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The Last Policeman

The Last Policeman, by Ben Winters, is a mystery set six months before a six-mile-wide astroid strikes Earth, an extinction-level event. With the apocalypse looming, why would a detective bother solving murders?

Featuring snappy dialogue, a distinctive narrative voice, and excellent building of suspense, the whole book is written in first person present, which works really well. The core murder mystery, using a Two Body Plot, is enhanced by a bigger background mystery that presumably serves as the plot arc for a trilogy, of which this is the first.

What I admire most is the way Winters doles out just enough information to allow the reader to make the necessary deductions at the right moments — I know, standard mystery technique, but surprisingly hard to master.

Some Concluding Thoughts on the Nebula Nominees

I’ve read all the short fiction Nebula nominees this year.

The best part of the experience has been seeing how diverse the field is. These stories are widely divergent in style and voice, and they define “science fiction” and “fantasy” in very different ways.

This makes me happy.

You’re not going to like all of the stories nominated, but I think you’ll find something to appreciate in each one.

People are always worried about “trends” and how the kind of stories they like aren’t being written and read. But looking at the nominees this year, I’d say that such worries are misplaced. The field is still developing, growing lusciously in every direction.