A review by anna_hepworth
Nebula Awards Showcase 2009 by Ellen Datlow


A nicely varied selection of short stories, extracts, and essays.

The stories:
Ted Chiang's "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate' is a wonderful story of time travel, as told by the traveller to the Caliph in an attempt to explain that he is not mad, nor is he a vagrant. Karen Joy Fowler's "Always" tells of a cult of immortality that falls apart when the leader has a heart attack, until the only one left is just keeping going, because who will do the work if she doesn't? David D Levine's "Titanium Mike Saves the Day" is a matrioshka doll of stories about the power of stories, in a space setting. Geoff Ryman's "Pol Pot's Beautiful Daughter" talks of ghosts, and making amends, and the many unmourned dead of Cambodia. The excerpt from Michael Chabon's "The Yiddish Policeman's Union" is interesting enough to make me want to read the rest, but not enough for me to hunt it down, especially as it has little in the way of story. Lucius Shepard's "Stars seen through stone" compares petty human monsters with truly inhuman monsters of supernatural origin, with a side order of working in the music publishing industry. Kij Johnson's "The Evolution of Trickster Stories among the dogs of North Park after the change" is another story of human monstrosity, this time in light of dogs learning to talk, and the widespread abandonment that happens as a result. Jennifer Pelland's "Captive Girl" is yet another monstrosity of humans story - this time, the willingness of the many to ignore the destruction of a handful of individuals in the quest for their safety. Andy Duncan's "Unique Chicken Goes in Reverse" is a light-hearted story about a little girl who terrifies a priest, with only a chicken. Nancy Kress's "Fountain of Age" is story of lost love, and what happens when what makes one person immortal can be passed to others, at the price of freedom.

The rest:
As to essays and other non-fiction writing: Howard Waldrop reviews a year of films, almost inspiring me to go and watch Enchanted. Barry N Malzberg presents a brief essay on the future of science fiction, not inspiring me much - the quality of the stories here did that much better. Assorted people write about the meanings of assorted awards, and why they are gathered in a volume that purports to be about only one of these awards. Kim Newman summarises the contributions of Michael Moorcock, and why they make him a Grand Master. Gwenda Bond talks about the explosion in YA sf/f, and how it should be interpreted. Ellen Asher talks of her time editing at the Science Fiction Book Club

There are also three poems, which I find impossible to comment on, an example short story from Moorcock, and a list of all of the past Nebula winners. I plan to read through this last one day, and maybe even try and source all of the items. But that will have to be another time.