Tag Archives: Nebula Award

January’s Prompt

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As I said in my first post of the year, my goal is to write one short story a month. For the sake of a guideline, I am going to use the following reason to set a length for my short stories.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America specifies word lengths for each category of its   categories:

Classification Word count
Novel over 40,000 words
Novella 17,500 to 40,000 words
Novelette 7,500 to 17,500 words
Short story under 7,500 words

So, my goal is a story that is somewhere between 1,000 and 7,500 words every month.

As to what I’m going to write about, my plan is to sit down at the beginning of each month and chose a prompt and see what happens from there. For January’s story, I am going to use The Amazing Story Generator to create a prompt. Someone bought it for me, and I’ve never used it to write a story.

cover of book

For January, the prompt is….

“While dog-sitting, a mustachioed private detective uncovers a hidden family secret.”

detective

Story to be posted…Jan. 31, 2015!

(I let my husband use the story generator. Sigh. Oh well, let’s see what I come up with.)

Happy writing!

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Review of the Nebula Awards Showase 2013

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Every year I try to read the Nebula Awards Showcase anthology. If you don’t know, the Nebula Awards are given for Science-Fiction and Fantasy Writing. I look forward to the collection every year. And last year, I started ordering the older copies from Abebooks.com. (I love that site). I almost have every year now.

Anyway, when I read, I have a tendency to compare what I’m reading to other things that I’ve read. I try to judge a book on its value alone but in this case, I can’t help it. So, as I was reading the 2013 collection, I was comparing it to the 2012 anthology.

In all honesty, I thought the 2012 collection was better. Now, to be fair though, there are still some really great stories in the 2013 set that I would highly recommend. However, the new book just didn’t wow me like last year’s did.

Before I talk about some of the stories that I did like, I wanted to add one other thing you should know about the Nebula Awards collections. They usually feature poetry. Yes, you read that right. Sci-fi or fantasy poetry. And I’m here to tell you, it can be pretty weird.

Weird poetry aside, some stories that I think are really great from this collection:nebula awards

1. “The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu

  • This story is truly magical. It’s about the relationship between a mother and her son. I don’t want to tell you more than that, because it’s really, really, really great.
  • It’s one of those stories that isn’t your typical sci-fi or fantasy story but I’m so glad it’s in this collection.

2. The Ice Owl” by Carolyn Ives Gilman

  • I love this story! I couldn’t get over the complexity of the universe that this author created just for a short story. It’s about a girl and her learning about the past. It’s also about an ice owl, but I won’t tell you what happens other than that.
  • When I finished reading this, I was hoping there was more. I would love to read a novel length work set in the universe created by this author.

3. Excerpt from Among Others by Jo Walton

  • This, as you can guess from the title, was a snippet of a novel that they included.
  • The novel is now on my “To Read” list.
  • The excerpt introduces us to one of the main characters, a girl, who is about to go to boarding school. I can’t add more than that, not because I don’t want to give anything away, but because there’s not much else to go on from the snippet. I have to admit one of the reasons I say this is worth reading is because it peaked my curiosity and now I need to know what happens.

4. “Sauerkraut Station” by Ferrett Steinmetz

  • If you only had time to read one story from the collection, this would be my choice.
  • Unlike some of the other stories, this story is more typical. It has some known sci-fi devices. It is set on a space station. There is a war going on that involves two different factions with different belief systems.
  • What isn’t typical about this story. The main character is a girl who lives with her female relatives and together they run a “truck stop” in space. In particular, their station is known as “Sauerkraut Station” because they serve sauerkraut that they make themselves right on the station.
  • I can’t explain why exactly this was my favorite out of all of them, other than I just thought it was really well written. For a short story, it was very complex.

5. “Ray of Light” by Brad R. Torgersen

  • This story is about our world after aliens have arrived and blocked out our sun. In order to survive, the humans that endure are forced to live deep in the ocean near vents that produce heat.
  • The story is also about the generation of children who are born down in the ocean. They want to see the sun. They form a “cult” like group that worships the sun. Eventually, the teens steal some subs and make their way to the surface because no one has been to the surface in years. Guess what they find when they get there…. I’m not telling. Read the story. It’s good.

There are many more in this collection but I felt like those five were the highlights. One of the things I love about the Nebula collections is a lot of time the stories that are featured aren’t your typical sci-fi and fantasy. There aren’t a lot of dragons or light sabers. Instead, there are a lot of characters in a vast array of settings surviving and being a part of some very unique universes.

Review of Dune by Frank Herbert

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Nebula Award Winning Novel in 1965

I have mixed feelings about this book. I have often heard that Dune is the best sci-fi book ever written. That’s a tall order to live up to over 40 years after it was written. I think I went into it expecting something else and that might be part of the problem. I’m not saying I didn’t like it, because I did. I loved it. I just don’t think it is the best sci-fi book ever written. I don’t think I can comfortably give it that title.

Is it worth reading? Yes.
Will you like it if you don’t like sci-fi? Maybe.
Is it one of the best sci-fi I’ve ever read? Yes. But, there are still things about it I didn’t like.

I want to end this post on a good note, so for starters, let’s talk about what I didn’t like about Dune.dune_frank_herbert

1. The plot focuses on a made up religion. I felt like there were things that weren’t explained enough for me to believe the religion was as important or world changing as it was meant to be.
2. The group called the Bene Gesserit. I didn’t quite understand their end game. They are one of the many groups of individuals that are plotting to control the reigning members of the worlds of Dune. The general idea is that they are striving to preserve certain blood lines. Even after reading the whole book, I couldn’t figure out why they would want to do this. It didn’t seem clear to me.
3. The made up words are very distracting at first. When I first picked up this book, I spent more time looking things up in the glossary at the back than actually reading it. Herbert makes up more than just a religion. He created words that only have meaning in the context of this book and at first I couldn’t figure out what the heck was going on. To be honest, I felt like some of the made up words were unnecessary.

In the end, those are very small things that I didn’t like about Dune. And I don’t often find a book that I love 100%.

You might be wondering, what did she like about this book? The answer: everything else.

As I said, I wouldn’t feel right saying this was the best sci-fi book of all time. But I would definitely put it in the top ten must read sci-fi books for fans of the genre. I would also say that this is a book that even those who aren’t fans might actually want to read. Fiction that is written for a specific genre or that gets labeled that way after its written doesn’t often fall into what I call the Literature with a capital L category. For me, Dune does cross into that category. There is something more to this book than just space battles and fictional tech.

1. Dune is a story about politics, religion, freedom, ecology, all thrown together by an overwhelming amount of subterfuge.
2. I love that the main character, Paul, is like a nexus with all the forces at work in the novel either working through him or against him.
3. Dune is smart sci-fi. It’s thought provoking and well written. It’s not just a means for laser guns and space craft.

In the end, I would say read it if you love sci-fi because it is considered one of the most significant sci-fi novels ever written. I would also say read it if you are looking for a great story involving an entire planet finding freedom via the help of a mere boy.