I was actually just looking at the Nebula nominations a few hours before you put your post up, and I have to say I’m pretty underwhelmed. Before I get to the Andre Norton award, here’s the list of movie nominations:
Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation
- The Avengers
- Beasts of the Southern Wild
- The Cabin in the Woods
- The Hunger Games
- John Carter
Now, I don’t get out as much as I’d like (two kids and all) and the only one of these I’ve seen is The Hunger Games, but based on previews and reviews you literally could not pay me to watch any of these movies, except maybe Beasts of the Southern Wild.
Anyway, back to books. I’ve read half of the 12 titles the SFWA members nominated, and find it a pretty perplexing list of titles. Most importantly to me are the omissions: somehow Margo Lanagan is yet again denied a major award for Brides of Rollrock Island. And besides Brides, I would have dearly liked to have seen Monstrous Beauty and The Drowned Cities on this list, clearly two of the best pieces of SF/Fantasy written last year, and certainly much better than many of the titles that did make the Andre Norton list.
Seriously, what is it with Every Day? How is that book getting so much critical affection? I didn’t finish Railsea, and I know it is very beloved by many, but I found the 2/3 or so that I forced myself through to be pretentious even beyond my (very broad) standards of pretention. And speaking of BFYA Top Ten titles (which Every Day is), I just read Alethea Kontis’s Enchanted, which made the Andre Norton nominations, because it was on the BFYA list. While I like it better than Every Day (not saying much), and while I think “Aletha Kontis” is pretty much the greatest name of all time, I found it to be virtually incoherent. It started off promising enough as a kind of fairy tale mash-up, but as Kontis started having to figure out a real plot for it, and figure out how the magic was going to work in her world, it swiftly went off the rails. Also, I’m probably the only person in the world who cares about this, but I really dislike it when true fairy tales (meaning folk stories based on an oral tradition) are indiscriminately lumped together the literary tales of H.C. Andersen. I’m not even too keen on blended the European stories with English tales like “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” and “Jack and the Beanstalk,” but even I realize that’s probably going a bit too far.
On the positive side of things, I am absolutely thrilled to see Holly Black’s Curse Workers series getting some love. I can’t remember now how I got turned on to this series, but it is really fantastic. As to whether you need to start with the first one, I’m not totally sure, but I’d say: there’s no real rush to get to Black Heart, so you might as well start at the beginning. The other two bright spots on the list are The Diviners and Seraphina (although I am beginning to waver on my devotion to these two–I still think both are fabulous books, but whereas a month ago I would have easily classed both above Monstrous Beauty and The Drowned Cities, I’m starting to think that the flaws in them–especially Seraphina–pull them below those two titles).
So, that’s my cranky take on the Nebulas–basically: where are Lanagan, Fama, and Bacigalupi? It occurs to me as I finish this post that I may not know something about the eligibility requirements for the award, but I know it is not limited to Americans (which would exclude Lanagan), because I see many Brits on the list of winners. Is there something else I’m missing?