The Nebula Awards Showcase 2014 provided an interesting overview - albeit not an entirely complete one - of the authors featured in the anthology. The stories are mainly science fiction, rather than fantasy, with the addition of essays by Neil Gaiman and Michael Dirda (both about Gene Wolfe), and excerpts from winning books, as well as poetry.
I enjoyed reading the entire showcase as a majority of the authors are ones that I had not previously read before and I always enjoy reading new material - just to see whether or not the author is someone I will continue reading in the future. What is true for me from reading this showcase is that, yes, there are authors that I will look for because their stories resonated on some level for me. Two examples are Ken Liu ("The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species" was a nice surprise as, from this reader's viewpoint, the title was a nice play on "bookmaking" from what I am more used to seeing in other works) and E.C. Myers ("Fair Coin" was, for this reader, an excellent read in the Young Adult SF/F category.
The Cat Rambo story ("Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain") and Kim Stanley Robinson excerpt (from "2312") provided a nice introduction into the authors' writing as I had heard of both authors prior to reading this showcase. Both were well written with good characters. It is, as of this review, whether or not I will pursue reading their works in the future as the writing styles exhibited by both authors depends on whether I am in the right mindset for reading them.
Nancy Kress's "After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall" was a very interesting eco-thriller in novella form. The story provided three parallel lines of thought with an ending that is also a beginning - if only for the reader's imagination. The ending fit with the way in which the story was told and provides the reader with endless possibilities of what comes next. However, this reader would have liked to know at least a partial answer to that question.
The one story that has left me mulling (even after a couple re-reads) is Gene Wolfe's "Christmas Inn". Each time I've read it, I came away with a different perception of the story. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it may not be for every reader. Gene Wolfe has, after having read "Christmas Inn", found his way onto a 'possible read in the future' wishlist.
Overall, the Nebula Awards Showcase 2014 provides a little bit of something for everyone. Which stories/authors the reader likes (or doesn't like) is certainly up to the individual reader. Could it have been put together a little bit differently with a wider selection? Certainly. The essays by Michael Dirda and Neil Gaiman were a nice addition, although maybe not an entirely necessary one.
The latest volume of the prestigious anthology series, published annually across six decades!
The Nebula Awards Showcase volumes have been published annually since 1966, reprinting the winning and nominated stories in the Nebula Awards, voted on by the members of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America® . The editor selected by SFWA's anthology committee (chaired by Mike Resnick) is American fantasy writer Kij Johnson, author of three novels and associate director of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas.
This year's Nebula winners, and expected contributors, are Kim Stanley Robinson, Nancy Kress, Andy Duncan, and Aliette de Bodard, with E.C. Myers winning the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Book.