I wondered if it was the field, or if it was me. I suspect it is me. Turning from film to SF, I was curious to see how well read I was in award winning novels in my field. This is the list of Nebula-award winning novels. I have underlined the ones I have read. of course I make a comment next to entries -- I am opinionated after all. You do not get to be a curmudgeon without being opinionated, or a philosopher, or both.
2008 The Yiddish Policemen's Union / Michael Chabon—Who? Never heard of this author or this book. I was not competing with him because I didn’t write any novels this year. Sigh.
2007 Seeker / Jack McDevitt—Go, Jack! I was not competing with him because I wasn’t nominated for anything this year.
2006 Camouflage / Joe Haldeman—My own ORPHANS OF CHAOS faced this. Mr. Haldeman’s THIRD Nebula, fanboys. No shame to lose to him.
2005 Paladin of Souls / Lois McMaster Bujold—Never heard of this book. I don't think I've read anything by Bujold.
2004 The Speed of Dark / Elizabeth Moon—Never heard of his book. I've read the first 50 pages of 'Deed of Paksenarion.'
2003 American Gods / Neil Gaiman—haven't read it. My wife read it. That counts.
2002 The Quantum Rose / Catherine Asaro—haven't read it, haven't read any reviews of it.
2001 Darwin's Radio / Greg Bear—on my list of books to read. Mr. Bear rarely disappoints.
2000 Parable of the Talents / Octavia E. Butler
*1999 Forever Peace / Joe Haldeman —good book with a foolish ending. Sorry, but my suspension of disbelief gets unsuspended when someone reveals that wars are caused by people not feeling each other's pain, rather than by, say, fear or self-interest or honor (phobos, kerdos and doxa). I also thought the idea that cheap nanotech would lead to state regulation of goods was laughable.
1998 The Moon and the Sun / Vonda N. McIntyre—never heard of this book.
1997 Slow River / Nicola Griffith—Who? Never heard of this author or this book.
*1996 The Terminal Experiment / Robert J. Sawyer— A mediocre SF theme, plot, setting, and forgettable characters. Its not a bad book by any means, but why did this win?
1995 Moving Mars / Greg Bear—on my list of books to read. Mr. Bear rarely disappoints.
*1994 Red Mars / Kim Stanley Robinson —excellent book. This is what real 'hard SF' is meant to be, fanboys. Wished the sequels had matched it.
1993 Doomsday Book / Connie Willis—I was flagged away from reading it by reviewers.
*1992 Stations of the Tide / Michael Swanwick—pretty good, but not great. It might have been the best novel that year: Certainly it stands out in my memory, even among the other splendors on this list.
*1991 Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea / Ursula K. Le Guin —One of her weakest novels. This was a ret-con vote: the committee was rewarding her for other books in previous years that should have won.
1990 The Healer's War / Elizabeth Ann Scarborough—Who? Never heard of this author or this book.
1989 Falling Free / Lois McMaster Bujold—Never heard of this book.
1988 The Falling Woman / Pat Murphy—Who? Never heard of this author or this book.
*1987 Speaker for the Dead / Orson Scott Card—Pretty good. Pretty solid book, realistic (painfully realistic) characters, good SF ideas, realistically nonhuman aliens.
*1986 Ender's Game / Orson Scott Card—the short story was better
*1985 Neuromancer / William Gibson—a seminal work, revolutionary. It could have been better (like, by having plot, characters, that sort of stuff.)
*1984 Startide Rising / David Brin—I liked Sundiver more. Still, Mr. Brin (that I have read) has never written a stinker.
1983 No Enemy But Time / Michael Bishop—Never heard of this book.
*1982 The Claw of the Conciliator / Gene Wolfe—a classic, considered by me to be the best SF ever.
*1981 Timescape / Gregory Benford—Not a bad book, but not equal to others on this list.
*1980 The Fountains of Paradise / Arthur C. Clarke—Not Clarke’s best work either. This was a ret-con vote.
*1979 Dreamsnake / Vonda N. McIntyre— Not a bad book, but not equal to others on this list.
*1978 Gateway / Frederik Pohl—Not bad, but not to my taste.
*1977 Man Plus / Frederik Pohl— Not bad, but not to my taste.
*1976 The Forever War / Joe Haldeman—Not bad, but you have to read some Heinlein or Pournelle to wash out a lingering peacenik taste from your teeth.
*1975 The Dispossessed / Ursula K. Le Guin—An excellent book, once you accept the magical anarchist premise. Maybe Tinkerbell distributes the goods and services. Nonetheless, as well written a book as you are like to find in any decade.
*1974 Rendezvous with Rama / Arthur C. Clarke—a classic.
*1973 The Gods Themselves / Isaac Asimov—a good book, not Asimov’s best.
1972 A Time of Changes / Robert Silverberg—never heard of this book.
*1971 Ringworld / Larry Niven—a classic. The original Big Dumb Object book. The Kzin and the Puppeteers are the most convincingly alien aliens since Worsel and Nadreck of Smith's 'Lensman' books.
*1970 The Left Hand of Darkness / Ursula K. Le Guin—a classic, brilliantly executed, her masterpiece.
1969 Rite of Passage / Alexei Panshin—Never heard of this book. I did not know the author wrote fiction; I have read his nonfiction works on Heinlein and A.E. van Vogt.
1968 The Einstein Intersection / Samuel R. Delany—I read 'Fall of the Towers' and 'Nova' and that was enough Delany for one lifetime. He is not to my taste.
*1967 Flowers for Algernon / Daniel Keyes —The short story was better.
1967 (tie) Babel-17 / Samuel R. Delany
*1966 Dune / Frank Herbert—a classic, considered by some to be the best SF ever.
23 out of 42. Boy, am I outta touch. There are several Nebula award winners here that I have never heard of, never read a single word they wrote, and never read any reviews of their books. That is just outrageous. I used to be one of the best-read people I knew, back in the day when I was reading two books a day. Now I read maybe one book a month, or less, and more often it is history or theology than SF.
Hehn. Nothing by R.A. Lafferty on the list. Nothing by Jack Williamson, or A.E. van Vogt or Ray Bradbury. That is sort of like John Wayne never getting an Oscar while being, and continuing over decades to be, the most popular movie star of all time.