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Nebula Awards Announced June 1, 2012

Posted by ccbooks in Nerd Line.
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I had no idea the Forty-Seventh Nebula Awards Weekend was being held a stone’s throw away in Arlington a few weeks ago until a customer came into the bookstore where I work to say that Neil Gaiman was (briefly) in town. The Nebula Awards are given out by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) for the best novel, novella, novelette and short story written in the genre. There are also awards given for dramatic presentation (mostly movie and TV scripts) and the best young adult novel. I had seen the nominees this year for the YA category and the voters certainly had an awful time–among the seven contenders were a Printz Honor winning author (A.S. King) as well as the two most high profile YA fantasies of the past year (Chime and Daughter of Smoke & Bone, respectively).  Yet the winner ended up being The Freedom Maze, by Delia Sherman, which had some buzz when it was published last fall, but perhaps not as much love as the other titles.

The book follows Sophie, a white girl from the 1960’s who is accidentally sent back in time to her family’s plantation at the time of the Civil War. There, she is mistaken for a slave and must learn to survive in a world where she has lost her familiar status (among the revelations that force her to re-examine her prejudices, is that some of her ancestors were the product of master/slave relationships). The sensitive issue of forced physical relationships was handled well, and I liked the ambiguity of the magical creature who pulls Sophie back in time. Probably my only real issue was that it felt like everything was tied up too neatly in the end, but that’s my own personal preference in storytelling.

The Nebula announcement I was very happy to hear was that Jo Walton won the best novel award for Among Others. This was one of my favorite adult books I read last year and I was crushed that it did not win an Alex Award at ALA in January. The main character, Mori, has to deal with a mother who dabbles in evil magic (causing the death of her twin before the book begins), a father who is mostly absent, and a boarding school where no one understands her. Plus, she must confront the age-old question about whether wishes actually come true, and at what cost. In some ways, this book felt like the perfect mix of Harry Potter and Madeleine L’Engle’s And Both Were Young. I’m looking forward to reading it again, so well done, Nebula!

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