The last time there were eight novels on the final ballot was in 2001, when the award was won by The Quantum Rose (Of which I am not a fan).
|The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman||102461||4.02||2992||4.15|
|The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker||14539||4.16||856||4.25|
|We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler||6793||3.84||385||3.93|
|Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie||2114||4.01||317||4.10|
|Hild, by Nicola Griffith||1161||3.86||206||4.19|
|A Stranger in Olondria, by Sofia Samatar||92||4.17||62||3.75|
|Fire with Fire, by Charles E. Gannon||79||4.22||21||3.75|
|The Red: First Light, by Linda Nagata||46||4.07||15||4.00|
For once, the two sites rank all the books in the same order, though with a significant variation in the relative sizes of the steps between them.
Having said that, I do notice now that the liberal sexuality of the year 2130 is not completely enlightened. Although Captain Norton's crew includes numerous women, we still get a boob joke fairly early on, and perhaps more significantly all of the viewpoint characters (mostly Norton, but also members of his crew and scientists and ambassadors from elsewhere in the Solar System) are male. Clarke does his best to be race-blind - it's indicated that Norton has Chinese roots - but not talking about something isn't quite the same as making it go away.
It's interesting that the religious zealot on the crew is chosen to save them all from the missile sent by the ideological and paranoid regime on Mercury. Normally Clarke is not so sympathetic to religion, though of course the Fifth Church of Christ, Cosmonaut is in itself a parodic entity. I suspect that living on Sri Lanka, Clarke developed an appreciation for the spritual grace that can be gained even from rather odd theological systems.
Anyway, a classic that deserves its status.
When you meet a Gethenian you cannot and must not do what a bisexual naturally does, which is to cast him in the role of Man or Woman, while adopting towards him a corresponding role dependent on your expectations of the patterned or possible interactions between persons of the same or opposite sex. Our entire pattern of socio-sexual interaction is nonexistent here. They cannot play the game. They do not see one another as men or women. This is almost impossible for our imagination to accept.I had of course read this before, long ago, and you probably have too, as it came joint top of this poll (with Rendezvous with Rama), so this isn't a review, more a list of things I spotted this time round:
- The passage quoted above comes just before the paragraph justifying the author's use of "he" for the Gethenians. I go back and forth on this myself. She uses "she" in the version of "Winter's King" in The Wind's Twelve Quarters; is it more jarring to read of he's that can bear children, or she's that can beget them? Would "zie" work for today's reader? Would it have worked in 1969? Of course the author's job is done by raising questions rather than by answering them.
- Actually the Gethenian sexuality is rather simple; apart from normal Gethenians there are only "perverts" who are those stuck in one gender. All Gethenian ἔρως appears to be between those taking different gender roles; there is no same-gender sex, and no playing around at the margins. OK, we are getting this from the viewpoint of an outside observer who may not have sought or been given full information, but this time round I found it paradoxically heteronormative. (Presumably Genly Ai has LGBT friends and colleagues, out there in the Ekumen?)
- One mustn't only think about sex. There's quite an intricate political plot, about industrialisation, developing economies getting hold of new technologies, constitutional monarchies vs authoritarian oligarchies, and the impact of a single outsider whose mission is to transform the world. At first it looks like Le Guin is trying to replay the Cold War on a cold planet, but that is (perhaps deliberately) quite misleading.
- And speaking of cold, the most effective passages for me are still the chapters covering the epic arctic journey, where Le Guin's sparse prose style is perfectly suited to the bleak setting, and vividly conveys the intense intimacy that you get between two people thrown together in isolation with a shared task, with the added factor of kemmer.
Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.
( Nebula-winning novelsCollapse )
My favourites, in no particular order, were The Healer's War, The Left Hand of Darkness, Flowers for Algernon, Rendezvous With Rama, Parable of the Talents, Speed of Dark, Gateway, Doomsday Book and The Dispossessed.
I remain utterly unconvinced of the merits of The Quantum Rose, The Terminal Experiment, Darwin's Radio, Blackout/All Clear, and, though I realise mine is a minority view, Neuromancer and The Gods Themselves.
My next serial prize-winner reading project was foreshadowed in this poll.
I'm frankly surprised that it won the 2009 Nebula for Best Novel. The only really sfnal bit is the narrator's power of precognition, which isn't actually of any use to him and doesn't make much difference to the plot except to tell us when we have reached the end. There's also a cartooney villain who exits the story rather unsatisfactorily. I would put this down as good but minor Le Guin.
The other novels nominated that year were: Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow; Cauldron, by Jack McDevitt; Brasyl, by Ian McDonald; Making Money, by Terry Pratchett; and Superpowers, by David J. Schwartz. I have to say that of the four I have read from that list, Brasyl stands out by a long way as the obviously deserving winner. The McDevitt is on my shelf; I don't think I have heard anything about Superpowers. It's a good illustration of why the Nebula system so desperately needed to be changed (as I think happened the following year).
Well. In fairness the novel itself is not all that bad, just very ordinary; our viewpoint character is a beautiful aristocrat bred for a submissive personality (which she is able to overcome just sufficiently for the needs of the plot); she is loved by another aristocrat who is from a different planet and conceals a heart of gold under his rugged exterior and alcoholism; and a third aristocrat envies them and tries to break them up ( cut for possible triggeringCollapse ). Our heroine then goes to her lover's home world where they discover a lost city which his people had carelessly forgotten about. Also the nice aristocrats are locked in conflict with the evil Earth people. Then we find out in an afterword that the entire novel is a metaphor for quantum scattering theory and the three characters should really be considered as elementary particles (I am not making this up).
I guess the kindest thing that I can say is that this sort of thing is simply not my cup of tea; and I think on reflection that among Nebula winners The Quantum Rose is not quite as bad a novel as Robert Sawyer's The Terminal Experiment, and roughly as bad as The Gods Themselves.
I have read four of the other Nebula nominees for 2000 - A Storm of Swords, by George R.R.Martin; The Collapsium, by Wil McCarthy; Declare, by Tim Powers and Passage, by Connie Willis. The last of these is also pretty ordinary, but any of the other three would have been a more comprehensible winner - my memory is that The Collapsium is a bit disorganised but fun. The other nominees were The Tower at Stony Wood, by Patricia A. McKillip; Eternity's End, by Jeffrey A.Carver; and Mars Crossing, by Geoffrey A. Landis. I don't think I have heard much about any of these. The Hugo for the relevant year (2001) went to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with the other nominees being A Storm of Swords again, two other good books - Ken MacLeod's The Sky Road and Nalo Hopkinson's Midnight Robber; and a Robert Sawyer novel. All but the last of these would have been more comprehensible Nebula winners.
OK, just one more to go - Powers, by Ursula Le Guin.
The actual plot is pretty straightforward - there's an Evil Boss and an Evil Acquaintance who both have to be dealt with in fairly unsurprising fashion - but the success of the book is Moon's depiction of what it might feel like to be autistic and write down how your life seems to you. Of course, one must take this as it is - Moon is not autistic, and so this is a literary experiment inviting the reader to inhabit the author's impression of the uncanny valley of autistic experience rather than a clinical description of a real-life individual - but sf fans are used to authors asking them to inhabit imaginary worlds, imaginary cultures and imaginary states of consciousness, so it's not surprising that a book that pulls this off well, as Speed of Dark does, would appeal to readers of the genre.
On first reading, I felt that the ending of the book, when we discover what choice Lou makes with regard to the cure, somewhat undermined the rest of the book. On re-reading, I felt rather more comfortable with it: it seemed to me this time that the climax is signalled decently far ahead and that in fact Moon avoids the temptation of giving the book too pat an ending. There is an interesting use of the New Testament in reaching the conclusion, though I will grumble about inaccuracy in a comment to this entry.
Speed of Dark won the 2004 Nebula Award for Best Novel. The others on the shortlist were Lois McMaster Bujold's Diplomatic Immunity, Carol Emshwiller's The Mount, Kathleen Ann Goonan's Light Music, Nalo Hopkinson's The Salt Roads and Jack McDevitt's Chindi. The only one I have read is the Bujold and I will admit that it is minor; I don't remember hearing much about the others at the time let alone since. None of the shortlisted books was on the Hugo ballot, which is unusual and can sometimes mean a healthy strength and diversity and sometimes mean that the selection process generated a weak list. However, Speed of Dark is a worthy winner.
Parable of the Talents won the 2000 Nebula for Best Novel. The other nominees which I have read are Ken MacLeod's The Cassini Division, George R.R. Martin's A Clash of Kings, and Vernor Vinge's A Deepness in the Sky (which won that year's Hugo). The other two, which I haven't read, were Mission Child by Maureen F. McHugh and Mockingbird by Sean Stewart. I reckon this is one of those years when the Nebulas recognised a novel that thoroughly deserved it.
Best Novella: “The Man Who Bridged the Mist,” by Kij Johnson
Best Novelette: “What We Found,” by Geoff Ryman
Best Short Story: “The Paper Menagerie,” by Ken Liu
Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation: Doctor Who: “The Doctor’s Wife,” written by Neil Gaiman, directed by Richard Clark
Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Book: The Freedom Maze, by Delia Sherman
Grand Master Award to Connie Willis.
Solstice Awards to John Clute and posthumously to Octavia Butler.
Service to SFWA Award to Bud Webster.
Congratulations to papersky!!! (And to the others of course.
Jo Walton, Ken Liu, and (slightly to my surprise) Geoff Ryman are all first-time Nebula winners. Kij Johnson had won twice before, making this her third. (Years of birth: 1951, 1960, 1964, 1976; but not necessarily in that order.) Neil Gaiman had of course won two Nebula Awards for written fiction, but this is his first Bradbury Award (he had been nominated for Best Script for Princess Mononoke.
The Moon and the Sun won the 1998 Nebula for Best Novel, one of those years when the Nebula process came up with an admirable choice from a strong field. I have read three of the other shortlisted books, and two of them - Bujold's Memory and George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones - are particular favourites of mine, though perhaps less obvious Nebula winners. I have also read (though was much less impressed by) Connie Willis' Bellwether; the other nominations were King's Dragon by Kate Elliott, Ancient Shores by Jack McDevitt, and City on Fire by Walter Jon Williams. (Blue Mars and Forever Peace won the Hugos around this time.)
Slow River won the Nebula for Best Novel in 1997. It beat three books I haven't heard of - Nina Kiriki Hoffman's The Silent Strength of Stones, Patricia A. McKillip's Winter Rose and Robert J. Sawyer's Starplex - and two that I have read, Expiration Date by Tim Powers and Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age, which won the Hugo that year. Considering the three that I have read on the list, it is actually quite a tough choice. Expiration Date is fun but not really profound, and The Diamond Age has more flaws than I realised on first reading. I think this is one of those years when the Nebulas picked out a novel that deserved a bit more recognition; in other words, for once, the system actually worked.
December Books 8) The Tombs of Atuan, by Ursula Le Guin
December Books 9) The Farthest Shore, by Ursula Le Guin
December Books 10) Tehanu, by Ursula Le Guin
December Books 11) Tales from Earthsea, by Ursula Le Guin
December Books 12) The Other Wind, by Ursula Le Guin
Partly inspired by Jo Walton's set of essays (here, here, here, here, here and here) but more by the fact that Tehanu was next on my list of Nebula winners, I have been rereading the six Earthsea books. I strongly recommend this as a little literary project if you want to challenge yourself. The longest book, Tales from Earthsea, is only a little over 300 pages; The Other Wind less than 250 and the first four around 200. Also, you have probably read some of them already. I remember A Wizard of Earthsea on Jackanory when I must have been about eight, with creepy drawings and all; I found The Tombs of Atuan in a school library a couple of years later, and loved it; and I think I was given The Farthest Shore as a present before I was a teenager. But I read the last three as an adult, and one by one over a period of several years; and I don't really recommend that, because despite the sixteen year publication gap between The Farthest Shore and Tehanu, the action follows directly from the one to the other.
I won't go into the detail of the plot, since Jo Walton has done that and you probably already know at least the first book. What struck me this time was the structure of the six books. They fall rather neatly into three trilogies, even though Tales From Earthsea is not a novel but a story collection and despite the close time link between the third and fourth books. The classic Earthsea trilogy, the first three books, are a thing of beauty; three Bildungsromane, the stories of Ged, Tenar and Arren/Lebannen, the latter two guided by Ged; but also with a very dark streak in all three, about the world of death leaking into the world of life - centre stage in the first and third books, and never far out of sight in the second. The images - of dragons and the shadow, of the subterranean labyrinth, and of the dry wall separating life and death - will stay with me all my life. Everyone should read them.
The second trilogy is more problematic. I like and appreciate the structure, where first we return to Ged and Tenar and the injured child, and then we divert into some stories of which the last takes us to the question of women and Roke (and dragons), and finally a grand restructuring of Earthsea to repair the damage done to its fundament by the misbehaving wizards of the first trilogy. But actually these are not really improvements. The urgency and vitality of the first three books - particularly the first two - has been slightly dissipated by a process of reflection, which is interesting and engaging but not fascinating and enthralling in the same way. So anyone reading the six books in order needs to be warned in advance that the first ones are the best. Which is not to say that the later ones are bad.
Having said that none of the books is actually bad, I'm afraid I concluded that Tehanu is much the weakest of the six. It's nice to see what Tenar has been up to for the intervening decades between The Tombs of Atuan and The Farthest Shore but it's not terribly satisfying to see her, a former incarnate goddess, being casually dismissed by her wastrel ex-pirate son. It's nice to see how her relationship with Ged develops, with Tenar as adoptive daughter. But the means and motivation of the bad guys is very poorly explained, certainly compared to the other books; and the abrupt ending comes quite literally out of a clear blue sky, and is a jarring change of pace.
Tehanu won the 1991 Nebula against one book I've read a long time ago and think I liked better at the time though I remember very little about it (Dan Simmons' The Fall of Hyperion) and four books that I not only have not read but have not even heard of (Valerie Martin's Mary Reilly, James Morrow's Only Begotten Daughter, John E. Stith's Redshift Rendezvous and Jane Yolen's White Jenna). The Hugo that year went to Bujold's The Vor Game, likewise a volume I don't particularly rate in a series I generally love.
The other novels shortlisted for the 1988 Nebula were Deserted Cities of the Heart by Lewis Shiner, Drowning Towers by George Turner, Great Sky River by Gregory Benford, The Urth of the New Sunby Gene Wolfe, Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson and Red Prophet by Orson Scott Card. I have read only the Gibson and the Card; as usual with Gibson, I can't remember anything about Mona Lisa Overdrive, and while I enjoyed Red Prophet, Falling Free is better in almost every way. Bujold, Card and Gibson got Hugo nominations for those books, as did Bruce Sterling for Islands in the Net, but the Hugo itself was won by Cyteen (which I bounced off).
It is a mild improvement on the first volume, in that there are actual signs of plot around page 400 and again around page 600. But the tone is wearyingly sentimental as ever, and the characters just dull apart from the two cheeky kids; and in the end, if the time continuum is going to respond to time travellers in such a way as to preserve History As We Know It - and there is never any good reason for Willis's characters to think otherwise apart from her need to inject emotion into her writing - it's difficult to get excited about it. I also spotted more errors of setting here than I had noticed in Blackout - premature mention of the Jubilee Line by over three decades, and reportedly vast distances separating the Tower from Stepney (actually about a mile and a half apart) and St Paul's from Bart's (five minutes' brisk walk).
I suppose the good news is that it will probably take Willis another six years to publish her next book; the bad news is that it too will probably win awards it doesn't deserve.
As a Cambridge NatSci graduate I loved the visceral detail of the decaying 1998 setting, though Benford failed to predict one element of real life decay, the extinction of independent bookshops - he still has Bowes and Bowes open and staffed by attractive young women, when in real life I think it closed in the early 90s.
But it's a bit less satisfactory as a novel than I remembered it from my first reading. Both ends of the time line feature almost entirely male working environments, with the odd distant woman scientist collaborating but the protagonists enduring varyingly problematic sex lives with their various female partners. I was not completely convinced, though I can see that it's written from the heart.
And the sending-messages-through-time plot, the core of the book, actually doesn't work very well. Rather than the messages from 1998 inspiring scientific research to get the world out of the mess it is in, they accidentally prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and that seems to be the crucial point of departure which kicks the 1963 world out of our timeline and into a better one. Why Kennedy's survival should make the difference is not really explained. (And the elaborate system developed by the 1998 scientists to check that their message is getting through is unnecessary given that their telephone system still works.)
Though I do like the nod to Silverberg's Dying Inside, whose protagonist makes a brief appearance on page 273.
Timescape won the Nebula in 1980; of the other nominees, I have definitely read the Hugo-winning The Snow Queen and The Shadow of the Torturer and I may have read Beyond the Blue Event Horizon but am not sure. I have not read, or even heard of, Walter Tevis' Mockingbird or Robert Stallman's The Orphan. I think it's one of those years when the Nebula went to the kind of novel that would normally have a better chance of winning the Hugo, and vice versa.
The portrayal of wartime Britain is relentless and in the end wearyingly sentimentalised, the history students too busy being caught up in the moment to reflect on what they are doing there and what they might learn. There is an awful lot of running around and missed communication, and then the book ends in mid-story, without even the dignity of a decent cliffhanger, the publisher expecting you to buy the next volume to see how it ends. I will, but will wait until it is available as a second-hand paperback.
I was interested to note however that some of the errors of detail mercilessly catalogued by drplokta here and here seem to have been fixed - in particular, I was looking out for references to the Victoria and Jubilee lines and didn't spot either. The version I have is the free ebook supplied to Hugo voters, so perhaps it has been revised in the year or so since his notes.
Of the time travel stories, this doesn't annoy me as much as Fire Watch, whose errors of setting make it almost unreadable for me, but it is much less enjoyable than To Say Nothing of the Dog and a far less good novel (at least so far) than Doomsday Book. I shall do a post ranking the Hugo nominated novels tomorrow but you can safely assume that this will not be top of my list.
The good news: Terry Pratchett at long last gets a nod, though the Andre Norton Award rather than a Nebula proper. Three out of five Nebula winners for written fiction are women. Rachel Swirsky, who turned 29 last month, is the first Hugo or Nebula winner to have been born in the 1980s, and the youngest winner since Ted Chiang (then 23) in 1990. Of the Short Story nominees, "Ponies" was the only one I had read and I found it brilliant but disturbing.
Less impressed by wins for "That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made" by Eric James Stone, which was by far my least favourite of the Hugo-nominated novelettes; and I am groaning now at the prospect of reading Connie Willis's two-part epic, especially since most of the reviews I have seen by people whose opinions I normally respect have given it a massive thumbs-down. Oh well.
Worth it for other reasons as well. I think the Mars books are among the best examples of sfnal world-building, combined with politics, that I know; without needing a detailed knowledge of Martian geography in advance (the maps supplied are adequate for me) I got a tremendous sense of the scale and size of the planet, of the vast enterprise of making it livable, not a new Earth, but a new Mars. And Robinson raises questions about the political management of the environment and the wider economy on the new planet which certainly have resonances for our own time and place.
Each of the books has a couple of iconic moments which linger in the memory, and in Red Mars these are the deaths of the two leaders of the first colonising expedition, rivals both for political command and for Maya Totovna: John Boone, murdered at the direction of Frank Chalmers, in the first chapter (though the rest of the book starts from the colonists' landing, decades before), and then at the end of the book Chalmers' own demise, swept away by an ice flow in the geological and political turbulence of 2061. It's a story of growing tension between those who live on and love the planet and the insensitivity and eventual violence of the Earth-based authorities who try to control them, told from the viewpoints of different individuals among the First Hundred settlers, with a build up to catastrophe at the end. (Other memorable moments: the debate between Sax Russell and Ann Clayborne which sets the political context for the next couple of books; Arkady's horrifying fate; and the fall of the great space elevator.)
Red Mars won the Nebula for 1993, beating Assemblers of Infinity by Kevin J. Anderson and Doug Beason, Hard Landing by Algis Budrys, Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress and Nightside the Long Sun by Gene Wolfe, none of which I have read (though I did read the original Kress novella). It was beaten for the Hugo by Doomsday Book and A Fire Upon The Deep.
Green Mars probably works best of the three as a standalone novel. We start with Nirgal, a viewpoint character from the second generation, growing up with a group of colonists in hiding since the 2061 catastrophe, experiencing the planet's puberty as he experiences his own (the key scene of the opening section is where he and the slightly older Jackie make love in the open air, once the temperature and pressure are high enough that they can do so). The book is very much the story of an underground movement plotting revolution - the usual excitements of sleeping with the enemy and subsequent capture, allies from Earth (a Soros-type billionaire who gets involved), plotting and planning the political and ecological principles of the society they want to build, and then seizing the moment for change when it arrives: the key scene at the end is Maya's taking command of the rebels from Jackie at the moment of victory, though a key symbolic moment is the flooding of the city of Burroughs by saboteurs and the evacuation of its population, made possible by changes in the Martian atmosphere, leading to a procession of people walking out their bubble and into a new world, which is another striking image.
Green Mars was beaten for the Nebula by Greg Bear's Moving Mars (with which it shares some themes), but won the Hugo against Moving Mars, Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress, Glory Season by David Brin, and Virtual Light by William Gibson. I've read the Gibson but not the Brin or the full version of the Kress.
Blue Mars is a series of explorations of what happened next, what happened elsewhere, to the characters of the first two volumes. We get excursions to Earth and to the rest of the Solar System, with a mention of interstellar colonisation; we get constitution-building, explorations of the new planet and the new society that Mars has become. But it is also about death. The two killer moments in the book are, first, after Nirgal has set up and started cultivating his own little garden crater, filling it with plants and wildlife, showing it off to his friends, the whole lovingly described enterprise is wiped out in a sandstorm. No human character is even injured in the incident, but it is still tremendously sad. Second, as part of his scientific hand-waving to allow the same cast to witness all the stages of Martian terraforming, Robinson has gifted his characters with longevity. But this starts to run out after a while, and the suriving members of the First Hundred begin to die, one by one; the crucial moment comes when Maya fails to recognise a photograph of her long-ago lover, Frank Chalmers - a scene told from her point of view and then again from the viewpoints of those around her. The book, which has had a lot of death in it, ends with a summoning of lost memories, a reunion of survivors, and a celebration of where they have got to; with mysteries still remaining - for instance, whatever happened to Hiroko?
Blue Mars beat Lois McMaster Bujold's Memory, Elizabeth Moon's Remnant Population, Robert J. Sawyer's Starplex and Bruce Sterling's Holy Fire for the Hugo. I loved the Bujold and have read the Sterling (though don't remember much about it), and have no inclination to try the other two. Rather surprisingly it didn't even make the Nebula shortlist; in some ways I find it the most Nebula-ish of the three, and Red Mars, which did win the Nebula and not the Hugo, seems to me actually the most Hugo-ish. But there you are.
This is not really a 2000 page novel spilt in three. I think the first two books, Red Mars and Green Mars, work well enough both as individual novels and considered as a unit; if Robinson had ended the story at that point it would have been perfectly satisfactory. Probably the best book of the three considered individually is the middle volume, Green Mars, which is not the traditional setup for trilogies. Looking back at what I have written here, I note also that Green Mars is the one book of the three where the most memorable passages are not about death but about life. But I think Blue Mars is a satisfying completion of the trilogy (especially if considered with the spinoff collection of short stories, The Martians).
( May Books 13) The Windup Girl, by Paolo BacigalupiCollapse )
( May Books 14) The Women of Nell Gwynne's, by Kage BakerCollapse )
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Catherynne M. Valente
The Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation
Best Short Story
“Spar,” Kij Johnson
“Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast,” Eugie Foster
The Women of Nell Gwynne’s, Kage Baker
The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi
Yay for eugie!
Notes for my statistics: four first-time winners out of four in the written fiction categories (and none had ever won a Hugo either); three women out of four; none born in the 1942-51 period (Baker 1952, Johnson 1960, Foster 1971, Bacigalupi 1972); I think that Baker may be the first writer to win a Nebula posthumously?
I think this is excellent news. Indeed, I think I may have been the only person to raise this issue in an online public forum with Russell Davis when he was running for SFWA president; though in fairness ccfinlay had made a related point earlier in that thread. In his reply (which was positive but cautious) Davis reported that it had already been a topic of discussion elsewhere, and made it clear that he had been thinking about it himself.
See here for links to further discussion.
Best Novel: The Yiddish Policemen's Union, by Michael Chabon (born 1963; first Nebula or Hugo)
Best Novella: "Fountain of Age", by Nancy Kress (born 1948; fourth Nebula, also has a Hugo)
Best Novelette: "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate", by Ted Chiang (born 1967; fourth Nebula, also has a Hugo)
Best Short Story: "Always", by Karen Joy Fowler (born 1950; second Nebula)
I note that 1) Once again, at least one of the Nebulas has gone to a first-time winner; there has never been a year without at least one first-time Nebula winner; 2) two out of four went to women; the Nebulas are more gender-balanced than the Hugos; and 3) two out of four were born between 1942 and 1951, whereas the average number of Nebulas won in previous years by authors aged between 57 and 66 is almost exactly 1, further evidence for my assertion that authors of that cohort win twice as many awards.
The winning novel is the only one of the nominees I had read (or indeed intend to read), and I enjoyed it. "Fountain of Age" is on my reading list for the Hugos; I've already read "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate", and wouldn't be surprised if Chiang pulls off the double again, though I have not yet read any of the other Hugo nominees in that category.
Other Nebula/SFWA stuff:
Nebula for Best Screenplay: Pan's Labyrinth
Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
Damon Knight Grand Master for 2008: Michael Moorcock
SFWA Service Award: Melisa Michaels and Graham P. Collins
Author Emeritus: Ardath Mayhar (who I hadn't heard of)
SFWA President: Russell Davis (whew!)
SFWA VP: Elizabeth Moon
SFWA Secretary: Mary Robinette Kowal
SFWA Treasurer: Amy Casil
SFWA Eastern Regional: Bud Sparhawk
SFWA Overseas Regional Director: Ian Whates
This year's Nebula winner, which I bought expecting not to enjoy much - the Nebulas have been as much miss as hit for me in recent years, and I had read autopope's brief critiques.
I'm therefore a little surprised to report that I really enjoyed it. As a lapsed historian and even more lapsed archaeologist, I lapped up McDevitt's portrayal of a far-future quest for a lost human colony, driven by the discovery of a plastic cup with an inscription in the forgotten language of English, with an imaginative astronomical twist at the end of the story. autopope does make a good point, in that taken as a novel about the future it is a little unexciting, but I think it should be read also as a novel about the past, and how we will deal with the past in the future, and I found it pretty satisfying on that score.
Having said that, the best sf book I read published i the time frame of eligibility for this year's Nebula award is still Elizabeth Bear's Carnival.