Excerpt from Nebula Awards Showcase 2014
Here's the Introduction from Nebula Awards Showcase 2014, by Kij Johnson:
On the day I started writing this introduction, I learned that Frederik Pohl had died at the age of ninety-three. Pohl's career in science fiction spanned most of seven decades and nearly every job title: fan, long- and short-form editor, agent, award juror, author, and coauthor. His first Nebula nomination came in 1966, and, in later years, he won twice. One of those works, the brilliant novel
Gateway, won Hugo and Nebula both, as well as the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, among others. In fact, he was nominated for awards in this field a staggering 126 times. His importance to speculative fiction was recognized by the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) when he won the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award back in 1993; in the nearly twenty years since then, he continued to write, winning his final major award, a Hugo, in 2010. He is irreplaceable.
Frederik Pohl's death had a powerful impact on me, but he was, of course, not the only person our field has lost recently. Joanna Russ was a unique voice; Jack Vance was another. The list goes on and on, back into history: there will never be another Andre Norton, Ray Bradbury, Octavia Butler, Theodore Sturgeon, C. L. Moore.
One piece of conventional wisdom is that our field is a graying field. The writers and the readers at its heart grow older; the In Memoriam lists at each year's Nebula Awards banquet lengthens. And it is hard not to stare backward, ticking each loss from a roster of living greats.
There is a second conventional wisdom that pulls contrary to this current; that is, that the field is not graying but growing. In recent years, speculative-fiction storytelling has exploded across modes and media to fuel one-hundred-thousand-person conventions and rule the theatres. Even the cloistered garden that written SF sometimes seems to be is immeasurably vaster than it was fifty years ago, as millions of copies of speculative-fiction books are sold, generally categorized as young adult books regardless of their sophistication.
And all the new writers. A handful of this year's nominees and recipients in the fiction categories have been nominated for Nebulas one or more decades ago, members of what might be considered an old guard; but the majority have appeared here only in the last few years. Ten of the fiction nominees were on the ballot for the first time; another seven have received multiple nominations, but only within the last four years. The writers and director of this year's winner of the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation had not worked on a feature-length film before. This year's Andre Norton Award-winner is a debut novel for its author.
Judging by this year's ballot, there is no dearth of new talent.
Will these works become part of speculative fiction's canon? Will any of these authors have the profound effect on the genre that Fred Pohl did? We won't know for decades-or longer-but my guess is yes. Fred Pohl and all the other writers, editors, publishers, and agents we have lost are irreplaceable, but that does not mean they will not be joined in the canon by others. The new writers of our field will evolve and find or perfect their voices, their visions; some will become, in their turn, irreplaceable.
We are a literature of change. It's exciting to be reading speculative fiction at a time when the field seems to be looking at itself as much as the world and saying, "What now?"
The Nebula Awards Showcase 2014 reprints the winners of the short-story, novelette, and novella awards. It also includes excerpts from this year's winning novel and this year's winner of the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy. In recognition of the new Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master, Gene Wolfe, the Showcase reprints a classic short story he has selected. Finally, it includes the three winners of the 2011 Rhysling Awards for speculative poetry. I hope you enjoy it all as much as I did.
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