Out of This World Reading: Nebula Nominees 2014

nebulaA young half-elf half-goblin emperor, back from exile, wears an uneasy crown. A former ship ancillary is given a command and sent to the home planet of the family of the lieutenant she killed. A Chinese video game may hold clues to a possible visit by space aliens. And a scientific expedition ventures into the mysterious and quarantined Area X.

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) recently announced its nominees for the 2014 Nebula Awards (presented 2015). Judging by the six Best Novel nominees, 2014 was an outstanding year for original, provocative, and challenging fiction. Three titles received starred reviews from LJ’s sf columnist, Megan M. McArdle, who also chose them as her picks for her Best Books of the Year list.


The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Tor)
goblinemporer “Court intrigue and politics are popular fodder for fantasy novels, but rarely have they been done better than in this fantastic new novel from Sarah Monette (writing as Addison). The writing is lovely, with characters who live and breathe. Maia, especially, will tug on the heartstrings of even the most hardened reader as he struggles to find kindness and allies in the imperial court.” (LJ 3/15/15)

Trial by Fire, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
As an embattled Earth fights back against a technically superior alien invasion, this sequel to the Nebula Award finalist Fire with Fire is muscular sf action at its best..

Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit: Hachette)  ancillary
“Few novels could match the bolt-out-of-the-sky originality of Leckie’s debut, but this follow-up builds on the world and characters that the author introduced in the first book and takes the story in new directions. There is much more to explore in Leckie’s universe, one of the most original in sf today “(LJ 9/15/14)

threebodyThe Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu (Tor)
“This 2006 Chinese best seller finally gets an English translation from Nebula and Hugo Award winner and author Ken Liu. Along with the unusual setting, the novel includes a lot of discussions of high-level physics (sometimes helpfully couched within the video game), as the aliens come from a world with three suns and the unpredictable motions of the trisolaran system threaten their continued existence. It’s not an easy sell to Western readers, but the translator provides helpful footnotes explaining the unfamiliar historical and cultural references. Fans of hard sf likened to the work of Arthur C. Clarke will look forward to the rest of the series.”(LJ 10/15/14)

Coming Home, Jack McDevitt (Ace)
The discovery of early space artifacts has the antiquities dealer Alex Benedict torn between  returning to Earth to investigate and waiting for his uncle’s interstellar transport, which had vanished 11 years earlier in a time/space warp, to reappear.

Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer (Farrar)  vandermeer
“Appropriate for a book by an author who is always straddling borders, World Fantasy Award winner VanderMeer’s latest falls somewhere between a long novella and a short novel. But this short work packs a big punch, as the author has rare skills for building tension and making the reader feel the claustrophobic dread of his characters. Readers will be unsettled, intrigued, and eager for the next volume in this new trilogy.”(LJ 1/15/14)

For more details on the finalists for the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, and nominees for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, check the SFWA’s website.

Wilda Williams About Wilda Williams

Wilda "Willy" Williams (wwilliams@mediasourceinc.com) is LJ's Fiction Editor. She specializes in popular fiction and edits the Mystery, Science Fiction, Christian Fiction, and Word on Street Lit columns.


  1. Steven Blake says:

    I would have liked to see The Seventh Holy Man from William Brazzel in here. I would rank it among my favorite science fiction reads of the last 5 years. It offers a beautifully blended fusion of sci-fi, supernatural, religious and historical ideas with excellent writing and fascinating concepts.
    Highly recommended. http://www.scifiauthorbrazzel.com/