With the Nebula Awards being handed out this weekend, first off, let’s congratulate the winners:
Best Short Story
Andre Norton Award for Young Adult SFF
Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation
Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award
2017 was an amazing year for science fiction and fantasy, and this is a powerfully indicative list of the genre (both the winners and the nominees).
One thing you may notice, though: no Harper Voyager titles won. In fact, no Harper Voyager titles were finalists.
So why are we writing about this here?
Because literary awards like the Nebulas, the Arthur C. Clarke, the Hugos, the Kitchies, the Philip K. Dick—they all matter.
Obviously the prestige is nice. The recognition is nice. Sometimes (if you’re lucky), the bump in sales is nice.
But what really is important is having a showcase and historical record for speculative fiction. To understand that the genre isn’t simply an insular community (although it can sometimes feel that way), but that it represents what the community is trying to achieve.
Consider how this year’s award-winners reflect the growing trend of the last few years: a diverse group of writers won. Women won. People of color won. LGBTQ people won. Just as important, great stories won. Stories that are science fiction set in the far future, and fantasy set on different worlds. Stories about magic, and stories based in a present that is perhaps only slightly (and scarily) speculative. These stories won, and now there’s a spotlight on all these things—a big, planet-filled chunk-of-Lucite-stamp-of-approval on these stories.
And that doesn’t go away.
We all want our own books to win. We all want our own stories nominated. But one of the great things about the SFF community is that it is—with some small, barking exceptions—exactly that: a community. So while it’s natural for us to root for ourselves and our friends, these awards show the genre coming together to root, not just for the winners, but for the genre itself.
And that kind of support, that kind of love, and that kind of commitment to great story matters.