2012 Nebula Award Finalists

Congratulations to this year’s Nebula Award finalists! Summary of my impressions:

I think this is a very strong ballot overall. I’ve only read a small fraction of the nominated works, but I really liked all the ones I’ve read. I definitely don’t have any immediate “What is THAT doing on an award shortlist?” reactions, which is always nice.

There’s an impressive diversity of sex, race, and sexuality on all the ballots, especially compared to, say, ten years ago. (Warning on that link for a very bright yellow-and-red color scheme.)

Having one’s short fiction available online for free unsurprisingly appears to broaden one’s audience, and the folks at Clarkesworld and Tor.com clearly have their fingers on the pulse of the Nebula-nominating short-fiction-reading crowd. There is not a single story from Analog, ouch. I note that GigaNotoSaurus is the only webzine with a story on the novella ballot; are webzines not publishing novellas, or are they not publishing the sorts of novellas that get award nods, or do readers enjoy or appreciate novellas more in print than online?

Self-published works and small-press novels are nowhere to be found. I’d love to see a small-press, digital-first, and self-publishing revolution on the novel ballot comparable to the recent ascent of webzines on the short fiction ballots. I would be heartened by the appearance of a few stories from small-press anthologies and collections if there were such a thing as a large-press anthology or collection, but there basically isn’t, so I will settle for being heartened that anyone still publishes or reads anthologies and collections.

And now, the list. Linked short fiction titles are shamelessly stolen from John DeNardo’s post at SF Signal (thanks, John!). Book titles link to the PW reviews, where available. Statistics in my notes are to the best of my knowledge, and please do correct me if I’ve gotten anything wrong.


Rose’s notes: Four women. One queer person. One trans person. Two people of color. Four books that got starred PW reviews. Zero self-published books. Zero small-press books. Zero digital-only books.


Rose’s notes: Two women. Two people of color. Two stand-alone titles, both from small presses. One webzine story. One story from a small-press anthology, reprinted online. Zero self-published stories.


Rose’s notes: Five women. One person of color. Three queer people. Four webzine stories. Two stories from small-press compilations (if you count the “Mammoth” books as small press, which I think I do), one reprinted online. Zero self-published stories.


Rose’s notes: Five women. Two people of color. Five webzine stories. One story from a small-press collection, reprinted online. Zero self-published stories.

8 thoughts on “2012 Nebula Award Finalists

  1. Sean Wallace

    Question: How is Mammoth small press? Constable & Robinson is one of the largest and oldest (independent) publishing companies in the UK, and Running Press ain’t exactly small . . . and the Mammoth anthologies sell 5,000 to 100,000 copies. :p

    1. Rose Fox Post author

      It is in the sense of “not one of the big six… er, five”. But I agree it’s debatable.

      1. Sean Wallace

        I was belaboring under the original standard, as I had read in PW, that anyone with six million dollars of sales or less was considered small press. That’s what I’ve been using as the standard for more than a decade, though of course it may have been rather dated, I suspect, in retrospect. I do see that according to wikipedia the standard is now fifty million dollars (with no citation), which does rather limit it to the big five. If anything the term “independent press” is more appropriate? But there’s a big difference between someone like Norilana Books or PS Publishing or Small Beer Press or Tachyon Publications against something like C&R, whose gross sales are probably on the magnitude of ten or twenty million dollars, at least, especially in our field :p

  2. Andrew Porter

    Zero self-published stories in various categories? Ever go to a convention and see those self-published authors sitting in the Dealers Room, with no one stopping by to buy their stuff?

    What I like best are the massive first volumes of planned trilogies, with their horrible covers and inept appearance. Of course, if they’d gone to a real publisher and editor, instead of trusting the reactions from their relatives that their writing was the greatest thing since sliced bread…

    1. Rose Fox Post author

      Some self-published books are genuinely good. People have reasons for going that route other than “every publisher in the world rejected me”.

      1. Sean Wallace

        Even if we look at the Locus Recommended Reading List a few self-published works popped up there, too, so it seems like an increasing trend. (But it’s been done since forever. Recent examples might include Kelly Link’s first collection, though.)

  3. Mike Allen

    Regarding novellas, the major webzines don’t publish them, presumably because of the expense of paying for them by the word. Giganotosaurus pays a flat fee, which makes an author-submitted novella affordable.

    Getting self-published work on the ballot is an interesting challenge. Do the authors who vote for the Nebulas read much in the way of self-published work uploaded to Amazon? Catherynne Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is the notable exception — originally published as free-to-read web installments as part of a high-profile fundraiser by a writer with a huge fan base.

  4. M. Hiltgen

    I read several of the comments regarding self-published works. It appears that some have an innate bias towards self-published works.

    I recently read a Fantasy novel titled “The Prophecy Of Zepherous”. It is a self-published work. I consider it far superior to some Mainstream Novels. A self-published work should not be automatically dismissed as inconsequential.

    I believe well-written books should be considered for book awards despite the fact that they don’t get the publicity they well deserve.

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