2009 Nebula Award Nominations

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) has released the list of nominees for the 2009 Nebula, Bradbury and Norton Awards, and I’m delighted to say The God Engines and Zoe’s Tale are on the list. The official press release is here, but you’ll find the full list below, with additional comments from me at the end.



The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade, Sep 09)
The Love We Share Without Knowing, Christopher Barzak (Bantam, Nov 08)
Flesh and Fire, Laura Anne Gilman (Pocket, Oct 09)
The City & The City, China Miéville (Del Rey, May 09)
Boneshaker, Cherie Priest (Tor, Sep 09)
Finch, Jeff VanderMeer (Underland Press, Oct 09)


The Women of Nell Gwynne’s, Kage Baker (Subterranean Press, Jun 09)
Arkfall,” Carolyn Ives Gilman (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Sep 09)
“Act One,” Nancy Kress (Asimov’s Science Fiction, Mar 09)
Shambling Towards Hiroshima, James Morrow (Tachyon, Feb 09)
Sublimation Angels,” Jason Sanford (Interzone, Oct 09)
The God Engines, John Scalzi ( Subterranean Press, Dec 09)


“The Gambler,” Paolo Bacigalupi (Fast Forward 2, Pyr Books, Oct 08)
“Vinegar Peace, or the Wrong-Way Used-Adult Orphanage,” Michael Bishop (Asimov’s Science Fiction, Jul 08)
“I Needs Must Part, The Policeman Said,” Richard Bowes (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Dec 09)
“Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast,” Eugie Foster (Interzone, Feb 09)
“Divining Light,” Ted Kosmatka (Asimov’s Science Fiction, Aug 08)
A Memory of Wind,” Rachel Swirsky (Tor.com, Nov 09)

Short Story

“Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela,” Saladin Ahmed (Clockwork Phoenix 2, Norilana Press, Jul 09)
I Remember the Future,” Michael A. Burstein (I Remember the Future, Apex Press, Nov 08)
“Non-Zero Probabilities,” N. K. Jemisin (Clarkesworld, Nov 09)
Spar,” Kij Johnson (Clarkesworld, Oct 09)
“Going Deep,” James Patrick Kelly (Asimov’s Science Fiction, Jun 09)
Bridesicle,” Will McIntosh (Asimov’s Science Fiction, Jan 09)

BRADBURY AWARD (dramatic presentation)

Star Trek, JJ Abrams (Paramount, May 09)
District 9, Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell (Tri-Star, Aug 09)
Avatar, James Cameron (Fox, Dec 09)
Moon, Duncan Jones and Nathan Parker (Sony, Jun 09)
Up, Bob Peterson and Pete Docter (Disney/Pixar, May 09)
Coraline, Henry Selick (Laika/Focus Feb 09)

ANDRE NORTON AWARD (young adult)

Hotel Under the Sand, Kage Baker (Tachyon, Jul 09)
Ice, Sarah Beth Durst (Simon and Schuster, Oct 09)
Ash, Malinda Lo (Little, Brown and Company, Sep 09)
Eyes Like Stars, Lisa Mantchev (Feiwel and Friends, Jul 09)
Zoe’s Tale, John Scalzi (Tor Aug 08)
When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead (Wendy Lamb Books, 2009)
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her
Own Making
, Catherynne M. Valente (Catherynne M. Valente, Jun 09)
Leviathan, Scott Westerfeld (Simon, Oct 09)

The Nebula Awards are voted on, and presented by, active members of SFWA. The awards will be announced at the Nebula Awards Banquet the evening of May 15 at the Hilton Cocoa Beach Oceanfront, just 20 minutes from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

And now, some quick thoughts from me:

* Quite obviously I’m thrilled. This is my first ever Nebula nomination, and likewise my first Norton nomination, and I’m delighted in both cases. In the case of The God Engines, it’s different enough from everything else I’ve ever published that I didn’t know whether it would work for anyone else but me, so it getting a nod from my fellow writers is both humbling and gratifying.

And with Zoe, well. It’s very nice to see it getting recognition as a YA, considering it was written to be accessible to younger readers, a fact which is sometimes overlooked. Plus I think most of you know how insensibly proud I am of Zoe as a character, so this feels like my peers saying I did well by her, which is again humbling and gratifying. Zoe also makes a little bit of history by being the first novel to be nominated for both the Norton and the Hugo, which is kind of neat. I wouldn’t be surprised if that distinction is short-lived, however, as I think Leviathan has very good Hugo chances this year.

* Leaving aside my own work for a moment, I think this is one of the strongest Nebula slates in a long time, in just about every category, including the Bradbury and Norton. SFWA revamped the rules this year to reinvigorate the awards and the nomination process, and I think those changes really paid off; there’s a good diversity of nominees, and a wide stylistic and thematic range of stories for voters to choose from. I can’t think of a category where any one nominee is a runaway favorite, which speaks to the quality of the work across the board. So a round of applause to you, SFWA. To the voters this year: Well, your job will be tough, but think off all the good reading you’ll get to do in the process. That’s a fair trade.

* The awards will be given out during the aforementioned Nebula Banquet in May, as part of a larger Nebula Weekend, and yes, I’ll be there for that. I was planning to be there regardless, because a) Joe Haldeman is being made a Grand Master then and I don’t want to miss that, and b) I’m running for President of SFWA, and that’s when the election results are officially announced. So I guess that’s another thing I’ll be up for, isn’t it. As if I won’t be twitchy enough.

While the Nebula Weekend is a SFWA function, it is also open to the public; here’s more information on that. SFWA also very frequently schedules a mass autographing session featuring its members at a nearby bookstore, so if you’re in or around the vicinity of Cocoa Beach that weekend, it’s an excellent time to meet your favorite authors. See you there.

63 Comments on “2009 Nebula Award Nominations”

  1. Many congratulations John on your Nebula nominations!! I’m finishing up “The Ghost Brigades” today and read “Zoe’s Tale” last summer before the worldcon and loved it. I have “The God Engines” on order.
    Good luck and hoping you when the Nebula Award!!!

  2. Zoe also makes a little bit of history by being the first novel to be nominated for both the Norton and the Hugo, which is kind of neat. I wouldn’t be surprised if that distinction is short-lived, however, as I think Leviathan has very good Hugo chances this year.

    Even if Leviathan gets nominated for both, Zoe will still have been the first. Can’t take that away.

    P.S. Congrats and well-deserved!

  3. Congratulations on both (well deserved) nominations, John! I agree that it’s a very strong field this year in all categories.

  4. Surprised The Magicians didn’t get a nomination – it was the best book I read this year. It was eligible, right?

  5. Do they ever take the Short Stories, Novellettes, and Novellas (that are not published seperately) and then wrap them into one book and publish those?

    I would like to read alot of the shorter ficiton nominated just to check out the authors, but I have to go all over the place to find them. If it was packaged in one place and called “2009 Nebula Nominees” or something like that it may have a fan base to sell to. Might be something you may want to consider if you get elected president of SFWA.

    How does the nomination process work? The only Novel in that list I have heard of is The Boneshaker. It looks like bestsellers are almost always ignored in the Hugo and Nebula nominations.

    Minor Gripe: Robert Jordan deserves to be a grandmaster. He changed the fantasy genre.

  6. Hmm, since I never see any fan-Cons down here in FL, I may have to go for this one. Not sure I could take many of the fan traditions anyway.

    Will they be announcing SFWA election results as well, or just the Nebulas?

  7. Guess:

    “Do they ever take the Short Stories, Novellettes, and Novellas (that are not published seperately) and then wrap them into one book and publish those?”

    They make Nebula collections, yes. However, each author has control over his/her work and maychoose not to participate, and in any event a Nebula collection featuring current nominees wouldn’t be available until after the awards voting for the year is done.

  8. Guess @ 13:

    Do they ever take the Short Stories, Novellettes, and Novellas (that are not published seperately) and then wrap them into one book and publish those?

    The winners and some of the nominees are published annually in anthologies called the Nebula Awards Showcase. Check with your favorite bookstore. If they don’t have one or more of them, they can order ’em.

  9. I would think most of the lesser known authors would want to be in these collections.

    If these short stories are sold to magazines like Aasimov’s do the authors give up writes to re-publish these in a collection?

  10. Excuse me, as John notes, some of the winners and some of the nominees. Still very much worth picking up, IMO.

  11. For the Nebula Awards, most of the short fiction is usually made available to the members of SFWA to read online or in electronic format via the members only section. The Nebula Awards showcase released the following year usually has most of the winners and some of the nominees as well as some additional essays.

    It sounds like this year’s Nebula Awards Weekend will be a good one to attend, especially with a shuttle launch nearby. If I wasn’t chairing a local convention that weekend, I’d definitely be tempted to go.

  12. I read more short fiction this year than I usually do, so this is the first time I’ve read most of the nominees. I am especially happy to see “Divining Light” by Ted Kosmatka nominated as it was probably my favorite of the year and I didn’t know it was up for any awards. But its got some stiff, worthy competition. Congrats to all the nominees, our host included!

  13. Congratulations to all nominees, escpecially to yourself – anything that beats Zoe’s Tale will be one damn fine novel.

    A nomination for the Avatar script? I didn’t notice it had one. Oh well.

  14. Congrats to John (and Rachel and others). It must feel especially good to see TGE nominated since it was a move to a new genre for you.

  15. First off, congratulations John! Now I really need to find a copy of Last Colony, so I can get to Zoe. The bookstores in Northern Colorado have been… discooperative.

    Secondly, Star Trek was superbly cast, stylistically beautiful (yes, lens flares and all), and tremendously entertaining. But I swear, that script was so full of holes I couldn’t use it to strain green beans.

    And don’t, don’t get me started on Avatar.

  16. Awesome, sir! I haven’t gotten to God Engines yet but am delighted Shambling Toward Hiroshima made it, too (first of many books I bought because I read about them through the Big Idea).

  17. There seems to be a bias toward the the second half of the year in the nominations. I would presume that is because the nominators recall books they’ve read recently more vividly.

  18. Congrats, John!

    Although how in the WORLD “Avatar” got a Best Script nod is a question for the ages. I’m pleased to see the other nominees there (especially Moon and D9), but Avatar? Horrible script. If I wrote something like that, I would hope that my Writing Buddy would clock me over the head with a copy of “Characters and Viewpoint” and yell at me to write a second draft.

  19. Per the SFWA and this Wikipedia article…


    novella’s have a length of between 17,500 to 40,000 words. How do those in SFWA who are voting know to vote for Item A as a Novella rather than a Novel?

    For example your 136 page count on The God Engines screams Novella to me but James Morrow’s 196 pages does not.

    Are works noted as eligible for certain categories ahead of time on a big SFWA cut sheet somewhere?

    Have SFWA’s word counts for categories changed over time? The reason I ask is that there are so many classic SF novels whose pages counts are in the vicinity of today’s Novella length works.

  20. Two books of my favorite author, “Zoë’s Tale” and “The God Engines”.
    I apply to my local library “Zoë’s Tale” and, in approximately a week, I have the book in my evils hands.
    But I have to wait a year to read in Spanish “The God Engines” because a stupid local law, who say “A foreigner author cannot publish more than one book a year”, and of course, this year have published in February “Zoë’s Tale”.

    John, Save us from the politicians!!

  21. @ 38 Ah, that makes more sense then. I will freely admit that Avatar is visually stunning.

    That being said, I’m still not sure that something with a script that horrid can be classed as “outstanding.”

  22. Ouch, conflict. Congratulations, John, but…

    I’m rooting for the late Kage Baker, twice. “The Hotel Under the Sand” is one of the best things I’ve ever read. “The Women of Nell Gwynne’s” is good too, but hopefully you have a shot in novella category.

    If anyone hasn’t read Swirsky’s “A Memory of Wind”, stop now, go to Tor.com and read it. Period.

    Congratulations to all the nominees,
    Jack Tingle

  23. I love people who drop by to tell me they’re not rooting for me. I sort of wonder why people feel compelled to do that. It’s a bit like going to a wedding and saying to the happy couple, “you know, statistically speaking, 50% of marriages end in divorce. But maybe you’ll get lucky.”

    That said, both categories I’m nominated in are really strong categories. Which I like. One is judged by one’s peers. And of course Kage’s work in both categories is lovely.

  24. Those books/stories/movies that I’ve experienced all seem like excellent choices and deserving of the nomination. Now it’s time to search out those others. Yay- more things to read!!! (or, of course, watch) Off to pick up FINCH now- the library just emailed me.

  25. First of all, congratulations on the nominations, of course. I loved all your books, including ‘The God Engines’, which I just finished.
    I just wanted to add a little comment about Zoe. I like her very much. For me, reading the story from her point of view was incredible. It’s a good feeling to see a teenage girl pictured so intelligent, responsible, strong and also with a no-nonsense attitude. I feel like she would get along very well with one of my all times favorite YA characters, Tiffany Aching (author: Terry Pratchett). Oh well, a bit outside of the subject at hand, but I wanted to share. Thanks.

  26. I see the Nebula Award Weekend is also for nonauthors. Is it anything like a convention with panels and such? Or is it just lots of nonstop schmoozing?


  27. Congratulations, John!

    Was just looking at the registration options. Is the banquet really worth the extra $95 per person? According to the website, the cheapo basic weekend still includes the awards ceremony.

  28. Congratulations, John!

    I didn’t like Zoe’s Tale on first reading, but after reading The Last Colony, I went back to it and I really enjoyed it. Best of luck with it and with The God Engines.

  29. Well to celebrate TGE’s nomination (and getting a check from a client) I stopped by the University Bookstore and they had a copy so I bought it. The amusing thing? They also have a copy of Judge Sn Goes Golfing. First time I’ve ever seen them shelve a chapbook. But then, Duane rocks. And yes, they have more of TGE including a couple of the Limited Editions…

  30. OK, I live close enough (Daytona Beach) that I’m definitely attending. But like others who have commented, I’m not sure what the weekend contains beyond the banquet. Should I register for the weekend or just that evening?

  31. Hehe, that’s an awesome picture, John. I worked with Duane long ago when he first started there (not in book, I was in the art supplies area). It’s awesome he’s still there and doing so much with the SF section there. He’s also an inch or two shorter than I… :)

  32. I would think that the reason for new authors to write short stories and the like is to get noticed for a book deal.

    Does a hugo or nebula basically guarantee a young writer a book deal?

  33. Congratulations!

    (Lots of authors I like, including one that I’m actually friends with got nominated this year. Very cool.)

  34. I was so excited to see the Nebula Awards weekend was going to be held nearby and then I saw the ballot and was even giddier. I hope all of you get to make it here. I have enjoyed several books and stories on the list and just started to read your work last year. You are on my list of winners.

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