2023 Nebula Awards: Recognising Excellence in Sci-fi and Fantasy
By Brodie Mckenzie, Anna-Maria Poku, Clara Garnier-Barsanti and Grace Briggs-Jones
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA) has announced their winners for the 58th annual Nebula Awards. This award recognises excellence in literature and other art forms which fall into sci-fi and fantasy categories and titles across a broad range of categories have been given a platform. Our warmest congratulations to each and every finalist for this incredible achievement.
Taking the top spot is the ground-breaking and already widely-praised Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution by R.F Kuang. This novel has taken the book world by storm since it was initially published in August 2022, debuting at the first spot on The New York Times bestseller list and winning Blackwell’s Book of the Year for Fiction in 2022. Babel is a hard-hitting critique of empire and colonialism which takes place in an alternative, fantastical reality seeped in dark academia vibes in which the world’s technology is powered by language. It draws attention to the injustice and devastation caused by British imperialism and has absolutely been one of our favourite reads of the last year. Well deserved!
Winning best novella is C.L. Polk’s Even Though I Knew the End, a fantastical noir that is a sapphic period piece dazzling anyone looking for mystery, intrigue, romance and magic. The New York Times describes it as “eerie, sharp and fiercely bittersweet” and even claimed their Best Romance of 2022. A well-deserving winner, this novella successfully fuses the best of science-fiction into a book of only 144 pages and is an unputdownable must-read!
John Chu’s If You Find Yourself Speaking to God, Address God with the Informal You clinched Best Novelette and is published in Uncanny Magazine issue forty-seven. “Delivering an incisive story that deconstructs the contemporary superhero mythos,” according to Tor’s Alex Brown, Chu replaces the stereotypically white superhero with a queer Asian American, blending real-world anti-Asian racism into a story of super heroic proportions. This novelette is deserving of this award and is a must-read for all.
Cinching the prize for best Short Story is Samantha Mills’ Rabbit Test from Uncanny Magazine. The story, half research essay, half speculative fiction, is a brilliant take on the past, present and future of abortion rights in America. The story has made remarkable waves, having been translated into Chinese by Geng Hui, longlisted for the BSFA Awards for shorter fiction as well as the 2023 Locus Recommended Reading List and Top Ten Finalist for Short Story. The story asks one of the more important questions in today’s society. A favourite of ours and very much deserved win.
Elden Ring is a different breed; combining the mastermind of the notorious Dark Souls with the creator of Game of Thrones creates an open-world game in which the player gets freedom to explore. Hidetaka Miyazaki wrote the game’s script, building on the structural foundations laid by George R.R. Martin, keeping his usual recipe of a fragmented story that can be interpreted by each of the players. Players can unlock the ability to message fellow players, creating a real writing and gaming community. Need convincing? Try the demo! You won’t regret it.
Andre Norton Nebula Award for Middle-Grade and Young Adult Fiction
Coming out on top for the Andre Norton Nebula Award is K. Tempest Bradford’s Ruby Finley vs. the Interstellar Invasion. Described as “a page-turning mix of science, science-fiction and mystery that will empower readers to pursue their own STEM passions,” Ruby Finley is the science hero we never knew we needed. Eleven-year-old Ruby, who loves all things science, finds herself wrapped up in a seemingly unsolvable mystery; the book paints a picture of a close-knit Black community that encourages curiosity in kids and allows them to roam freely. This book is one for all young ages and it comes as no surprise that it came out on top!
Ray Bradbury Nebula Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation
Unsurprisingly, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s outstanding film Everything Everywhere All At Once has claimed first place in this category. This movie has been on everyone’s radar since release and is currently estimated as the most awarded film of all time. An emotional rollercoaster that defies any attempt of genre-classification, it's mind-bending, emotional, hilarious and equal parts ridiculous and profound. Exploring a multitude of philosophical concepts through complete and utter absurdism, the story follows an unlikely hero as she attempts to save reality from imminent unravelling and destruction. At its core it is about human relationships and the nature of existence. But we don’t need to tell you that – if you haven’t seen it already, where have you been?
An award that focuses more on world-building (sci-fi) rather than on the topic or author origin creates such an interdisciplinary approach to writing! We loved seeing bestsellers such as Babel being recognised once more, but also computer games such as Elden Ring judged on their literary quality: we loved Nebula’s winning-list and once again, congratulations to all!