Perfect moments happen. Once in a while.
On Saturday, Feb. 16, I went to a big bookstore in downtown Ottawa for the launch of an anthology in which several friends were involved.
I hung out at the launch for a while, chatting with friends in the science fiction and fantasy world, and then I took my leave, and went up to the second floor so I could pick up something for my kid. He’s very into Tolkien at the moment, just as I was myself at his age. It was Tolkien, more than anyone, who fed my love of speculative fiction, decades ago.
So it was that I was halfway down the escalator in the middle of a very busy bookstore, mere feet away from many of the writer friends who have supported and taught me over the last several years, holding two books about Tolkien under my arm, when my cellphone rang.
“This is Jim Hosek from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America,” the voice said.
I would like to apologize to my fellow shoppers for the loudness of my gasps. I tried not to shriek, but I may have. Luckily, I was far enough away from the people still milling about at the book launch that I was able to retreat into a quiet corner and discuss the embargoed news I’ve been keeping secret for the past few days:
The Nebula is voted on by the members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. It is one of the two best-known awards in our field (the other being the Hugo awards.) The novella category has been part of the Nebulas since the awards’ inception; at the first ceremony in 1966, there were nine men nominated in that category (Cordwainer Smith, A.E. van Vogt, James J. Schmitz, Frederik Pohl, Samuel R. Delaney, Avram Davidson, Roger Zelazny and Brian W. Aldiss.)
The game writing award, on the other hand, is brand new. This is the first year of its existence, and it’s an incredible honour to be part of the history of the Nebulas in this way. Never in a million years did I dream of this while I was writing The Road to Canterbury.
To be nominated in two categories in the same year is just… I don’t know what to say, honestly.
Thank you so much to Jim for that kind phone call and for all the work of being Nebula Awards Commissioner, and to Aimee and everyone else at SFWA who has worked on the administration of these awards. Thank you to my fellow SFWA members. Thank you to my fellow nominees to creating such excellent work; I am astounded and honoured to be among you. As my very wise brother said when I told him about my nomination, this means I get to be in the room with the best SFF writers of my generation.
And thank you to my agent, Jennie Goloboy, who has been working hard in my corner for years. Thank you to my editor Lee Harris and to everyone else at Tor.com Publishing who helped bring Alice Payne into the world. Thank you to my editor Rebecca Slitt and everyone else at Choice of Games who patiently taught me how to write interactive narratives and who encouraged me to geek out about the things I love. Thank you to all my editors for encouraging me to write about pasts and futures with all kinds of people in them.
Thank you to my family for getting me here, and to all the SFF writers in Ottawa and elsewhere who have held me up in the bad days and celebrated with me in the good ones and pushed me to be better. I’m so glad so many of you were in the same bookstore with me when I got the call, although you didn’t know it.
2018 was a prolific year for me – in addition to the novella and the game, my first novel came out (Armed in Her Fashion) and several short stories. I don’t expect to have a year like that again for a little while, at least! And who knows if I’ll ever get a Nebula nomination again. This is a once-in-a-lifetime sort of moment.
So I am definitely going down to Los Angeles in May to attend the ceremony and the associated conference (and this is where I thank my partner and my son for supporting me in this as in everything, for saying, “yes, of course you have to go.”)
In the meantime, I wanted to have something to remember this moment by, some little keepsake just for me, but I didn’t have a lot to spend (especially since I’d just decided to fly across the continent for an awards ceremony, yikes). As I wandered from the bookstore back to my car in a happy daze (having, miraculously, remembered to pay for the Tolkien books), I found this tiny opal pendant for sale for a song. It’s now my Nebula nomination pendant, and always will be.