Tuesday, May 10, 2016

7 Sci-Fi and Fantasy Authors You Won’t Believe Have Never Won a Nebula Award for Best Novel

Kindle e-book available
for 99 cents, May 10-17, 2016

To celebrate the 2016 Nebula Award Conference, which takes place this weekend in Chicago, my publisher has put the ebook version of my fantasy debut, Dreamwielder, on sale for 99 cents. No, Dreamwielder isn’t a Nebula nominee (I wish!), but a guy needs something to aspire to, right? And even if I never work myself up to the top echelon of sci-fi and fantasy writers, I’ll still find myself in good company.

Here are seven of the genre’s best novelists that have never won a Nebula award for Best Novel.

From the Beginning

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) first started giving out the Nebula Awards in 1966, and in that inaugural year Philip K. Dick was nominated for two novels…and still lost. To be fair, his novels, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch and Dr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the Bomb, did lose that year to Frank Herbert’s Dune. Sort of hard to begrudge Dune. Still, the whole nominated…and lost pattern happened again for Dick in 1969, 1975, and 1989. The most notable of Dick’s losses has to be with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (later turned into the film Bladerunner), which lost to Alexei Panshin’s Rite of Passage in 1969.

Right there along with Dick is Poul Anderson, who is tied with Dick with five Best Novel nominations and no awards for best novel. Anderson was nominated in the inaugural year with The Star Fox, and then again in 1972, 1974, 1976, and 1990.

The Mainstreamers

Literary writers, critics, and academics tend to be prejudiced against genre fiction, and the prejudice apparently goes both ways. Kurt Vonnegut, whose novels often have a clear science fiction concept, more often get categorized as mainstream fiction. Slaughterhouse Five was nominated for a Nebula in 1970, but lost to Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. Again, it’s hard to argue The Left Hand of Darkness shouldn’t have taken the prize, but that ended up being Vonnegut’s only nomination in any category for the Nebulas. While Philip K. Dick and Poul Anderson at least were nominated or won Nebulas in short fiction categories, Vonnegut—the person who wrote the sci-fi classic short stories “Harrison Bergeron” and “Welcome to the Monkey House” (albeit prior to 1966)—never got another head nod from the Nebulas.

Similarly, Margaret Atwood is an author who incorporates clear sci-fi and fantasy elements but identifies more as a mainstream writer. On top of that, the Nebulas, like most awards, have historically overlooked women and people of color. (Notable exceptions when it comes to the Best Novel category would be Le Guin, Lois McMaster Bujold, Connie Willis, and Octavia Butler.) Taking these factors into consideration, it’s perhaps not surprising that Atwood has only been nominated once for Best Novel, and lost. For Atwood, it was her 1987 classic The Handmaid’s Tale that lost to Orson Scott Card’s Speaker of the Dead.

Funny Business

Humorists tend to get overlooked when it comes to critical acclaim, and it’s no different when it comes to the Nebulas. Terry Pratchett, despite authoring more than 50 novels and being beloved in the sci-fi and fantasy community, was only nominated for Best Novel twice. Going Postal was nominated in 2006 but lost to Joe Haldeman’s Camouflage, and Making Money was nominated in 2009 but lost to Le Guin’s Powers.

While not as prolific of a sci-fi and fantasy writer as Pratchett was, Douglas Adams authored one of the best-selling sci-fi novels of all time with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Despite its huge popularity and commercial success, Adams never received a nomination for Best Novel, not for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, first published in 1979, nor any of the sequels or Adams’ Dirk Gently novels.

The Big Gun

It’s hard to think of any name bigger in the sci-fi and fantasy world right now than George R.R. Martin. His A Song of Ice and Fire series was already critically acclaimed and a best-seller well before the HBO adaptation of the series, and now with the success of Game of Thrones on television, Martin is practically a rock star. Amazingly, he’s received no Nebula Award for Best Novel. Book 1 in the series was nominated in 1998 but lost to Vonda N. McIntyre’s The Moon and the Sun. Books 2 and 3 were subsequently nominated in 2000 and 2002 but both also lost. If and when Martin does finally finish the series, don’t be surprised if the SFWA awards him the Best Novel award for that final book, much in the same way the movie adaptation of Tolkien’s Return of the King cleaned house at the Academy Awards.

Garrett Calcaterra is author of The Dreamwielder Chronicles and other works of dark speculative fiction.

 To celebrate the Nebula Awards, the Kindle version of Dreamwielder is available for only 99 cents between May 10 – 17, 2016.

Book 2, Souldrifter, is also available now in ebook and paperback formats from Diversion Books. Learn more at www.garrettcalcaterra.com.


itameio said...

i wouldn't really want a nebula award or any other award if i ever became a famous author, i would just like my work to be loved and appreciated.

Unknown said...

Love and appreciation is probably what any writer wants for their work. Sometimes that's hard to quantify, though, since writers rarely get to meet face to face with their readers. The Nebulas are nice, because they're voted on by the SFWA, which means you're getting recognized by your peers (other writers).

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