Everyone knows by know who won the Nebulas so it would be otiose to post a link here. I was disappointed that McDonald’s wonderful Brasyl didn’t win in the novel category, but Le Guin’s Powers is a superb book, doubtless without a doubt.
It was nice to see that Kessel’s “Pride and Prometheus” took the novelette award; it seemed to me the clear winner in that category.
And I didn’t have the nerve to vote in the Norton, because I hadn’t read even one of the nominees. But I was powerfully tempted to vote for Wilce’s Flora’s Dare: How a Girl of Spirit Gambles All to Expand Her Vocabulary, Confront a Bouncing Boy Terror, and Try to Save Califa from a Shaky Doom (Despite Being Confined to Her Room) on the basis of its radiantly moxie-tronic title alone, so I was glad to see it copped the prize.
Re the organization itself…
I guess I’ve been an SFWA member over half a year, now, and I’m not strongly inclined to renew my membership. SFWA does some great things (e.g. Writer Beware, a powerful force against evil–which may sound ironically bombastic, but which I think is actually true). However, it’s not really clear to me that any benefit is accruing to me, or is likely to accrue to me, for belonging to this group.
The recently adopted vision statement describes SFWA as “the best source for information, education, support and fellowship for authors of science fiction, fantasy and related genres.” And this sort of crystallized my discomfort with the organization. Much of its purpose seems to be founded on what my son and infonauts like him call “friction.” In essence, friction (in this sense) is generated by information limited by gatekeepers. That situation doesn’t really obtain anymore. SFWA is offering to reduce friction (i.e. increase the flow of information) to people who are already drenched in data. It’s an offer that seems resonant with the spinning of rotary telephone dials and the rustle of newspapers–old media, dead and dying media.
What we need in the age of new media is not so much a way past the gatekeepers of information as an authoritative source that helps sort good information from bad information. I’m not convinced that SFWA is poised to become that source.
An example would be SFWA’s own internet presence which is broken–obviously broken. That’s not a complaint: it’s just an observation. (The site is impossible to find information on; it’s awash in broken links; it’s inadequately centralized; it has inputs for print media that don’t exist anymore, like the SFWA Forum–etc.) SFWA officers and staff have been working energetically to set up a new website. That’s not a complaint: it’s praise. Here’s the complaint: people are complaining about the new site–quite vociferously and in a way that’s obviously affecting the morale of the people who are doing what I, in my unsophisticated way, would call “the work.” The site has not yet had its debut, by the way–it’s the whole idea of a new site which has been causing strife.
Also, a good number of members are expressing fear and hostility at the notion that their works may appear on Google Books searches. Since I am preparing to drop several c-notes (hopefully of my university’s money) on professional books that I have only examined through Google Books, this point of view seems to me strangely out of touch. Essentially, this is free advertising for the writer forever: it’s not like they’re offering downloads of material still under copyright. But in this new and threatening world we live in, all forms of e-text are a threat until proven otherwise. Heu mihi.
If I thought that SFWA had bad officers and the solution was an election to throw the bums out, I wouldn’t be discouraged. That sort of thing can happen. But if the membership itself is projecting an aura of apathy, ill-temper and bad judgement, the matter is more problematic.
Also, the “fellowship” element doesn’t seem to me to be remarkable, compared to the experience one might have on LiveJournal or Facebook, for instance. Possibly I should withhold judgement on this until and unless I attend one of the live-and-in-person functions. (Then again, my own liveliness and personability are nothing to write home about, so maybe this isn’t such a great idea.)