The Nebula Award Nominees have been announced, and I'm feeling rather paternal for a reason I'll divulge after you look over them.
- Throne of the Crescent Moon, Saladin Ahmed (DAW; Gollancz ’13)
- Ironskin, Tina Connolly (Tor)
- The Killing Moon, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
- The Drowning Girl, Caitlín R. Kiernan (Roc)
- Glamour in Glass, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
- 2312, Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
- On a Red Station, Drifting, Aliette de Bodard (Immersion Press)
- After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall, Nancy Kress (Tachyon)
- “The Stars Do Not Lie”, Jay Lake (Asimov’s 10-11/12)
- “All the Flavors”, Ken Liu (GigaNotoSaurus 2/1/12)
- “Katabasis”, Robert Reed (F&SF 11-12/12)
- “Barry’s Tale”, Lawrence M. Schoen (Buffalito Buffet)
- The Pyre of New Day”, Catherine Asaro (The Mammoth Books of SF Wars)
- “Close Encounters”, Andy Duncan (The Pottawatomie Giant & Other Stories)
- “The Waves”, Ken Liu (Asimov’s 12/12)
- “The Finite Canvas”, Brit Mandelo (Tor.com 12/5/12)
- “Swift, Brutal Retaliation”, Meghan McCarron (Tor.com 1/4/12)
- “Portrait of Lisane da Patagnia”, Rachel Swirsky (Tor.com 8/22/12)
- “Fade to White”, Catherynne M. Valente (Clarkesworld 8/12)
- “Robot”, Helena Bell (Clarkesworld 9/12)
- “Immersion”, Aliette de Bodard (Clarkesworld 6/12)
- “Fragmentation, or Ten Thousand Goodbyes”, Tom Crosshill (Clarkesworld 4/12)
- “Nanny’s Day”, Leah Cypess (Asimov’s 3/12)
- “Give Her Honey When You Hear Her Scream”, Maria Dahvana Headley (Lightspeed7/12)
- “The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species”, Ken Liu (Lightspeed 8/12)
- “Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain”, Cat Rambo (Near + Far)
Congratulations to everyone, incidentally. That's not an easy list to make your way onto.
Now. As to my paternal feelings. Three of the above nominees and of the Andre Norton Award nominees are former students of mine: Andy Duncan in 1994 and Cat Rambo, Rachel Swirsky, and Eugene Myers in 2005. I taught Week Four, known informally as "Suicide Week" when Andy attended and taught Week Six when Cat, Rachel, and Eugene (up for the Andre Norton) were there. Each week requires a different style. For the Suicide Week, I burned fierce and intense, while for the sixth and final week, I was warm and supportive, gently urging everyone to keep writing when they got home, rather than take the dreaded post-workshop year off. So Andy and the other three saw very different Michael Swanwicks. But both of me wanted very intensely for them, and everyone else, to succeed. My definition of success consisting not of money or awards but of writing the best work they were capable of.
You feel very good when a former student makes a first sale or is nominated for an award. It's living proof that you haven't destroyed their talent. It's even possible that you were of some utility to them. That's extremely cool.
I feel particularly good this year because Cat was not only one of my students but one of Andy Duncan's students. Which means that she's a grand-student.
So congratulations, Cat, Rachel, and Eugene! And congratulations, Andy -- who not only made it onto the Nebula ballot, but failed to destroy the third literary generation writer's talent. It's even possible that he was of some utility to them.
And it is, alas, possible . . .
It's entirely possible that Andy, Cat, Rachel, and Eugene are not my only former students on the ballot. If you studied under me at Clarion, Clarion West, or Clarion South, let me remind you of something I told your assembled class when first we met:
There are some people who are good with names and some people who are good with faces. I'm not one of either of them. I get my sisters mixed up. So a year from now when you approach me at a convention and I look blank, that doesn't mean you were the one without talent. That's just me. Stick out your hand and say, "Hi, you don't remember me but I was your student and my name is..." And I'll lie and say, "Of course I remember you."
Andy and Cat I remember because they kept coming up to me, convention after convention, and introducing themselves until it stuck.
Above: That's my Nebula, guarded by a bust of Surplus and temporarily placed on a relatively uncluttered surface in my office.