2010 Nebula Award Winners Announced

As announced at the Nebula Awards Weekend, the 2010 winners:

Short Story (tie)




The Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation

  • Inception, Christopher Nolan (director), Christopher Nolan (screenplay) (Warner)
  • Despicable Me, Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud (directors), Ken Daurio & Cinco Paul (screenplay), Sergio Pablos (story) (Illumination Entertainment)
  • Doctor Who: ‘‘Vincent and the Doctor’’, Richard Curtis (writer), Jonny Campbell (director)
  • How to Train Your Dragon, Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders (directors), William Davies, Dean DeBlois, & Chris Sanders (screenplay) (DreamWorks Animation)
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Edgar Wright (director), Michael Bacall & Edgar Wright (screenplay) (Universal)
  • Toy Story 3, Lee Unkrich (director), Michael Arndt (screenplay), John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, & Lee Unkrich (story) (Pixar/Disney)

Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy

Congratulations to the winners and nominees!

To be honest, I don’t find this list at all exciting, especially in the context of the nominees. I feel like SFWA had a chance to really shake things up this year and recognize the up and coming generation of writers, and they missed that chance in favor of lauding the longtime stalwarts of the genre. Is this the last opportunity SFWA had to give awards to Harlan Ellison and Terry Pratchett? Maybe. But it was also their first opportunity to give awards to Amal El-Mohtar, Shweta Narayan, Nnedi Okorafor, and Barry Deutsch–a slate of winners that would have sent a very different message about the kinds of works, and the kinds of authors, that SFWA finds worthy of acclaim.

I sincerely hope this is not a predictor of the Hugos, especially the all-white* winners list and the award for Blackout/All Clear.

* To the best of my knowledge.

On the bright side, as Nicholas Whyte points out, three of the five fiction Nebula winners are female and Swirsky is the first Hugo or Nebula winner born in the 1980s. I feel suddenly old…

13 thoughts on “2010 Nebula Award Winners Announced

  1. Trey

    Must agree, congrats to all but disappointed with winner for Novel, found Jemisin & Kowal’s works much more interesting than Blackout/All Clear.

  2. Pingback: And the winner of the 2010 Nebula Award for Best Novella… | Alas, a Blog

  3. DTS

    Ms. FOX: Shaking things up isn’t a bad thing…but ONLY if the stories selected for a prize deserve the prize — not just to shake things up (because, ya know, it’s hip to vote for the new guy or girl). And I should admit — from the start — that I haven’t read all the novels, novellas and novelettes, and/or the YA books, or seen all of the TV shows (caught the films), so I can’t speak with authority to those categories.

    I DID read all of the short stories. And while it was definitely a strong group of contenders, I believe the voters picked the best stories in this particular category. “Ponies” is nothing if not unsettling, and Johnson managed to elicit that emotion in a very few words. And Ellison’s story is not only one of his best in years, it works on different levels (Is it a story about the creator and his creation? Or a story about the growing intolerance in modern, American society? Or a story about an artist’s public persona? And the litany and repetition of lines gives it a feeling of poetry). By the way, I’m pretty sure Johnson is one of the up & comers in SF and the creative world, as are Rachel Swirsky and Eric James Stone and even Christopher Nolan (new kid on the block when it comes to writer/directors). Which makes your lament sound more like sour grapes (because, perhaps, a writer you preferred didn’t win) and less like objective criticism.

    1. Rose Fox Post author

      There’s no such thing as objective criticism. Of course I’m stating my opinion here; that’s what blogs are for.

      I think I can objectively say that neither Johnson nor Nolan is a “new kid on the block”, though. Johnson’s first story was published in 1988, nearly a quarter-century ago. Nolan’s first major feature film was made in 1998, and I’d say that 2000′s Memento was sufficiently SFnal to be Bradbury-eligible. Compare to El-Mohtar, whose first Nebula-eligible short story sale was (I believe) in 2006, or Okorafor, whose Who Fears Death is her first novel for adults, or Jemisin, who debuted with The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and has only been selling short stories since 2004 or so. So on that point, at least, the facts are not in dispute.

  4. Courtney V.

    Interesting that they didn’t name a Grandmaster this year. They’re running out of time to give one to Gene Wolfe, but I’m thinking since it’s taken THIS long, they must not want to.

    The winners were really interesting, except for Novel, which is disappointing because Ian McDonald was left off the shortlist all together. Swirsky’s win for novella is huge for her, considering the monster sized horses she beat. I haven’t read her story, but I’m definitely going to check it out now. Ellison tying with Johnson is interesting also, since this is probably going to be the last major win for Ellison, and Johnson’s always fun to read.

    I do agree with Ms. Fox’s lament about the nature of the winners. The big draw of this shortlist was the diversity, and it’s a really cool sign of things to come with this generation’s up-and-coming talent. But the fact of the matter was with all that diversity and youth, it was pretty predictable (except the novella category). I think Willis’ win here was more on reputation and the scope of the book(s) than it being that much better than the rest. I don’t think they were particularly well written, and she’s more than capable, so I can’t say I agree. Then again, it’s not up to me!

    All in all, very, very interesting shortlist, and I expect this crop to show up in some form next year.

  5. Mari

    DTS –

    Just to nitpick on one small point of your post: I really don’t think Kij Johnson can be called an “up & comer” in SF; she arrived some time ago. Wikipedia notes that she started publishing in the 1980s; she won a Sturgeon award in 1994; her 2000 novel, The Fox Woman, won a Crawford Award; her 2003 novel was shortlisted for a World Fantasy Award; she’s a multiple Nebula and Hugo finalist, and just won her second Nebula. And that’s only grabbing the Wikipedia highlights.

    Which is not to say that “Ponies” didn’t deserve the award; I certainly think it was a worthy winner. Just to note that attempting to call Kij Johnson an “up and comer” (or Christopher Nolan, for that matter; Inception was Nolan’s SEVENTH film, following his major hit The Dark Knight) is not perhaps the best counter argument to this post.

  6. DTS

    MS. FOX: In terms of writing — how much has been accomplished — I’ve a feeling most (if not all) writers would disagree with you. But, hey, you say to-mah-toe, I say tomato. So it goes. And while Okorafor may have only recently sold a novel, she’s a professor and has been around a while. (Who knows _how_ long she’s actually been at it?) See where I’m goin’ with this? (You, too, Mari). Compared to Spielberg (who might be a good stand-in for, say, Willis or Ellison), Nolan is, indeed, a new kid on the block. He only _recently_ started getting some Oscar respect. (And while seven films is quite a lot, in terms of a career, in terms of old guard vs. up and comers, I think it’s safe to say Nolan would fall in the latter category). Up and comers need not mean someone who has just published their first story or novel. It usually means someone who is becoming successful in their caeer, and is hitting their stride in a long stretch of success. Perhaps you ladies should check out word and phrase definitions. Or not.

    But, hey, different perspectives, right?

    The main point was: Fox was grumbling because “people of color” (or perhaps — giving her some leeway — merely younger, or _first time_, or more women, authors weren’t more heavily represented amongst winners. If such an attitude were _always_ taken, worthy novels by writers like Philip Roth (SABBATH’S THEATER, for example) would have to be bypassed in order to give the award to a novel of lesser worth, one written by a “person of color” or someone younger.

    While I’m the first to agree that the literati — usually old, fat, white men (i.e. Harold Bloom) — have tried to turn it into an old boy’s club, the great thing about the literary world is that the work can — and should — be judged on its own — the age, color and sex of the author need not come into play (remember James Tiptree?). One would hope that an opinionated but educated “blogger” like Fox would remember that when “slinging ink.”


    1. Rose Fox Post author

      The “lesser worth” argument is, of course, fallacious. No one is suggesting that; no one has ever suggested that. What I am suggesting is that works that are equally or more deserving of the award are being neglected. In theory, all things being equal, the demographics of the award-winners should reflect the demographics of the award nominees, which should in turn reflect the demographics of published writers, which should in turn reflect the demographics of fans. Yet from a very diverse base of readers, we get progressively less diverse groups of published writers, award nominees, and winners. That tells me that something is awry.

      In addition, many works can’t be judged on their own without reference to the author. Should we pretend, ludicrously, that a white American man could have written Who Fears Death? On the flip side, should we refrain from pointing out that Blackout/All Clear is riddled with factual errors about England that an English author might not have made or an English publisher might have caught? Did anyone reading Ellison’s story even attempt to consider its candidacy for the award without considering Ellison’s long history as an author or his present state of ill health? The author’s background and experiences infuse the work, and it is absolutely appropriate to consider them in discussions of the work, as well as in discussions of how people react to the work, especially in the context of SFWA members voting on works written by their colleagues and friends.

      Again, there is no such thing as objective reviewing, and there’s no such thing as objective voting, nor should there be. If there was a way of objectively rating works of literature, we wouldn’t need people to vote on awards. All I’m suggesting is that award voters try to be more aware of their biases, both conscious and unconscious, and make an effort to push back a little against a literary and fannish culture that disproportionately favors older, whiter, male, heterosexual authors.

  7. DTS

    P.S. Regarding the Grand Master stupidity (no award): Agreed. I think Ellison gave the folks who make such decisions a dressing down sometime back regarding all of that (just in time to help Farmer get his just reward while still alive), but it obviously “didn’t take”.

    1. Michael Walsh

      I will note there was no “Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award” (as the award is now known) presented in 2002.

      Prior to 1995 the award was limited to 6 per decade.

      As for why no Grand Master Award this year, rather than speculate one could ask the SFWA President. It’s not like he hides in a cave and doesn’t have email.

  8. DTS

    Hey Fox, like I said, I understand the urge to push back — especially after decades (centuries now) of middle-aged white men (like Bloom) setting the parameters. I just don’t believe that any writer worth his or her salt would want anyone to push for consideration (for an award or otherwise) based on skin color or sex (and I still refer back to Alice Sheldon for a great example of someone who thumbed her nose at the idea).

    When it comes to women and their being treated as second class citizens, (still) to a large degree, when it comes to equal pay and treatment, etc., in the USA (and many organizations), you’ll get no argument from me. I just believe — to my bones — that when writers and (professional)critics and others of that ilk are involved in the “judging” a work of literature, they need to do everything in their power to _not_ let their subjective POVs override their critical judgement. (When it comes to the mass audience, there is no cure for that, which is why, in SF, there are Hugos and Nebulas).

    And regarding women in SF: I actually think the _majority_ of excellent work — work that has been recognized via awards and such — has been done by women writers of late: from Johnson and Eugie Baker, to Goss and on and on (with Willis being one of the women that led the way, not to mention one of the most award-laden of SF writers — maybe THE most).
    As for diversity, the names on this year’s (and maybe some of last year’s) awards list speak to an ongoing change in that area.

    It may sound cliche, but the phrase, it’s an honor to be nominated actually has a ring of truth (I think). Consider the many (MANY) stories that were published last year, and the year before. Taking that into account, if you consider how diverse (and I’m hoping you mean diverse in the ethnic sense, not just in the color of someone’s skin sense), the list of last names (and how many nominees were women) that dotted this years list, and even the recent award nominations lists from years past. I think _some_ sort of change is happening at least in that arena.

    As for publishing and published writers (a WHOLE different ball game, separate from the awards discussion that originally began here), you, me and the lamppost next door know that not only are mostly middle-aged white boys still in power, but that the audience which _does_ actually buy books rarely goes for nuance (such as reflections on society, class, race, sexuality, etc) so much as they go for (and buy) books (of fiction) involving zombies, serial killers, angels, vampires…etc., etc., etc. (we won’t get into the nonfiction market, which is REALLY loaded with crap).

  9. Pingback: Episode 3.8 — NebulaFail 2010 « The Skiffy and Fanty Show

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