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The 2023 Nebula Awards Finalists

Emmanuel Hidalgo-Wohlleben •
Mar 10th, 2023

Other than maybe Burning Man, we can't think of many places that could bring together an orc warrior, a witch and an ultra-intelligent octopus species in one place. But the annual Nebula Awards will do just that this year in their annual celebration of the most wildly imaginative narratives in literature today.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA) has just released the finalists for the 58th iteration of the prestigious prize. Check out the praise we've seen on Tertulia for the highly competitive category of best novel. And stay tuned for more Nebula Awards coverage in the build-up to the virtual ceremony taking place on Sunday, May 14. (Finalists for all categories are listed below.)

Babel by R.F. Kuang

In an interview with journalist Ezra Klein, the great sci-fi writer Adrian Tchaikovsky recommended this book for its "astonishing examination of imperialism and language and appropriation as part of its fantasy plot."

Speaking with The Guardian, novelist Gabrielle Zevin said that in spite of not being a huge fantasy fan, she admired the book's world-building chops. "It’s really about language and the power that exists in the distance between a word and its translation," she said.

Nettle and Bone by T. Kingfisher

Named a best fantasy novel of 2022 by Vulture, this book was also a favorite of Goodreads fantasy fanatics who made it a finalist for its annual "Reader's Choice" award. Nettle and Bone follows a princess's journey to complete three impossible tasks and save her sister from the clutches of an abusive prince.

Horror writer Emily Hughes had this to say in praise of this Hugo, Nebula and Locus Award-winning author and her story: "This is someone with a deep love for fantasy, folklore, and fairy tales picking the best parts from a smorgasbord of story elements and stitching them into something sparklingly original. Morbid but funny, cozy but with real danger at its heart... the fairy tale this year needed."

Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

"Sweet, kind, and cozy. Perfect for reading in a noisy, scary world," is what former Hugo Award finalist Blue Neustifter had to say about this debut novel, which follows an orc swordsman's journey from slaying horrific monsters to running a hit coffee shop in the fantastical city of Thune.

Spear by Nicola Griffith

A rave review in the Chicago Review of Books called the book "a fantastic excuse to dig into Arthurian legend, and it stands on its own as an enthralling read—an instant classic, born of classics." Autostraddle senior editor Heather Hogan also praised this "gender-bending, queer Arthurian adventure," saying it "will weave you up in its spell in a matter of pages."

Nona the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Readers have gone rabid for the goth adventures of the Locked Tomb series by Locus Award winner Tamsyn Muir. Publishers Weekly called this third installment a "characteristically brilliant" next chapter which will keep readers on the edge of their seats. "Nona’s lovely, simple, and occasionally silly voice works especially well in juxtaposition with the dark, dense backdrop of the series so far, creating a riveting contrast."

The Mountain in the Sea by Ray Nayler

"While at times The Mountain in the Sea gives the impression of a novel about the ethics of artificial intelligence grafted onto a different novel about learning to communicate with octopuses, in the end the themes comple­ment each other in resonant ways," writes sci-fi author and scholar Gary K. Wolfe in Locus Magazine. "The result is a genuinely intellectual thriller that does what SF does best – that is, to keep the ideas as exciting as the action – and is a superlative example of what the late David Hartwell once termed 'neurologi­cal hard SF.' "

Nominees in other categories

Nebula Award for Novella

A Prayer for the Crown-Shy, Becky Chambers

“Bishop’s Opening” R.S.A. Garcia (Clarkesworld 1/22)

I Never Liked You AnywayJordan Kurella (Vernacular)

Even Though I Knew the End, C.L. Polk (Tordotcom)

High Times in the Low ParliamentKelly Robson (Tordotcom)

Nebula Award for Novelette

“If You Find Yourself Speaking to God, Address God with the Informal You” John Chu (Uncanny 7–8/22)

“Two Hands, Wrapped in Gold” S.B. Divya (Uncanny 5–6/22)

“Murder by Pixel: Crime and Responsibility in the Digital Darkness” S.L. Huang (Clarkesworld 12/22)

“A Dream of Electric Mothers” Wole Talabi (Africa Risen)

“The Prince of Salt and the Ocean’s Bargain” Natalia Theodoridou (Uncanny 9/22)

“We Built This City” Marie Vibbert (Clarkesworld 6/22)

 Nebula Award for Short Story

“Destiny Delayed” Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki (Asimov’s 5–6/22)

“Give Me English” Ai Jiang (F&SF 5–6/22)

“Rabbit Test” Samantha Mills (Uncanny 11–12/22)

“Douen” Suzan Palumbo (The Dark 3/22)

“Dick Pig” Ian Muneshwar (Nightmare 1/22)

“D.I.Y” John Wiswell ( 8/24/22)

Andre Norton Nebula Award for Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction

Ruby Finley vs. the Interstellar Invasion, K. Tempest Bradford (Farrar, Straus, Giroux)

The Scratch Daughters, H. A. Clarke (Erewhon)

The Mirrorwood, Deva Fagan (Atheneum)

The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester, Maya MacGregor (Astra Young Readers)

Every Bird a Prince, Jenn Reese (Henry Holt)

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