Here is a friendly reminder of who was nominated for the Best Novel category with links to my pithy reviews:
- The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Tor)
- Trial by Fire, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
- Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
- The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu (Tor)
- Coming Home, Jack McDevitt (Ace)
- Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer (FSG Originals; Fourth Estate; HarperCollins Canada)
The Nebula voters made the right choice picking Annihilation as the winner of this year’s Nebula Award for best novel. It’s not only the best books on the shortlist, it’s one of the best novels written in the last decade. And when you include the other two volumes in the trilogy – Authority and Acceptance – you’ve got a jaw droppingly good series that does that near impossible thing of having a strong literary sensibility while also maintaining a level of creepiness and dread.
I also loved the Addison and Liu, two novels that strike right at the core of the fantasy and science fiction genres. The Addison, in particular plows very familiar territory, but does so with great heart and passion. The Liu is bug fuck crazy, delivering monster set pieces in a story that mixes China’s cultural revolution with first contact and alien invasion.
I wasn’t keen on the Leckie. Yes, the writing is lovely. Yes, the novel says some important stuff about colonialism and power. But Ancillary Sword is nearly bereft of a story. The problems that are posed at the beginning of the novel are still problems at the end of the novel with no sense of headway or progression. Like I’ve said previously, if I read the third book it’s only because it’s been hoovered up in next year’s awards cycle.
As for the Gannon and the McDevitt, well they shouldn’t be gracing anyway award ballot. One is dreadful and the other is competent but has a view of the future that’s stuck in amber. But I’ve said as much as I can be bothered to say about both books and I’m sure Gannon will appear on the Nebula’s next year with the third Caine Riordan novel.
Overall though this is a pretty decent shortlist, with the best book taking home the chocolates.
* It would be interesting to know how many people only read the first book, even though all three were published in the same year. Does same year publication of a trilogy hurt sales of the later books?