Title: Nebula Award Stories 10
More or less constantly, I have the feeling that I should read more science fiction short stories. Science fiction is a genre heavily based on unique and fantastic concepts, which means that it’s usually well-suited for shorter forms of fiction. When a good author comes up with a brilliant idea, he or she knows many pages it is good for and writes that many. Having an idea good for ten pages and writing a series of novels spanning thousands of pages is simply bad manners, but science fiction authors are, at least in my experience, quite good at not losing focus.
However, there is no guarantee that the ideas or the stories they write are any good. This volume collects seven short stories, novelettes and novellas, all awarded the Nebula Award by the Science Fiction Writers of America . Thinking that I have probably more in common with authors than readers, I guessed that I would like these short stories more than the Hugo Award winners I’ve read so far (1, 2); I couldn’t have been more wrong.
There are some stories in this collection that I would recommend, such as The Day Before the Revolution by Ursula K. Le Guin, and If the Stars are Gods by Gordon Eklund and Gregory Benford, but the majority of them are simply not very memorable at all. Some, such as Twilla by Tom Reamy actually manages to pass the obscure cloud of mediocrity and emerge into the abyss of the truly dreadful. One story in the collection, The Rest is Silence by C.L. Grant, made me feel seriously uneducated, leaning heavily on Shakespeare references that mean little to me. The short story felt like it had potential, but I haven’t read enough to appreciate it.
On average, this book is not worthwhile, so I’ll give it two snails. There are some nice pieces of writing in here (all of them mentioned above). If you for some extraordinary reason manage to get hold of this volume (it’s pretty hard to find), by all means, read those stories, but don’t bother with the rest.