The Nebula Awards: Less Logrolling, More Relevance
Posted on January 15, 2009 Posted by John Scalzi 17 Comments
This will be of interest only to hardcore SF geeks, but that’s me, so: The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) have revised the rules for their Nebula Awards, and I have to say I approve. First, it gets rid of the “rolling eligibility” rule (in which a Nebula could be won by a novel or story released two calendar years earlier, thus crushing any use the award has for relevance) with a far more sane calendar year system, and it also adds other new innovations to streamline the process and basically make nominating and voting easier and smarter, thus encouraging SFWA members to actually nominate.
This is all welcome news, since for the past several years the Nebula has been marinating in irrelevance; a shame both for the award, and for the authors who have won it and who had hoped to see some benefit from it in their careers. It’s going to take more than rule changes to restore the Nebula to equal footing with the Hugo, to be clear — but the rules changes had to be made as a first step. That first step is taken; now on to the next steps.
I’d also heard that the Nebula committee no longer gets to add a work to the nominations list, though I didn’t go through with a fine-toothed comb to verify that. I definitely approve, though, of both the changes.
Yeah, as far as I can tell juries were axed for the Nebula proper. There’s still a jury for the Norton (that’s the YA award) which I think makes sense at least for the short term, and possibly for the long term as well.
Warren: Juries are out under article 14; also, the final ballot is now strictly the top six nominees (with some provisions for ties).
Reminder that the Norton is Not A Nebula.
And as I heard from some unnamed officer (Hi, Paul), there are only five nominations allowed for each member (In each category.) No more one person nominating 375 different works.
What? Make people choose? Madness!
A quick check suggests it’s basically very similar to the Hugo rules, except voters are SFWA members rather than WSFS members.
I approve. I’m astonished that anyone could manage to reform the Nebulas — I’d pretty much given up hope on SFWA, and I’m very pleased to be proven wrong.
The other major change is the dropping of the Script Award from the Nebulas and instituting the Ray Bradbury (Not a Nebula) Award . Considering the apathy of late in recs for the Script Award, maybe the change will spark some interest for the new award.
This is excellent news. You may remember my raising this very issue with Russell Davis right here on Whatever almost a year ago. Though his reply then made it very clear that he was already thinking about it.
The Whatever: At the heart of everything science fiction!
This is great news. SFWA’s board deserves a lot of credit for making this happen.
The Hugo rules apparently allow for science fiction microstories published by Twitter e.zines to be eligible for Hugo nominations in the short story category. Will the Nebula rules follow suit?
When you say “It’s going to take more than rule changes to restore the Nebula to equal footing with the Hugo, to be clear”, what exactly do you mean?
Are you saying the voting process itself isn’t equal or are you saying the ‘prestige’ of the awards isn’t equal? I can read it either way, which is why I ask…
Glad the rules have been rewritten. It will make my list-making so much easier for my library’s readers advisory website and its recent publication guideline.
I’m now going to use you, John. I’m sure SFWA people are reading this. ;-)
As a teen librarian, I love the recognition that young adult writers are getting. Could you give the Norton Awards a page that can be found without extensive googling/wikipedia-searching? Currently the second google hit takes us the “New Andre Norton Award page” which doesn’t even list the winners from the 3 years of the awards existence. Cheers!
This is a really useful step forward. Having been on a few Nebula juries, I’ve noticed that the same twenty or so people seemed to rotate between the Novel and Short Story juries every year. Also, over the years it became clear that there were a few people who nominated their friends’ works every time a friend published a book.
To revive interest in the script category for the Bradbury award and make SFWA relevant to the biggest and most important SF/F market, serious consideration really needs to be given to electronic game scripts. I’m working on one for a relatively small DS/Wii/XBLA game now and the script is between 25k and 30k words. I was talking to an executive at Epic last night and he mentioned that Gears of War 2 has something like 100k LINES of dialogue.
It’s totally bizarre that writers writing 3x more SF/F text per title and earning 10x more money for it than the average SFWA writer are ineligible to join.
This is a very, very good thing.