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Nebula Awards Showcase 2003
edited by Nancy Kress
Roc Books, 304 pages

Nebula Awards Showcase 2003
Nancy Kress
Nancy Kress was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1948. She went to college at State University of New York at Plattsburgh, receiving a degree in Elementary Education, and spent four years teaching the fourth grade. Her first sale was a story, "The Earth Dwellers," to Galaxy in 1976. Her first novel, The Prince of Morning Bells, appeared in 1981. Nancy Kress moved on to write copy for an advertising agency, wrote fiction part-time, raised her children, taught at SUNY Brockport, and earned an M.S. in Education and an M.A. in English. In 1990 she became a full-time writer. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Nancy Kress Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Crossfire
SF Site Review: Probability Space
SF Site Review: Maximum Light
SF Site Review: Savior
SF Site Review: Probability Moon
Interview: Nancy Kress
SF Site Review: David Brin's Out of Time: Yanked!
SF Site Review: Stinger
SF Site Review: Maximum Light
SF Site Review: Beaker's Dozen

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

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One of the interesting things about reviewing a collection of Hugo or Nebula winners is the fact that the editor has not selected the stories which are the raison d'etre for the collection. In the case of Nebula Awards Showcase 2003, editor Nancy Kress was given Severna Park's "The Cure of Everything," Kelly Link's "Louise's Ghost," and Jack Williamson's "The Ultimate Earth" by the members of the SFWA. What Kress brought to the collection was the decision to include runners-up Mike Resnick and James Patrick Kelly, as well as commissioning the commentary by a variety of authors, some established and some still making a name for themselves.

Kress also includes an introduction in which she remembers her first Nebula Award banquet in 1985 and uses the opportunity to reflect on the manner in which a genre which ostensibly looks to the future has such a strong sense of its own past. Kress also arranged to have authors such as Terry Bisson, Harry Turtledove, and Andy Duncan reflect on the wide range of sub-genres which make up the field of speculative fiction. These essays provide an interesting snapshot of the current state of the field, much as Gardner Dozois's annual introduction to his Year's Best Science Fiction anthology does, although in this case, the reader is exposed to a broader range of opinion. Kress has also included a short piece by Shelly Shapiro in which the Del Rey editor discusses the importance of Betty Ballantine to both science fiction publishing and publishing in general.

As far as the stories are concerned, I do not entirely agree with the selections made by the SFWA for 2001, nor would I necessarily have selected the same nominees as Kress did to represent the stories which appeared on the ballot that year.

Severna Park's short story "The Cure for Everything," which originally appeared on SCI-FICTION, is a story of community and the exploitation for the common good. It focuses its attention on Maria, who is against that exploitation, but suddenly must come to terms with the fact that her own life may rest on the continued research that she has so long opposed. As with so many great science fiction stories, Park does not take the easy way out or provide any simple answers in this intriguing look at duty to the community.

Kelly Link's novelette "Louise's Ghost" was originally published in the small press collection Stranger Things Happen. It tells the story of two best friends, Louise and Louise. While, at times, this causes some confusion over which character is speaking, it really doesn't hurt the story and, in fact, contributes to the story's dreamlike quality as one Louise discovers a ghost in her house and tries to deal with it. As the story progresses, the point of view moves further away from the world of consensual reality, and although Link doesn't return to it, the most important line in the story may be Louise's mother's comment implying that the second Louise is an imaginary friend.

The only winner from one of the traditional magazines was Jack Williamson's novella, "The Ultimate Earth," from Analog, which also won the Hugo Award. Set long after the Earth has been depopulated, the story tells of a group of children raised on the Moon who want to see what has transpired on Earth since it began to be rebuilt. Williamson is miserly with information about the Earth to both the readers and the characters, building up the inquisition of both until he finally reveals what is happening on the Earth.

James Patrick Kelly's "Undone" plays with the rules of time, space and space opera and introduces several interesting textual techniques. While many of these things detract from the story, in the end, they do support Kelly's tale.

Mike Resnick's "Elephants on Neptune" is a tragic story of human nature told in an almost humorous manner. Resnick's story demonstrates how a science fiction story need not include any science.

Nebula Awards Showcase 2003 includes winners which were not published in traditional places, either in small press publications or on-line. Kress's book brings them together in a readily available with other award winners for a snapshot of the year 2001.

Copyright © 2003 Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is a four-time Hugo Nominee for Best Fan Writer and the editor of the anthologies Wondrous Beginnings, Magical Beginnings, and Horrible Beginnings (DAW Books, January, February and March, 2003). In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is heavily involved in convention running and publishes the fanzine Argentus.


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