SINGAPORE - Not one but two Singaporeans have made the shortlist of the prestigious Nebula awards.
JY Yang and Vina Jie-Min Prasad are the first Singaporean finalists of the annual industry awards, which are presented by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).
Along with the Hugo awards, the Nebula is considered one of the highest honours in science fiction and fantasy.
Yang, 35, was shortlisted for Best Novella for The Black Tides Of Heaven, which was published last year by sci-fi and fantasy site Tor.com as part of the Tensorate series alongside The Red Threads Of Fortune.
The novellas take place in a "silkpunk" world, an Asian-influenced riff on Victorian steampunk, which draws on 19th-century steampower technology.
They follow twins Mokoya and Akeha, who are born to the powerful Protector of the kingdom. Mokoya has visions of the future, while Akeha has the gift, or "slackcraft", to manipulate elements in the natural world.
A third novella, the epistolary thriller The Descent Of Monsters, will be out in July.
Yang, a science communications officer, recalls: "When I was growing up, I would print out a list of the works that had won the Hugo and Nebula and try to make my way through them. I would never have imagined that one day I would be a finalist.
"I'm so proud to be one of the Singaporeans on the list, it's just fantastic."
Prasad, 27, a full-time writer, started submitting to science-fiction magazines only last year but has already been shortlisted twice. "I'm overwhelmed and really honoured," she says.
She is up for Best Novelette for A Series Of Steaks, about two women in Nanjing who forge quality beef - inspired by the real-life counterfeit food industry - and Best Short Story for Fandom For Robots, in which a sentient robot discovers Japanese anime and starts writing fanfiction.
Yang is up against the likes of Nebula Best Novelette winner Ellen Klages and previous finalists Lawrence M. Schoen and Martha Wells. Prasad's competition includes previous finalists Kelly Robson and Fran Wilde.
The awards, which began in 1966 and are now in their 52nd edition, will be announced at the Pittsburgh Marriott City Centre in the United States on May 19.
Previous winners include literary legends such as the late Brian Aldiss and Ursula K. Le Guin, as well as Neil Gaiman, George R. R. Martin and William Gibson.
To be eligible for the Nebula, works must be published in English in the US, or released on either a website or in an electronic edition. They are voted on by members of the SFWA.
Best Novella is awarded to stories of between 17,500 and 40,000 words, Best Novelette between 7,500 and 17,500 words and Best Short Story less than 7,500 words.