A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | “Nebula Awards Showcase 2016” (edited by) Mercedes Lackey

Posted Wednesday, 8 May, 2019 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I am a reviewer for Prometheus Books and their imprints starting in [2016] as I contacted them through their Edelweiss catalogues and Twitter. I appreciated the diversity of titles across genre and literary explorations – especially focusing on Historical Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction and Scientific Topics in Non-Fiction.

I received a complimentary copy of “Nebula Awards 2016” direct from the publisher PYR (an imprint of Prometheus Books) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein. Note: This review is part of my backlogue of reviews and predates PYR being acquired by Smart Publishing who now owns both Seventh Street Books and Pyr.

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Why I love reading the Nebula Awards Showcase:

I loved how Bear championed the integrity of writing what you know to be true even if editors later change that truth for their own needs (i.e. regards to his article being altered for publication) even if it has consequences you cannot foresee. He wrote with a lot of levity and insight – how the Awards come regularly like any natural season and how writers are both on pins to hear whose won but also, elated if their name is called. It’s a quirky balance of anxiety and exultation of joy – the brilliant combination of emotions any writer can claim as their own. Writing is such an intrapersonal experience – we put our imagination and our words on the line, hoping to inspire a reader to feel as connected to our stories as we do ourselves and thus, I could concur with Bear about the curiously curious attachment we have to seeing how our peers interpret our stories and if the stories resonate with our peers inasmuch as the readers.

This particular collection of stories, antidotes and murmurings of Science Fiction had within it’s pages such a cartography of human emotions! You could quite literally feel every ounce of your humanness by reading it’s collection because each of the writers in turn found a way to etch a catalyst of emotional fortitude into their stories. Their characters were facing incredible odds and had to somehow find a way to stomach the vacuumed despair or else, find their lives empty of all hope.

The words these writers have used to paint their portraits of life in futuristic places are humbling and eagerly on-point to curtain off a certain sense about the world today. There are cross-applications to these stories – of origins you can perceive of what inspired them and of why these stories were being penned when they were and how they were being expressed. It’s a collection to take to heart – to ponder and lay thought upon long after you put the stories down the first time you’ve read them. Most are cautionary in nature, others are thought-provoking social conscious works of creative expression. All of them hold a kernel of where Science Fiction and Consciousness co-merge into a working consciousness of forward thought and internal supposition of what a near-off future could hold inside it’s palm. Truly a remarkable reading for today’s inquisitive reader seeking stories which speak towards the edge of where truth and reality blur and find their own voice.

-quoted from my review of the Nebula Awards Showcase 2015

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A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | “Nebula Awards Showcase 2016” (edited by) Mercedes LackeyNebula Awards Showcase: 2016
Subtitle: Stories, Excerpts and Essays
by Mercedes Lackey
Source: Direct from Publisher

The Nebula Awards Showcase volumes have been published annually since 1966, reprinting the winning and nominated stories of the Nebula Awards, voted on by the members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

The editor of this year’s volume, selected by SFWA’s anthology Committee (chaired by Mike Resnick), is American science fiction and fantasy writer Mercedes Lackey.

This anthology includes the winners Ursula Vernon, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Nancy Kress, and Jeff VanderMeer, with Alaya Dawn Johnson winning the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Book.

Genres: Anthology Collection of Short Stories and/or Essays, Fantasy Fiction, Science Fiction

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781633881389

Published by Pyr

on 3rd May, 2016

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 412

Published By: Pyr (@Pyr_Books)

The Nebula Awards Showcases I’ve read:

Nebula Awards Showcase 2015 (edited by) Greg Bear. Published by PYR.Nebula Awards Showcase 2016 (edited by) Mercedes Lackey. Published by PYR.

Available Formats: Trade Paperback and Ebook

(edited by) Mercedes Lackey ( Site | @mercedeslackey )

Converse via: #NebulaAwards + #MercedesLackey

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On the introduction:

It was an interesting spin on why we read vs how we read – as Lackey was ruminating over a quotation about reading from Franz Kafka – of which, I personally disagreed. I have chronic migraines – I know what it is like to suffer under a sledgehammer to the skull to where your buckling under the brutality of a headache that is crushing you ever so slowly past your point of both tolerance and patience. I don’t need nor want to feel similarly crushed by the literature I am reading – no, I disagree – for me, literature (especially Speculative literature) ought to inspire, to transform and to transcend what you want to experience.

Why it is wrong to read the STORIES which create a happiness within your heart and mind to be reading is beyond me – after all, I too, am seeking the stories which are equally enlightening as they are visionary but there is a time and purpose for *all stories!* inasmuch as there is for the seasons of our lives. I like to read an eclectic mixture of stories – from the length to the genre to the tone and the eclipse of how the writers are enveloping us into their worlds. I don’t need to feel pushed under a rip current everytime I want to become visually awed nor do I need to feel physically crushed each time I want to soak into a fantastically illuminated world of Speculative Lit.

In essence, I want to find the stories and the writers who are giving us a wicked good read – with realistic characters, believable worlds and a time inside their novels that is both dearly uplifting but also in of itself powerfully stirring. I also love humour and cheeky satire nowadays, so if they can tickle my laughter out of my chest they’ve found a reader in me!

I do read a heap of thought-provoking narratives – both in Fiction and Non-Fiction on a semi-regular basis especially if consider how much dramatic Crime Fiction I read or the unquenchable desire I have for realistic Historical Fiction narratives – however, I don’t always need to travel down that route of exploration to feel blissfully content by what I am reading. Sometimes there is a kinetic draw to simply dissolve inside someone’s museful imagination and see what they want to bring into our readerly purview.

OOh, for the love of Pete! I seriously do not feel the need to jump of the ledge of literary cliffs each time I wish to challenge myself to read outside my zones of comfort! In fact, half the time I am perpetually reading challenging stories – stories which enlighten my mind to consider a new lifestyle, a new identity or a new perspective on the world. They can give us a firmer grounding of our humanity but also re-instill our awareness of the eclectic voice representative in literature itself – either in the mainstream or the INSPY markets and throughout all genres currently published.

This is also why I have a personal preference for Indie Authors and Independent Press and Publishers – they are publishing a lot of the stories I’m gravitating towards – for being openly unique in how they present their stories and how they write outside the box in regards to how stories can become crafted in their chosen genres of interest.

I wasn’t this trepiderious about reading the collection from [2015] but now I was thinking perhaps the [2017] collected edited by Ms Czerneda would have been a better fit for me!? I happen to appreciate her discerning eye for detail and the craft of writing – which is why after reading this introduction I was uncertain how the collection this particular year would resonate with me.

Seriously – I’m not an edgy gritty dark lit kind of gal!

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My Review of nebula awards showcase 2016:

 { am electing to highlight the stories within the anthology

which piqued my interest the most out of the ones offered inside }

One interesting note to be mentioned is that I am finding this particular showcase is inclusive of the 2013 Nebula Awards whereas the showcase for 2016 is inclusive of the 2014. Which means the 2017 showcase will feature the 2015 Nebula Awards – I am curious why the showcases are two years behind? Even though I read the introduction about how the awards are set-up and maintained, I find myself at a bit of a loss on how the collections are assembled.

| “A Stretch of Highway Two Lanes High” by Sarah Pinsker| ( Site | @SarahPinsker )

I wasn’t entirely sure how this one was going to play out – for starters, being a girl who loves her social reading life she also knows the blissitude of having a healthy unplugged life offline. In other words, I am as dearly attached to my analogue life as I am my quasi-digital one I entertain through blogging, tweeting and being socially active as a reader. I also find a lot of technological advances to be cautionary tales of how humans are falling in love with machines – which seems rather ironic considering the amount of legacy Science Fiction and the Speculative Fiction realms have shared generationally towards being cautious about how tech advances and how we choose to use those advancements in the future. The fact this one delves into the line becoming blurred in prosthetics and automation as it relates to medical trauma and the tragic loss of limbs was an interesting spin on the argument.

Especially considering I watched a documentary about a rather kinetically connected AI version of a prosthetic arm and hand which was hackable due to the limitations of its security and yet highly advanced in what it was capable of doing for the person it was attached too. This is something that affects most AI applications – how advanced is the ability for the AI in each instance to not just self-evolve but to evolve past the protocols of its inherent conscience of morals and ethics? Where does the AI draw the line in the sand between what is right, wrong and inside the grey zone? In essence what happens when the AI and machines of today are progressively outsmarting their coders and inventors? Similar to the questions pitched by Speculative authors for how many decades now? And, yet this is now a living reality for scientists and people caught in the technologies which are advancing past our sphere of understanding the consequences of developing the tech faster than we can understand the outcomes of their presence in our lives.

A farmer’s son in this short story has a brutal accident that takes his arm and hand – as he wakes inside the hospital he learns that his parents have decided his fate for him. A new arm and hand with advanced technological attributes but with the secondary requirement of having a chip inserted into his brain in order to control the arm. He wasn’t given a choice about what kind of adjustment he was willing to undertake and for a bloke who liked living off the land and farming the old fashioned way with physical labour it seemed interesting to me his father whose more tech than he is invested in the lost art of farming would go against the choices his son makes on a regular basis. His father opts to use whatever technological equipment is available to him but one might want to consider that just because you’ve chosen that path doesn’t mean everyone in your family would follow suit.

Therefore for me, this short started off on a question of morality and of ethical choice – similarly it could be called into question if a family member would observe your choice in regards to organ donation as it is walking a similar line of override.

Outside of the ethics this story raised what I found was interesting was the latent memory issues Andy was struggling to handle as he processed through his recovery. As this is something you hear about from organ donors – how they can have residual memory from the organ(s) they received vs the memories they lost after their surgeries. You hear those stories every so often – how people can change after the trauma itself and also become renewed and altered after the replacement organ takes effect. Almost as if there is a connective conduit between the donor and the receiver through the organ(s) themselves which is why this story had weight as the same principle applied except instead of biological transference this involved technology.

I almost wished this had become a novella rather than a short story as it had a lot depth inside it – including how the writer described the highway and how the highway itself was both a metaphor and an alarmingly brilliant reality. It existed in of itself and outside of itself as well – how it cross-relates to Andy and to his new awareness of having an artificial limb whilst also giving the reader a lot of consider about how latent and transient memory can become transferred from one sentient being to another.

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It should be noted this is the second time this author has left an impression on me as when I read the [2015] collection of the Nebula Awards, I also enjoyed the story she had inside it called “In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind”. Which is quite telling as this was the only writer who gave me something I could chew on & appreciate!

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my concluding thoughts:

There were quite a few hits and misses for me in this collection – something I hadn’t expected to be the case when I first accepted it for review but in the ensuing years since then, after reading the Introduction I realised this particular collection might withhold a bit less enjoyment for me to read it. Although I wanted to begin reading the collective works of Aliette de Bodard – specifically in relation to her Tea Master and the Detective sequence of stories, however, for me I found myself unmotivated to read the short story included in this collection entitled: The Breath of War.

The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family simply did not hook me into its throes in the opening paragraphs except for the explanation behind how a solid can turn into a liquid in regards to the density variables of humanoid species. The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye had a potential premise for catching my attention but the delivery felt off or rather more than slightly awkward – I suppose when it comes to stories set in space I am a bit more disagreeable as I have a high level of expectation of what they will involve.

When It Ends, He Catcher Her nearly had me convinced of its potential but the visuals went askew after the opening bridge (the first page and a half) to where I felt immediately removed and disconnected. Honestly if a writer wants to keep me glued into their story-line mentioning cockroaches in the same breath as stale bread isn’t the right route to take especially after a lovely sequence of where a dancer needs to find the space to dance in a Dystopic world where all the the venues are of the past and where a dilapidated theatre revives her desire to simply dance for the sake of dancing.

I happen to have an admiration for mermaids and within the first scant sentences of The Fisher Queen I was turnt off by the critically cryptic manner of discussing mermaids as if they are the gutter trash of the sea. Not a way to win me over – especially since of all the mythological creatures I have read the mermaid is one that I generally enjoy reading about because of how fused they are with the ocean and the currents therein. They are one with the sea and they inhabit a special place in the lore and legends they occupy – so why tarnish that with a nefarious plotting and destroying the image of the merpeople?

The descriptive nature of the Jackolope Wives was less than to be desired – at least by me. And, the rest of the collection simply went downhill from there. I couldn’t gain a foothold of traction within any of the stories thereafter and it was proving to be a disappointing collection for me. I hadn’t realised this particular year was focused more on the grim and darkening worlds of Speculative Fiction – the area of which I hardly ever traverse and to be honest, I was rewarded with new reasons to stay outside of it by perusing the stories within this showcase from [2016].

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This book review is courtesy of:

Promethus books

Book Bloggers & the book blogosphere are celebrating this release:

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary! Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who picked up the same story to read.

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reading this novel counted towards

my 2019 reading challenges:

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2019 Backlogue Reviews banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Last year, despite my earnest attempts to read the stories as they alighted in my life for review consideration and contemplation, the fact I had 10 out of 12 difficult months of health afflictions (including my continuing battle with chronic migraines) – I lost the ability to focus on a lot of the books I was receiving. I am thankful I am in a better place right now in late January to where I can begin ‘anew’ and re-settle into the stories and works of Non-Fiction I wasn’t able to read until now – including those which released a year or two prior whilst I was helping my Dad recover from his stroke in late 2016. This New Year is a year where I can reclaim my readerly life and get back into the books I yearn to read, ruminate over and savour.

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whilst being read during my participation of:

Wyrd And Wonder banner created by Imyril. Image Credit: Magical book by Jakub Gojda from 123RF.com.
Wyrd And Wonder banner created by @Imyril. Image Credit: Magical book by Jakub Gojda from 123RF.com.

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “Nebula Awards Showcase 2015″, “Nebula Awards Showcase 2016” book synopsis and editor biography were all provided by the publisher Prometheus Books and used with permission. Tweets were able to be embedded by the codes provided by Twitter. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission. Wyrd And Wonder banner created by @Imyril. Image Credit: Magical book by Jakub Gojda from 123RF.com. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: #WyrdAndWonder review banner and the Comment Box banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2019.

I’m a social reader | I tweet as I read:

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Wednesday, 8 May, 2019 by jorielov in #WyrdAndWonder, Asteroid Science, Blog Tour Host, Blogosphere Events & Happenings, Climate Change, Ecology, Environmental Conscience, Environmental Science, Hard Science Fiction, Horticulture, Prometheus Books, Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event

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