Zooming Through the Nebulas

Nebula Awards logo

I’ve been attending this year’s Nebula Conference this weekend—live, via Zoom. Were it not for the coronavirus, I would be attending it in Los Angeles. Instead, some hundreds of sf and fantasy writers are gathered from their homes all over the globe, attending interesting panels, chatting, attending a dance party hosted by John Scalzi, and—just a little while ago—watching on YouTube the awarding of the annual Nebula, Norton, and Bradbury Awards. It’s been surprisingly rewarding, and the technical folk of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America), volunteers all, have done an amazing job of putting on a conference in virtual space! (I was surprised to see my own name in the credits at the end, as chair of rules committee. That’s true, but trust me, all the credit for running this show goes to others.)

Added bonus: We even gathered in the virtual grand ballroom to watch the hugely successful SpaceX Dragon launch, to thunderous applause. Panels continue tomorrow. Great conference, cheapest room rates ever.

Congratulations to all of the award-winners:

✬ A Song for a New Day, Sarah Pinsker (Berkley)

✬ This Is How You Lose the Time War, Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone (Saga; Jo Fletcher)

✬ Carpe Glitter, Cat Rambo (Meerkat)

Short Story
✬ “Give the Family My Love”, A.T. Greenblatt (Clarkesworld Magazine 2/19)

Ray Bradbury Nebula Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation
✬ Good Omens: “Hard Times”, Neil Gaiman (Amazon Studios/BBC Studios)

Andre Norton Nebula Award for Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction
✬ Riverland, Fran Wilde (Amulet)

Best Game Writing
✬ The Outer Worlds, Leonard Boyarsky, Kate Dollarhyde, Paul Kirsch, Chris L’Etoile, Daniel McPhee, Carrie Patel, Nitai Poddar, Marc Soskin, Megan Starks (Obsidian Entertainment)

Additional awards and honors presented that evening included the SFWA Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award, presented to Lois McMaster Bujold, the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award, presented to both John Picacio and David Gaughran, and the Kevin J. O’Donnell, Jr., Service to SFWA Award, presented to Julia Rios*.

*Before she became famous, Julia was one of our star students at the Ultimate SF Writing Workshop. Girl has gone places.

The Nebula Awards (continued)

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Today, among other things, we had a mass autograph session for a ballroom full of writers. It was great fun! I measure the fun level of a signing based on a) whether anyone comes up and asks me to sign some books, and b) whether I’m sitting with people whose conversation I enjoy. Home run on both counts! A fan named Brad appeared with some books and said such great things about my work that it totally made my day. Then I had a delightful conversation with the author seated next to me, a soon-to-debut writer of SF for kids, a field that I really feel needs more good books. Her name is Nicole Valentine, and I mention that to give her forthcoming book a tiny plug. (I’d give it a proper plug by name, except I—doh!—seem to have misplaced the bookmark she gave me. Time travel and a bit of quantum physics.)

Actually, I’ve had a succession of great conversations with other writers this weekend.

This year’s Grandmaster Award went to William Gibson, one of the founders and the best-known practitioner of cyberpunk SF. In an interview session, he said something I really liked (I believe he was quoting another writer, but I missed that part). He said: “Writing is like digging an 8-foot hole because your scanner seems to indicate something interesting down there. Then you discover that the scanner is just picking up the steel toe on your work boot. There’s only one thing you can do at that point, and that’s keep digging.”

If I were a good reporter, I’d show you some pix of the awards ceremony. I forgot to take any. But I did get this picture of a life-sized R2D2, who brought one of the envelopes forward.