Singaporean writer scores Hugo, Nebula nominations for robot hijinks story

Vina Jie-Min Prasad's story, A Guide For Working Breeds, is up for Best Short Story.
Vina Jie-Min Prasad's story, A Guide For Working Breeds, is up for Best Short Story.PHOTO: PEK SHIBAO

SINGAPORE - Singaporean writer Vina Jie-Min Prasad has scored a third nomination for the prestigious Hugo awards, one of the highest honours in science fiction and fantasy writing.

Her story, A Guide For Working Breeds, is up for Best Short Story, according to the shortlist released on Tuesday (April 13).

Prasad, 31, has also been shortlisted for the Nebula awards for the same story, which was published last year in Made To Order: Robots And Revolution, an anthology to mark the 100th anniversary of the word "robot".

Her story is about the relationship between two sentient robots. One is a freelance assassin who serves as a mentor to the other, a younger robot trapped in an exploitative job at a maid-themed cafe.

"I'm very touched that A Guide For Working Breeds stuck with the voters when they were filling out their ballots, especially since it was first published in the endless month of March 2020," says Prasad, who is based in London.

"Readers have commented that this story made them laugh, and I'm incredibly glad this tale of robot hijinks was able to give people some delight during a terrible year."

In 2018, Prasad's A Series Of Steaks and Fandom For Robots were nominated for Best Novelette and Best Short Story respectively at the Hugos. She was also up for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

She and Neon Yang, author of the Tensorate fantasy series, were the first Singaporeans to become finalists for both the Hugo and Nebula.

This year, her competition in the short story category includes Rae Carson's Badass Moms In The Zombie Apocalypse and John Wiswell's Open House On Haunted Hill, which have both also been shortlisted for the Hugo and the Nebula.

This year's nominees for the Hugo Award for Best Novel include Susanna Clarke's Piranesi; The City We Became by four-time Hugo winner N. K. Jemisin; and Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse, who in 2018 pipped Prasad to win the Hugo for Best Short Story.

The Hugo Awards, which were first given out in 1953, are named after Hugo Gernsback, who founded Amazing Stories - the first major American science-fiction magazine - in 1926. Previous winners include Neil Gaiman, Ken Liu and Ursula K. Le Guin.

The awards are voted on by members of the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) and the results will be announced during DisCon III, which will be held in Washington, DC from Dec 15 to 19.

The results for the Nebula will be announced in a virtual ceremony on June 5.