I’ve just learned that “Lord Weary’s Empire,” an excerpt from The Dragons of Babel that was rewritten and published as an independent story, came in third for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. The award itself went to Robert Charles Wilson for "The Cartesian Theater," and second place went to Robert Reed for "A Billion Eves."
There’s something particularly pleasurable about placing close to an award but not getting it. You don’t have to be graciously modest about it, for one thing. Nor are you required to board an airplane and fly to a distant awards ceremony. You get all the satisfaction of knowing that other people think well of your work without any of the obligations attendant upon winning.
Di I hear somebody say “sour grapes?” Well, I understand your skepticism. But I mean it. It would have been pleasant to win – it’s always pleasant to win – but it wasn’t necessary. Back a decade-and-a-half ago, when Stations of the Tide won the Hugo for Best Novel, William Gibson called me long-distance from Vancouver to congratulate me at rather expensive-to-him length. Which shows you the kind of Mensch that Bill is. I mean, I considered him a friend but not so close a friend that I would have noticed if he hadn’t called. And in the course of the phone conversation, he said the single best thing anybody ever said to me about awards.
“Now that you’ve got a Nebula,” Gibson said, “you need never want one again. That ‘Nebula-Award winner’ tag will follow you around for the rest of your life like a little puppy. They can’t take it away from you for bad behavior. Winning twenty more won’t make it any larger.”
Have you guessed by now that I already have a Sturgeon? It was for “The Edge of the World,” back in 1990.
So thanks, Bill! Thanks for freeing from Nebula Fever. Congratulations to Robert Charles Wilson for winning the award! Best of luck in the future to Robert Reed, whose work has been regularly placing on the short list in recent years and whose “Mere” came in third in 2005.
You see how pleasant that is? I get to be a good sport and simultaneously brag about having already won the Sturgeon. Not to mention the Nebula. And, what the heck, five Hugos.