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Nebula Awards Showcase 2006, Edited By Gardner Dozois: Experimental Science Fiction and Fantasy For The Connoisseur
It’s telling and amusing (at least to me) that in typing out that title I initially made the typo of putting ‘Sexperimental Science Fiction and Fantasy’. And maybe I should just have left it in, because, truth be told, a lot of these stories are a little, hmm, spicy!
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To be honest, the noughties and the nineties aren’t my favourite period for science fiction and fantasy. For the height of the genre, most especially in relation to the short story (since I detest most science fiction novels and novellas) is to be found at and around the early seventies up until perhaps as far as the early eighties. In this period the genre opened its mind, let go of stereotypes and started to let go and loosen up, allowing new ideas, forms and practitioners in. But the story was still the thing: to me, once we got well into the eighties experimentation began to be prized for its own sake at the expense of the tale and the character, and even the underlying theme.
So how does ‘Nebula Awards Showcase 2006’ shape up, bearing in mind my admitted prior bias and distaste for more recent sci-fi and fantasy works? Certainly a few of the stories are a little too bug-eyed and ‘out-there’ for my tastes, but there’s still much to interest and amuse. (My main problem with the more experimental stuff is the lack of narrative form and objective: I don’t mind how loose your reins are and what whacked-out stream of consciousness you want to emit, just as long as you’re going somewhere with it and not just sitting on your thumb.)
Since this collection contains an essay by Ursula K. LeGuin, it is of course completely worth picking up. That was my first target on first opening up the book: when new LeGuin is available, even non-fiction, other writers might as well not exist. It’s blimming short though! I think my favourite story of the collection has to be Mike Resnick’s ‘Travels With My Cats’, and that’s really no surprise. It has to be the most linear and traditional tale in the entire book – and all the more delightful a romance to me because of it. The other stories tend to be a little wilder and weirder, but Christopher Rowe’s ‘The Voluntary State’ and Walter John Williams ‘The Green Leopard Plague’ are still among my favourites.
Worth a try? A little adventurous in your taste for all things sci-fi? Why not try out Nebula Awards Showcase 2006, could be fun!