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edited by Kevin J. Anderson



412pp/$17.99/May 2011

Nebula Awards Showcase 2011

Reviewed by Steven H Silver

Over the past several years, the Nebula Award Showcase series has featured the winners in the short fiction categories, a sample of writing from the Author Emeritus and the Grandmaster, an excerpt from the winning novel, perhaps a few additional story nominees, and a variety of articles about the field and business of science fiction. For someone who is immersed in the field, the book was interesting and helped provide a broader historical context for the field in general, however, for the reader just looking for good stories, the book wasn't as focused as, perhaps, it should have been.  Nebula Award Showcase 2011 attempts to correct that trend.

By jettisoning the interesting to some, but tangential material, Anderson was able to include the complete text of the nominated short stories and novelettes for  the 2010 Nebula Awards, offering up twelve nominees in those two categories as well as the winning novella and short stories from the new Damon Knight Grand Master, Joe Haldeman, and the Author Emeritus, Neal Barrett, Jr. for a total of sixteen stories.  The fiction presented in enhanced by appreciations for Haldeman and Barrett as well as the winners of the Rhysling Awards, presented by the Science Fiction Poetry Association.

Readers who pick up up this anthology expecting to read stories of space ships, aliens, and robots may find themselves disappointed to find those in short supply.  However, if they give the stories a chance, they will find that their image of what constitutes science ficton (and, fantasy) will be broadened. The stories collected in Nebula Award Showcase 2011 not only provide a stage on which to spotlight those stories deemed best of the year by the members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, it also offers the chance to show the broad range of writing in the speculative fiction community, with science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, secret history, and other genres included.  The stories provide a variety of voices and cultures, from Ahmed Saladin's Islamic-influenced "Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela" to Rachel Swirsky's Greek mythology-inspired "A Memory of Wind."

Each of the stories in preceded by a short reminiscence by the author, discussing the inception of the story, its importance to them, and other details of the story which often add to the richness of the story, whether read before or after the tale.  The close tie of these mini essays to the nominated works act as a very nice replacement for the missing longer essays about the field for those who enjoyed the non-fictional elements of recent volumes in addition to the stories.

Given recent changes to the publishing world, several of the stories included in the anthology were not previously or readily available in a hardcopy format.  Sources such as Norilana Press's Clockwork Phoenix 2, Apex Publication's I Remember the Future, Clarkesworld, Subterranean Magazine, or are either not necessarily readily available in bookstores or only offer on-line versions of the story.  For readers who like to have their fiction between covers,  whether for reading or archival purposes, the collection of these tales was either impossible or expensive prior to the release of Nebula Awards Showcase 2011.

With this new direction of Nebula Award Showcase 2011, the anthology can be seen as an addition to the other "Best of Year" anthologies published. However, while the other anthologies are selected by single editors, in this case, the collective reading and tastes of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America is brought to bear on the selection, allowing the reader to get a glimpse into the tastes of the people who write science fiction, not just read or edit it.

Ahmed Saladin Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela
Michael A. Burstein I Remember the Future
N. K. Jemisin Non-Zero Probabilities
James Patrick Kelly Going Deep
Will McIntosh Bridesicle
Kij Johnson Spar
Neal Barrett, Jr. Getting Dark
Paolo Bacigalupi The Gambler
Michael Bishop Vinegar Peace (or, the Wrong-Way Used-Adult Orphanage)
Richard Bowes I Needs Must Part, the Policeman Said
Ted Kosmatka Divining Light
Rachel Swirsky A Memory of Wind
Eugie Foster Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest: Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast
Joe Haldeman A !Tangled Web
Kage Baker The Women of Nell Gwynne's

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