Monday 24 May 2004
Connie Willis' Novelette Aria
The following was Connie Willis' introduction to her presentation of the Nebula Award for Best Novelette at last month's Nebula Awards Banquet in Seattle, Washington.
When I told people I'd been asked to present this year's Nebula Award for Best Novelette, they said:
"Ooh, torture the nominees!"
But I don't want to do any of those things -- well, maybe torture Harlan...
"Ooh, torture Bush!"
"Ooh, torture Harlan!"
"Ooh, do one of those unplanned, off-the-cuff, completely extemporaneous riffs of yours!"
No. I want to talk about the novelette.
I've always loved the novelette. Over the years, nearly all my favorite stories have been novelettes:
"Flowers for Algernon"
It seems to me the novelette is the perfect form for writing science fiction -- the perfect length. It's long enough to create a whole world, and short enough to deliver a punch in the gut.
"When It Changed"
"We Can Remember It For You Wholesale"
"Think Like a Dinosaur"
It's like that girl said -- you know the one, she got in trouble -- no, not Janet Jackson -- the one with the blonde hair -- no, not Britney Spears -- GOLDILOCKS! It's like Goldilocks said -- "It's just right."
The novelette is the very essence of science fiction, the distillation, the --
I can't explain it. I'll have to show you.
Here -- in a nutshell -- are the Nebula-Award-winning novelettes of the last 37 years:
the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
and time considered as a helix of precious stones.
a glass unicorn
the Queen of Air and Darkness
the emperor's only son.
He will be travelling incognito. You will call him Lord.
the Big Gambler
the Living End
the Before Time
the Tower of Babylon
the vault of heaven
and Hell, which for most of its inhabitants, is not all that different from
The world and all the places in it:
(I think I saw a real estate agent.)
Artifacts, Art, Life-Forms and Misc: Wo and Shade, Importers
proximal femoral focus deficiency
gonna roll the bones
the Bicentennial Man
Three women--one is dead; one is alive; one is both and neither, and will never live and never die, being immortal in SUM.
San Diego Lightfoot Sue
Sagan City, Mars
You can't run for president from Mars.
a Martian child
Mars is no place for children.
a Martian wish
Mount Freedom Medical Center
the doors of his face, the lamps of his mouth
the Josephson Junction
the Grand Tour
the Great White Way
Then she was falling into the sky.
Into the stars
Into the night
normal family life
Notes on the History of the World
A key will be posted next week. The Locus Index to SF Awards includes this list of the Nebula winning novelettes.