The Nebula Award is given each year by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), for the best science fiction/fantasy fiction published in the United States during the previous year. There is no cash prize associated with the award, instead the award itself being a transparent block with an embedded glitter spiral nebula.
The fiction Nebulas are awarded in five different categories: novel, novella, novelette, short story, and script. The categories are defined by length in words, as follows:
- Novel: a work of 40,000 words or more
- Novella: a work of at least 17,500 words but under 40,000 words
- Novelette: a work of at least 7,500 words but under 17,500 words
- Short story: a work of under 7,500 words
- Script: a script for a movie, TV or radio show, or a play
Starting with the 2009 awards, the Nebula Awards will move to a standard calendar year eligibility system. Works first published in the US during the calendar year are eligible, even if they have previously been published elsewhere.
SFWA members can recommend works as suggested reading during the year. From November 15 until February 15 of the following year, SFWA members may nominate up to five works per category. The top six nominations in each category appear on the final ballot, with accommodations for ties. Voting takes place between February 20 and March 30. Number of nominations is used as a tie-breaker if necessary: if still tied, the tie stands and both works receive the award.
The first Nebulas were given for year 1965. Frank Herbert's Dune won as Best Novel.
Notable authors of winning works include: Isaac Asimov (thrice), William Gibson, Larry Niven, Theodore Sturgeon, Connie Willis (six times), Joe Haldeman (five times), Greg Bear, Lois McMaster Bujold (twice), Harlan Ellison (four times), Ursula K. Le Guin (six times), Roger Zelazny (thrice), Orson Scott Card (twice), Catherine Asaro (twice), Arthur C. Clarke (thrice), Samuel R. Delany, Neil Gaiman, Vonda McIntyre, Frederik Pohl, and Kim Stanley Robinson (twice)
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