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British Fantasy Society => British Fantasy Awards => Topic started by: Del Lakin-Smith on November 25, 2011, 03:10:13 pm

Title: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Del Lakin-Smith on November 25, 2011, 03:10:13 pm
I set out below two resolutions and a set of recommendations.  I’d like members to be clear about how we arrived at these proposals.  The normal way would be to have a discussion at a Fantasycon AGM.  However, with the EGM restricted to those who could be in London on December 9th,  we looked for a more painstaking, democratic and inclusive process:

1)   We conducted an online survey that attracted well over 200 responses.

2)   The responses were analysed and proposals were drawn up firmly based on the results.

3)   I appointed a five-person working group representing various interests to look at the proposals in detail.  The working group comprised James Barclay, Peter Crowther, the President of the Society Ramsey Campbell, Marion Pitman and myself.)

4)   With reference to the survey the working group made amendments and finalised the proposals before you.

5)   The proposals will be put to an online ballot of the membership.

We want complete transparency.  The results of the survey (excluding individual comments) will be made available on the BFS website.

Regarding the survey, some very clear preferences emerged.  Where a few people were content with the old method of voting there was an irresistible call for a change of system.  Where a small number of people felt that there was nothing wrong with canvassing for votes, I have to say a very large number of members expressed distaste for the recent practice and clearly want to move to a juried system.  My own preference for a jury to provide a shortlist followed by a member vote was not supported.   There was however great support for a system whereby members come up with a shortlist and then a jury with “oversight powers” makes the final decision.  This is therefore the system proposed.

Rather more controversial is the idea of offering two awards, one for Fantasy and one for Horror, in the Best Novel category.  The survey yielded closer results on this matter and so needs to be put to the vote.  Having won this award myself with novels that might have gone in either category I can see technical discussions ahead.  However when I took on the job of Acting Chair I promised to look for ways of re-enfranchising some friends we might have lost through the dominance of the Horror genre over the last years.  I do think that if we want authors and publishers to put their weight behind the Society we can’t afford to be exclusive.  This is part of a wider policy and if we can tempt back some of the valued members we have lost by offering another prize then I think we should do so.  If the balance is restored in the coming years we can always return to a single prize if that’s what the membership wants.  Meanwhile I very much hope that members will support the proposal in Resolution 2.

The rest of the proposal is a set of Recommendations. My thinking here is that I didn’t want to tie the BFS or the Awards Administrator in knots, (for example, whether to have a jury of 3 or 5 members has an inbuilt assumption that it is easy to find willing volunteers) so whereas the Resolutions are decisive, these are firm guidelines for the administration of the awards which allow for fine tuning.  Built into these guidelines are checks and balances to avoid recent difficulties.   Some awards will have special juries or conditions.  This is mainly but not exclusively designed to spread the work around and to relieve the burden of the appointed main jury.  Otherwise most of the Recommendations are based on what we have already.
Online balloting pre-empts the cut and thrust of an EGM debate but it is a much more democratic method than restricting participation to the voices and votes of those who are available to attend the EGM.    Discussion can now be held on the on Forum in the forthcoming week.  If I hear a supported call for taking the resolutions or recommendations in parts, that’s what we’ll do.  Otherwise there will be three substantive votes, for Resolution 1, Resolution 2 and for the Recommendations.

The ballot will be conducted by secure online vote from mid-day Thursday 1st December to mid-day Thursday 8th December.  The result of the ballot will by announced at the EGM on December 9th and the meeting will go on to discuss priorities and the way forward for the Society.

Finally, I am ruling myself out of the ballot for 2012.  It’s not that I assume I would be in the running, and anyway I would only be eligible in certain categories; but right now I think it’s important to show a clean pair of hands.

This is an opportunity to reshape not just the awards but the character of the Society.  Voting is of course restricted to paid-up members, so please cast your ballot.  Online balloting, if it proves successful here, can become a vital decision-making tool for the Society in future years.

Happy voting!

Graham Joyce,  Acting Chair

###############################################

The British Fantasy Awards: Motion to the EGM December 9 2011-11-18

Resolution Part 1

The British Fantasy Society resolves that the BFS Awards shall ultimately be decided by a jury deliberating on a shortlist determined by the members of the Society.  The Jury shall comprise individuals directly or indirectly related to the writing, publishing and bookselling genre fields. The Jury shall include at least one non-member of the Society.

The Jury shall be appointed by the Awards Administrator, subject to approval by the BFS committee.

The Jury shall deliberate on a shortlist of four nominations as determined by the membership by online or postal vote.

The Jury shall also have oversight powers to add nominations where it identifies an egregious omission or to subtract a nomination in the case of a poor quality nomination artificially boosted by the practice of canvassing.  In order to add or subtract such nominations the jury must make a unanimous decision.  The addition or subtraction of a nomination will be made in camera.

Resolution Part 2

In the category of Best Novel there shall be one award for Best Fantasy Novel and one award for Best Horror Novel.

Recommendations:

1.   The Awards
The British Fantasy Society (BFS) and the British Fantasy Convention (FantasyCon) present the British Fantasy Awards (BFA) annually. The BFS and FantasyCon jointly finance the Awards and appoint a Committee (minimum of two persons) to organise the voting arrangements and to assist the Awards Administrator. In the event of the demise of either the BFS or FantasyCon, the remaining organisation will continue to present awards for as long as is practical. The ballot procedure is open to audit following prior notification.

2.   Eligibility
BFS and FantasyCon publications are ineligible, although their contents (e.g. individual stories, articles and pieces of artwork) are eligible. The Awards Administrator may not be associated (either by writing, publishing or editing) with work nominated in any category.  The “relevant year” throughout this constitution is the calendar year (January to December) preceding that in which the awards are presented. Eligible voters: members of the BFS (the vote of a member whose membership expires after the vote is cast remains valid), members of the previous FantasyCon, and those who have registered for the upcoming FantasyCon.

3.   Changes to These Guidelines
Changes to these guidelines may only be made by a vote at the AGM of the British Fantasy Society, taken according to the same rules of procedure outlined in the BFS constitution.  A committee vote may not be used to reverse a decision made at an AGM.

4.   Categories

Novel  The August Derleth Award for Best Horror Novel and The Robert Holdstock Award for Best Fantasy Novel. 
Eligibility: fiction over 40,000 words published for the first time in the English language in any part of the world in any format during the relevant year. (*In the event of a dispute over genre category, definition shall rest with the author.)

Novella
Eligibility: fiction from 15,000 to 40,000 words published for the first time in the English language in any part of the world in any format during the relevant year.

Short Fiction
Eligibility: stories under 15,000 words published for the first time in the English language in any part of the world in any format during the relevant year.

Anthology
Eligibility: a collection of work by various authors, published for the first time in the English language in any part of the world during the relevant year. BFS anthologies are not eligible for this award.

Collection
Eligibility: a collection of work by a single author, published for the first time in the English language in any part of the world during the relevant year.

Screenplay
Eligibility:  a screenplay for TV, Film or Electronic Broadcast released in the English language in any part of the world during the relevant year.

Magazine/Periodical
Eligibility: non-fiction and fiction magazines, print and online, that were active during the relevant year. BFS publications (such as Dark Horizons and Prism) are not eligible for this award.

Comic/Graphic Novel
Eligibility: comics and collections of comics, published for the first time in the English language in any part of the world during the relevant year.  New collections of previously published comics are eligible.

Categories with special juries.

The PS Publishing Independent Press Award
Eligibility:  Independent presses active during the relevant year. Note that PS Publishing withdrew from competition in this category in 2009, choosing instead to sponsor the award.   *Special jury to be appointed by PS publishing.

Artist
Eligibility: any artist who has produced work during the relevant year.  This category covers artists who work in any format.  *Special jury to comprise at least one artist working within the genre.

Non-Fiction
Eligibility: items eligible for this Award include non-fiction books, chapbooks, magazine or online columns or single magazine or online articles. The non-fiction item must have been published in any format (book, magazine, small press or electronic) in any part of the world during the relevant year. *Special jury drawn from bloggers, reviewers and commentators on the genre.

Special Award (The Karl Edward Wagner Award)
The British Fantasy Special Award is known as the Karl Edward Wagner Award.  The Award may be presented to individuals or organisations. Eligibility: this Award is not necessarily restricted to an activity in the year prior to that in which the Award is presented. The Award may go to someone who has made an important contribution to the genre or the Society  throughout his/her lifetime; or it may go to the organisers of a special event or publication that took place in the relevant year. Recommendations for this Award will be sought from the membership.
*The BFS Committee will determine the winner of this award.

The Sydney J. Bounds Best Newcomer Award
The award is for a new fiction writer. The recommendations can be for a single work or more than one, provided they meet the eligibility criteria set out above. Recommendations for this award are sought from the BFS membership. Eligibility also requires that copies of the work(s) be provided to the voting panel by the appropriate author, editor or publisher. This award is sponsored and funded by the estate of Sydney J. Bounds and the winner will receive a cheque for £100. The winner is decided by a special panel of readers appointed by the BFS and will include representatives from the Bounds estate and the BFS.

(BFS Short Story Competition
The competition is subject to its own rules, which are at the discretion of the BFS Short Story Competition Administrator.)

5.   VOTING PROCEDURE
Voting Schedule

The precise voting schedule each year will depend on the schedule of BFS mailings and the timing of FantasyCon.
Recommendations sought: Jan-March.
Jury work: April-July.  Shortlist announced April.
Announcement of winners: usually September

Stage 1: Shortlist from the membership:  Recommendations may be submitted online or by post.

Each member may put forward up to three nominations in any category.

All recommendations should ideally be accompanied with publication details: year of publication, publisher, and title of collection, magazine, editor, etc, if applicable. If the information supplied is insufficient for the BFA committee to establish eligibility the recommendations may be excluded from the ballot form.

Recommendations may not be made for the recommender’s own material.

The four titles or names with the highest number of recommendations will go forward to form the shortlist of nominations.

Stage 2: The Jury
A Jury of three or five readers shall have the power to add up to two further nominations if they so wish.  The Jury shall decide a winner from the shortlist.  The Jury’s decisions shall be final.

Stage 3: Announcement and Presentation
The Awards are presented at FantasyCon or at a suitable alternative event if FantasyCon is cancelled in any particular year.
The Awards will usually take the form of a statuette. The statuette should be abstract or genre-neutral in design, avoiding any preference for horror, fantasy etc.

Resolutions and Recommendations are:

Proposed by Graham Joyce (Acting Chair)
Seconded by: James Barclay, Ramsey Campbell (President), Peter Crowther, Marion Pitman.

Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: The Beast on November 25, 2011, 03:26:12 pm
Quote
The Jury shall also have oversight powers to add nominations where it identifies an egregious omission or to subtract a nomination in the case of a poor quality nomination artificially boosted by the practice of canvassing.  In order to add or subtract such nominations the jury must make a unanimous decision.  The addition or subtraction of a nomination will be made in camera.
Mmmm. So an obscure work that wasn't canvassed, but makes it through, could be thrown out on the assumption it was canvassed - Don't like that. Smacks of that "I know best" mentality, as demonstrated by out-of-touch politicians (that's not to say the jury members would be out of touch, but they could introduce their own favourites as much as a canvassed choice could).
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 25, 2011, 03:37:47 pm
To The Beast, I say look at the detail.  It would require ALL the jury to agree to throw out a work.  As for them introducing their "favourites" the same requirement of unanimity would apply.  Furthermore if the Society can't find jurors of integrity it may as well give up now. At some point you have trust people. :)
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Dave Brzeski on November 25, 2011, 03:41:57 pm
I would hardly think it likely that the jury would simply "assume" a nomination had been canvassed, without checking. It would be a hard practice to hide.

The only thing I'm not sure about is the separate best novel categories for Fantasy & horror. The line between the two is a little tenuous at times. Some would insist that any vampire novel was automatically horror, when most in recent times have been fantasy. I approve of the idea of letting the author decide which category their work belongs in.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: LouM on November 25, 2011, 04:00:21 pm
I would hardly think it likely that the jury would simply "assume" a nomination had been canvassed, without checking. It would be a hard practice to hide.

The only thing I'm not sure about is the separate best novel categories for Fantasy & horror. The line between the two is a little tenuous at times. Some would insist that any vampire novel was automatically horror, when most in recent times have been fantasy. I approve of the idea of letting the author decide which category their work belongs in.

I think that's a fair point, David - it's certainly one I've heard before when the idea of split categories has come up. However, I also think the "author definition" clause attached to that should deal with the majority of genre queries  :)
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: jared on November 25, 2011, 04:07:10 pm
I'm not sure that splitting the award in half actually fulfils the mission statement of engaging both audiences. One credible shortlist (and a jury that's respectable across both genres) would do the trick.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Andrew Hook on November 25, 2011, 04:55:36 pm
I like this. It seems sound and workable. The only foreseeable difficulty is in getting sufficient jury members. Other than that, bring it on :)
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: JackLynton on November 25, 2011, 05:06:17 pm
grief, that's a lot of awards. The BSFA has just three or four
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 25, 2011, 05:20:20 pm

It is a lot Jack!  I tried to delete some but I wasn't allowed.  Though the number of awards hasn't changed apart from the proposal to add the extra novel award.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 25, 2011, 05:22:11 pm
My initial thoughts...

BFS members are barely involved at all - basically we get to make three recommendations in each category and then we're out - and the jury can choose to just ignore us anyway...

There's no need to include the bit about the voting schedule depending on the schedule of BFS mailings, since members' involvement is so minimal - you won't be sending anything out to us except a recommendations form, if that.

The jury - isn't everyone who reads a book involved indirectly with writing, publishing and bookselling?

I wouldn't have much confidence of this procedure producing a credible shortlist - from experience the recommendations tend to be all over the place. You're likely to end up with shortlists made up of items that randomly got three recommendations when other stuff got two.

It sounds like the proposal is to have one single jury reading all the nominees in eight categories? Plus all the overlooked stuff that gets pulled in? A lot of work for a handful of people. And it means almost all our awards get decided by the same three or five people? Not sure about that...

Fantasy / Horror - where does science fiction go? I can see us ending up with one shortlist of horror, and one shortlist of dark fantasy... If the fantasy award is restricted to sword-swinging fantasy, that would leave a lot of material out in the cold.

If the shortlist is announced in April, the jurors won't have had time to read the shortlisted items, and so won't have been able to exclude any rubbish ones in camera.

The FantasyCon committee are no longer involved in deciding the Karl Edward Wagner Award?

If the BFS committee can no longer vote on changes to the awards, there's no need to include the bit about them not being able to reverse decisions of the AGM. I'd note too that that means anyone joining the committee at the AGM won't be able to make any changes at all until the following year. It might be worth adding something regarding online membership votes, so that there is at least the possibility of making changes in response to problems.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: DavidJHowe on November 25, 2011, 05:29:03 pm
Can we see a clear definition of what 'Canvassing' is?

So if someone shares the link to the voting on their FB Page or blog and reminds people that voting is open and to vote for whatever they felt was best ... is that canvassing?

Can that sharing be done by anyone? Or is it forbidden for people actually on the lists to promote the fact that they are on the lists? So is a publisher allowed to say that they have made the longlist at all?

What if someone sends out a note to their friends, or posts on their FB that they're voting for person X ... is that canvassing?

Does canvassing have to be done by the person actually nominated? What if someone else posts on FB or sends emails saying that they think that X is the best and should win ... is that canvassing?

What if someone emails the jury to tell them that person X had canvassed and so should be barred ... what evidence would be needed? It could be that the person reporting it is just trying to cause problems ...

Basically, what criteria would the jury use to decide? And how would they prove it?

David

Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Del Lakin-Smith on November 25, 2011, 05:36:17 pm
The results of the survey have been posted on the main site for your perusal.

http://www.britishfantasysociety.co.uk/news/british-fantasy-society-awards-survey-results/ (http://www.britishfantasysociety.co.uk/news/british-fantasy-society-awards-survey-results/)

Enjoy,

Del.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 25, 2011, 05:39:31 pm
If anything, the shortlist in this system could be much easier to game than the old one.

Say Author X has a short story collection out, and a dozen friends all recommend stories from that collection. You could easily end up with a shortlist made up entirely of one author.

And then what? The jury chucks them all out if they don't think they're good enough? I can see that being a bit controversial.

It's a shame as well that through this process we lose the longlist entirely, which does provide a nice bit of encouragement and recognition to people who don't make the shortlist...
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 25, 2011, 05:40:09 pm
I think we all know perfectly well what canvassing is without having to define it.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 25, 2011, 05:44:37 pm
Stephen, It might comes as a shock to you but not everyone is out to fix or game these awards.  The vast majority of the members of this Society are decent, trustworthy people of integrity who just want an award to reflect quality in the genre and who have no interest in subverting the process.  If Ididn't think that I wouldn't have spent all this time looking for a new system.  In fact if i didn't think that I wouldn't want to stay involved with this Society, which I very much do. 
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: DavidJHowe on November 25, 2011, 05:47:03 pm
I think we all know perfectly well what canvassing is without having to define it.
I disagree Graham which is why I asked the question.

David
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 25, 2011, 05:50:51 pm
Stephen, It might comes as a shock to you but not everyone is out to fix or game these awards.  The vast majority of the members of this Society are decent, trustworthy people of integrity who just want an award to reflect quality in the genre and who have no interest in subverting the process.  If Ididn't think that I wouldn't have spent all this time looking for a new system.  In fact if i didn't think that I wouldn't want to stay involved with this Society, which I very much do. 

I'd best not try to persuade you otherwise, then!

But still: the shortlist under this system is much more vulnerable to that kind of thing than the one it's replacing. And surely that was the whole point of changing it?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 25, 2011, 05:51:24 pm
Ok if you insist.
If a jury sees that a book of very poor or only entry-level quality has somehow made it onto a shortlist of very good books they might, on mature reflection, suspect some canvassing has gone on.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: DavidJHowe on November 25, 2011, 05:53:25 pm
Ok if you insist.
If a jury sees that a book of very poor or only entry-level quality has somehow made it onto a shortlist of very good books they might, on mature reflection, suspect some canvassing has gone on.
So they don't actually need evidence of it?

It's just if the jury thinks a book isn't very good?

David
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 25, 2011, 05:54:52 pm
Stephen, you're overlooking the fact that the jury has every reasonable prospect of comprising decent people who are not motivated by cynicism and cronyism, and that they have to be in unanimous agreement to dispose of a nomination.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 25, 2011, 05:55:40 pm
Stephen, you're overlooking the fact that the jury has every reasonable prospect of comprising decent people who are not motivated by cynicism and cronyism, and that they have to be in unanimous agreement to dispose of a nomination.

 ???

Do you mean David?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 25, 2011, 05:56:26 pm
what?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 25, 2011, 05:58:56 pm
For God's sake Stephen. I can't believe you said that.
All right, I've had my say.  I'll leave it to others now.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 25, 2011, 06:04:24 pm
Eh? You can't believe I said what?

I didn't see how what you were saying about the honesty of the jury related to what I was talking about, but could see how it related to what David was saying...
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Amanda Rutter on November 25, 2011, 08:12:46 pm
I just think it is worth pointing out the following:

1) These proposals came as a result of a number of people making suggestions.

2) The proposals were agreed and ratified by a group of people who have a vast amount of knowledge of the SFF scene.

There might be some disappointment with the wording of certain parts of the statement (i.e. the jury being able to remove a book from the shortlist), but remember that it has been considered just how to put this into motion. All members of the jury have to agree to remove this book before it would happen. With the type of ethical, credible people who would be asked to take their turn as members of the jury, I honestly don't think it would be a frequent occurence.

The committee is more than happy to hear constructive suggestions, of course, but, with something like this being introduced as a fresh endeavour, the proof is going to be in the performance. We can all come up with 'what ifs' and imagining various scenarios right now, but they might not be factors at all.

I think a better use of time is to think about the type of novels/written work/artwork etc that should feature and be awarded in the future by the BFS. How can we showcase the procedure and garner as many votes as possible to build a shortlist in each category to be proud of. I think we, as a committee, would be enormously grateful for that sort of effort  :)
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 25, 2011, 08:15:52 pm
You're likely to end up with shortlists made up of items that randomly got three recommendations when other stuff got two.

To illustrate this point, I had a look at the recommendations for best novel in 2010 - and remember that this is when when people could recommend as many titles as they wanted, not just three.

One novel got six recommendations, one got four, and then four books got three - after that there were lots that got one or two. The recommendations are spread so thinly that the eventual shortlist under this proposed new system could end up being pretty random.

That does raise one other question - if there's a tie, how to decide between the tied books? We could easily end up with a dozen books that all got two or three recommendations...
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 25, 2011, 08:38:11 pm
There might be some disappointment with the wording of certain parts of the statement (i.e. the jury being able to remove a book from the shortlist), but remember that it has been considered just how to put this into motion. All members of the jury have to agree to remove this book before it would happen. With the type of ethical, credible people who would be asked to take their turn as members of the jury, I honestly don't think it would be a frequent occurence.

The committee is more than happy to hear constructive suggestions, of course, but, with something like this being introduced as a fresh endeavour, the proof is going to be in the performance. We can all come up with 'what ifs' and imagining various scenarios right now, but they might not be factors at all.

It's not the wording that David has objected to, so much as the principle. And although David and I haven't seen eye to eye on much this past year, I have to say I'm close to agreeing with him on that. If transparency is the goal, is secretly removing some items from the shortlist without any right to reply really the right way to go?

I think David is right to point these issues out. We're about to vote on this proposal - this is the time when members can discuss any problems with the suggested procedure, and those of us with past experience of running the awards are bound to have something to contribute at this point. I feel rather like you're telling us to be quiet and assume our betters know best.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Debbie on November 25, 2011, 08:47:55 pm
I'm a bit confused as to why it's recommended that the British Fantasy Society have a novel award for horror as well as one for fantasy? Especially since the survey said most people wanted just the one novel award (122 people - one novel award, 109 people - two or more novel awards). I'm curious as to what the thinking was behind this?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: joshua rainbird on November 25, 2011, 09:03:17 pm
Stage 2: The Jury
A Jury of three or five readers shall have the power to add up to two further nominations if they so wish.  The Jury shall decide a winner from the shortlist.  The Jury’s decisions shall be final.

I'd like a little more info about the mechanics of this.  Could a wild card that is the least voted upon be bumped up or are we talking about near misses ?  :)
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Amanda Rutter on November 25, 2011, 09:17:46 pm
To be fair, Stephen, you're not going to be voting for the WHOLE thing. You'll be making three votes, if I read correctly.

1 vote is on accepting a juried award. 1 vote is on splitting the best novel into two prizes - 1 for horror and 1 for fantasy.

The third vote is concerning the recommendations. If there are issues in that part that you don't like, then don't vote in favour. That is, after all, what a democratic decision entails  :)
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 25, 2011, 09:27:13 pm
Sorry, I'm afraid you seem to have misread it, Amanda. If you go back to the OP, Resolution 1, which we are asked to support, is:

Quote
The British Fantasy Society resolves that the BFS Awards shall ultimately be decided by a jury deliberating on a shortlist determined by the members of the Society.  The Jury shall comprise individuals directly or indirectly related to the writing, publishing and bookselling genre fields. The Jury shall include at least one non-member of the Society.

The Jury shall be appointed by the Awards Administrator, subject to approval by the BFS committee.

The Jury shall deliberate on a shortlist of four nominations as determined by the membership by online or postal vote.

The Jury shall also have oversight powers to add nominations where it identifies an egregious omission or to subtract a nomination in the case of a poor quality nomination artificially boosted by the practice of canvassing.  In order to add or subtract such nominations the jury must make a unanimous decision.  The addition or subtraction of a nomination will be made in camera.

There's much more to it than just accepting a juried award.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 25, 2011, 09:50:03 pm
Screenplay
Eligibility:  a screenplay for TV, Film or Electronic Broadcast released in the English language in any part of the world during the relevant year.

Just a note about this one - a motion was passed near unanimously at the 2009 AGM to say that television programmes should only be eligible from the year they were legally available in the UK (i.e. broadcast here, available on DVD, available to import on DVD, available to buy on iTunes, etc).

The idea was to avoid a situation where we were giving nominations to programmes that people could only have watched in the year of eligibility via torrenting. A lot of people strongly felt that the BFS shouldn't be seen to endorse illegal filesharing.

I was one of the few who voted against it (we have US members, after all), but this was a really hot potato at the time, so you might want to consider keeping that rule.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: SAWatts on November 25, 2011, 10:37:21 pm
I think the aim has to be, as Amanda suggests - to arrive at an inclusive short list that highlights the very best in the genre each year.

Important to remember that the short list would come from members recommendations and BFS and Fantasycon members have the opportunity to make it as diverse and comprehensive and exciting as can be?

I think we've probably all got questions about just how it will work - I know I have! - but I think it's a plan to work to - and of course the recommendations are still to be voted on.

Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Del Lakin-Smith on November 25, 2011, 11:36:19 pm
Oh, the wonderfully emotive awards discussion. It does not get any more complex than this.

I think points raised have their merit, and there will always be folk who have many different opinions. I think based on the fact that these resolutions were determined, largely, from the survey that was carried out, it is a good starting point for the discussion.

At the end of the day, someone has to make the decision. As far as I can interpret the statement, the time between the announcement and the vote is precisely in order for this discussion to take place.

I think it is our job to give our thoughts and opinions on the awards and give the decision makers as much info to base their decisions on. If we don't, then we are responsible for the apathy and potential pitfalls of having an awards system that does not represent the BFS as an organisation.

One of the key points in the statement to me is do we vote on 3 resolutions, or on each point individually? This is something we could and should discuss here.

To voice my opinion, I think that the new resolutions are a good starting point for change. I could pick holes in each and every point and come up with many scenarios where the system could be undermined or could go wrong. But I don't see the value in that. I welcome and embrace the change, but also look forward to the adjustments that come from learning what works and what does not (instead of assuming nothing will work).

Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 25, 2011, 11:39:28 pm
I think we've probably all got questions about just how it will work - I know I have! - but I think it's a plan to work to - and of course the recommendations are still to be voted on.

But we shouldn't have any questions about how it will work: those questions should all be answered by the proposed new rules. The point of the awards constitution is to tell the awards admin exactly what they should do in any given situation. Where the rules don't give those answers is where the awards admin can find themselves in a fix.

For example on deciding ties - the existing awards constitution has a rule for that, but the new rules don't. And these proposals say that the rules can't be changed except at the AGM. So as soon as you have a tie you'll be stuck in a constitutional loophole.

Or on the horror/fantasy awards: many books will be eligible for both. If a novel up for the horror award has to be excluded from the fantasy award, that has to be explicitly spelt out in the new rules (which it isn't in the current resolution), or you'll have no standing to do it.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 26, 2011, 01:45:32 am
One of the key points in the statement to me is do we vote on 3 resolutions, or on each point individually? This is something we could and should discuss here.

One thing I noticed is that Resolution 1 and Recommendation 5, Stage 2 overlap, effectively giving the jury proposal two bites at the cherry, which might give us a problem if one passes but the other doesn't. I'm sure they'll both pass regardless, but it might be worth straightening that out.

I also think the part about "The Jury shall also have oversight powers ... to subtract a nomination in the case of a poor quality nomination artificially boosted by the practice of canvassing" should be a separate proposal (or better still, dropped altogether), given how controversial it is, how it's come out of nowhere, and how much potential it creates for unfairness.

Even if the jurors are completely honest, just having that option there will put doubt in people's minds about the fairness of the awards procedure. As a former juror on an awards panel, I wouldn't have wanted that power and wouldn't have used it. I would rather just read the books and choose the best one, rather than be expected to impose sanctions on the bad ones.

Apart from anything else, you'll have to read the book to decide it's rubbish anyway. And to read the book you'll have to request it from the publisher. And if you request it from the publisher and then it doesn't appear on the shortlist they'll know it's been booted, and once they know it's been booted there will be all heck to pay...!

Plus, why impose sanctions on bad books that benefit from canvassing, but not good books? Surely the "crime" is the same?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 26, 2011, 02:32:08 am
I welcome and embrace the change, but also look forward to the adjustments that come from learning what works and what does not (instead of assuming nothing will work).

The problem is, this proposed procedure doesn't seem to build on what we've learnt previously about what works and what doesn't. It doesn't seem to take account of the way members actually vote, because applying these rules to previous years show how odd and arbitrary the resulting shortlists could be.

If there was a desire to build on what had come before, shouldn't there have been a former BFS awards admin on the working team to offer their experience of how the rules work in practice? Maybe not me, since I'd quarrelled publicly with David and might be seen as biased, but Gary Couzens, David Sutton, etc?

It bothers me that everything I and other BFS members have said here seems to have been brushed off as nit-picking, cynicism, complaining, catastrophizing, whatever, if not completely ignored. But I spent a good two years thinking constantly about these issues and trying to keep the BFS out of trouble: you pick the procedure apart in order to make it watertight, to protect yourself, your integrity and the integrity of the awards.

For example, one of the most important lines in the constitution was: "The Awards Committee has no discretion to discount votes for reasons other than those set out in this constitution." From the OP it looks like that's gone now, but it was there to keep us honest. If there's a good reason for discounting votes it should be voted on and put into the constitution, not decided on the fly by awards administrators.

The other thing bothering me is the impression I'm getting that whatever members say in the forums, the proposals are going forward in this form...

If these resolutions are put to the vote as they stand, I'll reluctantly vote against them. Taken as a whole, I'm afraid I think they'll make the awards procedure worse rather than better.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Des Lewis on November 26, 2011, 08:03:43 am
Some good sense above from all quarters, I feel.
My still developing view is that the members should vote on a no holds barred 'Long list' and on the membership of the jury who then 'in camera' debate the list, add and subtract from it, and then come up with 4 in each category for the members' final voting.  Or those democratically voted-in jury members actually come up with the winners themselves.  I'd be easy with either method.
And I feel it is ludicrous to have separate horror and fantasy awards. It goes completely against the grain of my view about literature. But that's maybe just me. 'Weird' fiction covers both?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 26, 2011, 08:51:05 am
The PS Publishing Independent Press Award
Eligibility:  Independent presses active during the relevant year. Note that PS Publishing withdrew from competition in this category in 2009, choosing instead to sponsor the award.   *Special jury to be appointed by PS publishing.

Nothing against PS Publishing, who do wonderful work, but is it really appropriate for a sponsor to appoint the whole of the judging panel for one of our awards? Inviting them to supply one representative might be alright.

Not keen on the change from Small Press to Independent Press.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Peter Coleborn on November 26, 2011, 09:16:00 am
The PS Publishing Independent Press Award
Eligibility:  Independent presses active during the relevant year. Note that PS Publishing withdrew from competition in this category in 2009, choosing instead to sponsor the award.   *Special jury to be appointed by PS publishing.

Nothing against PS Publishing, who do wonderful work, but is it really appropriate for a sponsor to appoint the whole of the judging panel for one of our awards? Inviting them to supply one representative might be alright.

Not keen on the change from Small Press to Independent Press.

I have to say, I missed the part about PS appointing the whole jury. Despite our many and frequent disagreements, I'm with Stephen on his first point* -- but I do agree with the name change to Independent Press.

* (Unless PS is paying for the award itself as well as the prize money.)
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 26, 2011, 09:17:02 am
3.   Changes to These Guidelines
Changes to these guidelines may only be made by a vote at the AGM of the British Fantasy Society, taken according to the same rules of procedure outlined in the BFS constitution.  A committee vote may not be used to reverse a decision made at an AGM.

Just noticed this change, that the awards rules will be downgraded to guidelines, rather than a constitution. I suppose that answers my questions about there being gaps in the awards procedure, although it isn't the answer I'd have wanted: if these are just guidelines the admin can just do whatever they think best when they hit a problem. :-\

On the other hand, one thing about the new procedure that'll be good for the awards admin is that because the longlist stage is being abolished, they won't have to do what's previously been the hardest bit of the job: checking the eligibility of the longlist items. They'll only need to check the top four items in each category, which'll save them hours and hours of work.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Peter Coleborn on November 26, 2011, 09:46:55 am
"The Jury shall deliberate on a shortlist of four nominations as determined by the membership by online or postal vote."


Is it too late to suggest that the jury deliberate on a shortlist of five or, better still, six nominations as determined by the BFS & Fantasycon membership? It might make the process seem more open and more encompassing.

Personally, I rather not split the novel category. However, given the endless horror vs. fantasy debate I can see the rationale behind this (even if not voted for in the recent survey). I support using the name of Robert Holdstock for the fantasy novel award.

Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 26, 2011, 10:24:12 am
I'm not quite as sure about naming it after Robert Holdstock - no disrespect to him, he was a marvellous writer who fully deserves to have awards named after him, and I know you were a friend, Peter, as were lots of BFS members.

However, something like Mythago Wood was I think just the kind of dark fantasy that tends, rightly or wrongly, to get lumped in with horror when people are totting up genre representation on our awards lists. I'm not sure he's the ideal choice if the idea is to show we're more open to sword-swinging fantasy than people think.

Plus, and for me this is much bigger issue, we already have three awards named after men, and now we're going to have four.

I would have loved for it to be named for Diana Wynne Jones...
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: LouM on November 26, 2011, 02:28:02 pm
When we were originally discussing the idea of a YA / children's award, the idea of making it the Diana Wynne Jones Award came up - I'd have loved to see that, but I don't think it's an option at this time. Maybe in the future, another committee might want to consider it...

I'm not quite as sure about naming it after Robert Holdstock - no disrespect to him, he was a marvellous writer who fully deserves to have awards named after him, and I know you were a friend, Peter, as were lots of BFS members.

However, something like Mythago Wood was I think just the kind of dark fantasy that tends, rightly or wrongly, to get lumped in with horror when people are totting up genre representation on our awards lists. I'm not sure he's the ideal choice if the idea is to show we're more open to sword-swinging fantasy than people think.

Plus, and for me this is much bigger issue, we already have three awards named after men, and now we're going to have four.

I would have loved for it to be named for Diana Wynne Jones...
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Jen on November 26, 2011, 02:44:05 pm
When we were originally discussing the idea of a YA / children's award, the idea of making it the Diana Wynne Jones Award came up - I'd have loved to see that, but I don't think it's an option at this time. Maybe in the future, another committee might want to consider it...

Second that motion!   ;D :-*
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 27, 2011, 03:25:44 pm
I think this is all good stuff on the whole, but the proposal for the jury to be able to remove a work because of canvassing is in my view potentially highly damaging.

While we may all feel we all know what canvassing is, it is in fact quite hard to define as a rule. In this David is right. In fact the reforms put forward not only make no definition of what canvassing is, they do not actually ban the practice. What is therefore being proposed is giving a jury the power to throw out a book from the shortlist for an undefined offence that doesn't actually exist. The fact that the meeting to exclude the shortlist is held in secret with no right of appeal makes it even worse and flies against any sense of natural justice. If somebody is accused of something, they should both  have the right to defend themselves and a right to appeal.

A further point worth mentioning is how on earth are you going to prove allegations of canvassing, especially as it has never been spelt out what it entails? Is somebody going to police it by trawling through the Internet? Are we going to be asked to report violations, or, more accurately, what we think are violations?

The potential  consequences of this proposal are that the BFS risks re-running the unfortunate events that occurred this year with a book being chucked off the shortlist and the ensuing division  that would cause. In a worst-case scenario it could open the BFS to court action should an author decide to protect their reputation through legal action.  For the reasons outlined above, there is a good chance that the courts would not rule in the society's favour.

It might be said that it is highly unlikely that a short-listed book will suffer this fate, especially given the need for a unanimous vote. To which the obvious reply is why have such a potentially divisive measure at all? It might be unfortunate that a work gets unto the shortlist through politics rather than merit  but isn't a jury for the shortlist safeguard enough to show  to the wider literary community that we have endeavoured to choose the best  work for that year?  After all, people this year and in previous years too didn't get upset because an allegedly weak piece of work got onto the shortlist but that it went on to win.

There does not seem to be a formal process open to members to propose amendments. However, I have been told by several people that the BFS committee can propose amendments or at least put them forward for discussion. If any BFS committee member agrees with my comments I would be grateful if they would take this matter up.

For full disclosure, I made a point about three weeks on a thread about FB reform. They differ in the respect that in the post below I put forward the suggestion that making canvassing a rule violation would work if the definition was robust enough.

"True. I am not sure about banning canvassing, etc. First of all you would have to define your terms, then you'd have the problem of enforcing it. However, I suppose if you did come up with workable definitions of what is and isn't acceptable, it marks a clear line that many people are unlikely to cross, even if they know they will never be caught"
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 27, 2011, 03:45:24 pm
On Del's point about whether we should divide the resolutions up,  I would actually voted for the jury to be able to add an award. It's the far more problematical matter of booting out a book because of alleged malfeasance that I have a problem. Which is why I am seeking an amendment rather than a vote on the relevant section per se
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Di Lewis on November 27, 2011, 03:52:51 pm
"Resolution Part 2

In the category of Best Novel there shall be one award for Best Fantasy Novel and one award for Best Horror Novel."

If this is voted in, the meaning of "Fantasy" is redefined for the purpose of the BFS awards.

Does this not also redefine by association the meaning of "Fantasy" in the name of the Society?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Peter Coleborn on November 27, 2011, 04:14:21 pm
"Resolution Part 2

In the category of Best Novel there shall be one award for Best Fantasy Novel and one award for Best Horror Novel."

If this is voted in, the meaning of "Fantasy" is redefined for the purpose of the BFS awards.

Does this not also redefine by association the meaning of "Fantasy" in the name of the Society?

The BFHS -- the British Fantasy & Horror Society, he says, mischievously
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Di Lewis on November 27, 2011, 04:33:50 pm

The BFHS -- the British Fantasy & Horror Society, he says, mischievously

Well, yes, that's what I was thinking.  Didn't it used to be The Weird Fantasy Society though?
Bring back "Weird"!
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 27, 2011, 04:58:57 pm
How about the British Science Fantasy Association?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: DavidJHowe on November 27, 2011, 05:02:50 pm
Couple of other things just to throw in the ring.

The Sydney J Bounds Estate does not wish to take part in the decision making process for the Newcomer Award - they just fund the prize money to the winner. Therefore the wording on this one: 'The winner is decided by a special panel of readers appointed by the BFS and will include representatives from the Bounds estate and the BFS'. is not possible. I'm also puzzled by 'appointed by the BFS' here - is this suggesting that the whole membership be asked every year who should be on this panel?  Or is the panel appointed by the Awards Coordinator as elsewhere?


The award for 'Screenplay' does not currently exist, so this is additionally voting to add a new Award to the process. This was raised at the AGM and discussion deferred to later on with the membership to be asked.  So the category probably needs a separate vote on whether that is to be added in or not.


The same thing was raised at the AGM re a YA award which Lou mentioned below. The AGM said that the idea would be discussed further and put to the membership - so is this not then happening? Is the Committee changing the decision of the AGM? (which isn't allowed). Or has the proposer (who was Lou I think) changed their mind and has, post AGM, withdrawn the proposal?


David

Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 27, 2011, 05:12:09 pm
Hopefully as Del said earlier, these points will be taken on board. Clearly, the update needs some revisions if some of the information is inaccurate.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: LouM on November 27, 2011, 05:37:13 pm

The same thing was raised at the AGM re a YA award which Lou mentioned below. The AGM said that the idea would be discussed further and put to the membership - so is this not then happening? Is the Committee changing the decision of the AGM? (which isn't allowed). Or has the proposer (who was Lou I think) changed their mind and has, post AGM, withdrawn the proposal?



Yes, David, that was me  :)

I'm not quite sure how the discussions among the Awards working party played out - I'm sure it will have been considered at that level, at least - although I don't know how that fits into what had already been discussed in terms of the AGM.

It may well be that it was felt there were already too many awards - and I know a few people have commented on that online - and another one would be impractical at the moment; or perhaps everyone thought that YA was represented strongly enough by awards outside the BFS...

Personally, I would still love to see provision for a YA & children's award at least considered, but I can imagine the focus at the moment needs to be on the bigger picture.

Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 27, 2011, 06:32:59 pm
I've suggested on my blog that members vote against these proposals unless at least some of these problems are fixed. (http://theakersquarterly.blogspot.com/2011/11/british-fantasy-awards-why-id.html) Sorry about that, but in summary they seem rushed and badly thought-out, and if they go into effect in this form I think they're likely to cause more problems than they'll solve. Rather than rush into something we'll regret, I think we should reject these proposals and let the incoming committee make any changes they feel are necessary.

I should mention that Graham has called me a liar several times on Facebook for raising the points I've made above in this thread. Obviously that's left me rather unhappy, but more importantly it doesn't give me much confidence that anyone is giving the points made in this thread any serious consideration. (To put it mildly!)
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 27, 2011, 07:07:57 pm
I am not sure that I will go as far as voting against the first resolution - I have already decided to vote against the second - but the fact that I'm considering it disturbs me. However, I am sure that people's concerns being aired here will be taken on board and reflected in what will actually be voted on members. Any proper democratic process allows for amendment and alternatives to be put forward.  I know the timetable is tight but I believe that allowing a jury to remove a book because of canvassing, and even more so on the suspicion of canvassing because of a subjective judgement on the quality of an entry, is a train wreck waiting to happen. Just as the FPTP system for choosing awards and rules allowing the awards administrator to be eligible for an award. Both those rules were in place for years and while not a mention to be made was made of the conflict on interest of the latter, there have been murmurings about canvassing for decades. The controversy this year was new only in its intensity, and because the institutional flaws it highlighted became impossible to ignore if we were to be taken seriously by the wider community.

And here's a final point. This is nothing to do about morality and probity. Nobody here, I hope, is questioning the honesty and moral worthiness of anybody. Promoting your work, or supporting your mates is not not vile act of corruption. Hell, I don't even think  that actively getting people to vote for you in an award is unethical unless it is expressly forbidden, which it isn't. I have know people to do this at the nomination stage for the BFSA longlist, all of them worthy individuals. I think they are mistaken to do it because it defeats the purpose of a award which is to try, with all the subjective pitfalls and caveats, to pick the best work in any given year. Which of course of goes on to diminish the value of the award in the eyes of outsider.

No, I don't think any of the above is unethical but meeting in secret with no right of defence or reply on the part of  the accused  and then   throw out a work on the suspicion that there has been canvassing with the only evidence being  that you think the work is shit most certainly is.  
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: David A. Riley on November 27, 2011, 08:01:41 pm
I've suggested on my blog that members vote against these proposals unless at least some of these problems are fixed. (http://theakersquarterly.blogspot.com/2011/11/british-fantasy-awards-why-id.html) Sorry about that, but in summary they seem rushed and badly thought-out, and if they go into effect in this form I think they're likely to cause more problems than they'll solve. Rather than rush into something we'll regret, I think we should reject these proposals and let the incoming committee make any changes they feel are necessary.

I should mention that Graham has called me a liar several times on Facebook for raising the points I've made above in this thread. Obviously that's left me rather unhappy, but more importantly it doesn't give me much confidence that anyone is giving the points made in this thread any serious consideration. (To put it mildly!)

Thanks for stating things with your usual clarity and precision, Stephen. After having studied your points, I would certainly be voting no too.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 27, 2011, 08:10:56 pm
I admit to a little confusion here about how the new system of recommendations differs from the longlist. Isn't it just a longlist by another name? 
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 27, 2011, 08:17:43 pm
OK, I've looked up the old awards system so what seems to have happened is that  the long-list stage has been abolished. The question is, I suppose, is how much does the longlist round whittle things down? Does it make things much more manageable?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: GaryC on November 28, 2011, 08:15:36 am
Screenplay
Eligibility:  a screenplay for TV, Film or Electronic Broadcast released in the English language in any part of the world during the relevant year.

Just a note about this one - a motion was passed near unanimously at the 2009 AGM to say that television programmes should only be eligible from the year they were legally available in the UK (i.e. broadcast here, available on DVD, available to import on DVD, available to buy on iTunes, etc).

The idea was to avoid a situation where we were giving nominations to programmes that people could only have watched in the year of eligibility via torrenting. A lot of people strongly felt that the BFS shouldn't be seen to endorse illegal filesharing.

I was one of the few who voted against it (we have US members, after all), but this was a really hot potato at the time, so you might want to consider keeping that rule.

Also, this wording excludes foreign-language TV and film. So no Spanish/Mexican ghost stories, no intense French horrors, no Studio Ghibli animations etc?

Case in point. The original Danish The Killing (Forbrydelsen) was one of the TV events of the year for me. (Okay, it's crime rather than fantasy or horror, but bear with me.) But it was originally broadcast in 2007, so not eligible? It hadn't been shown in any English-speaking territories until 2010 (when Australian TV showed it), so not eligible? And even when you accept that it wasn't available in the UK until 2011 (TV broadcast and DVD release) is it still not eligible because it's in Danish with English subtitles?

Also, why has the wordcount boundary between short stories and novellas been changed to 15,000 words from 10,000 words? When the novella category was introduced, we deliberately used the same boundaries (10,000 words, 40,000 words between novella and novel) as the World Fantasy Award does, and I don't see a good reason for changing it.

Naming a YA award after Diana Wynne Jones is fine by me. Though I'd also like YA and children's work to be eligible for Best Novel or Best Novella as well. (E.g. Patrick Ness's A Monster Calls, which is 33,000 words, would qualify as a novella if it made next year's shortlist.)

I don't like having separate horror and fantasy novel awards. Where does science fiction go? What about non-genre novels with fantasy, magic-realist, and other non-mimetic elements?

I do intend to be at the EGM, by the way.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 28, 2011, 08:28:19 am
OK, I've looked up the old awards system so what seems to have happened is that  the long-list stage has been abolished. The question is, I suppose, is how much does the longlist round whittle things down? Does it make things much more manageable?

It certainly focuses votes a lot. It's not unusual for an item that received only one recommendation to get lots of votes on the longlist.

Under the new rules I guess you could achieve a similar result with an eligibility list, but look at how many categories we have. Imagine trying to put together a comprehensive eligibility list for that lot...

Basically, the current recommendations stage is our way of getting members to put together a manageable list of eligible items.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Andrew Hook on November 28, 2011, 10:14:48 am
Having thought about it over the weekend and now read the above posts I again feel that this is a workable system, but it may well be that we won't know whether it has worked or not until next year's awards ceremony.

Having now seen the actual voting figures, there are a couple of points:

1. 71% of the voters agreed that a dedicated jury should be empowered for a best small press award - so it seems to make sense to me for PS who provide the award money to appoint that jury independently of the juries for other awards as has been recommended.

2. Whilst the majority voted to keep one award for best novel, I can see the sense in avoiding a horror bias by creating two awards because this does seem to be a long running issue. As to the definition of fantasy/horror this will be decided by the voters who create the shortlist. No confusion to be had there - it's in our hands!

3. I would support a revision of the society's name to the British Weird Fiction Society to cover all bases - but I guess this won't happen.

4. Unless I've missed it, I can't find anything dealing with the query over BFS committee members being eligible for awards. On the vote, 114 said they should be and 112 disagreed. Surely this needs to be addressed?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 28, 2011, 10:24:19 am
Graham took me to task on Facebook for saying that the survey results showed 50% of members were against the split best novel award, saying that the survey included the votes of non-members as well. I did wonder why I'd made that mistake, and double checking it was because that was what it said in this announcement (http://www.britishfantasysociety.co.uk/british-fantasy-awards/the-british-fantasy-awards-survey/):

Quote
We are running a survey to collect thoughts and opinions from BFS members and Fantasycon attendees to help us define the future of the British Fantasy Awards. ... The survey is open to all BFS members and registered attendees of Fantasycon for the years of 2010, 2011 and 2012.

And also here (http://www.britishfantasysociety.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=3093.msg22100#msg22100) on the forums:

Quote
Stage 1: Before coming up with a new system I need to collect some hard data from the Society’s membership about your preferences.  We will conduct an online survey of the Society’s membership and we will use the data returned to propose a new formulation.

Given that the survey wasn't supposed to be open to non-members, I feel it might be really useful to know what the results of the survey would have been without their votes being counted, if that were possible.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 28, 2011, 10:32:29 am
From monitoring the comments on the Forum and elsewhere it is clear there is a lot of unease about the idea of a Jury’s powers to eliminate weak material boosted through canvassing, while there does seem to be general satisfaction with the jury’s oversight power to add a title.  Thus we have accepted an AMENDMENT to Resolution 1 paragraph 4 to  DELETE the words “or to subtract a nomination in the case of a poor quality nomination artificially boosted by the practice of canvassing” in the first sentence and to DELETE “or subtraction” in the second sentence.

Thus Paragraph 4 of Resolution 1 will now read “The Jury shall also have oversight powers to add nominations where it identifies an egregious omission.  In order to add such nominations the jury must make a unanimous decision.  The addition or subtraction of a nomination will be made in camera.”

And in the Recommendations in Section 5 Voting Procedure Stage 1 Paragraph 4 to add the words “The British Fantasy Society discourages the practice of canvassing for votes.”

Thus Section 5 Voting Procedure Stage 1 Paragraph 4 will now read “Recommendations may not be made for the recommender’s own material.  The British Fantasy Society discourages the practice of canvassing for votes.”

Many thanks to Charles Rudkin for discussing and proposing this amendment which is accepted by the original proposers of the Resolutions.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 28, 2011, 10:47:45 am
As to the definition of fantasy/horror this will be decided by the voters who create the shortlist. No confusion to be had there - it's in our hands!

Is that how it's intended to work? As I read the proposal and the new guidelines, it's one category with two prizes, rather than two categories. So we would be voting for Best Novel, and then the awards admin would have the job of dividing the results into two shortlists.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Andrew Hook on November 28, 2011, 11:08:39 am
As to the definition of fantasy/horror this will be decided by the voters who create the shortlist. No confusion to be had there - it's in our hands!

Is that how it's intended to work? As I read the proposal and the new guidelines, it's one category with two prizes, rather than two categories. So we would be voting for Best Novel, and then the awards admin would have the job of dividing the results into two shortlists.

Oh! You may be right there...

Graham's recent amendment about the power of the jury to add/remove seems a good decision, by the way.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 28, 2011, 11:46:27 am
Two completely separate categories in the way you were thinking might well work better.

I have mixed feelings about the amendment. Glad it's gone, because taken alone I thought it was going to cause problems. On the other hand, the shortlist under this new procedure was already going to be much more vulnerable than the old one to boosterism, and this removes the one barrier to that.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: CarolineC on November 28, 2011, 12:01:02 pm
Thus Paragraph 4 of Resolution 1 will now read “The Jury shall also have oversight powers to add nominations where it identifies an egregious omission.  In order to add such nominations the jury must make a unanimous decision.  The addition or subtraction of a nomination will be made in camera.”

I'm getting a little confused by all this (my brain's not functioning properly at the moment!  ::)) but doesn't that final "or subtraction" in the amended paragraph need removing also?

As to there being two awards for Best Novel, one for fantasy and one for horror, I said "no" to that on the survey myself. I do think it's divisive, and - for all the reasons people have said above - difficult to administer. I did assume that there were two separate categories/awards, with the author themselves having the final say in whether a book was horror or fantasy - but maybe I'm wrong on that? And, as people have said, what about SF and cross-genre fiction?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 28, 2011, 12:21:49 pm
Caroline yes, I imagine that's just a typo. This change removes my principal objection and I will now vote for the resolution. I do share Stephen's concerns about the lack of a longlist, but exclusively from the fact that banging a huge list of recommendations into a shortlist may prove too cumbersome rather than because I think it removes us from the decision-making process. After all it is our recommendations that make up the shortlist. I admit to ignorance here. It may well that there are voting systems out there that function perfectly well without a shortlist but there could be a problem. However, even if this goes through as is and problems arise next year we can, as Andrew Hook says, modify the system later, or even introduce a shortlist next year if the recommendations list proves impossible to whittle down.

The remainder of the objections seem to be about the second resolution. Simply put, we can vote against that with no disastrous consequences. I will be voting against simply because I think there should be one award for the novel section. I am sure that cross-genre fiction will be admitted if its good enough just as a novel that is not  branded as genre, the dreaded literary fiction beast, will be if it contains enough genre elements for members to put it forward. As for science fiction, the BFSA already does that. Nevertheless, some examples of our elder sister's offspring do sometimes manage to slip through the door
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Peter Coleborn on November 28, 2011, 12:50:19 pm
The World Fantasy Awards presents one Best Novel award. It does not distinguish between horror, heroic fantasy, urban fantasy, ghost, etc.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 28, 2011, 01:18:09 pm
Just had a re-read of Proposal 1, and now that the bit about removing nominees in camera has been removed, I'll be very happy to vote for it. I'm still not keen on the "directly or indirectly" bit, but I don't see that having much practical effect. Having the awards ultimately decided by a jury is in principle just what I was after.

All the other problems I've raised are in the second and third proposals, so I can just vote against them, vote for this one.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 28, 2011, 01:33:42 pm
yes Charles is right the "or subtraction" is a typo.  I'll have that cleaned for the resolution as proposed.

regarding res 2 I'll be honest and say I'm PRAYING that gets a yes vote.  We are de facto a Horror society depsite our name.  We've alienated many good people over the last decade or longer.  We have to act to bring them back.  Fantasy Publishers and authors don't want to join a society where their work is never recognised or is relegated and now unfortunately we have a predominant Horror membership who (democratically but exclusively) call the shots on all the awards.  If we don't try to redress the balance the we shouldat least have the honesty to re-title ourselves the British Horror Society and give others a chance to set up a different Society.  Pete's right when he says the World Fantasy Award has only one award, but what he doesn't mention is that Fantasy writers win that award just as frequently as Horror writers.  Splitting the awards is really not a great solution (where does it leave my books for example?) but it's an honest one.  I appreciate people don't much like the idea, but do we really want to go on excluding Fantasy from our awards?  It just feels mean and very unfair.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Des Lewis on November 28, 2011, 01:43:30 pm
I always thought the BFS was intended to be (and has been de facto) a Horror Genre Society; it was just that its founding fathers removed the 'Weird' from British Weird Fantasy Society (Weird Fantasy being at one time an alternative for Horror), because they didn't want to be deemed 'weird'! Is this a new flashing swords ginger group hoping to take it over? :)
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 28, 2011, 01:49:32 pm
I'm all for dealing with the horror bias  - I just don't think that splitting the award into two is the way to do it. My own view is that a juried system will deal with this bias anyway. And they have the power to add works if the shortlist is too slanted to the gory genre. I will be recommending GRR Martins latest tome as a practical step to redressing the balance. But I think we need to keep the best novel award undiluted, as it were, in the way the World Fantasy con does.

However, seeing that the present award is named after a horror writer, we could certainly rename it after Rob Holdstock or some other major fantasy figure. That would show goodwill to our friends in the Fantasy genre. I don't know how this works in terms of procedure but it might be worth having a measure like this on the ballot in case the second resolution fails, which it may well do. I would certainly vote for a name change.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 28, 2011, 01:59:38 pm
The awards for best novel in the first five years all went to Michael  Mporcock, who wrote "science fantasy" not horror.  In fact the first horror writer to win was Ramsay Campbell in 1981This suggests to me that the impetus for the split from the BFSA was led by the sword and sorcery crowd with a strong twist of Tolkien. Although the fact that the best novel was named after August Derleth shows that horror has had a presence since the beginning. I guess you would have to have to talk to the founding fathers, and possibly the odd sister, to know for sure
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: LouM on November 28, 2011, 02:00:55 pm
I think this is a fundamental part of the problem with perception of the Society. When you consider, as an example, some of the bloggers out there who really *are* into fantasy-proper (as it were), they come to the BFS and look at it from the outside, and fail to see fantasy represented.

In fairness, no wonder they're disappointed. To say that it was originally set up as a horror society doesn't necessarily mean that people don't expect it to embrace fantasy too, nor that there isn't room for it. It's not about anyone "taking over", it's about trying to represent the widest possible range of the meanings of "fantasy" and giving a wider feeling of inclusiveness. If you like horror, that doesn't mean you have to stop liking it - it just means we have the potential for a wider membership base which bring us more funds and more opportunities for the whole membership.

If the current membership genuinely feel that there isn't room to represent fantasy as well as horror in balance, then perhaps Graham has a point and that should be made explicit in the name.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 28, 2011, 02:11:43 pm
Graham, with regard to the under-representation of fantasy, did the working party consider my Conan amendment (first mentioned here (http://www.britishfantasysociety.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=3060.msg21827#msg21827)) - if they did, I'd be interested to hear what they thought of it, because it's something I might well propose to the AGM at some point.

Reserving one slot of every fiction category for THE fantasy could give us the representation of fantasy on the awards shortlists you're after at a stroke.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: CarolineC on November 28, 2011, 02:13:03 pm
I think this is a fundamental part of the problem with perception of the Society. When you consider, as an example, some of the bloggers out there who really *are* into fantasy-proper (as it were), they come to the BFS and look at it from the outside, and fail to see fantasy represented.

In fairness, no wonder they're disappointed. To say that it was originally set up as a horror society doesn't necessarily mean that people don't expect it to embrace fantasy too, nor that there isn't room for it. It's not about anyone "taking over", it's about trying to represent the widest possible range of the meanings of "fantasy" and giving a wider feeling of inclusiveness. If you like horror, that doesn't mean you have to stop liking it - it just means we have the potential for a wider membership base which bring us more funds and more opportunities for the whole membership.

If the current membership genuinely feel that there isn't room to represent fantasy as well as horror in balance, then perhaps Graham has a point and that should be made explicit in the name.

All good points, Lou. I've been trying - when I post news on the site - to give a reasonable balance, so that the Society's "shop window" (ie. its website) gives the feeling that we embrace ALL forms of imaginative fiction. Although I'm a horror fan (I admit sword-and-sorcery bores me silly  ::)) I really do think it's important for the society to embrace all forms of imaginative fiction. That's why I don't like the idea of a split award - but I do see the possible need to bring fantasy people back into the fold, as Graham suggests. It's a kind of "positive action" thing to redress the balance. Perhaps it would only need to be temporary - until that balance was redressed and fantasy folk were back in the fold?

I do think it needs to be made clear to us horror folk, though, that the society isn't going to go down the route of excluding horror. The reason I joined the BFS in the first place was that it was welcoming to a horror fan like me. Without that, there'd be no reason for me to be here.  :(
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: SAWatts on November 28, 2011, 02:14:35 pm
There isn't a wall between horror and fantasy - many of us like to play for both teams? (And moonlight in science fiction.) Often we don't know which side we're on :)

Seriously - if having two prizes encourages members to recommend great fantasy and great horror novels and the BFS represents both - then we all win?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Peter Coleborn on November 28, 2011, 02:26:57 pm
The awards for best novel in the first five years all went to Michael  Mporcock, who wrote "science fantasy" not horror.  In fact the first horror writer to win was Ramsay Campbell in 1981This suggests to me that the impetus for the split from the BFSA was led by the sword and sorcery crowd with a strong twist of Tolkien. Although the fact that the best novel was named after August Derleth shows that horror has had a presence since the beginning. I guess you would have to have to talk to the founding fathers, and possibly the odd sister, to know for sure

I can't recall the exact details, but the Derleth name was appended to the BFS Novel Award because he was a publisher of a small(ish) press at that time (Arkham House) that was created to promote the pulp writers including, of course, HPL. He was also a mentor to many then young writers (including Ramsey). In those days, small presses were rare beasts.

Yes, Moorcock won a lot of BFS awards in the early days. Then, as you say, horror writers like Ramsey started winning the award. Nevertheless, some 'fantasy' titles were still winning, such as the Xanth book by Piers Anthony.

I think Moorcock's books were labelled science fantasy by publishers rather than just fantasy, to distinguish them from sexual fantasy titles. It would be interesting to learn if this was, in fact, the case.

Graham is correct, both 'fantasy' and 'horror' titles win the WFA.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Des Lewis on November 28, 2011, 02:36:54 pm
There isn't a wall between horror and fantasy - many of us like to play for both teams?

I don't think there can be a dividing line, I agree.  I  just echo Caroline's comment below about joining the BFs because it was the only group approaching a Horror Society I could find, i.e. from the late seventies onward.
des
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: neilw on November 28, 2011, 02:38:14 pm
In an ideal world, the two novel award thing also makes me a little uneasy, but I think I'm going to vote for it. Stephen's  suggestion of having at least one "THE Fantasy"  (Traditional, Heroic, Epic) novel on the the short list isn't a bad one but I fear it could end up just being an exercise in tokenism. I think to really open the society's doors to the THE crowd, the gesture has to be unequivocal.

Although... I'd hate to see all the non-horror, non-THE fantasies slip between the cracks.

Looking a little further ahead though, if this move does come off and the THE fans join in their vote-enfranchised hordes, the horror fans might be grateful for that split award...
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Peter Coleborn on November 28, 2011, 02:39:01 pm
In the early days of the BFS, heroic fantasy or S&S (eg Conan) played a large part. Back then, that's what I read -- along with Moorcock, of course -- and I felt at home in the BFS, with its wide-ranging coverage of REH, JRRT and HPL... Dark Horizons published both horror and heroic fantasy short stories.

But things changed and for some reason the membership became more horror focussed, despite the best efforts of the committee to cover all aspects of the genre. Now, DH fails to receive good quality heroic fantasy short story submissions -- pity. It seems that some people only perceive heroic fantasy in terms of trilogies; they forget the wonderful history of short stories in the tradition of Vance and Leiber, etc. I hope Guy manages to redress the imbalance better than I managed.

I think that Caroline is doing a marvellous job with the range of news she posts on the BFS website. I hope everyone visits the site regularly and appreciates her work. As for book reviews: you'll note that the majority of books received from mainstream publishers -- and reviewed -- are fantasy or urban fantasy or SF. I think the website illustrates the BFS's broad church.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: David A. Riley on November 28, 2011, 04:35:58 pm
The awards for best novel in the first five years all went to Michael  Mporcock, who wrote "science fantasy" not horror.  In fact the first horror writer to win was Ramsay Campbell in 1981This suggests to me that the impetus for the split from the BFSA was led by the sword and sorcery crowd with a strong twist of Tolkien. Although the fact that the best novel was named after August Derleth shows that horror has had a presence since the beginning. I guess you would have to have to talk to the founding fathers, and possibly the odd sister, to know for sure

I can't recall the exact details, but the Derleth name was appended to the BFS Novel Award because he was a publisher of a small(ish) press at that time (Arkham House) that was created to promote the pulp writers including, of course, HPL. He was also a mentor to many then young writers (including Ramsey). In those days, small presses were rare beasts.

Yes, Moorcock won a lot of BFS awards in the early days. Then, as you say, horror writers like Ramsey started winning the award. Nevertheless, some 'fantasy' titles were still winning, such as the Xanth book by Piers Anthony.

I think Moorcock's books were labelled science fantasy by publishers rather than just fantasy, to distinguish them from sexual fantasy titles. It would be interesting to learn if this was, in fact, the case.

Graham is correct, both 'fantasy' and 'horror' titles win the WFA.

You're right about Derleth's link to Arkham House - by that time he was Arkham House. But he wasn't just the owner of the largest independent press in the horror/fantasy genre at the time, he was also perhaps the leading anthologist too, and anthologies edited by him (and published by mainstream publishers) were a regular feature during the 1960s, right up till his death. He was also a not insignificant writer too, though he seems to have faded into virtual obscurity since then unfortunately.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Peter Coleborn on November 28, 2011, 04:39:39 pm
Thanks for the clarification, David
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 28, 2011, 05:43:25 pm
yes we did consider the Conan notion Stephen.  It has good things going for it but it also got us deeper into definition territory whereas the two words Fantasy and Horror are really incredibly permissive.  I agree that the writers that might fall between the cracks might be pople like me.  But we also went for the Rob Holdstock title to try to suggest something broader.  So in the end we went for two "very broad" rather than any reductive ones.  I'm the first to admit it's a sticky business, but I also desperately want to say "Welcome" to Fantasy ones.  Plus I really don't get what Horror fans think they will lose out (talking to Des here - whom I haven't seen for ages - and others) by this gambit.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: CarolineC on November 28, 2011, 06:18:27 pm
Plus I really don't get what Horror fans think they will lose out (talking to Des here - whom I haven't seen for ages - and others) by this gambit.

If I could maybe clarify that, Graham, from my point of view anyway? When this whole issue of there being "too much horror" in the BFS flared up a few years ago (when quite a few THE writers/fans left, I believe) it really felt like the idea was to reclaim the BFS for fantasy only - it didn't feel like there'd be a place for horror at all in the BFS. But maybe we (ie. us "horror people") misread the signals at that time? That was my fear - that "redressing the balance" means that horror will get sidelined, or kicked out altogether. I guess this is what Des and others are feeling too? (though I don't speak for Des of course - he can speak for himself!  ;)). But if it means simply making things equal, then that's just how I think it should be. BFS in my opinion stands for British [Imaginative] Fiction Society - ie. we are all equal!

I guess I'm coming around to the idea of a split Award - if that's what it takes to make things equal.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Des Lewis on November 28, 2011, 06:24:48 pm
Caroline speaks for me there (other than agreing to the split award!).
Has anyone read Ann and Jeff VanderMeer's 'The WEIRD' yet? That's what I thought the BFS was all about.
The Weird - as Horror and Weird Fantasy (and Doctor Who and LOST...). Since when was it Tolkien or Flashing Swords?
(Graham: Power to your elbow. Long time no see).
des

Plus I really don't get what Horror fans think they will lose out (talking to Des here - whom I haven't seen for ages - and others) by this gambit.

If I could maybe clarify that, Graham, from my point of view anyway? When this whole issue of there being "too much horror" in the BFS flared up a few years ago (when quite a few THE writers/fans left, I believe) it really felt like the idea was to reclaim the BFS for fantasy only - it didn't feel like there'd be a place for horror at all in the BFS. But maybe we (ie. us "horror people") misread the signals at that time? That was my fear - that "redressing the balance" means that horror will get sidelined, or kicked out altogether. I guess this is what Des and others are feeling too? (though I don't speak for Des of course - he can speak for himself!  ;)). But if it means simply making things equal, then that's just how I think it should be. BFS in my opinion stands for British [Imaginative] Fiction Society - ie. we are all equal!

I guess I'm coming around to the idea of a split Award - if that's what it takes to make things equal.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: stevemosby on November 28, 2011, 06:50:14 pm
I think the whole thing is a very good arrangement - at least in terms of a substantial initial overhaul that can be streamlined in future as necessary. My feeling is that there are too many awards, so the ceremony becomes a bit unwieldy, but that's only my personal taste. The Society needs to give lesser-known authors in the field a foot up - to get the attention of the mainstream, larger publishers, who are obviously going to be drawn by the more central awards (Best Novel, etc) - so perhaps it's unavoidable.

My only concern is the practicalities - what happens in the result of a tie, specifically. That probably needs clarifying. I liked the original suggestion that the jury could remove a book at their unanimous discretion, but there you go. As things stand, I'll be voting yes.

Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: LouM on November 28, 2011, 06:52:14 pm
I can understand your point, Des - and yes, I do see where you're coming from. But the point is that the BFS isn't called the BWFS right now, and people expect it to reflect that. To go back to my example of book bloggers: they may not know much about Weird fiction. With the new anthology (which looks spectacular... I'm asking Santa for that, for sure) maybe this will change, but the fact is that many people expect "fantasy" to mean something substantially more than HPL: they *do* expect Tolkien, yes, and urban fantasy and crossovers and -god help us all - even the occasional bit of paranormal romance *in addition to* weird fiction and slipstream and Cthulu and King and so on.  Whether they understand where the "Fantasy" originally came from or not isn't really the issue  :)

Enfranchising fantasy isn't about disenfranchising horror - quite the opposite. It's about saying that this is what "the fantastic" encompasses. I've just read "The Shining" and then "The Night Circus" back to back, for example. Just because I read one doesn't mean I can't read the other. The broader the church we become, the more members we potentially attract. That gives us more clout, more funds, more opportunities - both for horror fans and fantasy fans and... I don't know, fans of novellas involving ghost-unicorns haunting space-zoos or something! No-one is trying to dismiss horror, but they are hoping to see it in balance with fantasy.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Des Lewis on November 28, 2011, 07:09:08 pm
. The broader the church we become, the more members we potentially attract.

My reading, I feel, is a very broad church.
But what you say within reason - a society is for like-minded people. Where do you draw the line?

This is what I said earlier, uncontested, on these forums a few weeks ago:

"It may be interesting to consider the place of Fantasy in the map of our interests. Does it belong to Horror (BFS) or SF (BSFA)? Is it a diaspora between the two looking for its rightful Society or a core interest in itself?  I, for one, am interested in SF and Fantasy and literary speculative fiction, but am interested from the standpoint of a Horror or Weird Fiction enthusiast (the BFS was originally called The British Weird Fantasy Society, as David R reminded us).  I suspect that, say, a Fantasy enthusiast may be interested in Horror and SF, but interested from a Fantasy enthusiast's point of view. And so on for a SF enthusiast."  
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: LouM on November 28, 2011, 07:17:16 pm
I think you might be using words that are too big for me, I'm afraid!  ;) I'm not quite sure I follow what you're saying there: I'm sure you aren't saying that someone who reads, say... modern urban fantasy and supernatural crime crossover (which edges into horror) has no place in the BFS - but I don't quite see where you're coming from.

. The broader the church we become, the more members we potentially attract.

My reading, I feel, is a very broad church.
But what you say within reason - a society is for like-minded people. Where do you draw the line?

This is what I said earlier, uncontested, on these forums a few weeks ago:

"It may be interesting to consider the place of Fantasy in the map of our interests. Does it belong to Horror (BFS) or SF (BSFA)? Is it a diaspora between the two looking for its rightful Society or a core interest in itself?  I, for one, am interested in SF and Fantasy and literary speculative fiction, but am interested from the standpoint of a Horror or Weird Fiction enthusiast (the BFS was originally called The British Weird Fantasy Society, as David R reminded us).  I suspect that, say, a Fantasy enthusiast may be interested in Horror and SF, but interested from a Fantasy enthusiast's point of view. And so on for a SF enthusiast."  
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 28, 2011, 07:20:28 pm
Des, like I said the awards for best novel show that at the beginning, the BFS was more flashing swords and Tolkien. So to answer your question - the seventies.   But really what's the issue in having at least half the BFS giving over to heroic fantasy, etc?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Des Lewis on November 28, 2011, 07:25:09 pm
I think you might be using words that are too big for me, I'm afraid!  ;) I'm not quite sure I follow what you're saying there: I'm sure you aren't saying that someone who reads, say... modern urban fantasy and supernatural crime crossover (which edges into horror) has no place in the BFS - but I don't quite see where you're coming from.

I love all that stuff you mention.
But when you spend money on joining a society of peers - you don't think to yourself (do you?) that the more members the society attracts (by expanding the society's core interest willy nilly) can only be for the better, i.e. for greater muscle. Greater muscle for what?  There is always an optimum balance, I feel, between a Society as an interest group and a Society as a commerical weapon that needs to draw on people outside that interest group.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: LouM on November 28, 2011, 08:02:02 pm
I really don't think that trying to encourage readers of fantasy to join an organisation called the British Fantasy Society is unrealistic, Des - nor is it expanding the Society's core interests willy nilly. It's not unrealistic of them to expect to see fantasy represented in its widest form, either. As you've said: you enjoy reading widely and you read and enjoy the examples I've given - how can representing those in addition to horror be a negative thing?

If the majority of the membership genuinely feel that it *is* a negative, I think we need to make it abundantly clear to anyone interested in joining precisely what the "fantasy" in the title stands for.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Des Lewis on November 28, 2011, 08:21:23 pm
I really don't think that trying to encourage readers of fantasy to join an organisation called the British Fantasy Society is unrealistic, Des - nor is it expanding the Society's core interests willy nilly. It's not unrealistic of them to expect to see fantasy represented in its widest form, either. As you've said: you enjoy reading widely and you read and enjoy the examples I've given - how can representing those in addition to horror be a negative thing?

If the majority of the membership genuinely feel that it *is* a negative, I think we need to make it abundantly clear to anyone interested in joining precisely what the "fantasy" in the title stands for.

OK fair enough. It's just BFS has grown to be what it is today, irrespective of its name.  If it's now growing into a different direction, I shall follow - within reason! :)
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: CarolineC on November 28, 2011, 08:54:34 pm
I'm not sure it is growing in a different direction, is it? (unless horror was given the heave-ho, which doesn't seem to be the case) I haven't been in the BFS as long as Des but since I've been here, I've always viewed it as including imaginative fiction in all its forms. OK so that includes heroic fiction, etc, too - which I have no interest in myself. But that doesn't mean I don't think that kind of fiction doesn't have a place in the BFS.

Sorry, Des, I'm disagreeing with what I think you're saying here (but correct me if I've got it wrong and that isn't what you're saying). The BFS should include all forms of imaginative fiction in my view, and what they're trying to do with this "redressing the balance" thing is to ensure that it does.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: David A. Riley on November 28, 2011, 09:48:13 pm
It seemed so much easier years ago to be both a fan of horror and fantasy, but that was in the days when fantasy was mainly represented by the likes of Moorcock, Leiber, Vance, Howard and Clark Ashton Smith, before the advent of Bible-sized triple deckers that went on to become almost endless series. The kind of fantasy popular during the early days of the BFS was much more closely akin to horror and often overlapped. I've never been able to get into the kind of stuff that molre accurately represents today's fantasy. On the other hand, quite a bit of today's horror isn't what I particularly care for either, which is why I usually only cast a few of the votes available to me in the BFAs as they were until now organised. 
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Des Lewis on November 28, 2011, 10:03:40 pm
Caroline, all fiction is imaginative. I love all sorts from Proust to King. I joined the BFS since it seemed to major on my major interest: Weird Fiction.  I am assuming that is now going to change. I may be wrong.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: neilw on November 28, 2011, 10:12:29 pm
Why should it change, Des? There's not a homogenous group mind to the BFS. Adding something to a society doesn't mean that you're necessarily taking something else away. The people who love horror can still talk about horror, the people who love the weird shit can still talk about that...if there are parallel conversations going on that involve THE fantasy, the people who aren't interested in that can just ignore it, surely?

Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Des Lewis on November 28, 2011, 10:18:31 pm
Why should it change, Des? There's not a homogenous group mind to the BFS. Adding something to a society doesn't mean that you're necessarily taking something else away. The people who love horror can still talk about horror, the people who love the weird shit can still talk about that...if there are parallel conversations going on that involve THE fantasy, the people who aren't interested in that can just ignore it, surely?

I still don't understand why Fantasy belongs to BFS and not BSFA.
I would like to bring other forms of literature into BFS, but I know - or thought I knew - it is tantamount to a Horror Society (with edges to other genres, not another genre with edges to Horror), so I don't try to make it, say, the Proust Society.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Des Lewis on November 28, 2011, 10:31:23 pm
[but I know - or thought I knew - it is tantamount to a Horror Society

for example, just as I know the Radio Times includes Radio listings at the back but is mainly bought by people for its bulk of pages and articles regarding TV listings. (A bad example perhaps, but it shows how a name can embrace something traditionally (by usage over years) quite different from the literal meaning of the words in its name)
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Amanda Rutter on November 28, 2011, 11:04:10 pm
I still don't understand why Fantasy belongs to BFS and not BSFA.

Umm, maybe because BFS stands for British Fantasy Society and BSFA stands for British Science Fiction Association? Just a thought?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: neilw on November 28, 2011, 11:59:01 pm
I've always felt the BSFA to be pretty inclusive as regards fantasy.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 29, 2011, 07:24:15 am
Graham, thanks for your thoughts on that amendment, and especially for clarifying that the two best novel categories are intended to be wide-ranging rather than restrictive.

Des's point is, I think, that for years BFS members have been told "the fantasy fans are coming!" Long term members have seen successive committees say, "If we do this they might start to like us." And I think he does have an arguable case: a society's biggest concern should be the interests of its actual members, not those of hypothetical non-members.

Having said that, from my point of view, there's no reason we shouldn't have a separate award for heroic fantasy. Even if it does currently seem to be only a minority interest of our members, who are, as he very rightly says, much more interested in the weird end of fantasy, the same could be said for comics and non-fiction (going on voting figures), and we have, and value very highly, awards for those.

But this proposed new award covers all fantasy, and it'll be the same members making recommendations for it, so it's likely to end up full of the kind of fantasy that our members seem to like: Graham Joyce, Neil Gaiman and in all likelihood Sam Stone. The jury will be able to ignore that, of course, and import the best heroic fantasy books that don't make the list, but that's kind of a sticking plaster approach. And will they import heroic fantasy? Or are they more likely to import Hugo winners, Booker winners, that kind of thing?

The question is, will this change achieve the intended goal? I'm not sure it will. Better, I reckon, to have an award specifically dedicated to the kind of fantasy that is under-represented. In practice, I reckon what this change - as proposed - would introduce is a new award devoted to horror, while the fantasy award would be everything that is currently in the best novel category, minus the four books in the horror shortlist.

That aside, it would be really helpful if one of the proposers could take us through the intended procedure for the split award, and answer some of the questions people have had about it. Is it, as the proposal states, one category with two prizes, or do they want it to be two categories with completely separate voting? Could you take us through the steps that the awards administrator will go through to produce the shortlist?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Des Lewis on November 29, 2011, 07:35:32 am
I still don't understand why Fantasy belongs to BFS and not BSFA.

Umm, maybe because BFS stands for British Fantasy Society and BSFA stands for British Science Fiction Association? Just a thought?

As Wittgenstein would have said, via a vis his 'meaning of a word is its use', the meaning of a Society or other grouping / publication etc is its membership / customers not its historically accidental name (like Radio Times?).
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 07:43:10 am
One category with two awards.  Thus the membership vote for their top four book choices on a first-past-the-post basis.  The jury, if they so wish it, and if they can reach unanimous agreement, can add one or two titles to that list.  If the members come up with a list of four horror books then I would expect a jury - mindful of its remit to offer both a Fantasy award and a Horror award - would have to add at least one Fantasy title to that list.  
If you want to encourage Fantasy-minded members, vote for the resolution.  If you don't want to encourage Fantasy-minded members, don't vote for the resolution.
It really is about people, not about precise mechanisms.  Neither is it a tablet of stone. If it doesn't work out next year then we change it at the AGM, or with an online vote.  Technology gives us this much more flexible democracy nowadays.  
The big question, as Des is right in saying, is do we want to see change in the BFS?  Or do we not?  Personally I do.  I think we need renewal and that means new people on the committee instead of us Old Guard types; new thinking about what the BFS offers; a new way of approaching the awards; and new thinking about the mebers we would like to welcome into the Society.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Des Lewis on November 29, 2011, 07:50:17 am
The big question, as Des is right in saying, is do we want to see change in the BFS?  Or do we not?  Personally I do.  I think we need renewal and that means new people on the committee instead of us Old Guard types; new thinking about what the BFS offers; a new way of approaching the awards; and new thinking about the mebers we would like to welcome into the Society.

I don't think it is old guard versu new guard. I'm all in favour of rejigging the Awards system and have said so for years. And your're right, it's what the members want. Are the members interested in Ramsey Campbell, Stephen Jones books, Johnny Mains books, Ex Occidente, Ash Tree Press, Chomu Press, VanderMeers' massive defining 'The WEIRD', Gary McMahon, Simon Clark,  Robert Aickman, Thomas Ligotti, Gary Fry, Stephen King, literary literature associated with the aforementioned, etc etc. Or are they interested in something else?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Des Lewis on November 29, 2011, 08:02:23 am

I don't think it is old guard versu new guard. I'm all in favour of rejigging the Awards system and have said so for years. And your're right, it's what the members want. Are the members interested in Ramsey Campbell, Stephen Jones books, Johnny Mains books, Ex Occidente, Ash Tree Press, Chomu Press, VanderMeers' massive defining 'The WEIRD', Gary McMahon, Simon Clark,  Robert Aickman, Thomas Ligotti, Gary Fry, Stephen King, literary literature associated with the aforementioned, etc etc. Or are they interested in something else?

That of course doesn't prevent anyone being interested (as I am) in all genres of fiction, but if you're joining a Society (with monetary outlay) one joins the Society for what it is interested in. One can join any number of Societies, also. I don't think anyone would suggest merging all Societies of fiction (wild west, fantasy, horror / weird, sf, literary literature, chick lit etc) into one Society to give it more muscle or size.  That's your choice - to choose which Society or Societies fits your interests best. (And as I suggested earlier to Caroline, all fiction is imaginative fiction).
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 08:13:26 am

well there you are and that's your choice in the vote, and I respect your right to vote which way you want  Sadly Des (and I'm not talking about your opinions on this issue) these last few weeks while I have been Acting Chair have proved to me that there is an Old Guard trying - often bitterly - to stop things from changing.  I'll write a blog about it when I'm done but I can't go into that now.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 29, 2011, 08:32:25 am
If the members come up with a list of four horror books then I would expect a jury - mindful of its remit to offer both a Fantasy award and a Horror award - would have to add at least one Fantasy title to that list.

But if fantasy is still defined in the wide way you mention, it's not an egregious oversight to have one particular sub-genre of fantasy absent from the list.

If you want to encourage Fantasy-minded members, vote for the resolution. If you don't want to encourage Fantasy-minded members, don't vote for the resolution.

I do want to encourage fantasy-minded members, but I don't think this is the way to do it. If this goes through, they may be encouraged for five minutes, but when the shortlists are announced I think it'll be worse than ever.

One interesting point that people may not realise is that heroic fantasy is generally over-represented on the longlist, in relation to the interest our members have in it - most of the heroic fantasy recommendations on the longlist come from a very small number of people who do their best to make sure it is represented. Those people will now be restricted to just three recommendations...

I would still be interested in knowing how BFS/FantasyCon members voted in the survey, leaving out the votes of non-members, who weren't supposed to be involved in the consultation.

It really is about people, not about precise mechanisms.

Sorry, but that's exactly the problem with these proposals, in my eyes. No precision, and way too much left to the fancies of the people involved. Will that help fix the problems these changes are intended to solve?

For example, if the recommendations process produces ten books that all got three recommendations, how does the awards administrator decide which four go onto the shortlist? This has been asked several times, but no one has been able to suggest a way to do it.

It's no good to have a procedure that isn't written down. The awards constitution is there to make sure the awards admin knows what to do, and that the awards admin who comes next knows what to do as well, and applies the rules in the same way. If the rules don't give any guidance on, for example, how the books should be divided into fantasy and horror lists, each admin will just have to follow their nose.

One thing that would make me tons happier about all this would be if the complete list of recommendations gets published, together with the number of recommendations each item received (I think this happened with the Stokers this year). That way, if novels are not put onto the fantasy shortlist despite high numbers of recommendations, we'll be able to ask why, and thus make proposals to refine the process.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 09:19:51 am
>But if fantasy is still defined in the wide way you mention, it's not an egregious oversight to have one particular sub-genre of fantasy absent from the list.<

No.  there may be several sub-genres absent from the list. Or none.

>>I do want to encourage fantasy-minded members, but I don't think this is the way to do it. If this goes through, they may be encouraged for five minutes, but when the shortlists are announced I think it'll be worse than ever.<<

yes Stephen but you think >everything< will be worse than ever because you wrote the previous system of rules (which I might add, ended up with the fiasco of this year's awards!) :-)

>I would still be interested in knowing how BFS/FantasyCon members voted in the survey, leaving out the votes of non-members, who weren't supposed to be involved in the consultation.<

I've answered this before.  Non-members WERE invited to particpate in the survey if they were convention goers.  Convention goers are allowed to vote on the awards, surely you realise that?  But they can't vote at AGMs or in ballots like this.  So the logic of it was to consult all the awards voters and then let the members - exclusively - decide.  Stephen I'm sorry to sound impatient with you but this has been explained many times in different places yet you keep bringing it back. I'm not even sure if we can separate the members' preferences from the covention voters' preference.  It woudl be very time consuming and pointless for Del or someone to have to do that.  And even if we had time to do it, why bother?  That was  a SURVEY.  This is a VOTE.

>For example, if the recommendations process produces ten books that all got three recommendations, how does the awards administrator decide which four go onto the shortlist? This has been asked several times, but no one has been able to suggest a way to do it.<

Okay, I really didn't want to tie a system down.  But would you be happier if we wrote in an STV or an ATV system?


>>One thing that would make me tons happier about all this would be if the complete list of recommendations gets published, together with the number of recommendations each item received (I think this happened with the Stokers this year). That way, if novels are not put onto the fantasy shortlist despite high numbers of recommendations, we'll be able to ask why, and thus make proposals to refine the process.<<

That would make a popular vote winner apparent.  And if the Jury happened to pick a different winner?  Back to square one.   Though as a compromise I'd be in favour of listing all the recommendations, but without numbers.

I'll leave it to other people to carry on discussing because I have lots of other things to do and I know you like arguing these thinsg to the point of entropy.   :)  Just let me add I respect your right to disagree.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 29, 2011, 09:24:10 am
If it doesn't work out next year then we change it at the AGM, or with an online vote.  Technology gives us this much more flexible democracy nowadays.

In principle I agree, but as I mentioned earlier in the thread your proposed new rules don't actually allow for changes to be made by an online vote. It's the AGM or nothing.

Thinking about that made me realise one other little thing that'll need clearing up.

Under the current awards constitution, changes may only be made by a formal vote of the BFS committee or a vote of the Annual General Meeting.

An EGM vote would have been fine I guess, but an online vote of members, such as the one proposed, isn't countenanced by the rules.

That's not a huge problem, though. All it means, to make sure everything is done properly, is that there will need to be either a vote of the committee to ratify the changes, or a vote at the EGM to do so.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 09:40:35 am
That's helpful! Thank you!  :)
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Jen on November 29, 2011, 09:45:30 am
If you want to encourage Fantasy-minded members, vote for the resolution.  If you don't want to encourage Fantasy-minded members, don't vote for the resolution.

Was dithering about the whole splitting genres aspect of it, but when you put it like that, it's suddenly a much more appealing proposal!  :D

Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 29, 2011, 09:48:48 am
>But if fantasy is still defined in the wide way you mention, it's not an egregious oversight to have one particular sub-genre of fantasy absent from the list.<

No.  there may be several sub-genres absent from the list. Or none.

No to what? I don't really understand - you seem to be agreeing with me, if anything.

yes Stephen but you think >everything< will be worse than ever because you wrote the previous system of rules (which I might add, ended up with the fiasco of this year's awards!) :-)

Yeah, but whatever happened last year is going to be multiplied now that people will only need half a dozen recommendations to go straight onto the shortlist. The only big thing that needed changing was to have a jury read the shortlist, and I'll vote for that change. The rest of the procedure was working pretty well, and just needed a few tweaks.

I've answered this before.  Non-members WERE invited to particpate in the survey if they were convention goers.  Convention goers are allowed to vote on the awards, surely you realise that?  But they can't vote at AGMs or in ballots like this.  So the logic of it was to consult all the awards voters and then let the members - exclusively - decide.  Stephen I'm sorry to sound impatient with you but this has been explained many times in different places yet you keep bringing it back. I'm not even sure if we can separate the members' preferences from the covention voters' preference.  It would be very time consuming and pointless for Del or someone to have to do that.  And even if we had time to do it, why bother?  That was  a SURVEY.  This is a VOTE.

I said - and not even to you, but in the context of someone telling everyone who doesn't support the changes to "get on board or piss off" - that 50% of members were against the split vote, and you jumped in to say I was completely wrong. But members includes BFS members and FantasyCon members. So basically, you're saying that 50% of members were against the split. There were people who voted in the survey who were neither BFS members nor FantasyCon members - Rhys Hughes said he did.

Yes, none of it matters very much, but you did jump down my throat about it.

Okay, I really didn't want to tie a system down.  But would you be happier if we wrote in an STV or an ATV system?

I would be happier if you restored the existing system for deciding the longlist and shortlist (i.e. just withdraw Recommendation 5), at least until someone thinks of something that will work better.

An STV or ATV system is fine when you're talking about voting on a short list of items, but how would it work when you're voting in the dark on every book published that year?

That would make a popular vote winner apparent. And if the Jury happened to pick a different winner?  Back to square one. Though as a compromise I'd be in favour of listing all the recommendations, but without numbers.

It wouldn't make a popular vote winner apparent. When we talk about recommendations, we're talking in terms of two, three or four people suggesting a book. That's the whole problem with your proposed method for deciding the shortlist, that it'll be produced by such low numbers.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Jen on November 29, 2011, 09:51:09 am
One interesting point that people may not realise is that heroic fantasy is generally over-represented on the longlist, in relation to the interest our members have in it - most of the heroic fantasy recommendations on the longlist come from a very small number of people who do their best to make sure it is represented. Those people will now be restricted to just three recommendations...

Ooh, I know.  It'll be terrible! I've now got to cut my list of 20 or so recs for fantasy novels and short stories down to 3.  This is going to be torment! ;)
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: David A. Riley on November 29, 2011, 09:51:52 am


yes Stephen but you think >everything< will be worse than ever because you wrote the previous system of rules (which I might add, ended up with the fiasco of this year's awards!) :-)



Was this the only time the present rules have resulted in a "fiasco", as you term it? If so, they would seem to have worked pretty well so far.

Would it have been termed a "fiasco" is someone else but David Howe had been Chairman at the time? If not, then the rules had nothing to do with it.

The only reason why the awards are being lambasted as a "fiasco" is because a number of people disagree with the results, even though these were by a democratic vote of the members and previous FantasyCon attendees. A couple of years ago when some people voiced criticism of a certain BFA winner they were condemned as spoil sports and of sour grapes - and worse.

I do feel that the society is being railroaded into changes over one awards ceremony. It was a hiccup, maybe, in a system that otherwise seems to have worked well for many years. Not everyone is ever going to agree with all the results whatever system is chosen, but I do feel that this current obsession is over the top.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Jen on November 29, 2011, 10:07:48 am

I don't think it is old guard versu new guard. I'm all in favour of rejigging the Awards system and have said so for years. And your're right, it's what the members want. Are the members interested in Ramsey Campbell, Stephen Jones books, Johnny Mains books, Ex Occidente, Ash Tree Press, Chomu Press, VanderMeers' massive defining 'The WEIRD', Gary McMahon, Simon Clark,  Robert Aickman, Thomas Ligotti, Gary Fry, Stephen King, literary literature associated with the aforementioned, etc etc. Or are they interested in something else?

That of course doesn't prevent anyone being interested (as I am) in all genres of fiction, but if you're joining a Society (with monetary outlay) one joins the Society for what it is interested in. One can join any number of Societies, also. I don't think anyone would suggest merging all Societies of fiction (wild west, fantasy, horror / weird, sf, literary literature, chick lit etc) into one Society to give it more muscle or size.  That's your choice - to choose which Society or Societies fits your interests best. (And as I suggested earlier to Caroline, all fiction is imaginative fiction).

However, when you see a society called the British Fantasy Society, you naturally assume that it's interested in, y'know, fantasy and has at least a decent representation of it, even if large amounts of members are more of the horror bent...

This member, f'rinstance, is far more interested in works by Charles De Lint, Seanan McGuire, Jim Butcher, Sarah Monette, Chaz Brenchley, Juliet McKenna, Terry Pratchett, Kate Griffin, Aliette de Bodard, Kari Sperring, Mark Charan Newton, Kate Eliot etc. than your above named examples (although I will admit a fondness for Jones anthos and all things King when it comes to horror stuff.)

As always, the key seems to be balancing all interests, which is what the BFS has always tried to do. 
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 10:18:45 am
>>The only reason why the awards are being lambasted as a "fiasco" is because a number of people disagree with the results, even though these were by a democratic vote of the members and previous FantasyCon attendees.<<

Not true about the lambasting, David.  The system had never been "exploited" before in this way if I can use that word.  Quite legally, yes. Even "democratically" if you like.  But in 20 years of membership I never had a friend or other writer in the Soc ask me to vote for them, nor did I ask them.  That was the prevailing culture and ethos of the Awards and it worked just fine.  Until now.  And though you can't "prove" any canvassing it was as plain as the nose on your face when offered a very clear "slate" of some baffling results.

You say the Society is being railroaded, but I say this to you (and you probably didn't know this):

32 authors and publishers - all what you would call "very signifcant names" - came together within a few hours of the results and said enough is enough, and that either this all changes or we are out.  They were embarrassed to be associated with this Society.  So was I.  We were  an international laughing stock (and in some eyes still are) and people wanted out.  There were even calls to set up a new Society. Without those "significant names" (and I'm sure it would have been easy to double or treble that number but the tipping point was well passed) the Society would have been a very fragile an dmaybe unsustainable thing.  But there were enough people on that list who wanted to stay in and try to put things right.  I agreed to be Acting Chair if people woudl roll up their sleeves, all on the promise that we would start by chaning the awards system.  This is no "railroad".  This is a salvage operation.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: David A. Riley on November 29, 2011, 10:32:10 am
If one awards ceremony could result in making so many people want to quit the BFS, etc., it makes me wonder why we have awards at all. The BFS is more than just a vehicle for handing these out, surely? If these matter more than anything else, it is a sad state of affairs.

Perhaps we should have a vote for abolishing the BFAs altogether.

To be honest, they figure so low in my scale of priorities the only winners I can remember over the years are those where there was some kind of controversy attached to them - which means not very many at all. Other than Sam Stone's awards this time, I can't remember any of the others even now. As for last year's I can't remember any at all.

I am far more interested in how the Society's website has been improved and in the quality and regularity of its publications and by the fact that there will be a FantasyCon next year.

Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Des Lewis on November 29, 2011, 10:34:58 am
If one awards ceremony could result in all this it makes me wonder why we have awards at all. The BFS is more than just a vehicle for handing these out, surely? If this matters more than anything else, it is a sad state of affairs.

Perhaps we should have a vote for abolishing the BFAs altogether.

I have sympathy with that view.
I certainly don't think there should be any expenditure on physical statuettes.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 10:37:55 am
Oh and another thing.  I think the culture of canvassing (I prefer the word boosting) caught up on us late.  There are several online awards these days where it's all about just getting your mum and your dad and your friends to register somewhere and vote, vote vote.  Even though ours is a member-vote it was inevitable that this mentailty would creep into our system.  Technology and online practice overtook us.  That's why I think we can't go back to the old way.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 29, 2011, 10:39:19 am
I don't know which way I'd vote, David, but I agree that it might be worth putting that to the membership. It would certainly make things much more peaceful.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 10:41:47 am
Thanks for your comments about the website!  It's all the magnificent work of Del Lakin Smith.  I think it's a massive contribution to the look and feel and even the character of the Society, and we're hoping it's going to be a major tool in involving the membership in all kinds of ways, including decision making.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 10:43:32 am
peaceful, yes!  :D
but please, if you're going to put it to the membership, I beg you to wait until next year.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 10:49:32 am
>>If one awards ceremony could result in making so many people want to quit the BFS, etc., it makes me wonder why we have awards at all. The BFS is more than just a vehicle for handing these out, surely? If these matter more than anything else, it is a sad state of affairs.<<

Oh there were other big issues too but let's not go there.  The awards though is the public face of the Society and you don't want to be in a position where you feel embarrassed by them.  You want to be able to promote & showcase them to other readers, other genres, other venues.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 29, 2011, 10:50:41 am
Oh and another thing.  I think the culture of canvassing (I prefer the word boosting) caught up on us late.  There are several online awards these days where it's all about just getting your mum and your dad and your friends to register somewhere and vote, vote vote.  Even though ours is a member-vote it was inevitable that this mentailty would creep into our system.  Technology and online practice overtook us.  That's why I think we can't go back to the old way.

I don't disagree - although canvassing and boosterism are different things, since canvassing involves active effort on the part of the nominee, but boosterism doesn't - but these aren't new issues.

In fact, I brought them up at the AGM 2010, and said outright, people are joining the BFS specifically to vote for friends and relatives in the awards, and it's affecting the shortlists, what should we do about it?

I don't think you were there that year, Graham, but the people who were there, including, I would bet, some of the industry folk who would have signed your letter, said no, the more members the better.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 10:53:35 am
signed what letter?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 29, 2011, 10:56:00 am
Sorry, I meant your 32 people in publishing - at the time I was told that they had given Ramsey a letter about their concerns. Sorry for any misunderstanding.

Edited to add, just to be ultra-clear: I meant "your letter" as in "the letter to which you refer", not "the letter that you wrote".
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: LouM on November 29, 2011, 11:00:37 am
Re: the website, I think it's really evolving nicely. I've no idea how the traffic compares to the old site, but I've certainly found it much more user-friendly. I hope everyone can appreciate the amount of effort Del's put in, and the great job he & Caroline are doing keeping it fresh!  :)
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 11:02:57 am
oh I see, the statement to Ramsey signed by the 32.  I was just the idiot who agreed to be Acting Chair.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 11:04:56 am
Oh I didn't mention Caroline's terrific work, too.   :-[ Thanks for reminding me Lou!
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 11:06:23 am
Stephen, did people really get their family to join in order to vote???
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 29, 2011, 11:16:48 am
You could never say that people got their family to join in order to vote; there's no proof of intent. I don't think you even need that to explain it - people just do it out of love. It's sweet, from their point of view, but problematic from ours.

But one way or another friends and family were joining, and then voting the same day in the same way.

Sorry to harp on, but that's my worry about the truncated new procedure for deciding the shortlist - that'll happen even more, and be even more decisive.

It's for similar reasons that I've been suggesting for a while that we introduce a rule against recommending the work of your spouse - that accounted for lots of stuff on the longlist in previous years (including my own magazine - I told Ranj not to do it!). I would have put that to the AGM this year if I'd still been in post.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: rhysaurus on November 29, 2011, 11:30:11 am
People will go to strange lengths to get want they want; so it wouldn't surprise me if it was proved that writers were getting their friends and family to join just to vote for them. The system is corrupt for the simple reason that all such systems are automatically corrupt. Human nature, of course. With the BFS it's not really malign corruption and I don't think there's any massive Machiavellian forethought and scheming going on (apart from in a very few instances). It's more a case of writers increasing their chances by using foul as well as fair means, if that's what it takes...

Nobody ever proposes or supports or pushes an idea unless it's in their best interest. If I was a horror writer who happened to be a nice guy (genuine or fake) with lots of friends who were horror writers/readers; and if I socialised a lot and went to lots of conventions and knew Ramsey Campbell personally and chuckled with him over beers, then I'd certainly want the BFS system to stay exactly the way it was... But as a non-horror writer who isn't particularly nice with no friends in the business who doesn't socialise and never goes to conventions and doesn't get on with Ramsey Campbell and doesn't chuckle with him over beers, then it's in my interest for the BFS system to change.

So I welcome these changes. I still won't win any awards but now I won't get them more fairly.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Peter Coleborn on November 29, 2011, 11:42:25 am
Thanks for your comments about the website!  It's all the magnificent work of Del Lakin Smith.  I think it's a massive contribution to the look and feel and even the character of the Society, and we're hoping it's going to be a major tool in involving the membership in all kinds of ways, including decision making.

Yes, Del has done wonders, but don't forget Caroline and Craig and others putting up the news and reviews, making the website vital.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: David A. Riley on November 29, 2011, 11:42:30 am
Other than that I do write horror and do occasionally go to conventions, I think I'm very much like you, Rhys.  >:(

What does bother me is that 32 industry professionals more or less blackmailed the BFS committee into doing something about the BFAs. That bothers me a lot. I like to think that the BFS exists for the fans, as it was originally set up, not for "industry professionals". Otherwise, why not merge the society into the HWA?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 29, 2011, 11:43:33 am
These issues have been around for ages. I've been rumours of block voting since I went to my first convention in 1998. It's worth saying that I was never approached by Sam to vote for her. In fact the closest I've heard to what would come closest to the definition of canvassing is a claim by one author that he received a round-robin email asking for his vote in the awards with the promise that he would be supported in future. The author who said that he received this email said that the justification for it was that  the BFS was run by a cabal. This was back in 2000. I don't know if any of this is true and I don't really care. It's done with now, it broke no rules and in the scale of fuckups that we can make in our lives it ranks pretty small.

 It's true Sam  promoted her novel vigorously  in general via FB and also reminded people on many occasions of voting deadlines. I make no judgements here on that, in fact the latter is actually helpful because that benefits everybody. It's no secret that the turnout in these ballots tends to be dreadful. However, there is no doubt that by doing such things Sam would have fired up her electoral base in a way that others on the shortlist didn't. She got out the vote, unintentionally or intentionally. Again, I make no judgement on it, expect to say that it broke no rules and I don't really see it as canvassing. And in terms of trying to a win a contest based on popularity I would say it's admirable.

But here-in lies the problem and the reason why it is an old rather than a new one. We are not trying to pick the most popular book but the best one and that's impossible with a FPTP system with a small number of voters. It's just too easy to distort the results whether through organised block voting, getting the vote out, informal alliances together to ensure somebody wins when its their turn (I've heard this one from BFS old timers) and any other number of extraneous factors that will influence the results. The author and perhaps even sometimes  the voters do not even have to be conscious that this is happening But happen it does. What is definitely not happening is that voters are reading all the works and making an informed judgement.

I guess I am saying all this because I feel that it is wrong to say that the need to reform stems from this year or that Sam and Dave are responsible for it. These failings are institutional and long-standing that were made more glaring this year than others through a number of factors ranging from technology, an over-worked chairman  to a much larger attendance than usual.

Anyway, all of this is backward looking. There is a robust reform process going and it is right and proper that we concentrate on that.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: rhysaurus on November 29, 2011, 11:46:35 am
Well I'm not an 'industry professional'. I don't get paid enough to claim that for myself. But I am a fan. I'm a fan of fantastical literature. That's the term I prefer for it. But I will settle for 'fantasy' as a description of the kind of fiction I like.

And I forgot to say... if the BFS does become more fantasy-oriented then I'll join... If it remains horror-oriented I won't join: I'll remain unjoined, like an exploded marionette.

By 'fantasy' I don't mean Tolkien and elves. Fantasy to me means a broad spectrum of imaginative fiction ranging from Alfau to Zamyatin. How does fantasy differ from horror? It generally has more ideas and is capable of more innovation. And it's more international. I can think of plenty of African or South American or Middle Eastern fantasy writers, but not too many horror writers from those regions. Anyway...
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 11:48:13 am

Blackmailed?  Knock it off David.  They just said they'd had enough shit. Me too, I'd had enough shit. 
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 11:53:11 am
This is what gets me cross, you see.  A group of people try to take political action to improve an intolerable situation about a dysfunctional Society to which they subscribe funds and it gets traduced as "blackmail".  I wouldn't mind so much if you were talking from a position of knowledge. 
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: David A. Riley on November 29, 2011, 11:53:35 am

Blackmailed?  Knock it off David.  They just said they'd had enough shit. Me too, I'd had enough shit. 

Smells like blackmail to me.  

Oddly enough, when Chris Barker complained about insider bias years ago, he got howled at. 32 "industry professionals" sign a letter about it and the society falls over itself to "set things right".

Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 29, 2011, 11:54:59 am
I think if BFS members were in favour of the present system no amount of bullying from the major publishers would change anything. In fact it would harden opposition. I am sure that if we have a system that inspires confidence and there's whining about it from the outside we can tell them to shove it. At the moment, all we can do is look at the floor, shuffle our feet and giggle nervously.  And I am not sure that the BFS Committee was in a position to be bullied anything when all this kicked off. It seemed to be barely functioning the first couple of weeks after the convention.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Des Lewis on November 29, 2011, 11:55:14 am
By 'fantasy' I don't mean Tolkien and elves. Fantasy to me means a broad spectrum of imaginative fiction ranging from Alfau to Zamyatin. How does fantasy differ from horror?

Rhys, I don't think Horror and the type of fantasy you like (and I like, including your work!) are different from each other. they blend into each other inextricably. See the VanderMeers' 'The WEIRD' as very recent evidence of this .

Edited for typo.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 11:56:37 am
If I stop supporting my football club cos I don't like the way it's run, that's blackmail is it? Frankly that's an insult. 
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 29, 2011, 11:58:06 am
David, Chris Barker got howled at because he attacked Ramsay Campbell in the most personal terms more than he said that the BFS is basically a vehicle for his own interests. He didn't say anything about the voting, just that Ramsay was the devil incarnate.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Peter Coleborn on November 29, 2011, 12:00:40 pm
Des, the name name is the British Fantasy Society, not the Des Fantasy (or Weird or Horror) Society. Therefore it should have a wide appeal to all readers (not just you) of a very broad church called "Fantasy". If the BFS were to become so proscriptive, writers such as Ian Watson and Rob Holdstock who write (or wrote) everyting from outright horror to fantasy would have a third of their oeuvre ignored. That can't be right.

Yup, the BFS was initially created for readers of fantasy (the fans). Over the years more and more have become professionals or semi-professionals. It's only fair, therefore, that the BFS caters for these people, as well as the fans.

I hadn't appreciated until now that the jury will determine the two novel awards from a single shortlist of 4-6 titles. Might not this take away the mystery if that shortlist included just one obvious fantasy book? Perhaps they should create two shortlists (fantasy and horror) or a longer shortlist that includes more-or-less equal numbers of fantasy and horror books?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: David A. Riley on November 29, 2011, 12:01:10 pm
If I stop supporting my football club cos I don't like the way it's run, that's blackmail is it? Frankly that's an insult. 

Of course no longer supporting your football club cos you don't like the way it's run isn't blackmail. Threatening to stop supporting it if things don't change...
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: rhysaurus on November 29, 2011, 12:02:12 pm
> just that Ramsay was the devil incarnate...

Carefully, Charles! He's gets annoyed if you spell his name wrong. He's the devil incarnate, you see.

I think Graham Joyce has done a marvellous job. I say that quite objectively, as I never lick arse. Not for cash, not for protein, not for pleasure.

Des: I agree to some extent, disagree to others.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 12:04:39 pm
Ah yes I remember that now.  This all helps me to see where people are coming from.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Des Lewis on November 29, 2011, 12:06:00 pm
Des, the name name is the British Fantasy Society, not the Des Fantasy (or Weird or Horror) Society.

I've never implied that. I was merely going on my perception of past empirical evidence of the Society's interests predominantly (ie a gestalt to date of all members).
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 29, 2011, 12:09:29 pm
I got Ramford's name wrong? Shit!!
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Amanda Rutter on November 29, 2011, 12:13:47 pm
What does bother me is that 32 industry professionals more or less blackmailed the BFS committee into doing something about the BFAs.

Words like blackmail and fraud are not good ones to throw around, David. They cause ill feeling and offence. Try and make your point in a more valid way.

I stepped up to be Treasurer because I am a great advocate of the speculative fiction arena. Since I joined the scene two years ago, I've made masses of friends through conventions and chatting via email/Twitter. I couldn't give two hoots what people actually read and like. What I do care about is that the BRITISH FANTASY SOCIETY was being laughed around town. People weren't taking it seriously anymore. And fantasy fiction (speculative fiction, if you prefer a more umbrella term) has way too many people laughing at it OUTSIDE of our little gang without adding to it.

What I've found most horrible about the last couple of months is the fact that certain people have stepped into the firing line and said "I want to help to keep the British Fantasy Society running" - because that is what it comes down to. If people like Del and Graham and Lou and Lizzie and, yes, myself, hadn't stepped forward, then we would have seen the BFS collapse, I think. Rather than see that, we're trying to bring it back to a position where people can be proud to belong to a society of like-minded individuals.

And when I say like-minded individuals, I mean people who like a more alternative reading list than the latest Booker shortlist, or people who want to meet up with their mates at a gathering that involves authors of both horror and fantasy (and even sci-fi - Brian Aldiss was one of our brill GoH at the last Fantasycon, after all!) When I say like-minded individuals, I mean those who don't throw around words like fraud and blackmail when people step up to try and make a difference.

Honestly, I am saddened by the fact that people would even use those words outside of a courtroom  :'(
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: David A. Riley on November 29, 2011, 12:23:02 pm
On the contrary, Amanda, I think the BFS has had a great two years. It's publications have appeared regularly and have been of excellent quality. We have had two very successful fantasycons. I can't see why during that time the BFS was being laughed at. It has had periods in its past when it became dysfunctional and almost collapsed, but that has not been the case over the past few years and I think Guy Adams, then Stephen Theaker and David Howe did very good jobs as chair and acting-chair (in Stephen Theaker's case). Up until the debacle over the BFAs the BFS would seem to have been in excellent shape. If it was being laughed at during that time it was by people who will laugh at anything - and there are always going to be those outside the BFS who will do that, just because they like to.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Peter Coleborn on November 29, 2011, 12:33:47 pm
On the contrary, Amanda, I think the BFS has had a great two years. It's publications have appeared regularly and have been of excellent quality. We have had two very successful fantyasycons. I can't see why during that time the BFS was being laughed at. It has had periods in its past when it became dysfunctional and almost collapsed, but that has not been the case over the past few years and I think Guy Adams, then Stephen Theaker and David Howe did very good jobs as chair and acting-chair (in Stephen Theaker's case). Up until the debacle over the BFAs the BFS would seem to have been in excellent shape. If it was being laughed at during that time it was by people who will laugh at anything - and there are always going to be those outside the BFS who will do that, just because they like to.

Like David says, up until FC2011 the BFS was going through a boom time. with regular good quality publications (individual magazines and then the combined Journal). Fantasycons in 2011, 2010, 2009, etc were all successful events. I have no knowledge of widespread ridicule before FC2011 -- and I know a lot of industry professional types, have done so for a long time, and they never let on. Sure, there was always someone mouthing off about the society, maybe trying to undermine it -- but that's life. Let's hope the new BFS committee builds on that past success.

Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 12:37:04 pm
It's amazing what words people will use in the safety of the internet.  Words they would never say to your face.  Someone should commission a study.  In the short few weeks I've been Acting Chair, I and the amazing group of people I recruited to help me in these jobs have been accused of attempting "financial fraud", "acting in bad faith", "self-seeking", "self-serving", "being in it only for what they can get", "blackballing" and recently "blackmail".  My self-loathing for having taken on this job and having encouraged other good people to get involved goes off the scale every day.  But somehow I still find that the British Fantasy Society is mainly populated by wonderful, inspirational people.  I wish more of these people wouldl come on the Forum, but I understand why they don't.


Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Amanda Rutter on November 29, 2011, 12:37:52 pm
If the BFS was functioning so well, why is it that we are scratching our heads now over some of the financial information? If it was functioning so well, why is it that David Howe ended up doing about seven different committee jobs? If it was functioning so well and the publications were of such good quality, why do we have piles of them in someone's house, gathering dust? If it was doing so well, why don't we have a thriving membership? If everything was going swimmingly, why was I personally emailed by someone, asking whether I would vote for them in the awards?

I barely knew what the BFS was until I went to Fantasycon this year - and then I thought that the organisers of Fantasycon were the people who ran the BFS! The publicity for the BFS and the awards, in particular, has been pretty much non-existent to date, as far as I am concerned. I've had more emails about the David Gemmell Legend Award than I have the BFS Awards.

It IS being laughed at and people are poking fun (including three national newspapers, who consider the BFS a laughing stock - after all, if you can't get your awards right, what can you get right?)
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 29, 2011, 12:48:28 pm
I think it's the voting system that needs sorting. The BFS as a whole is certainly doing better than it was seven years ago when it nearly died. I can't say why there are piles of publications gathering dust but I am certainly happy with the ones I've received - they're the best in the 13 years since I've been a member  But it's true that David took too much on because people weren't coming forward, and that's not a sign of health and I think it's great that people have come forward to help. But I also think that Peter is right to say that the BFS on the whole was on an upward trend over the last few years. Which is why many of us found what happened at the awards so dismaying.

As for the press, the article in the Daily Express wasn't worth pissing on and the Daily Mail just copied it. I give neither of these publications any credence.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: David A. Riley on November 29, 2011, 01:01:14 pm
I think David's biggest fault was taking too much on and not proactively looking for help. There has always been a shortage of volunteers. That applies to many organisations, not just us. Most tasks within the BFS are time consuming, which I suppose is why people like to take a break after a couple of years. I felt like one after editing Prism for two years.

I agree with you, Charles, about the newspaper reports. Not even fit for wrapping up chips.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Des Lewis on November 29, 2011, 01:08:01 pm
I agree with you, Charles, about the newspaper reports. Not even fit for wrapping up chips.

Agreed. If others are judging the BFS by those newspapers, they'll probably not join the BFS anyway.
Simply jurify (or abolish) the BFAs, (Simply means simply: jury voted by members, members produce long list, jury produce winners, and no split awards between genres) - and then the BFS will be as great as it has ever been.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Jec on November 29, 2011, 01:09:40 pm
You ask why people don't use the forum Graham.

Its very simple. Many people, like me, are too busy to lurk on forums, which are time consuming and sadly often not that interesting.

But I do agree with you on one point.

Like you I have been appalled at some of the things being said of late - from various directions I might add!!

It is high time people stopped snarking and sniping at each other. 

Be nice, people.

Have a discussion once in a while without chucking teddies right and left.

Stop posting on blogs and forums outside of the BFS making generalisations on both sides of this debate that are both hurtful and unhelpful.

It would make the BFS will be a far better place to be.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 29, 2011, 01:18:39 pm
It's amazing what words people will use in the safety of the internet.  ... "blackballing"

If you're referring to me with regard to blackballing, I didn't say that you were blackballing anyone, which, yes, would have been insulting.

I said that your proposal would allow for it to happen. There's a huge difference. And I would have said exactly the same if you'd proposed it at an AGM.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: David A. Riley on November 29, 2011, 01:41:00 pm
It's amazing what words people will use in the safety of the internet.  ... "blackballing"

If you're referring to me with regard to blackballing, I didn't say that you were blackballing anyone, which, yes, would have been insulting.

I said that your proposal would allow for it to happen. There's a huge difference. And I would have said exactly the same if you'd proposed it at an AGM.

Likewise, there's absolutely nothing in any of the posts I have put on this forum that I would not have been prepared to state face to face at any time, word for word.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 02:14:46 pm
Blackballing is a nasty means of secretly isolating or shunning an individual. Here we were talking about an procedure for ruling out certain works.  These are very different works.
As for Blackmail david, if you called me a blackmailer to my face I wouldn't let you get away with it.  You don't me well enough.  You don't know whether I'd shrug it off, laugh, insult you back. I might even get really mean. You don't know what I'd do.  I'm a stranger to you, as you are to me. 
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: David A. Riley on November 29, 2011, 02:19:16 pm
Strangely enough, Graham, we have met. I was at a Preston SF meeting when you had your first book published and I bought one off you.

Even stranger, I didn't realise I was accusing you of blackmail, but the mysterious 32 "industry professionals" who signed that letter.

As for getting really mean, well, so be it. Water off a duck's back to me.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Jec on November 29, 2011, 02:23:59 pm
This is just what I am talking about.
Stop it  - both of you.
Have a debate by all means but getting personal - and frankly not very adult - solves nothing.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: CarolineC on November 29, 2011, 02:25:26 pm
Woah, folks! I've been watching this from a distance for most of the time and, as a bit of an outside observer, I can say that I can see a lot of good in all this. The fact that people are commenting here, often passionately and using words which can inflame (albeit unintentionally), shows me that there's a lot of strong feeling for the BFS and a desire for it to succeed. It's right that we should all be talking about this, and it's great that people are throwing themselves at it - either as committee members, new and long-standing, or by voicing their opinions and concerns here.

So let's look at this in a positive light - there's a lot of passion for the BFS and a desire to get this right. Let's harness all that energy and get the BFS to the point where everyone - inside and out - can be really proud of it.

Meanwhile, I'm off to sort out some more news for the website ...
(if anyone fancies a break from all this to take part in a little competition - committee members excluded - I'll be setting one up shortly   ;))
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Amanda Rutter on November 29, 2011, 02:25:35 pm
Water off a duck's back to me.

It might be water off a duck's back to you, David, but it might not be to someone else. Other people might be very hurt by the comments that you're making and the manner in which you are talking to other people.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 29, 2011, 02:26:12 pm
Really, describing as blackmail a letter that says "change the rules or we destroy the society" isn't all that outrageous. Especially when it has only now become public knowledge, months after this secret ultimatum was issued. I don't think it's worth anyone getting offended by what David has said, especially people who didn't sign the letter.

As far as blackballing goes, you're splitting hairs, Graham - it was a procedure to secretly kick people off the shortlist. And like I said, my criticism was aimed at the procedure, and the doubt it would cast over the process, not an insinuation that you were going to blackball anyone. Thank goodness it's gone.

I appreciate however that you might be getting it in the neck from people who I've long-since blocked on Facebook, and it's probably getting quite hard to tell who is arguing out of principle or fussiness and who is arguing out of spite.  :)
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Jec on November 29, 2011, 02:28:26 pm
I give up. :(
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 29, 2011, 02:30:26 pm
Guys, this is all getting a bit heated. I am sure that nobody here is accusing anybody of anything. I think we need to be careful in both the words we use and the way we interpret each others remarks. This forum is at its best when it focuses on the practicalities of the resolutions and recommendations that are being put to the vote in a couple of day's time. I think it would be great if got back to that.

David, I do think that it's not blackmail for a group of people to threaten to leave a society if they don't like the direction it is heading. This happens quite often, mainly in political organisations, but in others too. Yes, it's a form of pressure but it's not blackmail.  In my particular case, I had decided to support a jury system before that letter was released. But the letter dismayed me, not so much because it was written by professionals but because close to 10% of the BFS members, many of them well-known to me, was threatening to walk out. And it wouldn't have stopped there. At one stage it looked like the BFS was going to disintegrate so swift action needed to be taken. If the process had shown that most of the BFS had supported FPTP, I think many of those who had written that letter would have stayed because enough time would have passed for reflection and discussion of the issues involved. I doubt that anybody has voted for a jury system because of the letter signed back in October - I have to admit I had completely forgotten about it.  
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: David A. Riley on November 29, 2011, 02:33:41 pm
Water off a duck's back to me.

It might be water off a duck's back to you, David, but it might not be to someone else. Other people might be very hurt by the comments that you're making and the manner in which you are talking to other people.

Would pressurise or coerce be better then? It was not my intention to hurt anyone, though the idea of a group of people, whoever they are, getting together to sign a joint letter to make the BFS act in a certain way did annoy me when I learned about it.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 29, 2011, 02:33:56 pm
I didn't know the letter had been released publicly - I'd love to read it if anyone can point me in the right direction?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: SAWatts on November 29, 2011, 02:38:57 pm
Re awards admin - I've been doing a little background reading and have one or two suggestions - which may or may not be helpful.

I note the awards admin at the BSFA acknowledges all nominations (recommendations) as they come in and they are listed on the SFWA website.

She also encourages SFWA members to contact her at any time with any concerns, feedback or queries.

There's been some regret re the longlist - I think listing recommendations might encourage members to add new works and also check out works they were not aware of. It would also encourage new writers and publishers.

There's also been some concern re ties - maybe if recommendations were listed in order 1, 2 and 3 - that might help in the event of a tie?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 29, 2011, 02:44:42 pm
I might be misremembering this but I thought I had least seen talk of this letter on a thread on FB. Certainly I got the impression that just after Steve Jone's letter got released that the clamour for reform had become unstoppable and that there was a real danger people were going to walk out.

David, my understanding is that when Graham took this task on, the BFS Committee  wasn't even functioning so I don't understand how its hand was forced in any way. I still don't see how the words coerce or force are really applicable, though. It is perfectly legitimate for somebody to say that they will resign from an organisation or position if they find a situation intolerable. It is then up to others to decide how to react to such a letter. People still have a choice.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 29, 2011, 02:46:17 pm
We need more posts like Sarah's. I particularly like the idea of ranking recommendations.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: neilw on November 29, 2011, 02:48:39 pm
Sarah - just for clarity - that'll be the "BSFA website" etc, not the SFWA one (?) :D
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Jen on November 29, 2011, 02:49:13 pm
There's also been some concern re ties - maybe if recommendations were listed in order 1, 2 and 3 - that might help in the event of a tie?

Yes, this.  :)  Though didn't we used to do that a few years ago on the awards, with 3 points being allocated to the #1 choice, 2 to the #2 & 1 to the #3?  Or am I misremembering?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Mike Chinn on November 29, 2011, 02:50:49 pm
There's also been some concern re ties - maybe if recommendations were listed in order 1, 2 and 3 - that might help in the event of a tie?

Yes, this.  :)  Though didn't we used to do that a few years ago on the awards, with 3 points being allocated to the #1 choice, 2 to the #2 & 1 to the #3?  Or am I misremembering?

Certainly was back when I was involved - you know: when dinosaurs ruled the earth...
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 29, 2011, 02:51:14 pm
It's exactly what we do now... So why not just leave the current recommendations and longlist process intact, and just change how we choose a winner from the shortlist?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 29, 2011, 02:52:18 pm
What's really annoying me is that this my 20th post and I am still an initiate. I feel quite blue about it
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 29, 2011, 02:53:16 pm
Stephen does make a lot of sense on this particular topic.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: SAWatts on November 29, 2011, 03:06:33 pm
Neil - blush! yes - BSFA :)

Stephen - I was thinking if members are to make 3 recommendations and the shortlist comes from those recommendations as is proposed: rather than have 2 votes for the longlist and the short list as we do now - not vote on a longlist as such but simply have a record  of what is recommended.

It would be a boost to writers and publishers to see their work listed.

Also - there would be transparency? If recs are acked as they come in - then if something slips through the net a member might contact the awards admin and say - I recommended x - where is it? :)

It would mean the awards admin checking eligibility as each rec came in but that's all to the good?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Peter Coleborn on November 29, 2011, 03:10:57 pm
I did not mean to say (in a previous post umpteen pages back) that everything was hunky dory. Of course there were problems that needed resolving, things needed doing in order to evolve. Yes, too many responsibilities fell onto just one or two people. It's a pity that more people didn't volunteer to stand for the committee before the shit hit the fan.

As for the Express and the Mail -- they didn't start mocking us until after Fantasycon 2011, not before. Only the Guardian seemed to know about the BFS -- and they enjoyed taking pop shots at us now and again.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 29, 2011, 03:12:02 pm
So in practical terms, what you're effectively proposing there, Sarah, is that we skip the existing recommendations process altogether, and go straight to voting on the longlist (but without the longlist).

I don't know. It's something I certainly considered during the long nights spent checking the recommendations!

Having a longlist does focus people's votes, but I suppose listing what people have voted for on the website might have a similar effect. It is much easier to check the recommendations all at once, though - you can send publishers all your queries in one email, rather than several.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 03:13:04 pm
we could certainly write in a 1-2-3 ranking. that would avoid ties.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 03:14:07 pm
I guess though you would need to decide whether to go for ATV or STV.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: jim mcleod on November 29, 2011, 03:15:05 pm
forgive my ignorance but what is ATV, STV?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 03:18:02 pm
Single Transferable Vote or Alternative Transferable Vote are different ways of counting a 123 preference.  hang on I'll find a link to explain the difference
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Peter Coleborn on November 29, 2011, 03:21:09 pm
we could certainly write in a 1-2-3 ranking. that would avoid ties.

That's how it was done when I ran the awards yonks ago -- it did make it easier to determine winners, even with small numbers of ballots. Perhaps this 3-2-1 could be used to create the longlist...
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Peter Coleborn on November 29, 2011, 03:22:32 pm
Single Transferable Vote or Alternative Transferable Vote are different ways of counting a 123 preference.  hang on I'll find a link to explain the difference

This is when it gets difficult to understand (to folk like me). Doesn't Locus use something like this for their awards?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 03:25:01 pm
Alternative vote:  http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/alternative-vote

Single Transferable Vote: http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/single-transferable-vote
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 03:38:15 pm
actually this might explain the AV system easier. (ignore the silly video).  you would take your top 4.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Andrew Hook on November 29, 2011, 03:39:45 pm
I think you missed out the link on your last post Graham...
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 03:45:20 pm

Hmm sorry

Ok this shows the Single T vote system: http://uclu.org/get-involved/guide-to-the-voting-system.php

And this is the silly video one with ATV http://www.tsdsu.co.uk/content/700303/have_your_say/elections/stvatv_voting/

The Single V is more commonly used for multiple positions, though you could also use the AV to make a top 4
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 29, 2011, 03:46:36 pm
A single transferable vote would have been a decent and respectable alternative to having a jury decide the shortlist, but I'm not sure how well it would work at an earlier stage - surely there are too many alternatives?

And it would mean, in a way, that we all only get to make one recommendation, because only the first will be counted.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 29, 2011, 03:50:05 pm
I'd go for AV. That way all the votes and preferences get to mean something. Jesus I can feel my inner political geek stirring within my cynical old breast
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 03:50:43 pm
yes but a jury is what the great majority wanted in the survey - that's why the resolution is being put.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 03:54:15 pm

or we could say that we will have a preferential vote" and let The Awards Administrator conuslt and decide the exact mechanism.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 29, 2011, 03:58:28 pm
Yes, Graham, I realise that a jury to decide the winner was what the majority (including me) voted for in the survey.

I was contrasting how it would work at that stage with a small number of choices (pretty well) with how it would work at an earlier stage with hundreds of choices (much less well, I think).
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Andrew Hook on November 29, 2011, 03:58:35 pm
I mentioned this yesterday:

>>Unless I've missed it, I can't find anything dealing with the query over BFS committee members being eligible for awards. On the vote, 114 said they should be and 112 disagreed. Surely this needs to be addressed?

Has there been any movement on that? Or is it up for discussion at the EGM?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: stevemosby on November 29, 2011, 03:59:31 pm
There's also just the basic, truncated 'Eurovision' method: nominate a top three, with reverse 1-3 points awarded. The highest scoring books overall go forward to a juried shortlist.

I have no idea whether that gets rid of the 'huge number of books with the same number of points' problem, but it seems a reasonable way of handling things. The problem Stephen raises - multiple people all voting for different titles by the same person - only seems to apply in the short story category anyway. You could probably - if you were so inclined - use canvassing to steamroll a single title onto the best novel shortlist, but that's ultimately what the jury's there to address.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 04:01:46 pm
Steve
That would simplify it in good way!
Andrew, no I think I've missed this one.  Please say more.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 29, 2011, 04:03:49 pm
Steve, Graham - that's just what Sarah was saying - and it's exactly what our current procedure for voting on the longlist is - except without providing an actual list to pick from. And that voting system does work fairly well - the shortlists haven't been that bad. The current rule for deciding between ties at this stage is as follows:

Quote
In the event of a tie at this stage, third choice votes for the tied items will be discounted. If this does not separate them, second choice votes for the tied items will be discounted. If the items cannot be separated in this way, both will go through to the shortlist. However, if two items from the same writer are tied, the writer will be given the choice of which should go through.

I was thinking a bit more about Sarah's suggestion of doing that - jumping straight to what we now call voting on the longlist - awarding 3/2/1 points to our favourites.

What I was thinking was this: maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing to take the recommendations part completely out of the formal awards process in that way - to deformalise it. It's always been a bit daft, having an announced longlist that you can get onto with a single nod from your mum. And I always get really annoyed when I see people calling themselves BFA nominees when they've just been recommended.  >:(

We could just as easily have an informal thread on the forums where we make suggestions as the year goes round. Then when we're asked to vote for our three favourites in each category, there could be a note directing us to the suggestions thread. As people make suggestions, if there are eligibility problems, people will pop up to point them out. You could have a separate thread for each award. The awards admin could scoop the suggestions into a round-up post if they were so inclined.

That would also have the benefit of encouraging social activity here on the forum, with people popping in whenever they wanted to say "I'd like to recommend...." The awards admin could start each thread, but request that people not recommend their own work.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: johnny mains on November 29, 2011, 04:04:47 pm
Just a question: When it comes to the jury reading books - will a PDF suffice? In many cases some books published have very small print runs so copies for all jury members wouldn't be possible. I only ask this because when my publisher (Obverse) was approached for copies of my collection (I was put forward for Best Newcomer) - hard copies were preferred due to a reviewers disability - and this was done out of the publisher's pocket (a small press) when no review copies were left to send out. And those books were not sent back.

cheers!
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 04:06:45 pm
Stephen!!!!!!!!!!!!  i think we're in accord!
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: LouM on November 29, 2011, 04:07:38 pm
There's also just the basic, truncated 'Eurovision' method: nominate a top three, with reverse 1-3 points awarded. The highest scoring books overall go forward to a juried shortlist.


I love the Eurovision idea: all nominees must wear fake tan & feather boas and include at least one key-change in their work.... But only if we can have an increasingly drunk Terry Wogan (or Graham Norton; I'm not fussy) commentating on the awards ceremony.  ;D

[/silly]
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 29, 2011, 04:13:25 pm
Getting there, Graham!  ;D

I think I got into a muddle there with posting when I thought I was editing or something, so apologies for any confusion...
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 29, 2011, 04:14:21 pm
To be more specific, I am advocating the system that was put to referendum in the UK earlier in the year. Seeing that we are restricting recommendations to three per category that would seem to make sense. I think the Eurovision option has something going for it as well. However,  I certainly think Graham makes a valid point about leaving this to  the discretion of the Awards administrator too.

I am probably missing something here but is this preferential system being suggested for the recommendations stage only, or are talking about having a longlist  round as well? If we do re-institute the longlist, then the system that was proposed for the UK will not work at the recommendations change because you will be picking more than one work per category. There's something to be said for Stephen's informal recommendations stage, though

Crikey, this stuff is harder than it looks

Ps, good to see common ground between Mr Joyce and Mr Theaker

Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 29, 2011, 04:16:16 pm
Actually, Stephen's idea for the recommendations round is a little slice of genius, although we would have to make provisions for those anachronistic folk without an Internet connection
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 04:18:04 pm
Johnny

Good question.  Gosh, won't pretend to have an answer for that.  I guess it would only apply if the book was shortlisted so maybe the Society and the publisher could come to an arrangement.  I wonder if Kindle versions would be acceptable to juries (I mean it would to me, were I a juror, not that I would want to be one after this!)
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 29, 2011, 04:20:35 pm
I've got a couple of unused Sony Readers I'd be happy to lend out as required each year.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 04:22:20 pm
Charles

No there would be no longlist as such, but as Stephen says if a book was nominated it would show up online.  At least you'd get a list of everything inominated and as Sarah says, if your chosen book didn't show up you could raise the matter with the administrator.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Andrew Hook on November 29, 2011, 04:32:13 pm
Andrew, no I think I've missed this one.  Please say more.

It's just that the vote seems split on whether committee members can have their own work up for awards. I can see pros and cons either way. Should we not include committee works then we won't get results such as the awards this year where they have been considered biased. However, committee members who will invariably be active as writers/publishers as has been traditional might decide to not remain on the committee as they will be ineligible for awards.

From memory, I voted a 'yes' to allowing committee members works to be included. If there is a juried system, I don't see a problem with this.

But that's just my view. I was only raising it because the result of that particular question in the survey doesn't seem to be mentioned in the survey report.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 29, 2011, 04:37:07 pm
Thanks for that. Stephen would a recommendations process such as the one put forward allay your concerns about the lack of a longlist?

Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 29, 2011, 04:38:56 pm
Andrew I don't see anything in the proposals about BFS committee members being ineligible for awards, only the awards administrator. Have I missed something?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 04:39:19 pm
You're dead right to raise it Andrew and I overlooked it.

I'm inclined to agree with you that we will lose a lot of committee members if that was the case.  We have Lee who as an editor would be ruled out (for all books that came across his desk?)  Lou is an author, Amanda works fro a publisher now, Marion is a writer.  Chris is a publisher... on it goes.

Well.  So long as the Awards Admistrator isn't compromised and so long as she is careful that the decisions regarding the appointment of jurors are only made by disinterested parties I'd be happy with that.  Unless anyone thinks it should be put to the vote I'm inclined to let the matter rest on the table.

Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: stevemosby on November 29, 2011, 04:39:41 pm
Glad to see peace restored a little! My personal feeling re: committee members' works is that it's fine for them to be included. It's too problematic to do otherwise. The jury, obviously, is a no.

Lou - I'm thinking the Eurovision example is a bad one. I'd love a cynical commentary from Wogan, but at the same time the whole thing is notorious for logrolling... :-)
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 04:42:18 pm
charles it was in section one, Q 3
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 29, 2011, 04:43:17 pm
I would be happy with this process, Charles, which is I think something along the lines of what we seem to be settling on?

- Recommendations made on the forum, informally, all year round

- Membership voting - awarding 3/2/1 points to our 1st/2nd/3rd favourites

- Top four items in each category, with ties decided according to the existing rule, become the shortlist

- Juries read the shortlisted items, add one or two items if they want, decide winners
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 04:46:03 pm
That's it Stephen.

 ;D
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 29, 2011, 04:49:16 pm
Eminently workable. Will the recommendation be redrafted to take this into account?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Peter Coleborn on November 29, 2011, 04:49:36 pm
Andrew, no I think I've missed this one.  Please say more.

It's just that the vote seems split on whether committee members can have their own work up for awards. I can see pros and cons either way. Should we not include committee works then we won't get results such as the awards this year where they have been considered biased. However, committee members who will invariably be active as writers/publishers as has been traditional might decide to not remain on the committee as they will be ineligible for awards.

From memory, I voted a 'yes' to allowing committee members works to be included. If there is a juried system, I don't see a problem with this.

But that's just my view. I was only raising it because the result of that particular question in the survey doesn't seem to be mentioned in the survey report.

Yes, I noticed that too, then forgot all about it. If Angry Robot books are in the running, for example, the Awards Administrator must ensure that AR-linked committee members are excluded form all processes, to avoid any controversy.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 04:51:27 pm
Right let's see if we can get a consensus here.

We already have the wording "Each member may put forward up to three nominations in any category" and we could add, "expressed in preferential order"

(the exact rubric on the voting form regarding the 3-2-1 points can be left to the Aw Ad??)

and would you accept them going into the Recomendations section rather than the Resolution?  Section 5 Voting Procedure Stage 1

Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 29, 2011, 04:53:06 pm
Graham, that's what I thought. It seems clear to me that BFS Committee members are eligible for awards. It would be unworkable to have things otherwise. The important thing is to ensure to the wider world that they have no influence on the outcome
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: stevemosby on November 29, 2011, 04:57:18 pm
Right let's see if we can get a consensus here.

We already have the wording "Each member may put forward up to three nominations in any category" and we could add, "expressed in preferential order"

(the exact rubric on the voting form regarding the 3-2-1 points can be left to the Aw Ad??)

and would you accept them going into the Recomendations section rather than the Resolution?  Section 5 Voting Procedure Stage 1



Yes, this.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 29, 2011, 04:58:06 pm
It should definitely go into the recommendations rather than the resolution and I think it is wise to leave the exact mechanics to the administrator. In terms of the actual mechanics of how nominations  are made as outlined by Stephen it's probably best not to include that in the recommendation itself but explain it separately.

I would just repeat that we will need some sort of process for postal voters, but that's an aside from how the recommendation should be redrafted
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 29, 2011, 05:06:25 pm
Right let's see if we can get a consensus here.

We already have the wording "Each member may put forward up to three nominations in any category" and we could add, "expressed in preferential order"

(the exact rubric on the voting form regarding the 3-2-1 points can be left to the Aw Ad??)

and would you accept them going into the Recomendations section rather than the Resolution?  Section 5 Voting Procedure Stage 1

If you start from the current constitution, the proposals needed to effect the changes agreed above would be, I think:

1. Stage 1: Recommendations to be dropped entirely from the awards constitution. Recommendations instead to take place informally on the BFS forums.

2. Stage 2: The Longlist to become Stage 1: Membership Voting, and now to read as follows:

"A voting form will be issued (online and/or on paper). The Special Award and the Newcomer Award will not appear on the voting form; they are not voted upon by members. BFS and FantasyCon members may then vote for up to three items in each category. Votes may be submitted by post and email, and online if the facility is available. First choice items receive three points, second choices two, third choices one. The four top-scoring items in each category go forward to the shortlist of nominations.

In the event of a tie at this stage, third choice votes for the tied items will be discounted. If this does not separate them, second choice votes for the tied items will be discounted. If the items cannot be separated in this way, both will go through to the shortlist. However, if two items from the same writer are tied, the writer will be given the choice of which should go through.

The Awards Committee has no discretion to discount votes for reasons other than those set out in this constitution."

[Which is basically as it reads now with the references to longlists and recommendations removed, and the number of shortlisted items changed to four.]
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 05:14:33 pm
Stephen
We don't need to refer to the old recommendation system because it will simply be replaced. 

We effectively have what we all want anyway.  I don't think we ned to say that a voting form will be issued etc & all that follows is already covered in the special proceedures, so the material in the current constitution becomes redundant.

Can't we keep it simple?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 05:17:16 pm
The amended version would now read

"Stage 1: Shortlist from the membership:  Recommendations may be submitted online or by post.
Each member may put forward up to three Recommendations in any category, expressed in preferential order.
All Recommendations should ideally be accompanied with publication details: year of publication, publisher, and title of collection, magazine, editor, etc, if applicable. If the information supplied is insufficient for the BFA committee to establish eligibility the recommendations may be excluded from the ballot form.
Recommendations may not be made for the recommender’s own material.  The British Fantasy Society discourages the practice of canvassing for votes.
The four titles or names with the highest number of recommendations will go forward to form the shortlist of nominations."
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 29, 2011, 05:17:27 pm
OK, but the below presumes that you are going for the Eurovision option rather than transferring preferences.  I am not sure we should be this prescriptive. It might be an idea to have a vote on the preferential system later or leave the mechanics to the awards administrator, as suggested by Graham.


In the event of a tie at this stage, third choice votes for the tied items will be discounted. If this does not separate them, second choice votes for the tied items will be discounted. If the items cannot be separated in this way, both will go through to the shortlist. However, if two items from the same writer are tied, the writer will be given the choice of which should go through.

I agree with Graham about keeping it simple and I think Graham's redrafted proposal does that. I had to re-read Stephen's proposal several times. That's not so much because it's badly written but that it contains a lot of info and concepts.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 05:21:26 pm
Stephen, I appreciate you've come a distance on this.  I'd love to get this amendment as a consensus, show it to the Working party (they've been in on every inch of this) and then offer it as an "accepted amendment" (as with Charles' amendment).  I knwo it'snot the precision of wording you like, but it does cover with the very same issues.  What do you say?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 05:23:42 pm
is anyone else still here?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 29, 2011, 05:28:48 pm
Me, my flu, my sick eldest son and our puppy - we're all here.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 05:29:35 pm
tweet tweet.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 05:30:19 pm

and we were doing so well, Charles! All of us!  And I felt happy!
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 29, 2011, 05:34:34 pm
I know it was all becoming like Blake's lion and  the lamb. Well it was until I looked at the news and saw that we were in for more austerity, which was a bit of a bummer. And I'm still an initiate, which just isn't fair
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: stevemosby on November 29, 2011, 05:40:02 pm
Charles - throw off your shackles and simply refuse to acknowledge your status. Nobody can make you an initiate without your consent.

Graham - reads fine to me.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 29, 2011, 05:41:23 pm
But I want to be a warrior
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Peter Coleborn on November 29, 2011, 05:42:27 pm
Not trying to be silly here: Will it be OK for someone's partner or wife or brother or sister to recommend a title? Otherwise might it will be very difficult to police?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 05:46:37 pm

Steve & Charles, are you happy to propose this amendment?  I'd love to get Stephen's consent too cos he brought forward the issue.  But if he doesn't want to then I understand.
 is that okay?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: stevemosby on November 29, 2011, 05:47:52 pm
Not trying to be silly here: Will it be OK for someone's partner or wife or brother or sister to recommend a title? Otherwise might it will be very difficult to police?

You can't police that. If they join to vote, they pay to join. The jury weeds the title out, if it doesn't deserve its place.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 05:48:43 pm

no you can't police that stuff.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: stevemosby on November 29, 2011, 05:49:10 pm

Steve & Charles, are you happy to propose this amendment?  I'd love to get Stephen's consent too cos he brought forward the issue.  But if he doesn't want to then I understand.
 is that okay?

Yes. New to this so don't know how, but yes.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 29, 2011, 05:51:48 pm
Yeah, what Steve and Graham said, but the idea does make me giggle. I swear that if I ever write anything again I am going to get my Mum to nominate it. That will give me the coolness and respect I've been hankering for all my life.

Graham, I am happy to propose the amendment. The details of how we decide how to rank preferences we can decide on later
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 29, 2011, 05:53:23 pm
The amended version would now read

"Stage 1: Shortlist from the membership:  Recommendations may be submitted online or by post.
Each member may put forward up to three Recommendations in any category, expressed in preferential order.
All Recommendations should ideally be accompanied with publication details: year of publication, publisher, and title of collection, magazine, editor, etc, if applicable. If the information supplied is insufficient for the BFA committee to establish eligibility the recommendations may be excluded from the ballot form.
Recommendations may not be made for the recommender’s own material.  The British Fantasy Society discourages the practice of canvassing for votes.
The four titles or names with the highest number of recommendations will go forward to form the shortlist of nominations."


Didn't we just agree to replace the recommendations process with an informal procedure on the forums? So these wouldn't be recommendations, they would be votes as in my suggested form.

The problem here is that your proposal is apparently the text of a new constitution, but takes us back to the original problem: it doesn't say how the shortlist will actually be decided.

If you don't want to tie the awards administrator down, the proposals need to be much more general, I think, because at the moment they read as if they are the text of a new constitution. And since as highlighted above they don't give the awards admin and the BFS committee the option of changing the rules, they won't be able to change them...
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 29, 2011, 05:54:59 pm
Part of the problem is that I think proposals to change the constitution need to take as their starting point the constitution as it stands, and then explain exactly what it is intended to change.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: sarahpinborough on November 29, 2011, 06:00:10 pm
Just read through all this and think it's great the way the debate has shaped up. We all love the BFS otherwise we wouldn't get so heated with each other or get outspoken on these matters. I think Graham stepped in admirably when he didn't really want to, and Amanda, Lizzie and Lou (and the rest who have both stayed from the past and joined up new) are doing a great job in the face of lots of differing opinions.

I just want to add, because I have no shame in saying so, I was one of the 32. (the lower end of the 'significant' scale;-)) There was no blackmail, only genuine concern. I will always - although sometimes I probably shouldn't - stand by what I think, and although I didn't like hurting people's feelings, my concern was for the society as a whole and its place within our industry.

Anyway - that's my forum virginity broken.
Sarah x
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 06:08:29 pm
"Part of the problem is that I think proposals to change the constitution need to take as their starting point the constitution as it stands, and then explain exactly what it is intended to change."

But it doesn't need to do that.  The old Rules state: Changes to this constitution may only be made (1) by a vote at the AGM of the British Fantasy Society, taken according to the same rules of procedure outlined in the BFS constitution, or (2) by a formal vote of the committee of the British Fantasy Society. "

And the committee have voted to approve the changes to the Rules as put to the membership in these Resolutions.  Whichever you look at that we are working constitutionally.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 06:09:28 pm

Plus of course an EGM has the same powers as an AGM.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 29, 2011, 06:11:25 pm
Stephen, It does say how the shortlist will be decided, doesn't it? It will be collated from the "informal round" by the awards administrator. And surely we call, them votes, recommendations or nominations is only semantic? As far as getting rid of the recommendations process and replacing it with an informal round, your proposal seems to envisage a further round of voting that collates all the informal recommendations if you will pardon my loose use of language. Is that correct?

I think we need to steer clear of the constitutional implications. The process going at the moment is involving more members with a higher proportion of people voting than at any time in the history of the BFS. That gives it legitimacy, and surely that's the most important thing here.

I would personally a three-round system but the sake of simplicity, I think a two-round system with the first round being the informal suggestion outlined by you is at least worth giving a go. If it throws up problems that either need to be fixed mid-stream or after the next awards then so be it. The important thing is to ensure that we get a viable shortlist in front of a jury and I think we can do that with Graham's amended recommendation as long as we are flexible and attentive in monitoring the process as we go forward
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Peter Coleborn on November 29, 2011, 06:16:14 pm
Stephen T,  let's go with the latest amendment. Otherwise we'll go round and round and round getting nowhere. These new rules/recommendations may not be perfect. But let's give them a chance and then amend, if necessary, at the 2012 AGM. And if they do go pear shaped, well you can always go, "told you so"!
 :) ;) :D
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 29, 2011, 06:22:09 pm
Charles, I'm not sure where you're quoting "informal round" from?

My proposal gives effect to exactly what I said in my post of 4.43 pm above. It removes the formal recommendations process, and removes references to the longlist from the next voting round.

The reason we take the existing constitution as our starting point when suggesting changes is so that we still have a constitution if any given changes don't pass...

It's not enough to say that "details of how we decide how to rank preferences we can decide on later", because Sarah will be running these awards within a couple of months, and there needs to be a clear procedure in place when she does. We shouldn't leave it to her to redraft the awards constitution.

Earlier Graham said I'd moved my position a lot, but what we've agreed on is exactly what I've been proposing since five minutes after this year's awards results were announced: the current procedure with the winner decided by jury. (Less the formal recommendations, but I would have got rid of those myself if I thought the membership would stand for it.)

But what I want more than any particular way of deciding the awards is a clear awards constitution.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 06:24:57 pm
Stephen, we've all done well here - started off far apart, then you brought forward the issue, a number of people contributed, you spotted the common ground and we ended up agreeing on the substantive!  No need to hang hang on to the coat-tails of the old wording. We have complete accord on the substantive!! This is real progress.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 06:31:35 pm
Oh no!  We were so close!   We already agreed on the thousand-pound deal - don't shake our pockets for the pennies!

I have to go now to kickboxing class.  I'm going to accept the amendment as proposed by Steve and Charles. 

Would have really loved your consent on it Stephen.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: SAWatts on November 29, 2011, 06:39:35 pm
Back again - school run went on a little tonight.

I really like the idea that there will be ongoing informal recommendations on the forums - genius :)

Then no additional round - members simply make their 3 choices in order of preference.

Re 2 rounds instead of 3 - am I right in thinking that we're starting later this year? I think time constraints would make 3 rounds difficult...

The awards admin can't be associated with any work - but I agree committee members should be.

Re PDFs - review experience make me think they need to be reader friendly :)

Sorry if I've missed anything...

I agree with Stephen that things like how we add up the 123s must be clear before the process begins - could we maybe go with the resolution and then have a working group to sort out the detail? We might then have something to bring to the EGM on that?

Just a thought.

Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 29, 2011, 06:40:45 pm
My objection to your original proposal, Graham, was that it didn't explain how the shortlist would be decided, and your new one doesn't either, so my objection remains... The awards constitution has to say exactly what the rules are.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 29, 2011, 06:43:39 pm
Back again - school run went on a little tonight.

I really like the idea that there will be ongoing informal recommendations on the forums - genius :)

Why, thank you.  8)

Then no additional round - members simply make their 3 choices in order of preference.

Re 2 rounds instead of 3 - am I right in thinking that we're starting later this year? I think time constraints would make 3 rounds difficult...

Not really, the recommendations process is normally open by now, but most of the recommendations would previously have been made in January and February (the process closing on February 14).
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 29, 2011, 06:45:51 pm
Stephen, can you redraft your original  proposal then because as it stands it is confusing.  
By informal round I am referring to your informal recommendations process. I thought that would have been clear.

As for the voting system, giving the awards administrator seems to be better than bringing  in a voting system that is still open to question. The voting system for collating the shortlist either needs to be a discretionary power given to the administrator or needs a separate vote. I guess I prefer the latter. What I don't think you can do is bundle is be as prescriptive as you are being. I mean if people are happy with the Eurovision system then fine, I'm not going to get hung up on it

Hang on, an awards constitution?  Is this different from the BFS constitution. Or are we talking about a set of procedures, or what?  Surely we don't have a constitution for the awards, just for the society as a whole

You seem to have missed my point entirely about legitimacy. If the members vote in a system that lays out the general principles it automatically empowers the executive arm of the organisation, in this case the BFS committee and the awards administrator, to draw up a set of procedures and mechanisms to run the society and the awards. Which can be subsequently challenged by the membership. What we need is agreement by the membership on a clear set of principles not a "clear awards constitution". The detail can be decided later and the AGM can hold those details to account next year.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: johnny mains on November 29, 2011, 06:45:57 pm


Re PDFs - review experience make me think they need to be reader friendly :)




I think the PDF's would have to be the ones that were print ready and had been sent to the printers - so in effect, the closest you would get to finished book. Also a PDF of the front and back covers would also need to be supplied - or put up on external site for Jury members to view? Obviously the publishers who can afford to post several books out to the jury members may continue to do so, but a little consideration for the micro imprint please!! :D


Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 29, 2011, 06:47:42 pm
Oh, well Graham's running with the recommendation as is. It has my support. I think the EGM might be the place to discuss how we rank preferences, etc.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 29, 2011, 06:49:12 pm
Hang on, an awards constitution?  Is this different from the BFS constitution. Or are we talking about a set of procedures, or what?  Surely we don't have a constitution for the awards, just for the society as a whole

http://www.britishfantasysociety.co.uk/the-british-fantasy-awards-constitution-ii/

Have a read and my proposal will probably seem much clearer! My proposal identifies the bits that would be changed, and then says what the new wording would be.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 29, 2011, 07:03:37 pm
Yeah, but the trouble is that nobody in the BFS knows what's in the constitution and very few will bother  to read through it. Your proposal needs to be drafted in a way that factors in most voters do not have your background knowledge and are not going to rectify that situation. In other words, it's going to have to outline how you think a shortlist should be chosen without referring to precedent. Otherwise people are just going to get lost.

Anyway, what I suggest you do is put forward a counter-recommendation and get it on the ballot. There may be the needs for  some provision to explain why you object to the amended proposal by the working group and vice-versa.

Alternatively, you could take the amended proposal and put forward changes that you think might give the needed clarity to show how a shortlist is chosen. I think myself that this is clear already although we need more detail subsequently as I have already indicated. But that's true of your original proposal in that doesn't outline the exact process of how people will put forward their initial suggestions.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: charlesrudkin on November 29, 2011, 07:06:12 pm
I agree with Sarah that the form of preferential voting, as well as Stephen's for informal recommendations, should be discussed at the EGM
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on November 29, 2011, 07:23:01 pm
Sorry, Charles but I've had enough - I'm going to follow Peter's advice.  :)

I think I've done well to resist the temptation to flounce this long, but Ranjna and the kids are really sad at how little time I've spent with them this week and I've got to call it a day on this thread.

Not to be presumptuous, but it goes without saying that if the working group would like any help at all with drafting the new rules, before or after the vote, Graham has my email address. Same goes for you, Sarah: if you need any help redrafting the constitution to take account of the proposals later on, just get in touch.

I would just point out one last thing: three years ago the BFS committee made a series of changes to the awards, including the introduction of new awards, and we all agreed on them. Or thought we did.

But they weren't precisely drafted before being voted on, and indeed were not actually incorporated into the awards constitution, and within a few months the committee was fighting like cats and dogs over what we had actually agreed to.

(And guess who was at the middle of that..?  :-[  ::))

So that's why I'm so concerned with getting this stuff sorted out now, because I know what can result from unclear, unwritten rules.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Colin (Black Abyss) on November 29, 2011, 08:32:31 pm
Blimey, well that was all fun...just one thing, why do we have awards?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: johnny mains on November 29, 2011, 08:38:31 pm
Well, I'm currently using mine as a toilet roll holder until I buy a new holder. It's doing a beter job than I expected and managed to hold most of the roll...
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: David A. Riley on November 29, 2011, 08:38:39 pm
Blimey, well that was all fun...just one thing, why do we have awards?
I wonder myself sometimes.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Pyroriffic on November 29, 2011, 10:14:28 pm
Well... um.

Eloquent, I know. But hey. Hear me out, even if I've only been a member for less than a week.

I got to meet many of your members at alt.fiction earlier this year and have been waiting for the opportunity (and the spare cash!) to sign up. I think the idea of the BFS is a great one and I have been very keen to get behind you as an entity and show my support by paying the membership fees. Then...

...I read through this thread.

Oh my word, thinks I. What in the name of all that is good and holy have I just done? I read the thread again. This can't be right, I think. These people are supposed to be a society. They're supposed to support one another. Instead, they're arguing and Disagreeing Politely over this issue. Don't do that, people, don't... ah, here's someone saying that this is creating the wrong impression... nooooo! They're off again!

So here is my humble opinion.

I think that yes. Yes, you should have BFS Awards. What the criteria for being eligible for those awards should be is obviously a matter for debate. How they are judged should be pretty simple and it's not too hard to set up an online poll for such purposes. So yes. Keep the awards. But only if they can be discussed in a manner befitting a literary society and not snatched around like children's playthings.

I have joined the BFS because I genuinely wanted to put my financial support and enthusiasm behind what you're doing. I've been a member of the society for less than a week (as previously stated, but I think it's important) and do you know something? Right now, I'm genuinely wondering whether I haven't just made a big mistake. I don't have a lot of spare cash and I've been really looking forward to officially signing up. But I'm here now and I'm going nowhere. You're stuck with my opinion and all that.

The same may not possibly be true of other new or potentially new members. And if you've driven new people off, or alienated one another over this matter, then what will be the point of this discussion at all? For there to be BFS Awards, there needs to be a BFS to award them, right?
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: David A. Riley on November 29, 2011, 10:19:59 pm
Well, I have had over 700 posts on this forum and I must admit this is by far the most heated I have ever known it. I put this down to the strength of feeling within the BFS over the issues under debate. Normal service will no doubt return when things settle down. I don't see anything unhealthy in strongly held views being strongly argued, providing these aren't accompanied by threats.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Pyroriffic on November 29, 2011, 10:24:24 pm
Well, I have had over 700 posts on this forum and I must admit this is by far the most heated I have ever known it. I put this down to the strength of feeling within the BFS over the issues under debate. Normal service will no doubt return when things settle down. I don't see anything unhealthy in strongly held views being strongly argued, providing these aren't accompanied by threats.

That may be the case, but someone glancing through the forum isn't going to immediately know that.

It's a relief to know that I won't have to go on a lion tamer's course or anything, though. Not sure I could do the top hat and tail coat justice.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Grafire on November 29, 2011, 10:37:39 pm
hello Pyroriffic
Please don't judge us by these heavy conversations.  The majority of members -wonderful people - sensibly don't come near this stuff.  You've stumbled into a Society which is going through an important  renewal period.  Very shortly this will stop and other people will find other things to discuss.  We need new people with new ideas and you are very welcome.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Phillip Spencer on December 03, 2011, 03:05:16 pm
I have nothing to add to the 19 pages of passion about the awards, other than to thank everyone for their commitment to trying to have the best process and for staying the course, despite significant disagreements, and come up with something positive to put to the BFS membership.

I noted with some amusement the discussion around "horror vs fantasy" on pages 5 to 7-ish (28 / 29 Nov postings).  After forty years nothing much changes!

To address the point raised by Nemonymous:
Quote
I always thought the BFS was intended to be (and has been de facto) a Horror Genre Society; it was just that its founding fathers removed the 'Weird' from British Weird Fantasy Society (Weird Fantasy being at one time an alternative for Horror), because they didn't want to be deemed 'weird'! Is this a new flashing swords ginger group hoping to take it over?

As one of the founding members of the BFS one of my strongest memories of those days was the debate around the name for the embryonic society.  What did we represent?  I recall Keith Walker being strongly in favour of "British Weird Fantasy Society" and I was an equally strong voice in favour of dropping "weird" for two reasons. One, as Nemonymous states, was the connotation of the term "weird" but also and more importantly, I felt this was too restrictive.  At the time I was active in both the BFSA and the Tolkien Society but saw both, in their different ways, as being too narrow in their coverage. Founding the BFS was, for me at least, to represent "a broad church" that covered the full span of fantasy literature, from SF, through science fantasy, heroic fantasy, sword & sorcery, weird and dark fantasy to horror.

So, my intent was to be more all-encompassing and not to disenfranchise a particular community or group, such as horror fans. Somewhere along the way, the term "fantasy" seems to have acquired a narrower definition to it than I personally had in mind. However, if anyone out there wants to point a finger of blame for the loss of the "weird" from the BFS, I guess it should be pointed at me.

To conclude, I was particularly happy to see the broad range of genres represented by the guests at Fantasycon 2011.  To me that is part of the strength of he BFS.  Long may it be open!

Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Des Lewis on December 03, 2011, 05:12:24 pm

Fascinating to hear from you, Phillip.
Thanks for your special perspective. 
My view is that the membership will decide. Things will ebb and flow. Nobody can have an argument with the tide (as I know where I live!). :)
des

I have nothing to add to the 19 pages of passion about the awards, other than to thank everyone for their commitment to trying to have the best process and for staying the course, despite significant disagreements, and come up with something positive to put to the BFS membership.

I noted with some amusement the discussion around "horror vs fantasy" on pages 5 to 7-ish (28 / 29 Nov postings).  After forty years nothing much changes!

To address the point raised by Nemonymous:
Quote
I always thought the BFS was intended to be (and has been de facto) a Horror Genre Society; it was just that its founding fathers removed the 'Weird' from British Weird Fantasy Society (Weird Fantasy being at one time an alternative for Horror), because they didn't want to be deemed 'weird'! Is this a new flashing swords ginger group hoping to take it over?

As one of the founding members of the BFS one of my strongest memories of those days was the debate around the name for the embryonic society.  What did we represent?  I recall Keith Walker being strongly in favour of "British Weird Fantasy Society" and I was an equally strong voice in favour of dropping "weird" for two reasons. One, as Nemonymous states, was the connotation of the term "weird" but also and more importantly, I felt this was too restrictive.  At the time I was active in both the BFSA and the Tolkien Society but saw both, in their different ways, as being too narrow in their coverage. Founding the BFS was, for me at least, to represent "a broad church" that covered the full span of fantasy literature, from SF, through science fantasy, heroic fantasy, sword & sorcery, weird and dark fantasy to horror.

So, my intent was to be more all-encompassing and not to disenfranchise a particular community or group, such as horror fans. Somewhere along the way, the term "fantasy" seems to have acquired a narrower definition to it than I personally had in mind. However, if anyone out there wants to point a finger of blame for the loss of the "weird" from the BFS, I guess it should be pointed at me.

To conclude, I was particularly happy to see the broad range of genres represented by the guests at Fantasycon 2011.  To me that is part of the strength of he BFS.  Long may it be open!


Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Rolnikov on December 03, 2011, 05:50:08 pm
Yes - absolutely fascinating to hear from someone involved in making the original decisions!
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Peter Coleborn on December 04, 2011, 10:12:24 am

As one of the founding members of the BFS one of my strongest memories of those days was the debate around the name for the embryonic society.  What did we represent?  I recall Keith Walker being strongly in favour of "British Weird Fantasy Society" and I was an equally strong voice in favour of dropping "weird" for two reasons. One, as Nemonymous states, was the connotation of the term "weird" but also and more importantly, I felt this was too restrictive.  At the time I was active in both the BFSA and the Tolkien Society but saw both, in their different ways, as being too narrow in their coverage. Founding the BFS was, for me at least, to represent "a broad church" that covered the full span of fantasy literature, from SF, through science fantasy, heroic fantasy, sword & sorcery, weird and dark fantasy to horror.

So, my intent was to be more all-encompassing and not to disenfranchise a particular community or group, such as horror fans. Somewhere along the way, the term "fantasy" seems to have acquired a narrower definition to it than I personally had in mind. However, if anyone out there wants to point a finger of blame for the loss of the "weird" from the BFS, I guess it should be pointed at me.

To conclude, I was particularly happy to see the broad range of genres represented by the guests at Fantasycon 2011.  To me that is part of the strength of he BFS.  Long may it be open!


I had heard this via Dave Sutton, but it's great to have one of the original Gang Of Three? Four? reminding us. I joined the BFS a couple of years after it was formed and I felt that back then the society was a broad church. Like you, I found the Tolkien Society's brief too narrow, as too the BSFA (admittedly the BSFA does cover a lot of fantasy nowadays). Welcome back, Phil.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: David A. Riley on December 04, 2011, 12:27:46 pm

As one of the founding members of the BFS one of my strongest memories of those days was the debate around the name for the embryonic society.  What did we represent?  I recall Keith Walker being strongly in favour of "British Weird Fantasy Society" and I was an equally strong voice in favour of dropping "weird" for two reasons. One, as Nemonymous states, was the connotation of the term "weird" but also and more importantly, I felt this was too restrictive.  At the time I was active in both the BFSA and the Tolkien Society but saw both, in their different ways, as being too narrow in their coverage. Founding the BFS was, for me at least, to represent "a broad church" that covered the full span of fantasy literature, from SF, through science fantasy, heroic fantasy, sword & sorcery, weird and dark fantasy to horror.

So, my intent was to be more all-encompassing and not to disenfranchise a particular community or group, such as horror fans. Somewhere along the way, the term "fantasy" seems to have acquired a narrower definition to it than I personally had in mind. However, if anyone out there wants to point a finger of blame for the loss of the "weird" from the BFS, I guess it should be pointed at me.

To conclude, I was particularly happy to see the broad range of genres represented by the guests at Fantasycon 2011.  To me that is part of the strength of he BFS.  Long may it be open!


I had heard this via Dave Sutton, but it's great to have one of the original Gang Of Three? Four? reminding us. I joined the BFS a couple of years after it was formed and I felt that back then the society was a broad church. Like you, I found the Tolkien Society's brief too narrow, as too the BSFA (admittedly the BSFA does cover a lot of fantasy nowadays). Welcome back, Phil.

Hi Phil - long time no hear!

The BFS's broad church, of course, was much easier in the early days as, apart from Tolkien, fantasy writers were the likes of Moorcock, Leiber, Vance, Howard and Clark ashton Smith, whose work was often borderline horror, to suit those of us more inclined that way. There weren't the endless trilogies (and longer) that dominate fantasy these days.

I would add one other thing, and that was that those of us initially involved in the society were more interested in the fannish side of things than the professional, that the BFS existed for their beneifit (which is how we regarded ourselves, as fans) than for publishers and professional writers, etc. Indeed, the only professional writers with us then that I can remember were Ramsey Campbell and Ken Bulmer, who was the society's first president.

Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Peter Coleborn on December 04, 2011, 02:13:57 pm
Ken was a lovely man -- I was very sad when he died.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Peter Coleborn on December 04, 2011, 02:16:41 pm
David, don't forget the four books in the Runestaff sequence, the two Corum trilogies. But at least the total page count for each series was about the same as that for the first volume of a fantasy trilogy nowadays, or so it seems.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: David A. Riley on December 04, 2011, 02:55:57 pm
Those Moorcock books were so short that it was a weekend's enjoyment just to read them - and they were fast reads too. I never minded that they were in long series - not till he started to link all his heroes into one. That became tedious and when, I think, I lost interest in them. The Eternal Hero - or whatever he called him - was a mistake, I think. Until then I loved the various series he started. In fact I reread most of them not long ago and enjoyed them just as much as I originally did.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Des Lewis on December 04, 2011, 02:57:34 pm
I would add one other thing, and that was that those of us initially involved in the society were more interested in the fannish side of things than the professional, that the BFS existed for their beneifit (which is how we regarded ourselves, as fans) than for publishers and professional writers, etc. Indeed, the only professional writers with us then that I can remember were Ramsey Campbell and Ken Bulmer, who was the society's first president.

Yes, those were the days. In the 1970s, I had no conception of being a published writer. I guess most members now at least aspire to that, because of the way books are easier to publish (electronic text sent by email and ease of wordprocessing etc etc) and everyone with a blog. We are all 'professionals' now! Hence the difficulty with the awards.  Voters and Voted For potentially the same people.
des
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: David A. Riley on December 04, 2011, 02:58:28 pm
Ken was a lovely man -- I was very sad when he died.


Me too. I have fond memories of him.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: David A. Riley on December 04, 2011, 03:01:03 pm
I would add one other thing, and that was that those of us initially involved in the society were more interested in the fannish side of things than the professional, that the BFS existed for their beneifit (which is how we regarded ourselves, as fans) than for publishers and professional writers, etc. Indeed, the only professional writers with us then that I can remember were Ramsey Campbell and Ken Bulmer, who was the society's first president.

Yes, those were the days. In the 1970s, I had no conception of being a published writer. I guess most members now at least aspire to that, because of the way books are easier to publish (electronic text sent by email and ease of wordprocessing etc etc) and everyone with a blog. We are all 'professionals' now! Hence the difficulty with the awards.  Voters and Voted For potentially the same people.
des

The awards were never seen as being all that important in those days. Moorcock won the best novel award several years running and never attended the convention - not that anyone seemed to mind. It was just a bit of fun. That fun element seems to have died, sadly.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Phillip Spencer on December 04, 2011, 06:41:33 pm

I had heard this via Dave Sutton, but it's great to have one of the original Gang Of Three? Four? reminding us. I joined the BFS a couple of years after it was formed and I felt that back then the society was a broad church. Like you, I found the Tolkien Society's brief too narrow, as too the BSFA (admittedly the BSFA does cover a lot of fantasy nowadays). Welcome back, Phil.

Hi Phil - long time no hear!

The BFS's broad church, of course, was much easier in the early days as, apart from Tolkien, fantasy writers were the likes of Moorcock, Leiber, Vance, Howard and Clark ashton Smith, whose work was often borderline horror, to suit those of us more inclined that way. There weren't the endless trilogies (and longer) that dominate fantasy these days.

I would add one other thing, and that was that those of us initially involved in the society were more interested in the fannish side of things than the professional, that the BFS existed for their beneifit (which is how we regarded ourselves, as fans) than for publishers and professional writers, etc. Indeed, the only professional writers with us then that I can remember were Ramsey Campbell and Ken Bulmer, who was the society's first president.

Thanks for the kind words! It's great to be back in touch with you all. I will try and stay much more engaged with the society (easier, despite spending a lot of time abroad, now we have internet forums, etc.)

David, you are right about the fannish side. I was a fan (and still am) but see the increased value of the BFS now so many publishers and authors have become involved.

Seeing you mention Ramsey and Ken reminded me that one of my prize possessions from those days is the first "New Writings in Horror" edited by David Sutton. (Yes, I did read horror despite being "anti-weird"! Indeed, the book is still on my bookshelf, despite numerous moves and a fire at my flat which wiped out most of my paperback collection in 1992.)

I bought the book at a convention soon after it came out, I guess in 1971. On my way back to my room found myself in a hotel lift with David who spotted it tucked under my arm and promptly signed it.  He then passed it round the authors in the lift and by the time I disembarked it had been signed by Ramsey, Ken, you and Bryn Fortey. It's a great memory!
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Dave Brzeski on December 05, 2011, 12:41:25 am
Those Moorcock books were so short that it was a weekend's enjoyment just to read them - and they were fast reads too. I never minded that they were in long series - not till he started to link all his heroes into one. That became tedious and when, I think, I lost interest in them. The Eternal Hero - or whatever he called him - was a mistake, I think. Until then I loved the various series he started. In fact I reread most of them not long ago and enjoyed them just as much as I originally did.


That whole Eternal Champion interconnected series thing was what I liked best about the Moorcock books back then. Can't please 'em all I suppose.  ;D
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: David A. Riley on December 05, 2011, 09:22:25 am
That was it, of course, not the Eternal Hero - the Eternal Champion.

The thing that bothered me about this development was that it was so obviously an afterthought and there were so many things that didn't square up to this new mythology that Moorcock had dreamed up to connect all his fantasy characters together, not to mention that he even tried to squeeze Jerry Cornelius into it! That was when I gave up on it, I'm afraid. Still, on his Elric and Hawkmoon series alone, Moorcock still stands a giant, in my eyes at least, of fantasy writers and a well deserved winner of those early Derleth Awards.

Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: Peter Coleborn on December 05, 2011, 09:23:32 am
That whole Eternal Champion interconnected series thing was what I liked best about the Moorcock books back then. Can't please 'em all I suppose.  ;D

I quite agree with you.

And such a wonderful anecdote, Phil.
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: David A. Riley on December 05, 2011, 10:48:27 am
That whole Eternal Champion interconnected series thing was what I liked best about the Moorcock books back then. Can't please 'em all I suppose.  ;D

I quite agree with you.

And such a wonderful anecdote, Phil.


I remember that event too. It was the first time I ever signed a book - and that's something you don't forget!
Title: Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
Post by: GaryC on December 10, 2011, 12:58:11 pm
Academic now, as the resolutions have been voted in, but out of curiosity... I asked these questions a page before a half-dozen pages of heated debate broke out and they weren't answered.

Why has the wordcount boundary between short fiction and novellas been changed (from 10,000 words to 15,000 words)?

Also, the wording of the Best Screenplay Award rules excludes films and television made in foreign languages.