Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

James Alan Gardner is a Nebula finalist — w00t!

by Rob - March 2nd, 2009.
Filed under: Awards 2009.

I’ve been pimpin’ for months on behalf of James Alan Gardner’s remarkable “The Ray-Gun: A Love Story,” as you can see here. And I was mightily disappointed when the final Nebula ballot was released last week, and it wasn’t on it. This story made not one but two year’s best anthologies, after all, and was one of only nine novelettes on the preliminary Nebula ballot.

Well, well, well, turns out SFWA made a mistake. A revised ballot has now been released, and Jim is on it (and so is another work accidentally left off the earlier version, “Mars: A Traveler’s Guide” by Ruth Nestvold).

SFWA actually has a pretty long history of balloting screw-ups; I myself was victim of one in 2000, when the blindingly obvious fact that Flash Forward by Robert J. Sawyer and Flashforward by Robert J. Sawyer were the same book escaped notice, and so the novel was left off the preliminary ballot (as was a work by William Barton that same year), and a few years before that Ursula K. LeGuin was left off the ballot, too (although that ballot, at least, was corrected and reissued).

Now, let us hope that there’s no harm, no foul, in what just happened to Jim Gardner — but the fact is that award nominations do tend to be cumulative, and in the crucial last couple of days of nominating for this year’s Hugos and Auroras, SFWA blithely announced to the world that Jim’s work wasn’t, in fact, award calibre in the view of the membership — only to reverse that stance after the nominating for the other awards had closed.

The Nebulas are a black box — no one ever sees the nominating or voting tallies; the Hugos do release their nominating stats. If Jim misses that ballot by just a few nominations, well, we’ll always wonder what happened in the alternate universe in which the preliminary Nebula ballots were dealt with correctly the first time.

For those who missed the story in the February Asimov’s last year, and don’t want to wait for the Dozois or Horton Year’s Best anthologies (or my own forthcoming Distant Early Warnings: Canada’s Best Science Fiction, which will also include this story), the full text is here at Jim’s site.

Oh, and: Congratulations, Jim!

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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