Short Fiction Jackpot

The preliminary Nebula ballot just came out. There’s a bunch of worthy stuff on there, although due to its incomprehensible eligibility system much of it may seem old enough to have been honored in previous years. (Do not try to understand; it’s a flawed, overcomplicated system.) Anyway, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction has just put up a whole bunch of stories from the ballot for free online. These include several of my favorite stories from the past few years. I’m going to list them below, and highly recommend checking them out. (And then subscribing!) That said, I’m sure every story F&SF has on the ballot is worth your time.

But I think these are worth more of your time:

"Start the Clock," Benjamin Rosenbaum
"Cold Fires," M. Rickert (Do NOT miss this story!)
"The End of the World as We Know It," Dale Baley (There are a couple of sections of this story that have stuck with me as much as any fiction that acknowledges 9/11.)
"Keyboard Practice, Consisting of an Aria with Diverse Variations for the Harpsichord with Two Manuals," John G. McDaid
"I Live With You," Carol Emshwiller (Seriously, one of the best stories I read last year.)
"Magic for Beginners," Kelly Link (Maybe my very favorite story I read last year and one of my favorites of Kelly’s, which is saying something.)

So, what are you waiting for?

7 thoughts on “Short Fiction Jackpot”

  1. I have to say, the hysteria over “Cold Fires” baffles me. It’s a good story, possibly even a very good one, but people speak of it as if it were the second coming of genre shorts, and I just don’t see it.
    I found the Nebula ballot in general to be very strange. Surely there must have been more eligible novellas, and why are there only two script nominees?

  2. Abigail – the nomination process is a bit arcane, but to appear on the preliminary ballot a story/novel/script needs to have 10 SFWA members submit a nomination within a year of publication.
    As far as the scripts go, not a lot of members are interested in that category and quite a few would like to see it abolished.

  3. Indeed, a lot of people think the Nebula ballot is a poorer recognizer of quality than it used to be. As I understand it (not being a SFWA member), it used to be the case that five recommendations were needed to make it to the preliminary ballot, but they had to be made in the calendar year of publication. Sometime in the 90s, the number was increased to ten, but that put stories published in December at an enormous disadvantage, so the recommendation period was extended to one year following publication of the individual story. This meant that stories published in different calendar years wound up competing against each other on the final ballot. Campaigning for recommendations (as opposed to campaigning for actual award votes) also became much more widespread, and I gather there has been growing cynicism about the whole process. For whatever combination of reasons, nowadays the preliminary ballot is shorter than it used to be, and in some categories is exactly the same as the final ballot.
    As for the script category, there was so much opposition to the category when it was (re-?)introduced a few years back that people made sure that a pornographic movie (THE URANUS EXPERIMENT, PART 2) made the final ballot, as a form of protest.

  4. I loved “Start the Clock.” And I just put up a post on my blog gushing over Magic for Beginners as a book, where I talked about how the title story may already be one of my favorite stories ever.

  5. Thanks, Justin! (And thanks Gwenda!)
    Ted, this year seems to break that trend, with a huge raft of short stories on the ballot, meaning that the Prelim Ballot voting will play an important role, which is a good thing.

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