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Nebula Awards Showcase 2002
edited by Kim Stanley Robinson
Roc Books, 292 pages

Nebula Awards Showcase 2002
Kim Stanley Robinson
Kim Stanley Robinson has travelled and worked in different parts of the world (including Washington, DC and in Switzerland) with his wife, Lisa, an environmental chemist. His work has garnered many awards including the Nebula Award ("The Blind Geometer" and Red Mars), the Asimov, John W.Campbell, Locus and World Fantasy Awards ("Black Air") and the Hugo Award (Green Mars).

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Years of Rice and Salt
SF Site Review: Antarctica
SF Site: Kim Stanley Robinson Reading List

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Greg L. Johnson

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Over the last few years, competition among the various best of the year anthologies has grown particularly fierce. There's only so much space on bookstore shelves, and after Gardner Dozois' yearly anthology takes up its portion, room is at a premium. The annual Nebula award anthology guarantees its own place on the shelves not only through its connection to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, but also by providing a true alternative to the other year's best collections.

A large part of that has to do with a substantial portion of Nebula Awards Showcase 2002 being devoted to non-fiction. There are appreciations of Philip José Farmer, and a series of essays by Gwyneth Jones, Gene Wolfe, Ken MacLeod, and others, on the general question of where does science fiction go now that so much of the world looks like a science fiction novel?

And, of course, there are a few good stories included. The anthology begins and ends with stories that are critical reassessments of the ideas of virtual reality and computer memory storage; Walter Jon Willams' "Daddy's World," and "A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows" by Gardner Dozois. Both stories tap into primal feelings involving life and death, strongly suggesting that the price to pay for living in a machine is a deep, emotional one. This year's volume also includes the Nebula Award winners at each story length, plus an excerpt from Greg Bear's Darwin's Radio, the winning novel. Besides the Dozois, Eleanor Arnason's "Stellar Harvest" is included from the list of nominees. "Stellar Harvest" is a good example of the reason for the revival of Arnason's career, it continues the serious concerns of her novels, but places them in an adventure story with a smart, wise-cracking heroine.

While the essays offer one answer to the question of where does SF go now, the stories show that science fiction writers continue to re-examine their vision of the future. It's a continuing dialogue, and by including critical essays along with the stories, the Nebula Awards Showcase 2002 does more to present the SF field as an on-going conversation and discussion of ideas than any of the other best of the year anthologies. It's a worthy contribution and a good volume to have on your shelf.

Copyright © 2002 Greg L. Johnson

Reviewer Greg L. Johnson reads and lives to tell about it in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His reviews also appear in The New York Review of Science Fiction.


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