Alright, so that's not really the point of the exercise, but it's what I'm choosing to focus on. The preliminary Nebula ballot is up, and Fantasy & Science Fiction have already made their nominated stories available online (as are the stories from the webzine Helix). Which is a nice change--usually the big three wait until the final ballot is compiled before making the nominated stories available. So kudos to F&SF.
I'm obviously planning to read all the available stories (especially in the novella category, in which there aren't enough stories to whittle down), but the one that excites me is Ted Chiang's "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate." Chiang, if you haven't read him already, is currently the gold standard for making a name for yourself based solely on SFnal short stories, and deservedly so. He is, however, far from prolific, and a new story, especially one that has received so much positive attention, is a cause for celebration. Enjoy.