CHina Miéville makes shortlist for Nebula awardsThe City and the City nominated for Science Ficction and Fantasy Writers of America’s prestigious gong
guardian.co.uk, Monday 22 February 2010 11.32 GMT
China Miéville’s surreal venture into crime fiction The City and the City has been shortlisted for major American science fiction and fantasy awards the Nebulas.
Miéville’s novel, in which a murder case in the decaying European city of Besźel turns out to have connections to another city, existing in the same physical space, was nominated for the best novel prize by the 1,500-plus author members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. The British author, winner of prizes including the Arthur C Clarke and the British Fantasy award, is up against American fantasy writer Jeff VanderMeer’s Finch, set in a city ruled by sentient fungal beings known as “gray caps”, and Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl, in which the hero Anderson Lake meets an engineered being grown to satisfy the whims of a Kyoto businessman.
VanderMeer said it “was a complete shock” to learn of his shortlisting for the Nebulas, which together with the Hugos are seen as the most prestigious of the American science fiction awards. “My first response was something along the lines of ‘this is a joke, right?’ followed by ‘are you sure they got the votes right?'” the author said. “I don’t lobby for or even mildly suggest people nominate me for awards, don’t belong to SFWA, and had no idea I was even in the running.”
The shortlist is completed with Laura Anne Gilman’s Flesh and Fire, the first in a trilogy about a world where magic derives from wine-making, Christopher Barzak’s The Love We Share Without Knowing, about the linked lives of strangers in modern Japan, and Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker, where a Russian drilling machine has released a gas turning all those who breathe it into the living dead.
“I am flabbergasted that this has actually happened. I have no idea what to say in response except thank you to the members of the SFWA, who have given this weird, interstitial, difficult-to-talk-about book a chance,” said Priest. “From a professional standpoint, this book – and now this Nebula award nomination – is absolutely the most major and exciting thing that has ever happened to me. I’ve been telling stories all my life; and from my first inkling that it was hypothetically possible to build a career out of stories, all I ever wanted to do was be an author. Literally. You can ask my parents and everything. I have been utterly insufferable about it for decades. I am unlikely to stop anytime soon. I keep wandering around muttering that Hemingway line about ‘Gradually, then suddenly’.”
The author members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America will now vote for the winner, who will be revealed on 15 May. Past winners include Frank Herbert’s Dune, which took the first ever prize in 1965, The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov and Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. Last year’s award was won by Ursula K Le Guin for her young adult novel Powers.
The shortlist for the Nebula best novel prize:
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
The Love We Share Without Knowing by Christopher Barzak
Flesh and Fire by Laura Anne Gilman
The City and the City by China Miéville
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
Finch by Jeff VanderMeer