Thursday, 27 October 2011

Nebula Awards and Marginalised Writers

Happy Yellow StarIt's getting to that time of year where I'm catching up on my reading for Nebula nominations (which makes it sound like I'm an old hand, but I've only been doing it for a year... still, this was the time I started panicking last year).

To an extent, I wander around reading whatever I come across. But I'm also conscious of trying to find stories that often get overlooked. It's good to find them now, as it gives a chance to suggest other people read them and bask in their awesomeness.

But there's an issue. The sort of stories I'm trying to track down tend to be those by writers from marginalised groups*. They're the stories which don't get the discussion and fan squeeing, despite being something unique and worth nominating. So how do I find those stories?

One of the issues is that people who are marginalised have been told that they don't count all their lives. No one's going to want to read their stories. They're not the sort of writer who gets nominated for the Nebula, so why even bother thinking about it? On the other side, people from the dominant groups have been told the world revolves around them all their lives, and will be plugging stories in "pimp your story" threads, making sure copies are available to nominators/voters and otherwise ensuring that their story is at least read.

Being read is half the battle**.

That's sad, because I want to read those stories. If you are a writer who has self-selected yourself as someone not worthy of being nominated, slap yourself (not too hard - you need to be conscious for the next bit). Your stories are good, whether they're nominated or not. They are worth mentioning. It's not a waste of time to make sure the story is read by nominators/voters. You have as much right as anyone to post about your story in a "pimp your award eligible stories" thread. It's not pushy or obnoxious to tell people about your story when they've asked you to tell them.

And now I'm asking you. The comments thread is open to suggest a Nebula eligible story***. The full rules for eligibility are on the SFWA website, but in short, if it's published in the US in 2011, it's eligible. Ezines counts as in the US, regardless of country of the host/publisher. Feel free to suggest your own stories or someone else's****.




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* I have a list around of books I enjoyed. Many of these were written by white middle-class heterosexual men. Many of the ones remaining are white middle-class heterosexual women. This isn't because they wrote the best books in the world, but they wrote the best books of those I read during my younger years. Because basically, pretty much everything I had available to read when I was younger was written by someone in those categories.

So if anyone is about to pull "but you should pick the best story", that's totally what I'm going to do. I don't nominate stories because someone is from X group (or not nominate them because they're from Y). But I don't want my initial pool of stories to choose from to only be from one segment of the population. It's ludicrous to suggest that only one group in society is capable of producing the best stories of the year.

** The other half is seeing that reading translate into nominations. Last year, I think it did. The Nebulas had a good diversity of initial nominations and stories on the final ballot. This didn't translate to the winners, but it was a first step.

*** If you don't want to post it publicly, I can be emailed at polly@polenthblake.com. I may not reply to suggestions emails, but I will read them. However, I would note that you can post anonymously to my blog, and it'll get a wider audience if you do.

**** Though I'm welcoming suggestions by marginalised writers, you don't have to be to post. Don't question too much if you should or shouldn't. If you're eligible, be bold. If you still feel awkward, suggest someone else you think is awesome at the same time.

2 comments:

fairyhedgehog said...

I wonder how many of the straight men writers were actually gay, or women. I had a few surprises when I found that what I thought were male authors were in fact women; it was easier to get published as a man.

I like your ideas, I just wish I had something to suggest to you!

Polenth said...

It's hard to know if I'll get any responses, but I figured I might as well try.