Family and females feature prominently in the Nebula short story nominees / La familia y mujeres aparecen prominentemente en los cuentos nominados a los Premios Nebula

It’s been a great month of reading and thinking about this year’s short story nominees for the Nebula Awards. (My reviews of the nominees can be found in the March and April 2015 archives on this blog.) I hope I’ve learned something about writing speculative fiction from seven impressive writers, but I’ve definitely enjoyed the trip to seven different, fully imagined worlds that drew me in, carried me along and left me a happy reader.  I thought it was interesting that the concept of family featured so clearly among the nominees. It is a prominent theme for five of the seven stories, maybe six, if you accept that the love of an undead man and woman meets the criteria of a family.

The obligation to ancestors, the loyalty of siblings, the pain of familial betrayal, secret inheritance, the process of maturing, fear for the well-being of children–it’s all here in these stories. For those who turn up their noses at speculative genres and think that science fiction, fantasy and horror are only about space ships, aliens, elves and vampires, there’s no better rebuttal to this prejudice than a critical read of these nominees.

And here’s another interesting thing: in five of the seven stories, female characters were clear protagonists. In a sixth story a female character, while not the central protagonist, was the key to illuminating the concept of family. Were these two aspects of the stories related or purely coincidental? Did the writers imagine their female characters and then find them in stories that focused on the importance of family or did the family theme motivate the writers who then discovered their female characters? If any of you writers are reading this, let us know.

Here’s some other features of the seven short story nominees.

  • Five female authors
  • Two male authors
  • Five female protagonists
  • One male protagonist
  • Three non-human protagonists
  • Three kinds of aliens
  • Four relatively mythical creatures
  • Four seriously altered humans
  • Two zombies
  • Two space ships
  • One dystopia
  • Four worlds almost as we know it
  • One case of rehoming
  • One new-looking universe

EspanolHa sido un muy buen mes  de lectura y reflexión acerca de los cuentos nominados este año a los Premios Nebula. (Mis reseñas de los nominados pueden encontrarse en el archivo de marzo y abril 2015 de mi blog.) Espero haber aprendido algo acerca de la escritura especulativa de siete escritores impresionantes, pero definitivamente he disfrutado el viaje a siete mundos diferentes e imaginados en su totalidad que me atrajeron, me guiaron y me dejaron hecha una lectora feliz. Creo que es interesante que el concepto de familia apareciera tan claro entre los nominados. Es un tema importante para cinco de los siete cuentos, tal vez incluso seis, si se acepta que el amor de dos muertos vivientes corresponde al criterio de familia.

La responsabilidad hacia los ancestros, la lealtad de los hermanos, el dolor de la traición familiar, la herencia secreta, el proceso de maduración, el miedo por el bienestar de los niños– todo está en estas historias. Para aquellos que subestiman los géneros especulativos y creen que la ciencia ficción, la fantasía y el horror son sólo acerca de naves espaciales, elfos y vampiros, no hay mejor argumento contra este prejuicio que una lectura crítica de estos nominados.

Y hay otra cosa interesante: en cinco de los siete cuentos, personajes femeninos eran claramente los protagonistas. En un sexto cuento, un personaje femenino, sin ser protagonista, fue la llave para ilustrar el concepto de familia. ¿Será que estos dos aspectos de los cuentos están relacionados o es una coincidencia? ¿Será que los escritores imaginaron a sus personajes femeninos y les encontraron historias enfocadas en la importancia de la familia, o más bien fueron motivados por el tema de la familia y luego descubrieron a sus personajes femeninos? Si alguno de los escritores está leyendo esto, por favor, díganos la respuesta.

Acá están otras características de los siete nominados:

Cinco autores femeninos
Dos autores masculinos
Cinco protagonistas femeninos
Un protagonista masculino
Tres protagonistas no-humanos
Tres tipos de extraterrestres.
Tres criaturas relativamente míticas
Cuatro humanos fuertemente modificados
Dos zombis
Dos naves espaciales
Una distopía
Cuatro mundos casi iguales al nuestro
Un caso de desplazamiento
Un universo que parece nuevo

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2 thoughts on “Family and females feature prominently in the Nebula short story nominees / La familia y mujeres aparecen prominentemente en los cuentos nominados a los Premios Nebula

  1. Thank you, L.A., for discussing this.

    As the author of “The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye,” I will say that the character of Beth is focused on her family primarily because she is the grounding element in the story. Because the story takes place in a post-human far future, with two alien beings having a conversation, I needed to have something to connect the reader to Earth and to humanity, and I felt a human family was the best lens for this. I also feel that among human emotions, connections to family, at least for me, are the strongest. Taking someone far from their loved ones and seeing how they react can highlight the strength of those bonds across vast distances. In other words, it allows me to explore those human emotions in greater detail.

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    • Thanks for your comment, Matt. There’s no doubt about the importance of Beth’s role as the “human connection”. I felt that the multiple variations of her responses to the Meeker and the Eye also poignantly highlighted the complicated, multi-layered experiences we have with family–the interpretations of their actions, our reactions–and the beauty of bonds unbroken. Great story!

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