This upcoming weekend the distinguished members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) will gather together to bestow the coveted Nebula Awards upon a handful of worthy authors. The awards recognize outstanding works of science fiction and fantasy in four separate categories: novel, novelette, novella, and short story. They are chosen from fiction printed during the previous year.
The origins of the award go back to 1965 when Lloyd Biggle, Jr. suggested the idea. Lloyd proposed that funding for the awards ceremony and trophies could be provided through sales of an anthology that contained the collected stories of the award winners.
The Hugo award had already been around for a decade, relying on the votes of fans to select the winners. The Nebula award would be unique in its selection and voting process in that it would only be open to the members of SFWA. The Nebulas would represent the industry’s first peer award.
The design for the trophy was based upon a sketch by Kate Wilhelm. J. A. Lawrence brought her imagination to life with an amazing design. This weekend more worthy author’s will lug home one of the industry’s most prestigious awards to fill that empty spot on their trophy shelf. If you haven’t read this year’s nominees, it’s time to get started.
As you may have guessed by now, I have an obsession with numbers and statistics. My compulsion led me into a deeper study of the Nebula’s history. I have collected a sampling of the data I mined from various internet sources for your consumption. I hope you enjoy the Nebula Awards by the Numbers.
- Since 1966, there have been forty-eight selections for the best novel category prior to this year. The SFWA has handed out forty-nine trophies. In 1967, two different authors won the award for two different novels. Only seven of the thirty-five different winners have a single nomination.
- This year Karen Joy Fowler, Neil Gaiman, and Nicola Griffith have each been nominated at least one time before. The other five candidates have each received their first nomination.
Most Nebula Award Nominations for Best Novel
1) Jack McDevitt (11 nominations)
2) Gene Wolfe (10 nominations)
3) Robert Silverberg (9 nominations)
4) Lois McMaster Bujold (6 nominations)
5) Ursula K. Le Guin (6 nominations)
6) Connie Willis ( 5 nominations)
7) Philip K. Dick (5 nominations)
8) Poul Anderson (5 nominations)
9) Frederik Pohl, Greg Bear, Gregory Benford, Joe Haldeman, Kate Wilhelm, Kim Stanley Robinson, Larry Niven, Orson Scott Card, Robert A. Heinlein, Roger Zelazny, Samuel R. Delany, and William Gibson (4 nominations)
10) Numerous authors (3 nominations)
- The longest streak of consecutive nominations is held by Robert Silverberg (1968- 1973) and Jack McDevitt (2004 – 2009) with six. Robert Silverberg was nominated for two of his novels in 1973.
- Ursula K. Le Guin holds the record for longest stretch of excellence. Her first nomination was in 1970 and her final nomination in 2009. A span of 39 years.
Most Nebula Awards for Best Novel (Only 11 authors have won multiple awards)
1) Ursula K. Le Guin (4 awards)
2) Joe Haldeman (3 awards)
3) Arthur C. Clarke (2 awards)
4) Connie Willis (2 awards)
5) Frederik Pohl (2 awards)
6) Greg Bear (2 awards)
7) Kim Stanley Robinson (2 awards)
8) Lois McMaster Bujold (2 awards)
9) Orson Scott Card (2 awards)
10) Samuel R. Delany (2 awards)
11) Vonda N. McIntyre (2 awards)
- This year Neil Gaiman and Nicola Griffith both have a chance to join the list of multiple award winners.
The data shows that the average page count of Hugo Award winning novels steadily increased from the awards inception until now. I conducted a similar sampling of novels from the Nebula Awards. While the sampled years shown below show a steady increase in the average size of each novel, it is interesting to note that the average length still lags behind that of Hugo nominated novels. Similar sample years for the Hugo are listed in parenthesis below. It would seem Hugo voters enjoy their novels a bit longer.
- In 1967 the nominees averaged 289 pages each. (335 Hugo)
- In 1977 the nominees averaged 266 pages each.
- In 1987 the nominees averaged 308 pages each. (353 Hugo)
- In 1997 the nominees averaged 343 pages each.
- In 2007 the nominees averaged 342 pages each. (467 Hugo)
- In 2014 the nominees average 417 pages each. (477 Hugo)
Most Nebula Award Nominations for Best Novella
1) Robert Silverberg (8 nominations)
2) Lucius Shepard (7 nominations)
3) Michael Bishop (7 nominations)
4) Nancy Kress (7 nominations)
5) Avram Davidson (6 nominations)
6) Kate Wilhelm ( 6 nominations)
7) Adam-Troy Castro (5 nominations)
8) Gene Wolfe (5 nominations)
9) Walter Jon Williams (5 nominations)
10) Andy Duncan, Catherine Asaro, Frederik Pohl, George R. R. Martin, Gregory Benford, Jack Dann, Mike Resnick (4 nominations)
Most Nebula Awards for Best Novella (Only 3 authors have won multiple awards)
1) Nancy Kress (3 awards)
2) Robert Silverberg (2 awards)
3) Roger Zelazny (2 awards)
- This year Nancy Kress has an opportunity to win her fourth award in this category. She is the only nominee to have won the award previously.
Most Nebula Award Nominations for Best Novelette
1) Ursula K. Le Guin (7 nominations)
2) James Patrick Kelly (6 nominations)
3) Connie Willis (5 nominations)
4) Michael Swanwick (5 nominations)
5) Roger Zelazny (5 nominations)
6) Bruce Sterling, George R. R. Martin, Harlan Ellison, Jack Dann, John Varley, Lucius Shepard, Michael Bishop, Mike Resnick, Poul Anderson, Richard Bowes (4 nominations)
7) Numerous authors (3 nominations)
Most Nebula Awards for Best Novelette (Only 5 authors have won multiple awards)
1) Ted Chiang (3 awards)
2) Connie Willis (2 awards)
3) George R. R. Martin (2 awards)
4) Poul Anderson (2 awards)
5) Kelly Link (2 awards)
- One author this year will win their first Nebula Award for Best Novelette.
Most Nebula Award Nominations for Best Short Story
1) Harlan Ellison (8 nominations)
2) Karen Joy Fowler (7 nominations)
3) Gardner Dozois (6 nominations)
4) Michael Swanwick (6 nominations)
5) Gene Wolfe (5 nominations)
6) Howard Waldrop (5 nominations)
7) Kate Wilhelm (5 nominations)
8) Edward Bryant, Esther Friesner, Fritz Leiber, Jack McDevitt, James Patrick Kelly, James Patrick Kelly, Joe Haldeman, Lisa Goldstein, Robert Silverberg (4 nominations)
9) Numerous authors (3 nominations)
Most Nebula Awards for Best Short Story (Only 11 authors have won multiple awards)
1) Harlan Ellison (3 awards)
2) Connie Willis (2 awards)
3) Edward Bryant (2 awards)
4) Esther Friesner (2 awards)
5) Gardner Dozois (2 awards)
6) Karen Joy Fowler (2 awards)
7) Kate Wilhelm (2 awards)
8) Kij Johnson (2 awards)
9) Robert Silverberg (2 awards)
10) Terry Bisson (2 awards)
11) Carol Emshwiller (2 awards)
- All of this year’s candidates have been nominated for the first time in this category.
Most Nebula Award Nominations for All Categories
1) Robert Silverberg (22 nominations)
2) Gene Wolfe (20 nominations)
3) Kate Wilhelm (18 nominations)
4) Jack McDevitt (17 nominations)
5) Ursula K. Le Guin (17 nominations)
6) Michael Bishop (16 nominations)
7) Michael Swanwick (16 nominations)
8) Connie Willis (15 nominations)
9) Harlan Ellison (15 nominations)
10) Nancy Kress and Roger Zelazny (14 nominations)
Most Nebula Awards for All Categories
1) Connie Willis (7 awards)
2) Ursula K. Le Guin (6 awards)
3) Greg Bear (5 awards)
4) Joe Haldeman (5 awards)
5) Nancy Kress (5 awards)
6) Robert Silverberg (5 awards)
7) Harlan Ellison (4 awards)
8) Samuel R. Delany (4 awards)
9) Ted Chiang (4 awards)
10) Numerous authors (3 awards)
11) Many authors (2 awards)
- In 1966, James H. Schmitz had four different stories nominated.
- Kate Wilhelm received four nominations in 1972.
- Harlan Ellison has been nominated for a Nebula award in every decade since the award originated. His first in 1966. His latest in 2011. He won the award both of those years.
- Six authors have won two awards in the same year. (Connie Willis, Greg Bear, Kelly Link, Robert Silverberg, Samuel R. Delany, and Ursula K. Le Guin)
- Connie Willis won two awards in the same year twice. (1983 and 1993)
- Only Sofia Samatar has the chance to win more than one award this year.
I hope you enjoyed this parade of Nebula Awards data. The statistics will shift once more this upcoming weekend, and the history books will be updated with the names of the latest winners. Good luck to all the nominees.