Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Nebula nominees

So, the Nebula short list was announced some time over the weekend — thanks to social media, I find out about this sort of thing only a little after the fact these days. Interesting list of nominees! Of course I haven’t read any of the shorter works, but the nominated novels are:

Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
Uprooted, Naomi Novik (Del Rey)
The Grace of Kings, Ken Liu (Saga)
Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard, Lawrence M. Schoen (Tor)
Raising Caine, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
Updraft, Fran Wilde (Tor)

And as far as I’m concerned, the single most interesting thing about this list is the echo we see in the Andre Norton Award YA nominees, which are as follows:

Cuckoo Song, Frances Hardinge (Macmillan UK 5/14; Amulet)
Bone Gap, Laura Ruby (Balzer + Bray)
Archivist Wasp, Nicole Kornher-Stace (Big Mouth House)
Court of Fives, Kate Elliott (Little, Brown)
Shadowshaper, Daniel José Older (Levine)
Seriously Wicked, Tina Connolly (Tor Teen)
Zeroboxer, Fonda Lee (Flux)
Nimona, Noelle Stevenson (HarperTeen)
Updraft, Fran Wilde (Tor)

See that? UPDRAFT is nominated for both the Nebula and the Andre Norton Award! Has that ever happened before? If it has, I don’t remember. I actually have UPDRAFT on my Kindle; obviously I need to move it up to the top of the TBR pile.

The second most interesting thing, or maybe the first, is that NIMONA is a graphic novel. Has *that* ever happened before — anything other than a novel nominated for the Andre Norton Award? I’ve definitely heard good things about NIMONA. I guess now is a good time to take a look at it.

So, let’s see, of the Nebula nominees, I’ve read ANCILLARY MERCY and UPROOTED. Two thumbs up for both of those; they’re very good and very different and I have no idea how I would sort them out if I were judging them against one another.

I’ve read a sample from BARSK, which I might or might not go on with . . . I’m interested, but it didn’t instantly grab me and pull me in the way the two above both did. And I’ve also read a sample of THE GRACE OF KINGS, which surprised me because honestly — this was a surprise — I did not find the writing all that strong on a sentence-by-sentence level. I have admired some of Liu’s shorter work, and yet there it is: for this one, I don’t. And I disliked the two boys we meet first, one brave and rule-defying and the other timid and rule-following, both cliched as all get out. Maybe the book winds up being great, but I don’t know, it fell off my urgent must-read-now list after the sample.

I have the first book of Gannon’s series on my TBR pile, but I doubt I’ll start the series any time soon. I don’t have THE FIFTH SEASON yet, and it was priced pretty high for a book that sounds offputtingly grim, but maybe I’ll read the sample and see.

Now, for the Andre Norton nominees:

I’ve read CUCKOO SONG and loved it; I’ve read BONE GAP and loved that; again they are quite different and again I would have a hard time ranking one above the other. I’ll have to think about it.

I’ve heard good things about ARCHIVIST WASP and have a sample on my urgent pile. I’ve heard mixed reactions to COURT OF FIVES, but I have loved some of Elliot’s other books, and I think I have a sample of that one, too.

SHADOWSHIFTER, SERIOUSLY WICKED, and ZEROBOXER I don’t know anything about. I don’t remember ever hearing of them before.

So, very interesting lineup this year and I know for sure there are multiple books in each of those categories that I would be able to root for. Congratulations to all the nominees!

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1 Comment Nebula nominees

  1. Linda S

    Definitely an interesting list. Gannon has quite the fan club among Nebula nominators, doesn’t he? I read the first one the year it was nominated and didn’t get what people were seeing in it, though it did pick up in the second half. Maybe the next two are better, but I haven’t tried them.

    Ancillary Mercy will probably be on my Hugo list, too, though I was a little put off by the fact that the narrative seemed to treat the resolution as basically happy–I thought it was a pretty creepy situation, myself. The whole “check your privilege” thing with Seivarden and Ekalu also struck me as really heavy-handed. But overall, I think Leckie stuck the landing.

    I liked Uprooted a lot, but I’ve been a little taken aback by the level of buzz for it. To me, it seemed like a solid, well-done fantasy, but not necessarily award material. Obviously, a lot of people disagree with that!

    As I’ve mentioned before, I bounced off of Grace of Kings, and Fifth Season sounds way too dark for me. Updraft is a strange case; I started it, got about halfway through, had to stop for a while, and haven’t been motivated to start again. There’s some very interesting worldbuilding in the book, but I just didn’t care much about the protagonist. I definitely see why people like it, though.

    I was disappointed that Carry On didn’t make the YA list. Bone Gap is the only nominee I’ve read, and I’d be happy to see it get the award.

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