between now and the announcement of the winner on May 30, I will be reviewing each of them and figuring their odds of taking home the prize. Welcome to Blogging the Nebulas 2020.

The Pitch

Sarah Pinsker’s A Song for a New Day is a different novel today than it was when she dreamed it up (growing from the seed of the 2015 novelette “Our Lady of the Open Road”), different than when it was published last September, than when it was nominated for the Nebula, than when I read it last week (and this review isn’t scheduled to publish until more than a week from when I am writing these words, by which point it will have changed again).

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Jo Walton, Maya Chhabra, and Many More Authors Present the Decameron Project: Free Fiction for the Social-Distancing Era

The world is a scary place right now, but science fiction and fantasy authors and fans are fighting back with the power of stories. Over on Patreon, award-winning author (and Tor.com contributor) Jo Walton, poet and author Maya Chhabra, and librarian, singer, and SF/F fan Lauren Schiller recently launched the Decameron Project, which aims to provide readers with a new donation-supported short story or novel excerpt every day as long as the world is under threat by the coronavirus.

The project is inspired by its namesake, The Decameron, a 14th-century masterwork by the Italian writer Giovanni Boccaccio written while Europe was deep in the throes of the Black Death.

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Six Recent SFF Novels That Give No Effs About Genre Distinctions

Science fiction and fantasy exist as strata of various subgenres: hard SF and space opera, epic and urban fantasy, steampunk and cyberpunk, and so on. It’s baked into genre fiction, this omnipresence of tropes and conventions that allow picky readers to know exactly what they’re in for.

But some authors say: screw that noise. Why limit yourself to just one genre when you can toss them all across the floor, grease up your book, and roll it around in the resulting debris, picking up a little of this and a little of that? (You know, metaphorically.)

Here are six recent works of SFF that give absolutely no effs about the genre divide.

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Six Books with Monstrous Heroes

It’s hard to argue that the fantasy genre doesn’t have a tendency to support the idea that the further a creature strays from the human ideal of beauty, the more likely said creature is to bite off your finger to steal your magic ring.

But there are those fantasy novels that flip the script, putting traditionally monstrous races in the role of the protagonist. In these books, the trolls and goblins and dragons get to be, er, people—and even if they sometimes still wind up working the teensiest bit on the side of the baddies, at least we can sympathize with their motivations.

Here are six books that explore the inner lives of members of the genre’s rogues gallery.

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Watch the Entire Opening to the Final Fantasy VII Remake

Fans have been demanding a remake of the iconic Final Fantasy VII since the days of the PlayStation 2, but nothing official ever came together until 2015, when game publisher Square Enix and the original creative team announced the Final Fantasy VII Remake for Playstation 4.

The first footage of the game was released in 2017; a full teaser followed in 2019. And today, Square Enix has revealed the full opening cinematic, which gives us an immersive idea of what we can expect from this next-gen take on a beloved classic.

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A Xenobiologist Finds Herself in a Sticky Situation in the First Look at Christopher Paolini’s To Sleep in a Sea of Stars

While still a teenager, author Christopher Paolini funneled his passion for all things epic (dragons! Quests! Magic! Prophecies! Power-mad villains! Apostrophes!) into Eragon, a book that kicked off one of the bestselling young reader fantasy sagas ever published.

In the nine years since the release of the final volume of the Inheritance Trilogy Cycle, however, Paolini has been fairly quiet, his only work of significant length being last year’s short story collection The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm, which gave readers a glimpse of the future that awaits Eragon, Saphira, and the kingdom of Alagaësia.

For his next book, he is looking into our own future: late last year we learned Paolini will return to bookstores in September with a brand new adventure in a genre publicly untried by the author, as he releases his first foray into science fiction, the space opera To Sleep in a Sea of Stars.

Today, Entertainment Weekly gave us an exclusive look at the novel, providing more hints about what we can expect from Paolini’s first work for adults—a book he calls a “love letter to science fiction.”

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