I recently became an active member of the SFWA. One of the benefits of membership is that I get to recommend stories for the Nebula Awards. To qualify for the 2008 preliminary Nebula ballot, a story or novel must gain 10 recommendations by active SFWA members. Unfortunately, before I can recommend a story I have to have my e-mail address verified, but rest assured I have a list of short stories that I plan to recommend once the verification process is done.
That said, when I looked over the list of recommended stories, and those that had qualified for the ballot, I was amazed at how few recommendations the year's best stories had. For example, the best story of 2008 (IMHO) is "Pump Six" by Paolo Bacigalupi, from Pump Six and Other Stories and reprinted in F&SF. Yet it only has three recommendations. That means it needs seven more recommendations to even qualify for the preliminary Nebula ballot.
Likewise "The Political Prisoner" by Charles Coleman Finlay (F&SF, Aug. 2008) only has six recommendations, "Arkfall" by Carolyn Ives Gilman (F&SF, Sept. 2008) only has two, "Five Thrillers" by Robert Reed (F&SF, April 2008) only has five, and "Tenbrook of Mars" by Dean McLaughlin (Analog, July/Aug. 2008) has a single nod. Most surprising, "The Tale of Junko and Sayuri" by Peter Beagle (IGMS, July 2008) hasn't received a single recommendation. There is some good news, though. "The Ray-Gun: A Love Story" by James Alan Gardner (Asimov's, Feb. 2008) has nine recommendations, so one more will push it onto the preliminary ballot. Maybe I'll be the one to give the story that push.
I understand that maybe the Beagle story maybe hasn't been around long enough to gain any recommendations, but is the status of the other stories normal at this point in the process? I should note that all of these stories were highly praised by readers and critics, so its not that no one liked them. Back in August Gardner Dozois complained about the lack of participation by SFWA members in the Nebula Awards nominating process. While I'm too new a member to debate the validity of this view, after looking over the Nebula Award Report I see why he decided to voice his concern.