Thoughtful Thursday: The 2016 Nebula Awards

Nebula AwardsThis year’s Nebula conference (May 18-21) will be held in Pittsburgh, and the 2016 Nebula Awards will be announced on Saturday, May 20, 2017.

As with the Hugo finalists, there are some unexpected names, some shocking omissions, and the authors we would expect; for instance, I expected to see Jemisin, but I’d also expect to see Dexter Palmer’s Version Control on the finalists list. Here are the finalists. Click the links to read our reviews:


All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders Borderline (The Arcadia Project Book 1) by Mishell BakerThe Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth Book 2) by N. K. JemisinNinefox Gambit (Machineries of Empire Book 1) by Yoon Ha Lee Everfair: A Novel by Nisi Shawl


Runtime by S. B. DivyaThe Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij JohnsonThe Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValleEvery Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children) by Seanan McGuireA Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson

I’m thrilled to see The Ballad of Black Tom on the novella list and I know many readers here at FanLit loved Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway. As for the novels, Jemisin is a big favorite, All the Birds in the Sky got a lot of buzz and is seen by some reviewers at least as a very different take on fantasy, while Ninefox Gambit fills the craving for “hard” science fiction.

Which books have you read? Who do you predict will win? Who do you want to win? Give us your thoughts and predictions in the comments. One random commenter with a USA mailing address will win a book from our stacks.

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Marion Deeds, with us since March, 2011, is the author of the fantasy novella ALUMINUM LEAVES. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthologies BEYOND THE STARS, THE WAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, STRANGE CALIFORNIA, and in Podcastle, The Noyo River Review, Daily Science Fiction and Flash Fiction Online. She’s retired from 35 years in county government, and spends some of her free time volunteering at a second-hand bookstore in her home town. You can read her blog at, and follow her on Twitter: @mariond_d.

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  1. April /

    I haven’t read any of these, mostly just because they don’t grab me for some reason. I did originally want to read Ninefox Gambit but I had heard that it was more violent than I like so haven’t tried it. I do have the Jemisin on my list but I didn’t like her other series so it has lingered there for a while. I think Everfair is on my list as well but my library doesn’t have it so I haven’t gotten to it yet. All The Birds in the Sky is also on my list but I haven’t gotten there yet. Since my list is over 2,000 titles long these days, some titles hang out there for a very long time.

    I did try to read one of Kai Ashante Wilson’s earlier ones but the dialogue kept interrupting the flow of the story so I couldn’t finish it even though I liked the characters and the story.

    • I was a little surprised at how few I’ve read. I love dialogue, so the Wilson novella would probably be right up my alley.

      • April /

        I should specify that the dialog annoyed me because of the way the speech was portrayed, not that there was dialog. That being said, I’m sure mine was an idiosyncratic response and I know others loved it.

    • April, I would highly recommend “Ninefox Gambit”. Yes, it is more violent than other novels, but then it takes place in a military setting dealing with conflict (calendrical heresies – what an interesting concept that is!), so more violence it to be expected. The violence that does happen is not usually depicted in a gore-invoking way, though, be assured of that. It truly is an amazing book, that pushes boundaries of what we “expect” from our sci-fi/fantasy reading.

      • April /

        I’m opposed to violence in stories but some reviewer somewhere made it sound like it was a gore fest and that is what initially turned me off. Perhaps I’ll give it a sample and see how it goes. Thanks!

        • April /

          I meant to say that I’m NOT opposed to violence in stories. Sorry.

  2. The Ballad of Black Tom is definitely on my list for winning. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it and it’s pretty much on the top of my list for reading.

  3. Have read three of the novels, lacking Borderline and Obelisk Gate, which I need to get before finalizing my Hugo picks. Run Time is the only novella I haven’t read, but I do have it on my Kindle.

    • You are really cranking through them!

      • I’ve tried to be more current with my reading the past few years, starting with the 2015 Hugo controversy. Still read and re-read older titles a lot too. Read 46 books last year, 19 award-eligible. I nominated both All the Birds & Everfair for a Hugo this year. My #1 pick didn’t make the final list of either Nebula or Hugo, that being Malka Older’s Infomocracy.

        • Infomocracy! I’m surprised it isn’t on this list or the Hugo list. Maybe it was so prescient it scared everybody.

  4. The novel that truly surprised me – positively – was “Ninefox Gambit.” I hadn’t heard much buzz on it before reading it, but I loved it, in much the same way I loved Ann Leckie’s series. I really appreciate being challenged when I read, but not made to feel delinquent, and Yoon Ha Lee managed that in spectacular fashion. I’m a little surprised by “Borderline” because it is so, well, internally focused, but again, I’m delighted it’s on the list. It’s quite worthy of standing toe to toe with the other nominees. I’ve read four of the six novellas, and while I think they all are strong, “Every Heart a Doorway” would get my vote, hands down. It’s beautiful and unique and delicate and wonderful.

  5. Bruce Cohen /

    Of the novels, I’ve read “All The Birds In The Sky” and “Obelisk Gate” and liked both a great deal. Jemison, though, my god that woman can write! Normally you would expect the 2nd book of a trilogy to be a bit of a letdown as so many plot threads need to be left open to be resolved in the final book. Not so with this trilogy. Threads from the 1st book are resolved and new ones unfold; new characters present new problems, God-like powers are represented believably (!), and the prose is a joy to read. You might be able to guess “Obleisk Gate” is my choice for the Nebula.

    I have “Nine Fox Gambit” and “Everfair” on my to-read list, which currently has more than 30 books on it. People whose judgement & taste I trust have recommended both, so I will definitely get to the mthis year.

    As for the novellas I’ve only read “Every Heart A Doorway” and loved it. I’m willing to be that when I read the other nominees I’ll still prefer it.

  6. Sandy Giden /

    The only one of those I’ve read is Every Heart a Doorway.

  7. E. J. Jones /

    I too have only read Every Heart a Doorway, but I give it all the votes (not that I had any to begin with).

  8. Leland Eaves /

    I read Nine Fox Gambit and none of the others although they are on my to read list. Nine fox could be strange enough and edgy enough to win.

  9. John Smith /

    I have not read any of these, I’m afraid! They all look quite intriguing! “Everfair” has an especially gorgeous cover, and I’ve looked it up at Amazon. With the Congo’s fraught history, I’m not sure even an alternate history with the natives standing up to Belgian conquistadors can make up for the queasiness of having to think about evil King Leopold.

    • Shawl does not blink or turn away from Leopold’s mass murders and torture in the book, but the ending is optimistic and triumphant for the locals. And the cover is not only gorgeous, it resonates with the story.

      • April /

        That is so interesting – that book has been on my wishlist at the library (digital so the catalog shows the cover) and the cover itself is why I haven’t read it yet. It doesn’t speak to me or tell me anything about the book.

  10. I think “All the Birds in the Sky (by Charlie Jane Anders)” and “Every Heart a Doorway (by Seanan McGuire)” will win.

  11. mary henaghen /

    I an really rooting for obelisk gate and every heart a doorway to win. I have not yet read either one of them but they are both next on my TBR

  12. Sethia /

    I just had a baby and am way behind on my reading but love all the good advice I get from you guys, thanks!

  13. Sethia /

    Thank you Marion!

  14. Barbara McEwen /

    I have picked up three and am itching to read them. Still want to get all the others!

  15. Leland Eaves, if you live in the USA, you win a book of your choice from our stacks.
    Please contact me (Marion) with your choice and a US address. Happy reading!

  16. Anne /

    Adding all to my To-Read shelf!

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