This year’s Nebula finalists (now integrated into the Locus Index to SF Awards) include first-time nominations for Mike Allen, Gwenyth Jones, and Ruth Nestvold (nominated this year in the short story category), Mary Rosenblum and Johanna Sinisalo (novelette), and David J. Schwartz (novel).
Other novel nominees this year include 5-time Nebula winner Ursula K. Le Guin, who’s previously won for The Left Hand of Darkness (published 1969), The Dispossessed (1974), and Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea (1990), and Jack McDevitt, who won two years ago in this category for Seeker (2005). Terry Pratchett was a finalist once before, for Going Postal in 2006 (published 2004), and Cory Doctorow was a finalist in 2005 for Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom (published 2003). This is Ian McDonald’s first nomination in the novel category; his only other prior nomination was for novelette “Unfinished Portrait of the King of Pain by Van Gogh” in 1989.
In the novella category, Gregory Benford has 12 prior nominations and 2 wins, for novel Timescape (1980) and novelette “If the Stars are Gods” (with Gordon Eklund, 1974); his most recent nomination was for novella “Soon Comes Night” (1994) in 1996. Kelley Eskridge has 2 prior nominations, Vera Nazarian and Charles Coleman Finley one each; Catherine Asaro has five previous nominations including a win for novel The Quantum Rose (2000) in 2002.
In the novelette category, Lisa Goldstein has been nominated 4 times before but never won — in fact, Goldstein is second only to John Barnes in the number of nominations for *all* awards and polls without ever having won anything, with 35 to date (see Table 8 in the Locus Index to SF Awards, under Never-Winners). John Kessel has 8 prior nominations with 1 win, for novella “Another Orphan” in 1983. Richard Bowes has 4 prior nominations; K.D. Wentworth, 3 prior nominations. James Alan Gardner has one previous nomination, for novelette “Three Hearings on the Existence of Snakes in the Human Bloodstream” in 1998.
In the short story category, Jeffrey Ford has four previous nominations and has won once before, for novelette “The Empire of Ice Cream” in 2004. James Patrick Kelly has 10 previous nominations, including one win for novella Burn two years ago in 2007. Nina Kiriki Hoffman has 4 prior nominations, and no wins; Kij Johnson has 1 prior nomination.
Nominees for the Andre Norton Award include Ysabeau S. Wilce, who was nominated once before, last year in 2008 for Flora Segunda. All the other nominees in this category are first-time nominees.
In the 20 years since the Nebula Awards’ “rolling eligibility” has been in effect — which allowed nominations to accumulate for novels and stories, that had not already been placed on a final ballot, that were published in the previous two calendar years prior to the date of the award ceremony — only 7 novels that had been published in the year just prior to the award year won the Nebula. (See Major Novel Winners, which lists the publication year when it is not the year immediately prior to the award year). That is, in most cases, the award went to a novel that had not accumulated sufficient nominations to appear on the next year’s ballot, but which managed to do so by the following year’s ballot, and which subsequently won. Of winners in the past 10 years, only once (Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union) has a novel from the year prior to the award won the Nebula.
Given the current change in Nebula voting rules, by which only 2009 publications will be eligible for next year’s 2010 awards, prominent 2008 novels such as Neal Stephenson’s Anathem, Iain M. Banks’ Matter, Greg Egan’s Incandescence, and Greg Bear’s City at the End of Time no longer have the potential to capture nominations after being passed over this year. (And the Nebula Awards, being given by an American association, have generally disregarded UK and Australian writers in any case — neither Banks nor Egan has *ever* been nominated for a Nebula.)