It came down to the wire but I read and reviewed all of the 2018 Nebula Award nominees for Best Novel and Best Novella before last night’s ceremony took place!
What I love about taking part in a reading challenge is that it challenges you to read books you may never otherwise have picked up and to evaluate their merits. In particular, reading the novella category challenged my prejudices about the genre and broadened my horizons.
The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark + Review
Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson + Review
Alice Payne Arrives by Kate Heartfield + Review
The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard + Review
Artificial Condition by Martha Wells + Review
Fire Ant by Jonathan P. Brazee + Review
The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang + Review
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse + Review
Witchmark by C.L. Polk + Review
Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller + Review
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik + Review
The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal + Review
My Favourite: Artificial Condition by Martha Wells, but I was rooting for Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson. Wells’ Murderbot Diaries series continues to blow me away, but she won Best Novella last year with All Systems Red, so I was really hoping Kelly Robson would take it.
Predicted Winner: The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark. The Black God’s Drums rightfully got a lot of buzz for its combination of steampunk, Yoruba mythology, and an alternate history of the United States into an enthralling adventure.
Actual Winner: The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard. Although I felt the mystery fell a little flat in this homage to Sherlock Holmes, I adored the world-building and the sheer imagination and originality of this story.
My Favourite: The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang. The Poppy War was one of the best books I read last year. It’s a brutal read that may not be for everything, but it was unlike anything I’d read before and I adored it.
Predicted Winner: The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal. The Nebulas don’t often reward debut novels and they tend to pick science-fiction over fantasy. Consider the fact that Naomi Novik, another strong contender, already won Best Novel a few years ago for Uprooted and we’re left with Mary Robinette Kowal’s alternate history of spaceflight.
Actual Winner: The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal. No surprise here, but it’s a great novel and feels very timely, both in its exploration of the struggle for gender equality and it depiction of mental illness, so I’m very happy with this result.
Have you read any of these books? What did you think of the winners? Would you have selected differently? Let’s chat in the comments!
Congratulations to all of the nominees and to the winners! The full list of 2018 Nebula Award Winners can be found here.