I’m sitting here four hours into my eight hour layover on my way home from the 2023 Nebula Conference, and I couldn’t think of anything better to do than write down some of the thoughts bouncing around my head. It was a fantastic conference. My first in-person Nebula. It was supposed to happen back in 2020, but when that was converted to virtual, well, things got bumped back a bit.
Excuse me as my exhausted brain slowly sifts through the weekend’s highlights.
I have to thank Octavia’s Bookshelf first. I helped work with them to bring a popup bookstore to the con. They were fantastic. I bought too many books.
Panels are always a highlight for me. Being a hybrid conference, there were a lot of panels that I missed. Many were online-only. Others conflicted with various obligations or other panels. One thing I love about how they arranged this conference is that I can now go back and watch those missed panels. Particularly, I need to get to the AI one. It’s relevant to my interests.
My favorite panel was probably the Ecology of Worldbuilding panel. Fabulous expertise on display, including Ray Nayler, who continues to impress. The panel was wall-to-wall fascinating and gave me some ideas on new approaches to a more holistic worldbuilding approach. Definitely lots to think about when I go to build new worlds.
But the other panels were great, too. There were plenty of indie pub panels, though I found that I wanted to add comments to several that I attended. That’s not saying that the panels were bad. Indie publishing is a many-headed beast. It just means that I probably should have signed up to be on a few panels.
The Nebula Conference was also about networking for me, and social time was a blast. Finally got to meet Matthew Wayne Selznick in person. Had a nice conversation with Cheryl Platz and Anny Ziegelhof. Talked indie pub and SFWA with Ted Butler and Sarah Branson. Had great conversations with many, many other authors in various stages of their careers. I really did miss these events during the covid years.
The other reason to go to the Nebula Conference was, of course, the award ceremony. Cheryl Platz was excellent as the MC. They put together another entertaining show and the next episodic encounter with the catterflies played out throughout the ceremony. I’m… actually looking forward to next year just to see what happens next. Can we nominate this for a Best Related Work Hugo? Dramatic Presentation? Is anyone coming to the next Nebula Conference dressed as a catterfly?
There was only one real surprise for me regarding the winners. I was not expecting Elden Ring to take home the Game Writing Nebula. I never got around to playing it. I honestly didn’t think it would have such an amazing showing. I was wrong. It was on my to-play list, but now I definitely need to pick it up. After Tears of the Kingdom. I mean, priorities, right?
John Chu’s “If You Find Yourself Speaking to God, Address God With the Formal You” is going on my list of greatest titles. Fantastic story, too, but I mean, how can you not want to know what that story’s about?
Samantha Mills’ acceptance speech for “Rabbit Test” was almost as moving as the story itself. Definitely worth watching. Read the story first, though.
When I say that there weren’t many surprises, I don’t mean that there was a slam dunk in any of the categories. In fact, I kinda considered everything very close this year. The only real no-brainer when I was voting was Everything Everywhere All At Once, and if that movie hadn’t been there I would have been very happy to vote for Severence. Or that Andor episode. Or Nope.
It’s expensive. The timing is difficult. My back aches.
I would absolutely do this again. Five out of five stars.
We have no idea what next year’s Nebula Conference will look like. Discussions have probably already started. Numbers are coming in and people are weighing costs and benefits of running this as a giant hybrid monstrosity. In-person attendance was low. That much was apparent from the empty seats in many of the panels. It’ll get better, of course. But how much better?
How many people will join throughout the year, now that so much of the content (and writing dates) are available at the much lower cost?
I look forward to these discussions, and I look forward to attending the Nebula Conference again in the future.
No matter what it looks like.