2019 Nebula Award nominees for best short story: let the reviews begin!

Literary award season is back, praise be! The 2019 Nebula Award nominees were named last week, and so we begin our review of those works in the short story category. (You can see the whole list of nominees at The Verge.)

Short Story Nominees

If you’ve been following my reviews in the past, you’ll know that I like to focus on three main story elements: strength of character, cohesiveness of plot and choice of scaffolding for the story’s world. Short stories have to accomplish a lot in few words with no opportunity to slow roast, but they can surprise us at times. I love surprises. Let me amend that a little to say I love surprises that don’t leave me incredulous.

Several new names in this roster, which I shall take as a good sign that the nominators are reading more widely and working a bit harder, but I could be completely wrong about that. Let’s read and find out. Check back soon and we’ll kick this list off with Sarah Pinsker’s story.

Nebula nominee “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” by Alyssa Wong / Reseña: Cuento nominado al Premio Nebula “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” de Alyssa Wong

Note: If you are worried about spoilers stop right now because I can’t promise to avoid them. This is the third review of the short story nominees for the 2015 Nebula Award. Spanish translation below by Daniela Toulemonde.

maxdefaultAlyssa Wong’s horror story “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” is bittersweet wonderful–like chewing on coffee beans dipped in white chocolate. The story begins with a bad date that flips the notion of vulnerable female on its head. We see a cute female shapeshifter suck the vilest, most horrible thoughts imaginable out of her deserving victim. Just like that, bam, Wong establishes a rock solid bond between reader and character.

This shapeshifter (called Jenny by most, but Meimei by her mom) considers herself a monster. She literally feeds on people’s thoughts, specifically their dark and negative ones, and takes on their form for a short time, which certainly helps avoid getting caught. This isn’t a split-personality story, but the character is definitely conflicted. Jenny boldly stalks her prey in Manhattan and walks out on a girl who loves her for another shapeshifter who’s even more powerful than she is. Meimei misses her father, maintains a tenuous contact with her mother in Flushing, and can’t forget the girl who loves her. Continue reading

The 2015 Nebula Awards nominees are out!

The nominees for the 2015 Nebula Awards have been announced by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), and it is certainly an exciting list. Like last year, I shall be reviewing the nominees in the short story category, and I will try to cover a few of the other nominees, but I’m not sure I can get through all of them with my own WIP sitting on the desk and giving me dirty looks.

Short Story Nominees

Madeleine,” Amal El-Mohtar (Lightspeed 6/15)
Cat Pictures Please,” Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld 1/15)
Damage,” David D. Levine (Tor.com 1/21/15)
When Your Child Strays From God,” Sam J. Miller (Clarkesworld 7/15)
Today I Am Paul,” Martin L. Shoemaker (Clarkesworld 8/15)
Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers,” Alyssa Wong (Nightmare 10/15)

Voting for SFWA members is open from March 1 to March 30, and the winners will be announced on May 14 at the 2016 Nebula Conference at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago.

Enjoy the trip — “Outside Heavenly” by Rio Youers / Disfruta el viaje – “Outside Heavenly” de Rio Youers

Welcome, Readers, to another review full of spoilers. It can’t be helped. Sometimes I have to discuss details beneath the skin. If you accept these terms, please continue.

First things first: “Outside Heavenly” by Rio Youers has a really good opening.

The pillar of black smoke could be seen from Heavenly. The townsfolk looked from their windows and gathered on sidewalks. They knew it was the Roth place burning, and they prayed for the girls but not the man.

With this beginning, Youers does two things well that are critical to the success of any story. First, he puts us right into the scene and tells us who we need to be concerned about, and second, he creates familiar circumstances as a starting point. We see ourselves in the role of townsfolk almost and accept the logic of the following action. Continue reading