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My choice for the Nebula Award for Short Story

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (SFWA) has announced the finalists for the 56th Annual Nebula Award. The awards will be presented in a virtual ceremony on Saturday, June 5, 2021.

I’m a member of SFWA, and that means I can vote. The novels tend to get the attention, so I like to focus on the short fiction because the works are short, which means I can finish my reading by the April 30 deadline, and because fewer people vote, which means my opinions matter more.

For me, a winning work either pushes the storytelling in a new direction, or it executes the craft with noteworthy skill. I faced tough choices with this year’s short stories. They’re all good.

• “Badass Moms in the Zombie Apocalypse” by Rae Carson (Uncanny 1-2/20). A woman gives birth in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. Well paced and vivid.

• “Advanced Word Problems in Portal Math” by Aimee Picchi (Daily Science Fiction 1/3/20). In this flash fiction piece, a girl who loves math but not her life seeks a way out. Clever, entertaining, with a wisp of righteous anger.

• “My Country Is a Ghost” by Eugenia Triantafyllou (Uncanny 1-2/20). People who immigrate leave behind ghosts: their memories and culture. Lyrical writing.

• “The Eight-Thousanders” by Jason Sanford (Asimov’s 9-10/20). While climbing Mount Everest, a man meets a vampire — but it’s much more than that, a study in morality, abuse, and responsibility.

• “Open House on Haunted Hill” by John Wiswell (Diabolical Plots 6/15/20). A haunted house wants a family and will do everything it can to make those people happy. Sweet without being sentimental.

• “A Guide for Working Breeds” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Made to Order: Robots and Revolution, Solaris). Two robots with mismatched personalities find ways to help each other.

I’d have liked to vote for all these stories, but I could only vote for one. I chose “A Guide for Working Breeds” because of the strong voices of its protagonists, the oblique but effective way it tells the story, and because I’m a fan of Vina Jie-Min Prasad.

But damn, these stories are all good. Follow the links and enjoy!

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