Every year the SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America) gives awards to the best of that year and that award is called the Nebula.  The Nebulas are different from the Hugos which are more of a fan based award for speculative fiction.  Getting a nomination for a Nebula requires impressing your peers, while earning a Hugo involves dazzling your fans.

Here are this year’s nominees for the Nebula:


  • Among Others, Jo Walton (Tor)
  • Embassytown, China Miéville (Macmillan UK; Del Rey; Subterranean Press)
  • Firebird, Jack McDevitt (Ace Books)
  • God’s War, Kameron Hurley (Night Shade Books)
  • Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti, Genevieve Valentine (Prime Books)
  • The Kingdom of Gods, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)


  • “Kiss Me Twice,” Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s Science Fiction, June 2011)
  • “Silently and Very Fast,” Catherynne M. Valente (WFSA Press; Clarkesworld Magazine, October 2011)
  • “The Ice Owl,” Carolyn Ives Gilman (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction,November/December 2011)
  • “The Man Who Bridged the Mist,” Kij Johnson (Asimov’s Science Fiction, October/November 2011)
  • The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary,” Ken Liu (Panverse Three, Panverse Publishing)
  • “With Unclean Hands,” Adam-Troy Castro (Analog Science Fiction and Fact, November 2011)


  • “Fields of Gold,” Rachel Swirsky (Eclipse 4, Night Shade Books)
  • “Ray of Light,” Brad R. Torgersen (Analog Science Fiction and Fact, December 2011)
  • “Sauerkraut Station,” Ferrett Steinmetz (Giganotosaurus, November 2011)
  • “Six Months, Three Days,” Charlie Jane Anders (Tor.com, June 2011)
  • “The Migratory Pattern of Dancers,” Katherine Sparrow (Giganotosaurus, July 2011)
  • The Old Equations,” Jake Kerr (Lightspeed Magazine, July 2011)
  • “What We Found,” Geoff Ryman (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, September/October 2011)

Short Story

Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation

  • Attack the Block, Joe Cornish (writer/director) (Optimum Releasing; Screen Gems)
  • Captain America: The First Avenger, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely (writers), Joe Johnston (director) (Paramount)
  • Doctor Who: “The Doctor’s Wife,” Neil Gaiman (writer), Richard Clark (director) (BBC Wales)
  • Hugo, John Logan (writer), Martin Scorsese (director) (Paramount)
  • Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen (writer/director) (Sony)
  • Source Code, Ben Ripley (writer), Duncan Jones (director) (Summit)
  • The Adjustment Bureau, George Nolfi (writer/director) (Universal)

Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Book

  • Akata Witch, Nnedi Okorafor (Viking Juvenile)
  • Chime, Franny Billingsley (Dial Books; Bloomsbury)
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Hodder & Stoughton)
  • Everybody Sees the Ants, A.S. King (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
  • The Boy at the End of the World, Greg van Eekhout (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)
  • The Freedom Maze, Delia Sherman (Big Mouth House)
  • The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Rae Carson (Greenwillow Books)
  • Ultraviolet, R.J. Anderson (Orchard Books; Carolrhoda Books)

While I haven’t read every offering on the list, I have done pretty well with a majority of the short fiction, so I’m going to give my picks for the best of those categories.


I’ve read all of these stories except for Ken Liu’s, which pains me because I’m a huge fan of his writing.  So this pick will be a partial pick since I’m not exactly choosing based on the full list.  And it’s almost a blessing that the list is one short, because I loved every one of these stories and adding another would be difficult.

My three favorites are: The Ice Owl, The Man Who Bridged the Mist, and With Unclean Hands.  Each one of them transported me into a different world and each one left me wanting to know more.  Kij’s story in particular reminded me of George R.R. Martin’s With Morning Comes Mistfall.  Both stories remind us of the preciousness of mystery.

But my final pick would be With Unclean Hands.  While The Man Who Bridged the Mist and The Ice Owl told me great stories, With Unclean Hands provoked my thoughts about the roles of guilt and violence in a society.  I won’t elaborate much more than that, so I don’t spoil the plot, but that story is the one I’ve thought back to most often since reading it.


I’ve read most of this category as well, but I doubt I would pick anything else than Ray of Light.  This was the first story I’d ever read by Brad R. Torgersen and when I was done, I realized that he was one hellava writer.

Science fiction often becomes guilty of being a downer too much (though I love downer stories just as much as the next guy.)  Brad shows us with this story that science fiction can elevate man’s spirit in the face of technological tragedy and he told the tale with such skill that I was left with elation by the end.  And that’s why I would pick Ray of Light as the best Novelette in 2012.

Short Story

I’ve read all but one of these stories and for me, the choice came down to two stories: Ken Liu’s The Paper Menagerie and Nancy Fulda’s Movement.  Most of the others – while skillfully told and even in some cases creatively told – did not pull me into the story.

If I could I would pick a co-winner, but picking does involve, well, picking.  So I’ll buck up and make a choice.  Movement makes a great case to be the winner.  It’s lyrical, flows and dances like a dream, and illuminates a unique point of view with a strong, clear voice.  In some respects, I expect Movement to be the winner, but since I’m picking I’m going to go with The Paper Menagerie.

Both stories make me sympathize with a viewpoint that I’m not familiar with.  I’m not a mute autistic or a first generation Chinese-American, but after reading these stories, I have a tiny insight into what that would feel like.

Add to that humanistic view the practical magic of tiny paper animals that gallop around the room, go “Rawrr-sa,” and exist on the breath of a dying mother, and I’m sold.  The Paper Menagerie wrapped its fingers around my heart and tempted me with magics of a child’s heart.  So that is why I would choose The Paper Menagerie as my winner for Best Short Story.


Thomas K. Carpenter

Thomas K. Carpenter is a full time contemporary fantasy author with over 50 independently published titles. His bestselling, multi-series universe, The Hundred Halls, has over 25 books and counting. His stories focus on fantastic families, magical academies, and epic adventures.

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