Thoughts (and occasionally fuming) about the state of science, fiction, and science fiction.
by author and technologist Edward M. Lerner
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
The 2015 Nebula Awards weekend
I'm newly home from Chicago and a wonderful experience: SFWA's annual -- and, as it happened, the 50th -- Nebula Awards weekend. SFWA, of course, is the Science-fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. (In this instance, not a typo. When fantasy authors demanded equal billing in the organization's name, maintaining the historical acronym and logo required that odd mixed capitalization.) The Nebulas, awarded annually by SFWA for specific works of fiction, are among the highest honors in the genre.
Photo from Locus
An even higher honor is the Solstice Award, "granted in recognition of the positive impact and
influence the recipients and their work have had on the science fiction
and fantasy genres." This year's honorees were Joanna Russ and Stanley Schmidt. Stan, of course, was the long-time editor of Analog. Over the years I've come to know Stan as a mentor, colleague, and friend. It was great to see him honored.
Larry & Ed at Nebula Awards (2015)
But the highest SFWA recognition, IMO, is the SFWA Grandmaster Award. This year's honoree was Larry Niven, recognized "for his invaluable contributions to the field of science fiction and fantasy" (he writes both). Larry is my frequent collaborator and friend, and I was invited to join the panel at a Niven-retrospective session and to contribute a written appreciation. I was happy to oblige, and here's what I wrote.
An Appreciation of
What can I say about Larry Niven?
To begin, what any fan would tell you: he’s written one hell of a lot of
great SF. His stories and books have won more awards than you can shake a stick
at. Even a really big stick. Then there’s what his colleagues would say:
he’s a nice guy, a master craftsman, and, for many of us, a role model. But on
a personal note, I can say a bit more.
I’ve been a fan of Larry’s writing
since the Sixties and “Neutron Star.” Intrepid adventurer, alien aliens, exotic
setting, cutting-edge physics—neutron stars were still just theory back then—and
a mind-blowing puzzle. This was groovy stuff! (It was the Sixties, I
remind you. We said stuff like that.) And Larry’s Known Space kept expanding, kept
getting even better, with gems like “The Borderlands of Sol, ” Protector,
and—especially—the Nebula Award-winning Ringworld. His collaborations
were as outstanding.
But we didn’t meet till the next
millenium, in a couple of Worldcon encounters that, I suspect, were entirely
unremarkable to him. But to me? More than a big deal. I emailed Larry a few
months after we’d been on a panel together at Worldcon 2004. Only slightly less
awesome than the physical Ringworld was the Puppeteer Fleet of Worlds, and yet his
readers had scarcely glimpsed the latter in the novel Ringworld. Maybe, I
suggested in an email, we could set a story there.
Newbie author that I then was, I
marveled at my audacity. Seriously, who was I to work with Larry Niven?
But that was my hang-up, not his. Gentleman that Larry is, he replied right
away. Sure, he said, let’s hear your idea. Pretty soon, we were collaborating!
In Known Space. With Puppeteers. Destroying indestructible General Products
Larry had firm notions what his
characters and aliens would not do, and fair enough, but mostly he gave
me the lead. He offered opinions, but he was always open to mine. And it
worked. After Fleet of Worlds, we did a second novel. A third. In six intense
years, we completed a five-book series.
More than once, Larry has called
his fiction “playground equipment,” encouraging fans to extrapolate from what
he’s written. But where most could only speculate, he let me build. He generously
made available all of Known Space: the fascinating worlds, the alien
species, the super-science marvels, and several much-loved characters.
What can I say about him? That
writing together was a great experience—and lots of fun. That sharing his shiniest
toys was an honor. That in the process, I gained a partner and made a friend.
And that Larry Niven’s recognition as a SFWA Grandmaster is richly
As in ... I did not see this coming. A bit over a month ago, I was delighted to discover (see A(n inter)stellar start to the day ) that m...
“When the artificial intelligences ... go maverick, they turn out to be the true weapons of mass destruction. A fast, fun read.” — Sci Fi Weekly
"Suspense and action enough to fuel any thriller, and even to drive it to the big screen." —SFrevu
InterstellarNet: Enigma (I-Net #3)
"One of the most rewarding SF reading experiences anyone could ask for, on both an intellectual and emotional level." — Tangent Online
InterstellarNet: New Order (I-Net #2)
“A twisted plot complete with conspiracies, alien psychology, antimatter physics neep, AI spies, and plenty of shooting action at the end.” — Internet Review of Science Fiction
InterstellarNet: Origins (I-Net #1)
"One of the most original, believable, thoroughly thought-out, and utterly fascinating visions ever of what interstellar contact might really be like." — Stanley Schmidt, editor of Analog
Fate of Worlds (FOW #5)
“Brings to a stunning close a multivolume saga that has captured the imaginations of a multitude of readers … a story that will attract attention from series fans as well as readers of hard sf.” — Library Journal
Betrayer of Worlds (FOW #4)
“Rescues, captures, kidnappings, reluctant temporary alliances, backdoor negotiations, propaganda campaigns, bluffs and double-bluffs, alien and cross-species politics, and, of course, betrayals. Lots of betrayals ... One hopes that Niven and Lerner come up with some additional twists and turns.” —Locus
Destroyer of Worlds (FoW #3)
"Combines sparkling wit and 'old school' hard sf with masterly storytelling and cosmic vision ... enjoy the return of good, old-fashioned sf, packed with ideas, philosophical musings, and plenty of space action." —Library Journal
Juggler of Worlds (FoW #2)
“A snazzy thriller/mystery that keeps us (and our hero) guessing until the very end ... Wide screen galactic scope, nifty super-science, crafty aliens, corporate corruption and cover ups, and a multi-leveled spy vs. spy vs. spy mystery with little being as it first appears make Juggler of Worlds a first class exemplar of pure SF entertainment.” —SFsite
Fleet of Worlds (FoW #1)
" ... Needs recommending within the science fiction community about as much as a new Harry Potter novel does – well, anywhere." —Locus
A Time Foreclosed
"A nice little foray into the paradoxes of time travel" — SFRevu
"... A fast-paced, hold-on-to-the-edge-of-your-seat thriller" — Illinois Quarterly
"A taut near-future thriller about an energy-starved Earth held hostage by a power-mad international cartel … Lerner’s vision of the future is both topical and possible in this crisp, fast-paced hard SF adventure.” —Publishers Weekly
“Moonstruck is not just another alien invasion novel, but truly an original performance." — Science Fiction Book Club
Frontiers of Space, Time, and Thought
"If you only read one Hard SF book this year, make it this one. You won’t regret it." — Tangent Online
ARMAGEDDON / PARADISE -- two books in one
"A romp through time and history ... an intriguing selection." — Bookloons
"For its compelling vision of what could be, you will want take more than a glimpse of Creative Destruction.” — Fast Forward: Contemporary Science Fiction
I'm a physicist and computer scientist (and an MBA, of less relevance to most of these posts). After thirty years in industry, as everything from individual technical contributor to senior vice president, I now write full-time. Mostly I write science fiction and techno-thrillers, now and again throwing in a straight science or technology article.