Nebula Nominations: Part One

The Nebula Awards are coming up – Awards weekend will take place May 16 – 19th – and though the voting ended March 30th, I thought I’d go ahead offer and offer reviews of the nominated short stories for this year in anticipation of the winning announcement (and to give myself even more of an excuse to read seven high-quality stories).

“Fragmentation, or Ten Thousand Goodbyes” by Tom Crosshill
Clarkesworld 67
Free read: http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/crosshill_04_12/

A man worries that he’s losing the two people he loves most: his mother, who will soon die and who has already begun to expect death to come any moment, and his wife, who is constantly altering herself with new technologies. He and his wife own a business, having created the first immersers in which to contain the dead, and he hopes to create one for his mother. A surprisingly straight-forward, simple story of loss, though populated with complicated technologies in a future setting. Gives the impression that, no matter how technologically advanced out society becomes, we will still worry about the same things, will still feel as though the people we love are not the same as they once were.

“Robot” by Helena Bell
Clarkesworld 72
Free read: http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/bell_09_12/

Written in a similar style as Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl” – and sharing some themes with that story – “Robot” is a rich, multi-layered story. Bell has packed a whole hell of a lot into a short space, and this story is one that left me thinking about it long after I had read it. “Robot” is written as a set of instructions to a life form from another planet that is used to help heal skin diseases; the “robot” forms a symbiotic relationship with its owner, consuming the flesh and evolving as it does so. The narrator is a grump whose children are not close to her; in this way, the parent-child relationship of “Girl” is referenced, somewhat slightly, in that the woman has taken to verbally abusing the robot instead of, perhaps, her absent children.

“Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain” by Cat Rambo
Near + Far
Free read: http://www.kittywumpus.net/blog/2012/12/24/five-ways-to-fall-in-love-on-planet-porcelain/

A multi-verse story that takes place on a world populated by porcelain people. A porcelain woman falls in love with a human tourist. The woman is a propagandist whose job is to make lists to increase tourism, and much of her rationalization of events takes place through the crafting of these lists. As a fellow list-maker, I found her easy to relate to. The idea is original and the reveal of what occurred between the two lovers is a beautiful heart-break.  Another reader pointed out this story’s plot-line similarity to Flannery O’Connor’s “Good Country People,” which I think is an interesting point.
“Give Her Honey When You Hear Her Scream” by Maria Dahvana Headley
Lightspeed
Free read: http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/give-her-honey-when-you-hear-her-scream/
Beautiful, strange story that modernizes old myths: the labyrinth, the tragic lovers, the jilted husband and wife. The wife of a magician and the husband of a witch fall in love. Their partners conspire together to take revenge. What’s great about this story is that it’s built on a foundation of archetypal magic and subverts and embraces those archetypes in equal measure. The narrator is very much aware of this and makes reference to the story as a story, which I found a refreshing and interesting meshing of classic and meta.
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