The latest collection of trophy-winners and runners-up for the Nebulas, which are awarded by the SFWA, is a rainbow of styles and content. Editor Willis (Bellwether), herself a six-time Nebula winner, introduces each selection with an enthusiastic appreciation. Each story is followed by the author's notes on its creation. There are also insightful short essays on the year's science as well as its fiction by expert authors and editors, plus older stories by 1997's Author Emeritus Nelson Bond and Grand Master Poul Anderson, the latter contributing a fine space yarn with a Platonic drama of ideas and a knockout surprise ending. The prose ranges from the futuristic lighting of Michael Swanwick (""The chauffeur wore combat-grade photomultipliers"") to the gracefully mythopoeic style of Vonda McIntyre (""The wild eerie melody quickened Marie-Jos phe's heart""). All the fiction entries are richly imagined; some are polished literary constructions as well. Karen Joy Fowler is represented by a deft experimental conflation of historical Elizabeths, including Borden, Cady-Stanton and one of the queens, and there is a little of the expected ""hard"" SF, too. Gregory Feeley's ""The Crab Lice"" is one of several pieces that wonderfully illuminate present events by imagined ones in the past instead of the more typical SF sallies into the future. Feeley shows us Aristophanes at loggerheads with the god Dionyos; Jane Yolen gives us Emily Dickinson chatting with an extraterrestrial. Overall, this is an excellent skimming of the current SF crop, conveying a good sense of the field's variety, sophistication and breadth. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/29/1999 Release date: 04/01/1999 Genre: Fiction
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