Kij Johnson’s “Spar,” Nebula Award-Winning Short Story, 2010

   Posted by: Moses Siregar III   in On Authors

Warning: Mature, sexual content to follow.

I just read “Spar,” Kij Johnson‘s short story, winner of last night’s 2010 Nebula short story award. You can read it here, but know that it’s full of mature content. Its opening sentence:

In the tiny lifeboat, she and the alien fuck endlessly, relentlessly.

My first impression of the entire story was that I thought it was quite creative, and so I understood why it won the Nebula award, but that I didn’t particularly like the story. I felt better about feeling that way after reading Kij say that she herself doesn’t like it at all. A fuller quote from her is: “This is a story I love without liking it at all … It’s a difficult story to read, and it’s hard to see past the graphic aspects to what the story is really about.”

I thought the sexual references cheapened the story a bit, and that the ending could’ve been stronger.

Then I read her explanation of the meaning of the story, which I suspected I’d missed, and I smiled. I reread the story and smiled some more. The story’s repetition of words like “cunt,” which felt a bit gimmicky to me initially, made more than perfect sense when the story became candid allegory.

Before you consider reading Kij’s explanation of “Spar,” you might want to read the story itself. Can you figure out what she’s saying first (it’s a lot more fun that way, isn’t it?)?

I think I came close at one point while reading it, but I didn’t quite get it until I read about it from her directly.

Now I’m really glad the imagery of “Spar” will stick with me.

Congratulations on the award, Kij!

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This entry was posted on Sunday, May 16th, 2010 at 7:08 pm and is filed under On Authors. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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3 Trackbacks/Pings

  1. Lancer Kind, Science Fiction author » Help Make the Hugos “Right”    Mar 06 2011 / 12am:

    […] Those registered for Rennovation, this year’s World Science Fiction Convention, or those who attended (or supported) last year’s AussieCon get to vote for the Hugos. Last year, my pal Will McIntosh was nominated for a Hugo for best short story. After giving him the excellent exposure my blog affords, Will went on and WON BEST SHORT STORY! And he’s not the only author to whom this blog has brought great success. Kij Johnson and I needed to only discuss doing an interview and viola! She takes home a Nebula Award. […]

  2. Dubstep    Dec 13 2011 / 7am:


    […]Kij Johnson’s “Spar,” Nebula Award-Winning Short Story, 2010 | Moses and Dionysus Walk Into a Bar …[…]…

  3. At the Mouth of the River of Bees by Kij Johnson – Prick of the Spindle    Jan 16 2016 / 7pm:

    […] her startling stories, (an earlier Nebula winner) “Spar” stands out and comes with a different warning: “Mature, sexual content to […]

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