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British Fantasy Society => British Fantasy Awards => Topic started by: C.R. Barker on August 15, 2006, 11:48:12 am

Title: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: C.R. Barker on August 15, 2006, 11:48:12 am
Having just completed my voting form for the BFS annual awards, I was struck by certain issues.

Most importantly, I quickly realised that I had not read the vast majority of the nominated works. I very much doubt I can be alone in this; indeed, I suspect it is probably the norm. But how tempting it was to vote nevertheless! There are few things more diverting than being presented with a quiestionnaire. How many of us have filled them in just to pass the time of day, or else impishly, with a view towards having a little bit of fun.

Various thoughts streamed through my mind. Should I vote for the people I had heard of even though I hadn't read their books? Should I vote tactically, picking out the more obscure nominees rather than the big hitters? Should I vote for someone I liked despite the fact I hadn't even read their story / book?

Just as all paths are said to lead to Rome, I kept coming back to the conclusion that I should only vote for things I had read which had impressed me. Although it seemed the dullard's way out, I restricted myself to voting in a little over half of the possible categories, whilst excusing my inability to cast a vote in the other categories because of unfamiliarity with the texts concerned.

In retrospect, I wonder just how many award winners win awards despite the fact that most voters probably haven't even bothered to read the winning entries? Possessing a recognizable name is surely the key to awards success, despite what they say about marketing in this way or campaigning in that way. I feel reasonably sure that the majority of awards in our genre must have been won by relatively well-known names simply because of their names.

This made me reflect upon the claim recently made by someone recently that awards are merely 'crude popularity contests'. Alas that would appear to be true. However, where should the blame lie, if any is to be attributed? Should it rest upon the shoulders of 'the establishment', who ensure that the status quo is maintained because it works very nicely in their favour. or should grass-roots members who vote without having actually read most of the works they are voting bear some of the responsibility?

The difference with an award like the Hollywood Oscar is that the people who get to vote have watched all of the nominations. So, even if a film is an obscure small budget one, it still stands a pretty reasonable chance of winning through should it merit recognition through talent. However, the BFS award is like the HWA Stoker voted upon by people who haven't actually read all or indeed the majority of nominations, and for that reason cannot possibly be much more than a personality-driven 'crude popularity contest' - or can it?

CB
http://hauntedriver.co.uk
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: ChrisT on August 15, 2006, 12:53:37 pm
This is why I decided to put all the eligible titles available has a free PDF download from my website, until voting closes...

I only voted for that what I've read - not for names, which became a tough choice in novella and short story category, but not in novel since I only read one of the novels in the list (apart from the two I published...)

All awards, even the Oscars, are "crude" but you still like to be noticed by your peers, and some awards do help in future careers... it's rather nice to put such-and-such on the promotional bumf.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: DFL on August 15, 2006, 01:28:22 pm
===========
That's why I was willing to give away actual free copies of NEMONYMOUS FIVE (which ended up containing 3 recommended stories &, nemo in itself, best small press candidate).

If the jury (big or small) for any awards do not fully consider all the candidates (i.e. in this case read the stories etc. in their original setting), then they are not awards at all.  (In this case, the jury happens to be all the members).

I advertised this no-strings-attached (generous?) gift of mine - free copies and free postage to ALL members (an open-ended liability) - in fact advertised it from March onwards.  In the end, I only had ten members who asked me for this gift.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: DFL on August 15, 2006, 01:49:11 pm
BTW, I say 'open-ended liabilty' above as I personally didn't know how many BFS members eligible to vote there happened to be.  I fully expected to have to send out up to 300 free copies of NEMONYMOUS FIVE.
des
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 15, 2006, 02:23:41 pm
It's my opinion that paid-up members of the BFS can vote for whoever and whatever they want to. I never bow to pressure, to popular opinion, to reputations of big hitters OR to hype of any kind.

I also never feel bad for not having read a majority of the texts. My interests lie in fantasy and dark fantasy, not in horror - therefore my votes will always lie at that end of the running as they are the titles I will bother to go out and read.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: DFL on August 15, 2006, 02:34:52 pm
I agree with the thrust of that last message.

However, if I were a member of a jury, I would feel obliged to view all the candidates.

des
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 15, 2006, 02:49:21 pm
I also never VOTE......er......did I mention that?  ;D
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: ChrisT on August 15, 2006, 03:27:45 pm
I also never VOTE......er......did I mention that?  ;D

Oh, so that cheque was a waste of time then?  ::) Can I have it back please...   ;)
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: C.R. Barker on August 15, 2006, 04:27:20 pm
I also never VOTE......er......did I mention that?? ;D

Oh, so that cheque was a waste of time then?? ::) Can I have it back please...? ?;)

Can you fix me up with an introduction to the woman on the front cover of Shenanigans please? She sure gets my vote.

CB
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 15, 2006, 04:59:40 pm
Haha! Isn't she lovely?? :-[

ps. Chris - cheque's in the post.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: ChrisT on August 16, 2006, 08:34:38 am
I'll have to ask Frazer Irving - he drew her... that collection is now six years old. Where does the time go?  :o
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Jonathan Oliver on August 16, 2006, 09:11:26 am
Frazer's genius! I'm publishing a collection of his work next year.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: C.R. Barker on August 16, 2006, 10:39:33 am
Actually, something else I wanted to say, and this is perhaps the most controversial......

I believe that Ramsey Campbell and Steve Jones should voluntarily request that the nominations they receive for BFS awards year-in, year-out be withdrawn. Clearly they possess a hugely unfair advantage, what with RC being BFS President and SJ having held office himself. I suspect that a large number of BFS members just vote for RC because they recognise his name and for SJ because they knew someone who once had a story published in one of his doorstopper anthologies.

Imagine if the Labour Party held an annual BEST LABOUR POLITICIAN AWARD and allowed Tony Blair and John Prescott to be nominated. They woudl win year-in, year-out regardless of merit.

Obviously Ramsey Campbell and Steve Jones should be considered for awards by separate, independent awards bodies, but the notion that they should even be allowed to enter the BFS awards system let alone cream off the prizes every year is preposterous.? ?

If I were President of an award body I would either lobby the relevant committee to pass legislation which would preclude those who hold office in said body from being considered for awards, or I should insist upon my nominations being withdrawn. It would be the Decent And Proper Thing To Do.

As I glance down RC's and SJ's list of award credits, I am appalled to find that three quarters of them have been awarded to them by the body they work so closely with i.e. the BFS. Little wonder that mainstream observers who are unaware of this conflict-of-interest believe them to be highly regarded professionals. However, my concern is that conflicts-of-interests of this nature are a cancerous blight upon both the genre and the organisation, with the result that it is extremely difficult for new writers / publishers / editors to break through.

Obviously there are only a certain number of horror novels and anthologies that the mainstream publishers will want to publish each year. Equally obvious is the likelihood that the typical mainstream publisher will look to the award-winners to supply these. So by winning BFS awards year-in, year-out RC and SJ consolidate their pole positions whilst keeping the younger, possibly more innovative talents firmly in the shadows.?

Judging by the precedent set by political leaders, those who benefit from preferment and high office will rarely relinquish the generous fringe benefits they enjoy voluntarily. Almost always they need to be prised from their position like limpets from a stone. For that reason the only way to improve the status quo is to encourage the system to change. In this case, the BFS could as a corporate body governed (presumably) by its members decide to pass legislation which would preclude those who hold office from being considered for BFS awards.

Anyway, I just wanted to ask other people what they thought about any of these points. More specifically, I would like to know whether it is technically possible for the BFS's rules to be changed on this issue, and if so, how does one go about kickstarting such a process?

CB
http://hauntedriver.co.uk


 





Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Jen on August 16, 2006, 11:17:42 am
... yeah, but...   :)

... if your're going to start disqualifying people because once upon a time they've been BFS officers and people know their names, your start excluding all sorts of people...
David Howe used to be heavily involved with the running of the BFS but now runs Telos and has nothing to do with official BFS things, do we exclude Telos from the Small Press category, what about Gary Couzens who was chair for a while but is now concetrating on his writing?
Then there's Pendragon and Elastic... Chris and Andrew are now review editors for us, should their publishing imprints be excluded?  Then there's Peter Coleborn and his imprint Alchemy Press.  Nicki Robson was chair for a couple of years, but she's also a writer.  Jan Edwards, the same.  Jo Fletcher... Mike Chinn... Ariel...Andy Cox... Steve Lockley... 


How you change things...
Put together a proposal saying 1) what you think's wrong, 2) plan for what you think would fix it, and raise it as Any Other Business at the AGM.  If you can't make the AGM, email it to Marie and we'll raise the point for you and discuss it fully.


Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: ChrisT on August 16, 2006, 11:56:07 am
I think the problem could be the BFS's "closed" status - only members vote, and at the moment membership is sizeable but not a huge number.

Maybe the BFS could implement a similar award system to the Hugo's: if you went to WorldCon, then you're still eligible even if you're not a member of the WSFA. Therefore, if you attend FCon for the weekend then you're eligible to vote in the awards for that year.

This would mean, if implemented this year, an increase in possible voting numbers compared to previous years.

Mind you, in saying that, RC hasn't won best novel since 1994, and since then he's only won best collection twice. SJ, of course, has won every anthology award except for last year and 2001 but then his anthology is the only mass-market title available in the UK...
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Jen on August 16, 2006, 12:13:22 pm
...hmm, actually, yeah, that would open it up a bit, having both BFS members & Fcon attendees... and it'd be an easy enough thing to implement should the consensus agree... 

Only problem I can see is that lots of Fcon people leave their booking to the last minute (this is why we're all going prematurely grey...) and so would either miss the initial recommendation process or would miss the voting deadline...

For clarification of ChrisB's post (cos I forgot to mention it in my other post... having a slow brain day today...)... are you proposing, then, that we automatically exclude anyone currently serving on the BFS/Fcon committee from eligibilty in the awards.  (But the Prism/DH columnists & section editors are still eligible, as are people who have previously served but are not currently involved...).

Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 16, 2006, 02:15:44 pm
This is a very interesting topic.

Re: Membership
Personally, I know an awful lot of fantasy fans who avoid the BFS altogether because they believe it to be a society entirely devoted to horror and horror writers (and let's face it, they're not a million miles out....)

It is my personal opinion, as a published author of fantasy fiction, that the BFS should run/establish a British Fantasy Award FOR British FANTASY novels in all categories. That way, some of the many thousands of fantasy fans in the UK might actually bother to join the society and vote for their favourites.

I mean, fine, you have Juliet E. McKenna and Raymond E. Feist as guests of honour this year. That is terrific, but wouldn't it be even BETTER if they were presenting awards to new and upcoming FANTASY authors? Fine to have Best Novel awards for Horror (and admittedly the Best Short Story / Anthology categories would HAVE to be for horror) but......fantasy, anyone?

Here's an idea.....what about an award in memory of DAVID GEMMELL - arguably the most original and successful British heroic-fantasy author of our age?

I am in the process of a series of discussions to take over from Robert Parkinson as BFS secretary after September, and I FULLY SUPPORT the idea that BFS committee members (only) should be excluded from the vote and the voting.

After all, I think we can all agree that the BFS should have an awful lot more members - perhaps we need to start looking at why it doesn't.

If I'm ABSOLUTELY honest, I DID quit the society back in 1998 - when I was a struggling writer aged 19 - because it seemed to me at the time like a very clicky, guess-who-has-won-this-year-again kind of organization. I'm all for bringing a big hammer down on THAT situation.


David Lee Stone
http://www.illmoorchronicles.com


Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: C.R. Barker on August 16, 2006, 02:54:53 pm
...hmm, actually, yeah, that would open it up a bit, having both BFS members & Fcon attendees... and it'd be an easy enough thing to implement should the consensus agree...?

Only problem I can see is that lots of Fcon people leave their booking to the last minute (this is why we're all going prematurely grey...) and so would either miss the initial recommendation process or would miss the voting deadline...

For clarification of ChrisB's post (cos I forgot to mention it in my other post... having a slow brain day today...)... are you proposing, then, that we automatically exclude anyone currently serving on the BFS/Fcon committee from eligibilty in the awards.? (But the Prism/DH columnists & section editors are still eligible, as are people who have previously served but are not currently involved...).



I'm not entirely sure what I am suggesting to be honest! I just think that there are some flaws with the existing system, the biggest two perhaps being that 1) the big-name nominees gain a wider audience because they are printed in bigger numbers (thus making it a contest based upon circulation fugures rather than talent); and 2) that the big-name nominees will benefit more from unqualifed votes than the lesser-known ones (by 'unqualified' I refer to the practise of voters just voting for someone famous they have heard of even if they haven't read the work in question).

In a previous life I worked on the award of a ten-year multi-million pound contract; we had to design a very sophisticated model which could be used for calculating which of the bidders should win. Every aspect of service provision had to be numerically quantifiable. Applying the same criteria to the genre awards system, I came up with this model:

http://hauntedriver.co.uk/page23.html

As you can see, it eliminates the need for a general vote because a panel of experts would evaluate the entries (their decision-making would be transparent so they would have to justify their decisions). It also incorporates a self-regulating adjustment to help redress the issue of big-name advantage. Imperfect as the model is, I still think that by using something like that the system would be much fairer. Instead of relying upon a crude popularity contest, the grass-roots members could nominate the works they felt most deserving, and then an elected panel of judges could consider each entry based upon the criteria laid down in any model.

By employing a system along these lines, the nominees would feel reassured that the process was fair and the judges would feel less pressurised and might even find their task much easier. It would also allow everybody to enter, and because the points scoring would be published, the process by which the final decisions are arrived at would be transparent and openly accountable.

Thoughts?














 

 

Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: C.R. Barker on August 16, 2006, 03:03:00 pm

If I'm ABSOLUTELY honest, I DID quit the society back in 1998 - when I was a struggling writer aged 19 - because it seemed to me at the time like a very clicky, guess-who-has-won-this-year-again kind of organization. I'm all for bringing a big hammer down on THAT situation.


David Lee Stone
http://www.illmoorchronicles.com





Heh, heh, heh.....I attended a BFS convention in the mid to late 90s myself and was appalled at how cliquey it was. I decided not to join the BFS at that time for that very reason. There was a loud circle of self-important BFS cronies who were just there to promote their own careers whilst schmoozing the few agents and publishers who had been duped into attending. Fans and budding writers were treated as second-class citizens.

A few years later I discovered that BFS founder (?) Keith Walker had resigned in disgust for the very same reasons...read his original condemnation for yourself:

http://groups.google.co.uk/group/alt.horror.creative/msg/949c5066c7f7b0e7

Hopefully the times they are a changing.....








Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Jen on August 16, 2006, 03:42:50 pm
Quote
Re: Membership
Personally, I know an awful lot of fantasy fans who avoid the BFS altogether because they believe it to be a society entirely devoted to horror and horror writers (and let's face it, they're not a million miles out....)

Now that one always strikes me as bizarre when I hear it, as my inclinations are more towards the fantasy side of things than the horror side. 
And as an interesting side note - we've also had a lot of complaints from horror fans saying that we're *too* fantasy...   ::)


With Fcon, we always try and get a fantasy/horror balance for guests and panels and always get the same complaints from both fanbases...
 
Quote
It is my personal opinion, as a published author of fantasy fiction, that the BFS should run/establish a British Fantasy Award FOR British FANTASY novels in all categories. That way, some of the many thousands of fantasy fans in the UK might actually bother to join the society and vote for their favourites.

I mean, fine, you have Juliet E. McKenna and Raymond E. Feist as guests of honour this year. That is terrific, but wouldn't it be even BETTER if they were presenting awards to new and upcoming FANTASY authors? Fine to have Best Novel awards for Horror (and admittedly the Best Short Story / Anthology categories would HAVE to be for horror) but......fantasy, anyone?

Erm... the Best Novel (and other awards) are for both fantasy and horror titles... and we do get plenty of each nominated for each category... just seems to be the horror titles that get the most votes...     

Quote
Here's an idea.....what about an award in memory of DAVID GEMMELL - arguably the most original and successful British heroic-fantasy author of our age?

Raise it at the AGM!  (Actually, do I remember you saying you couldn't make it this year?)  What category, potentially, could it be for?  Are you proposing, for example, splitting the Best Novel into Best Horror Novel and Best Fantasy Novel?


Quote
I am in the process of a series of discussions to take over from Robert Parkinson as BFS secretary after September, and I FULLY SUPPORT the idea that BFS committee members (only) should be excluded from the vote and the voting.

Make sure you mention it to Marie...

Quote
After all, I think we can all agree that the BFS should have an awful lot more members - perhaps we need to start looking at why it doesn't.

Oh, believe me, that's something we've been doing constantly ever since I can remember... part of it is keeping current members by maintaining a certain level of service   :-[  , part is attracting new members... we have had a distinct rise in memberships this year that has outstripped standard new member sign ups for the last few years... which is great.  We've gone after lapsed members and got a few pick ups from there... we've gotten new members on the strength of various special publications that have come out... (publicity gotten from the authors involved helped with that one, I think...)  We need more exposure across a wider range of genre mouthpieces to get in more members, which we sometimes have trouble sorting out...  Personally, I want to build up Prism a bit, make it worth being a member for...  (so suggestions welcome on that  ;D  )  (though you don't need to mention about regular timing.. know about that one... ;)  )

Also, are there any other services that BFS as an organisation could be offering to make people want to be members.. (keep it clean...  :-* )

Quote
If I'm ABSOLUTELY honest, I DID quit the society back in 1998 - when I was a struggling writer aged 19 - because it seemed to me at the time like a very clicky, guess-who-has-won-this-year-again kind of organization. I'm all for bringing a big hammer down on THAT situation.

Really?  Because I've been here since I was a wee lass of 16 and I've not found that.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 16, 2006, 03:59:44 pm
Hey Jen

Some good points.

Yes, I absolutely do think the Awards should be split into Fantasy and Horror, if only to give some weight to the outside viewpoint that this IS the British FANTASY Society and it does have some fantasy connection.

If you could bring it up at the AGM, I really would appreciate it.

I agree re: Prism.....but I DO think it's a worthy news source: I always find out a good few things I didn't know in each issue.


Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Jen on August 16, 2006, 04:04:53 pm
Quote
I'm not entirely sure what I am suggesting to be honest! I just think that there are some flaws with the existing system, the biggest two perhaps being that 1) the big-name nominees gain a wider audience because they are printed in bigger numbers (thus making it a contest based upon circulation fugures rather than talent); and 2) that the big-name nominees will benefit more from unqualifed votes than the lesser-known ones (by 'unqualified' I refer to the practise of voters just voting for someone famous they have heard of even if they haven't read the work in question).

Do they vote that way though?  Isn't it more likely that people simply don't vote for what they don't know about?  If memory serves, I think we have had people not voting in certain categories because they just hadn't read any collections that year, or didn't feel able to vote, in, say, the artist category or small press category. 

Plus, last year, Elastic Press beat the mass market publishers in the Anthology category... so  smaller circulation items do get through... 

Quote
In a previous life I worked on the award of a ten-year multi-million pound contract; we had to design a very sophisticated model which could be used for calculating which of the bidders should win. Every aspect of service provision had to be numerically quantifiable. Applying the same criteria to the genre awards system, I came up with this model:

http://hauntedriver.co.uk/page23.html

Will check it out.. .

In the meantime, one of the things, as a group, that we've always liked about the awards is that it is voted on by the entire membership instead of a smaller panel of judges... 
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Jen on August 16, 2006, 04:13:01 pm
Quote
Yes, I absolutely do think the Awards should be split into Fantasy and Horror, if only to give some weight to the outside viewpoint that this IS the British FANTASY Society and it does have some fantasy connection.

Rightio... so proposal: Split the August Derleth Best Novel award into 2 awards...  1) August Derleth Best Horror Novel and 2) David Gemmell Best Fantasy Novel

Will make sure it's raised!
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 16, 2006, 04:22:57 pm
Ta, Jen. You're a star.  :)
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Marie O'Regan on August 16, 2006, 04:30:04 pm
I've just read this thread with interest and also, I have to admit, with some concern. The British Fantasy Society was created to celebrate 'ALL ASPECTS of the genre' - that means Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror, Slipstream, and any other subdivision you care to mention, to my mind. Our membership is fairly evenly split between horror and fantasy, and I am convinced that is how it should remain. As a Committee we try to make sure all members are catered for yet inevitably, each publication/event/award will displease someone purely BECAUSE we are so diverse. Take the publications - since Paul Kane took over as Special Publications Editor we have had a fantasy calendar and a horror calendar, Cinema Macabre as a joint venture with PS Publishing (PS Publishing very kindly helped us with the cost of this book, a free one for members), and now BFS: A Celebration, which features stories and reminiscences from all aspects of the genre, and from a very diverse range of authors. Our next publication, which we'll announce when all details are sorted out, isn't horror either. The awards reflect this, to my mind, and showcase all aspects of the genre, both small press and mainstream. Members nominate and recommend anonymously for whoever they wish, and the only person who is aware of how anyone has voted is the Awards Administrator, Dave Sutton, who is the only person not allowed to vote himself. The Committee have no idea how individual members have voted or indeed who the winners are right up to the Awards Ceremony. The only exception to this is the Karl Edward Wagner Award, which is voted for, and awarded by, the Committee. Any Member is free to email the Committee with suggestions for this throughout the year, and at the appropriate time the Committee discuss all suggestions and vote. Again, Dave Sutton isn't allowed to vote or discuss.

I am firmly of the opinion that voting by membership is the correct way to run the Awards, part of the Awards' strength is that they are the opinion of the readers/viewers, and not a decision made by a panel of 'experts'. Further, I do not feel that we should exclude either Committee members or past Committee members from eligibility if members feel they warrant it. To choose otherwise, to my mind, is a form of censorship, and I cannot condone it. Members are free to raise this at the AGM, of course, and I realise mine is only one vote, but I will never personally vote in favour of anything that I see as divisive and elitist. Steve Jones was a very early Committee member, but hasn't been on the Committee for a long time. Ramsey is our President, yes, but as a member he still has only one vote, and is a well-respected and much published author. Both are eminent in their field, and I can't see why they should be penalised for supporting the BFS in this way.

This year's FCON guests are predominantly fantasy. You mention Juliet and Ray, but Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman are also fantasy authors, although possibly of a darker nature. Clive Barker hasn't written out and out horror since Books of Blood in the eighties. We've chosen our guests to provide as wide an appeal as possible, as we always do. Since I've edited Dark Horizons I have tried to maintain this mix, and have published slipstream, horror and fantasy.

I note the suggestion of an award for David Gemmell - this is a good suggestion for next year's Karl Edward Wagner award, so please recommend it as such and it will be considered, along with all other suggestions. I'm sure you'll understand that his death came too close to this year's awards for him to be considered this year.

To summarise, as Jen has said, we are always looking for ways to increase membership, and are seeing some success. This membership, again, is across all aspects of the genre, and we have to try and please a very broad range of people - something we are continually trying to do. As regards the awards, I believe an anonymous vote by members is the fairest and most worthwhile way to vote, and do not believe anyone should be excluded because they happen to voluntarily work to provide news and events for other members, or have done in the past. That side of our lives is separate from the writing side, for those of us involved in that, at least it is in my case, and in my experience.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Ramsey Campbell on August 16, 2006, 04:59:01 pm
I won't be withdrawing my stuff from eligibility for the BFS awards unless a majority of members at the AGM vote that I should. However, let me announce now that I'll be standing down as President at the forthcoming AGM. If I'm voted back in, fine, but any other nominations?
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Paul Kane on August 16, 2006, 05:03:49 pm
Just to wade in about the Fantasy vs Horror element. Although I'm a horror writer, I've always tried to cater to all genre fans with the Special Publications - to the extent that this year's book contains all three genres: SF, Fantasy and Horror. If that isn't balance I don't know what is. I've always tried to do my best to cater to all members, not just fans of one or the other (horror, fantasy, sf) - and don't forget some people like all three. There's been a lot of generalisaion on here about how people 'think' - ie Fantasy fans aren't joining because there's too much horror etc. and vice versa. How come membership's up this year then, with a big influx of Fantasy fans? How come I keep getting Fantasy manuscripts to consider for Special Publications?

As Marie says we have four fantasy authors as GoH's this year. If that doesn't tell people we have an association with Fantasy I don't know what the hell does. But at the same time you can't alienate people who are into horror as well, that would lead to a split in the society itself as it's pretty much half and half. Then there would be less members, not more.

Regarding awards, don't forget we have to work on a budget and can't split novel nominations unless we have the money to pay for them. Where do you draw the line? Fantasy (Mass Market), Fantasy (Small Press), Horror (Mass Market), Horror (Small Press) etc. Who's going to pay for the dozens of awards needed?

As regards a panel of 'experts' - a panel of judges for a horror organisation took it upon themselves to discount all the anthologies published in 2005 for their awards this year, simply because it was their opinion that they shouldn't be considered. There's a phrase that fits this nicely. Who watches the watchmen? And how would you come to a satisfactory decision (for everyone) on who to have on such a panel? It's all subjective.

Paul.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Marie O'Regan on August 16, 2006, 05:08:05 pm
Hear, hear. And Ramsey, I'd hate to see you resign as President, so my first inclination, personally, would be to vote you back in. If you really are adamant about standing down, however, and speaking purely as an individual member I'd nominate Stephen Jones as your successor.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Ramsey Campbell on August 16, 2006, 05:13:30 pm
"As I glance down RC's and SJ's list of award credits, I am appalled to find that three quarters of them have been awarded to them by the body they work so closely with i.e. the BFS."

I'm not sure what mathematics are involved here. At my count, exactly half of my awards come from the BFS - in other words, half don't.

"Little wonder that mainstream observers who are unaware of this conflict-of-interest believe them to be highly regarded professionals."

That's because we are, and our professional publishers agree.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 16, 2006, 05:32:54 pm
Did I blink and miss something? This thread seems to have become an attack on Ramsey???????

Paul - all good points, well made, but I STILL believe that awarding seperately for fantasy and horror - perhaps losing one or two categories in
order to make the split - would be a good move.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Marie O'Regan on August 16, 2006, 05:38:20 pm
Might I ask which categories you'd lose to enable this split, Dave? We try to cover as wide a range as possible, both in terms of which awards we give, and what's eligible within each award. As Paul has said, where do we draw the line? Do we lose best short story? Or best anthology? Best Novel can be won either by a Fantasy or Horror author, and in its time has been won by both. I'd hate to see other categories lose out in order to enable such a split, which I still cannot help but see as not in the spirit of the BFS - open to all.  My own wish is that Ramsey will stay as President, as I believe he's been an exemplary one.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 16, 2006, 05:44:54 pm
He IS a great President......don't know WHAT'S going on there, to be honest. Think I need to read some other threads ? ? ? ?

Um....honestly? Novella. If not novella, collection. But, again, just MY opinion.

It really would be nice, though, REALLY nice to occasionally see people like David Gemmell (too late now, unfortunately), Stan Nicholls,
Mark Chadbourn, Juliet E. McKenna, Sarah Ash and - and - and TERRY PRATCHETT up there for the awards.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Debbie on August 16, 2006, 05:50:54 pm
Hmmm - I've been a BFS committee member for about 12 years or so, 10 of which was spent editing various publications. I'm also a writer. If I thought for a moment that my stuff would never even be considered for an award, I'd have voted with my feet and left the committee after a couple of weeks. I'm not ashamed to say I joined the committee initially to raise my own profile in the genre whilst doing good deeds and enjoying fantasy in all its forms. ?Us committee members have no control over the voting - as already said - we don't see the final lists before anybody else does, so why on earth should we be excluded?

Deb
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Marie O'Regan on August 16, 2006, 05:53:09 pm
Yep, noted that it's  your opinion, Dave, and you're entitled to it, just wanted to know :) My own opinion, though, is that losing either of those would exclude a lot of valid and excellent fiction, and not just in horror, either. Elastic Press, for example, only publish Collections, but rarely anything horror, and PS publish a lot of novellas in a lot of genres, by some excellent authors. All those authors would lose out on a chance to win a BFS award. Mark Chadbourn won a BFS award not long ago, and lots of Fantasy authors are nominated every year. There's a full list on the Awards Section of the site if you want to go and see past winners, it's by no means limited to horror. Like I said, members recommend and nominate by voting anonymously, and the membership is a fairly even split between fantasy and horror - if every member excercises their vote to the best of their ability (and I think it's derogatory to the membership to suggest members vote in a popularity contest rather than for what they like) then it's the story/book/collection/whatever that most members think is best that wins. Surely that's the fairest, and most representative, way? Our members incorporate professionals, budding writers and artists, agents, editors, and fans - everyone has a voice, if they choose to use it.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 16, 2006, 06:08:58 pm
Okay, Marie, here's the thing:

I've had nothing but good support from the society since my career took off. I think Prism is cracking and I ALWAYS try to get the BFS more members when I'm on events......

.....so I'm at this one event in Cambridge, along with Susanna Clarke, Mark C and Stan Nicholls, among others. Up comes this bloke - nice guy - buys one of my books - I sign it and the conversation goes:

Me: Do you like fantasy?
Man: Yeah, love it.
Me: Have you read Orcs by Stan Nicholls?
Man: Oh yeah: I've also read (he then reels off just about every fantasy and children's fantasy author I know of, all in one big breath :-)).
Me: Have you heard of the British Fantasy Society
(guy grimaces as I say the name)
Man: Yeah, I was a member....but they're all about horror these days.

.....and that, honestly, is the reply I've got just about EVERY time I've mentioned the society to readers at my signings. And it can't just be
MY readers who think it????

I'm trying to help, here.....REALLY.  :D

Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Paul Kane on August 16, 2006, 06:11:10 pm
If we lose best novella, wouldn't we be alienating the newer writers who haven't had novels published yet? And most of the small presses tend only to publish novella-length material because that's all they can afford to publish (500 page doorstops being a tad expensive).

That would go against your earlier argument for newer writers winning. If anything, they stand more chance in this category.  :)

Paul
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Paul Kane on August 16, 2006, 06:15:44 pm
By the same token, a lot of people I meet at cons or wherever think the BFS doesn't cover horror because of its name.

So where does that leave us?

Maybe your reader should check out the site...

Paul.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 16, 2006, 06:21:16 pm
Yeah, but word of mouth is the thing. Website use is on the floor.

More than 50,000 folks bought Ratastrophe Catastrophe. How many of them joined the website? Er...current count 68. Amazing, huh?
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Jen on August 16, 2006, 06:22:34 pm
... actually, be interesting if you could find out where, specifically, people are getting the impression we're horror from...  any chance... ?   Did they go to an Fcon that didn't agree with them, or is it from one of the publications, or what?  And when were they members... are they using an old experience to judge how we are currently?
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Paul Kane on August 16, 2006, 06:28:50 pm
Okay, so how about everytime someone buys one of your books at a signing, you send them to the website. Then they can see for themselves.

Of course if it's your opinion that we're all horror then your readers will think the same, right?  :)

Paul.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 16, 2006, 06:31:36 pm
Now THAT'S a good question, Jen. If I'm honest, they're usually (by the look of it) late 30s, 40s, etc. Some have been parents who got into my books through their kids and others are the sort of people who read my books because they love fantasy RPGs. Illmoor is very popular among RPG lovers - so is Ramsey Campbell's stuff - his GOATSWOOD settings/stories formed the basis for one of the most popular RPG suppliments of all time: Chaosium's Cthulhu - Made in Goatswood.

The RPG community is DEFINITELY one you should mine - there are THOUSANDS of them out there (I run three groups in Thanet alone!)

Anyway......they DO seem to be of an age where they've tried the society - maybe once - and found it not 'fantasy' enough - and by that I always get the feeling they mean HEROIC fantasy.

Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 16, 2006, 06:34:07 pm
Yeah, but Paul - I LOVE horror. I have what I suspect to be one of the largest Ramsey Campbell collections in England! :-)

Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Marie O'Regan on August 16, 2006, 06:39:53 pm
I think Dave, that both you and Paul are citing opposite sides of the same argument. You meet fantasy fans, and they say the BFS is too much horror. Paul and I write horror and dark fantasy (but read across fantasy, sci fi, horror, crime) and a lot of our friends like horror. When we meet them, we hear that the BFS is all fantasy and no horror. I think both sides perceive the other to be prevalent, whereas the truth is that we - the BFS - are permanently trying to cover all bases. We always mention horror authors/artists that are members to anyone who says there's too much fantasy, as an attempt to show them that's not the case. I'm sure you'd do the same to anyone who said we're all horror to you. But we do have to be fair to both whilst we both remain under one umbrella. The problem we have is an ongoing one of trying to broaden that perception of what we are, and that's something we're permanently trying to address. Paul and I are at most Open Nights (I've missed three for family reasons since I joined the Committee, but have been at all others) and Awards Showcases, and always try to attend events where we can. When we're asked to attend an event in our capacity as writers, we always try and push the BFS as a society for all aspects of the genre, and I know other Committee members try and push information about us wherever they can as well. Again, if  you go through the previous FCON accounts and lists of Award Winners, fantasy and horror are both represented, so again - neither perception cited above is correct. I don't know any easy way to change that perception other than to keep on doing what we're doing. We're lucky that authors in all aspects of the genre support us in so many ways and at so many events, and we're always looking for new ways to raise our profile and new ways to attract new members. It does appear to be changing slightly, as membership is increasing, but we still have to keep trying, and any suggestions are always welcome. I know Juliet, Stan, Mark and all the other members of the Write Fantastic, for example, are always willing to help the BFS in any way they can, and hopefully that will result in new members who are fantasy fans. Likewise, authors like Tim Lebbon and Mark Morris always help on the horror side. My own hope is that the current perception will begin to change as more members read the publications and see a balance, and hopefully spread the word.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Paul Kane on August 16, 2006, 06:48:13 pm
Cool, Dave, I'm envious. And let's not forget that Ramsey also writes fantasy too - his story for our book is a great fantasy tale...

I think where this is going off the tracks is our definition of 'Fantasy'. If you're just going to cater to heroic fantasy, then no, a lot of the people you're talking about won't be happy by all our output probably. But Heroic fantasy is only one of the forms of fantasy - you yourself write comic fantasy, as does Terry P (so would he be classed as pure Heroic Fantasy? Probably not).

I guess the point I'm making is that you're never going to keep all of the people happy all of the time, but that's no reason to just concentrate on one select group alone just because our society has the word Fantasy in the title. It's always covered all the genres, and should continue to do so.

The only way we can change word of mouth is if we spread it ourselves.

Paul
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: C.R. Barker on August 16, 2006, 07:00:01 pm

http://hauntedriver.co.uk/page23.html[/quote]

Will check it out.. .

In the meantime, one of the things, as a group, that we've always liked about the awards is that it is voted on by the entire membership instead of a smaller panel of judges...?

[/quote]

I think there are flaws to both balloted and judged award processes, which is why I favour a system whereby the grass-roots members (inc writers, publishers, editors etc) get to nominate the various works in round one, and then a panel of elected 'expert' judges then sit down and 'mark' the entries based upon a transparent and accountable system in round two.

Of course, there is no perfect system. Ultimately it would in some way be subjective. But you can at least tinker with things to eliminate or reduce many of the key problems. For example, I should imagine that it is quite easy gathering entries for the first round long list, but that many voters then fail to vote on all categories because they haven't read the works concerned. By allowing members to thus select the candidates for the long list, and then asking judges to read every work nominated, you are surely quickly improving the system.

CB

NB. And by a shrewd selection of judges (electable positions perhaps?) you could ensure that the perceived horror-bias within the BFS was addressed, because you could ensure that (for example) one judge came from a horror background, one from a fantasy, etc etc. Indeed, you could even create the positions of "Fantasy Judge", "Horror Judge", "Small Press Judge" etc etc, thereby ensuring a healthy spread of expertise and experience. 

 


Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: C.R. Barker on August 16, 2006, 07:11:54 pm
Okay, Marie, here's the thing:

I've had nothing but good support from the society since my career took off. I think Prism is cracking and I ALWAYS try to get the BFS more members when I'm on events......

.....so I'm at this one event in Cambridge, along with Susanna Clarke, Mark C and Stan Nicholls, among others. Up comes this bloke - nice guy - buys one of my books - I sign it and the conversation goes:

Me: Do you like fantasy?
Man: Yeah, love it.
Me: Have you read Orcs by Stan Nicholls?
Man: Oh yeah: I've also read (he then reels off just about every fantasy and children's fantasy author I know of, all in one big breath :-)).
Me: Have you heard of the British Fantasy Society
(guy grimaces as I say the name)
Man: Yeah, I was a member....but they're all about horror these days.

.....and that, honestly, is the reply I've got just about EVERY time I've mentioned the society to readers at my signings. And it can't just be
MY readers who think it????

I'm trying to help, here.....REALLY.? :D



Perhaps by selecting someone who has a strong fantasy background as next President would help remedy this problem? It would certainly alter people's perceptions of the organisation if it's public representative was a relatively high profile fantasy author.

Who might fit the bill? (Fantasy is not my strong point I'm afraid.)





Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Paul Kane on August 16, 2006, 07:17:42 pm
One problem with that voting system jumps out at me straight away - if these are experts in their fields, no doubt they're also going to be extremely busy. How would they find the time to read all the books from a long list that members have submitted? Especially in the space of only a couple of months before the awards are handed out.

We have enough trouble reading all the competition entries and they're only short stories.


Paul.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Lermontov on August 16, 2006, 07:27:45 pm
Blimey! This is the most life I've seen on the site in one YEAR let alone in one day since I've been a member from early on in 2005.

WHO THREW THAT CAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!??

It is damned refreshing though to see so much lively activity on the site. Thank goodness for it.

Don't get rid of the Novella category, I've just finished one and have another in the works!

All these hints and inferences of nepotism and incestuous connections, well, that's publishing unfortunately. I've not been a member very long and don't know the ins and outs one way or the other and really don't need to know. Life's too short and I find it hard enough to squeeze out a page of my own prose that half the time doesn't make me want to perform violence upon myself when I reread it. Eventually, talent will out (not infering that's applicable to me BTW; my hubris only extends to bouts of Medal of Honor Multiplayer online) and the dross will be - albeit eventually - returned to pulp. As a budding writer you have to make what you do so damned good that it simply cannot and will not be ignored, no matter how clique-like anything may or may not be. the old cliche from writers who are 'there' is true: never give up.

I know that through the BFS I have a chance of sorts to pitch my novella and novel for free (as long as they don't keep cancelling! but there you go, gift horse and all that) to people and maybe even get it published one day. There is no other society in the country I know of focused on Fantasy/Horror in general that allows you to have the chance to do that. That the society puts you into contact with editors, publishers and agents (as long as they don't keep cancelling!) can only be a good thing for any aspiring writer, because it's bloody cold and lonely out here!
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: C.R. Barker on August 16, 2006, 07:29:35 pm
Hear, hear. And Ramsey, I'd hate to see you resign as President, so my first inclination, personally, would be to vote you back in. If you really are adamant about standing down, however, and speaking purely as an individual member I'd nominate Stephen Jones as your successor.

Well, I for one would have very strong objections to Stephen Jones as BFS president. The BFS needs invigorating, not timewarping. It probably could also do with a President who comes from a fantasy background as opposed to horror to correct the various imbalances recently highlighted.

To drive the BFS forward you need someone who is innovative, accountable and fan (customer)-focused. No offence to anyone involved, but the Prism and Dark Horizon journals need sprucing-up, as do various aspects of the Society, ranging from the website to the day to day administration through to the awards process. If this were a commercial business you would call in a consultant to do these things, hence the need for a dynamic new leader who can lead and galvanise everybody.

Take a look at the high street glossies like FHM and EMPIRE. That's how the BFS journals should present themselves - slicker, more contemporary style, bolder and more dynamic features, etc. And improvements like that aren't really a question of money, rather it is down to using a half decent desktop publishing package and recruiting volunteers to contribute the various features. Artists and cartoonists are crying out for the opportunity to get into print, as are aspiring writers and editors.

Just take a look at BOOK & MAGAZINE COLLECTOR. For years it was a hoary old specialist appeal journal which never varied its style or editorial slant for decades. It was dying a slow and painful death. Then along came a new editor who completely restyled the format and it is now a very attractive journal with a steadily improving circulation. It looks zappier and sexier than ever. What's more, through the judicious employment of contributors who were fast becoming perceived as dinosaurs into the new style, much experience was retained.

CB
http://hauntedriver.co.uk




 



 

Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: C.R. Barker on August 16, 2006, 07:33:45 pm
One problem with that voting system jumps out at me straight away - if these are experts in their fields, no doubt they're also going to be extremely busy. How would they find the time to read all the books from a long list that members have submitted? Especially in the space of only a couple of months before the awards are handed out.

We have enough trouble reading all the competition entries and they're only short stories.


Paul.

Well, assuming that you appointed judges until such time as they were resigned (or were voted off), I should imagine that many writers would be flattered to be a resident BFS awards judge. It would akin to a credential.




Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Paul Kane on August 16, 2006, 07:37:52 pm
They might well be flattered, but they would definitely quit when they saw how much they had to read. I can tell you right now, most experts in their field don't have much time to spare for this - they're too busy writing or publishing etc - and those that do probably wouldn't be able to call themselves experts anyway  :)

Paul.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Marie O'Regan on August 16, 2006, 07:49:28 pm
To answer your points, Chris:

1. Ramsey is our President, and as Dave mentioned previously, fantasy fans class his Cthulhu work as Heroic Fantasy and have even based an RPG on those stories. Steve Jones would also, in my own opinion, do a good job as President as he is very 'fan-focused'. Everyone has their own opinion on this, I am sure, but I for one would like to see Ramsey continue.
2. Jen is in the process of overhauling Prism, and the next Dark Horizons is my last one as editor - family matters preclude me continuing with it, much as I would love to. I changed the magazine whilst editing it, and I'm sure my successor will too. Magazines by their nature evolve with editorial changes. Both look and content have cost as a factor, though, so I doubt whether we could compete with Empire. I'm sure the new Editor will do his best to provide a magazine everyone will enjoy, though. As to a half decent desktop publishinig package, I used Quark, which I believe is industry standard. Some of the top fantasy artists around have helped me on various publications, and I'm very grateful for their help. We've had contributions from artists such as Les Edwards, Lara Bandilla, James Ryman, Paul Campion...the list goes on. And from authors such as Mark Chadbourn, Tony Richards, Chaz Brenchley, Neil Williamson...loads more. Again, these were voluntary contributions I was very grateful for.
3. Your point on judges is an interesting one, and we do have successful authors acting as judges on the Annual Short Story Competition. I remain convinced, however, that the most representative vote is one from the members themselves - telling us what they liked. To do otherwise would be to invite a situation where judges get 'spammed' by potentially huge amounts of short stories, novels, collections, anthologies...and wouldn't be able to find time to do all of them justice. As it stands, readers are able to vote on what they've read, and what the majority of them like wins. I also think that the fact that it is the readers who have voted means something to the winners.

Lermontov - I agree completely. I've been a member for four or five years now, and have met so many interesting people - some published, some not, and have made some very good friends in the process, both at Open Nights and at FantasyCon.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: C.R. Barker on August 16, 2006, 07:52:04 pm
They might well be flattered, but they would definitely quit when they saw how much they had to read. I can tell you right now, most experts in their field don't have much time to spare for this - they're too busy writing or publishing etc - and those that do probably wouldn't be able to call themselves experts anyway? :)

Paul.

OK, why not then limit the number of works / authors that can be nominated? For example, ten short stories, five novels etc etc. Have BFS members vote for who they want, then have those who receive the most votes make it to the judges list.

There are ways around all of these problems, I feel sure. It just requires open-mindedness and a serious amount of collective brainstorming!

CB
(off to watch the footie)




Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Marie O'Regan on August 16, 2006, 07:55:25 pm
That's effectively the shortlist we already have each year, Chris. The top five, I think, in each category make it from nomination to recommendation. That's still an awful lot of material to read in a very short time.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 16, 2006, 08:46:41 pm
Hmm.......dare I suggest, albeit in a friendly way, that it is time for The British Heroic Fantasy Society?????? :-)

That way (if Ramsey is DETERMINED to stand down - and he shouldn't) the horror folks can elect Stephen Jones and we'll cater for the fans of Tolkien, early Pratchett, Gemmell, the members of The Light Fantastic, myself and every other British supplier of sword-weilding warriors in the business!

But WE get the banner: it belongs to us anyway!? ;)
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: C.R. Barker on August 16, 2006, 10:31:17 pm
I won't be withdrawing my stuff from eligibility for the BFS awards unless a majority of members at the AGM vote that I should. However, let me announce now that I'll be standing down as President at the forthcoming AGM. If I'm voted back in, fine, but any other nominations?

Well, that's like John Terry saying he'll be resigning as England captain, but that he'll stand against any rival should anyone be so brave as to stand against him. Effectively what you're doing is asking for a show of support. If you are serious about resigning you should just do so, like Alan Shearer did, when he announced at thirty that he wouldn't play for England again and that he was leaving of his own volition to clear the decks for new arrivals. Alternatively, you could have made this announcement much sooner, which would have enabled the BFS to cast about for other prospective candidates, and even possibly arranged a vote in advance.

It seems pretty clear that you don't actually want to resign and also that you would like a show of support. I think you have handled this issue in an old-fashioned political way e.g. intending to give the impression that you are being fair and openminded, but actually having engineered things is such a manner that you will almost certainly remain in office. Full marks for the politicking however; you must be pretty sound at chess.  ;)

CB

Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Marie O'Regan on August 16, 2006, 11:23:56 pm
Dave, I'm actually amazed that you'd suggest such a thing. The British Fantasy Society has catered to all aspects of the genre since the early seventies, and its members have all supported each other during that time. Might I suggest that if you wish to set up a separate society you are of course entitled to do so - but I think you should come up with your own, original, banner rather than try and take over that of something that's existed for thirty odd years. And I think you mean the Write Fantastic? Who are all, by the way, staunch BFS supporters of Fantasy in its broadest definition.

Chris, I can't see any reason Ramsey should have to tout for support. He's been a great President and I hope he will continue to be so.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: C.R. Barker on August 17, 2006, 12:28:22 am
Dave, I'm actually amazed that you'd suggest such a thing. The British Fantasy Society has catered to all aspects of the genre since the early seventies, and its members have all supported each other during that time. Might I suggest that if you wish to set up a separate society you are of course entitled to do so - but I think you should come up with your own, original, banner rather than try and take over that of something that's existed for thirty odd years. And I think you mean the Write Fantastic? Who are all, by the way, staunch BFS supporters of Fantasy in its broadest definition.

Chris, I can't see any reason Ramsey should have to tout for support. He's been a great President and I hope he will continue to be so.

Marie:

With respect, you appear to have misunderstood me. If RC was serious about stepping aside then there are far more effective ways to do it. He has opted for the empty gesture method, which is to say, he will run through the charade of resigning knowing full well that he will be swiftly re-elected. That will then allow him and others to say that he did at least throw it open to other candidates, even if it is only disingenuously true.

As for having been a great President, how exactly do you qualify that? There have been grumblings about the BFS being stuck in the eighties; concern over the bias shown towards horror; suggestions that conventions appear to be run for the career advancement of the few; queries over the fairness of the award processes; anxiety that the BFS isn't recruiting enough new members (excepting the last year's intake); etc etc.

Seriously, how do you prove in a scientific way that someone has been a 'great' President? And even if someone's tenure can be shown to have reaped dividends for the society, isn't there a good case for arguing that the President's term of office should be limited to X number of years regardless, simply to ensure that the society is kept dynamic?

The saying 'a change is as good as a rest' has some validity. People like change after a while, they grow resentful if things just keep staying the same. After twelve years experience of working with local government officials and elected councillors, I am extremely sceptical about people's reasons for seeking office, and the worst I came across were those who were in the 'old boy network'. Crusty old buffers who no longer much cared the issues, they would cling stubbornly to office just to keep the enthusiastic aspirers out. They did it to prove that they were still top dog and because they took pleasure from the trappings of their minimalist successes. Now, I am in no way suggesting that this is a similar case, but as regards to the general principle, I don't think such an important aspect of the BFS as the Presidency should be manipulated in such a way. If RC wants to resign he should resign, and not allow himself to be immediately put forward as the new president. If he doesn't want to resign, then fine, but the BFS should at least clarify how long his tenure should last and give others (most definitely not me I hasten to add) the opportunity to challenge him in an election if they want to.

A final observation: staging a vote at the fantasy con on this issue favours the existing President. For this to be done fairly, BFS members should be allowed to vote in secret and by post or online rather than be asked to attend a meeting and have to face the people concerned.










Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: C.R. Barker on August 17, 2006, 12:38:31 am
That's effectively the shortlist we already have each year, Chris. The top five, I think, in each category make it from nomination to recommendation. That's still an awful lot of material to read in a very short time.

Easily solved: rejig the timescales. Rejig them so that the judges are allowed say three months to familiarise themselves with the five entries in each group.

I agree that asking unpaid judges to wade through twenty odd entries per category would be unfeasible, but the IHG and WFC judges appear to be able to get through the short list each year.

By taking the best bits from both options - that is to say, by cherry-picking from both the free vote and peer-assessment methods - I believe that the system would become more transparent and accountable whilst the decision-making would be tweaked to near perfection. However, that's just my view, and I would rather agree to disagree about what we each think rather than one of us try to impose his or her view on the other.



Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Jen on August 17, 2006, 07:31:35 am
Quote
Hmm.......dare I suggest, albeit in a friendly way, that it is time for The British Heroic Fantasy Society?Huh?? :-)

Hee.. then, we really would get accused of being exclusionists!  As Paul said, way up on another page, there's more to life than just the heroic stuff...  As we stand, one of the good points about the BFS is that we hold a general umbrella over all the genre subdivisions, so, in theory, all we need to do is get people to actually *see* that we're not soley one or the other; but multiple offenders  :D  I like being able to get everything under the one roof...  ;)  (especially since it makes it easier to find out about what's new that's horror when I want a change after doing a mass fantasy jag...bouncing around the genres makes life much more interesting!)

What was the Cambridge event BTW? 
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 17, 2006, 07:48:15 am
Right......getting annoyed myself, now......

As far as I'm concerned, Ramsey should be voted back in. If he ISN'T, the LAST - and I mean absolutely the LAST thing the BFS needs is yet another horror figure to add the (currently horror dominated) committee of the BFS.

And you and I both know that a good number of fantasy fans JOIN the society because they get the picture in their mind of Lord of the Rings, Pratchett's Discworld and Jackson/Livingstone's Allansia, etc. Well, for all the features they get on such authors, it is WRONG to describe the society as such.

If we're really going down that road, then look at the sales figures for goodness sake!!!!! WHERE are the Pratchett fans? WHERE are the Lord of the Rings fans? They're certainly not members of the BFS: I speak as someone holding last year's figures (as up until yesterday I full planned to take over as Sectretary and Treasurer).

Come to that, WHERE are the readers of SFX? WHERE are the readers of Interzone, which currently has TEN times the BFS membership (and that's a low estimate)? I work for both publications: I KNOW they're mostly fantasy fans.

The society needs a damn good shake up. THAT is a fact.

What should happen is for Ramsey to stay and the society be renamed as it SHOULD be - The British Horror and Dark Fantasy Society.

Oh, and please......if you REALLY believe the members of the Write Fantastic (apologies for earlier mistake, guys) are AGAINST what I'm saying,
then please invite them on here and we'll chat.

They are, after all, a group of FANTASY authors.....and their opinion would be of great interest to me.





Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Jen on August 17, 2006, 08:32:20 am
Features on the fantasy side of things are easy enough to rectify...  People: write me some fantasy features!  If you send them to me, I'll publish them in Prism.  Alas, I don't have the time or skill to write them myself...

I'm already trying to expand the events section so that we get a full range of events in... actually managed to find details of some Pratchett signings the other day, so they'll be in the next one...

Although, if memory serves (speaking as stockholder, now), during the last few years we have had LotR features and Dunsany features and things like that... (will have to dig through the last couple of years of back-stock to get the full list of examples...) 

(Hello!  I'm a Pratchett fan... and a LotR fan  ;)  Also, reader of SFX & Interzone!  )

Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Jonathan Oliver on August 17, 2006, 09:24:02 am
I actually read both Interzone and SFX. I write horror but I publish fantasy, science fiction, horror and military thrillers. So there is some diversity out there! Huge SF fan, even have an MA degree in SF.
For the record I wouldn't want the BFS to change a thing. I think it is wide enough and the last two BFS cons I've been to have had both a strong fantasy and horror element. I think that the balance is just right personally. Ramesy has done a fantastic job  as President and I would be sad if he left but, at the end of the day, that's up to him

Jon

(Abaddon Books and 2000 AD Graphic Novels Editor)
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 17, 2006, 09:45:25 am
Jenny, I KNOW you're a fair editor (and a good one) and I KNOW you would give an even amount of space to both sides....but that's not what I'm personally arguing about.

I just think the BFS needs to change in order to use the name with any level of accuracy.....and I'd be quite willing to aid that change (and I know for a fact that people like Stan Nicholls, Martin Scott and several others would also).

Why don't we have an honorary committee balanced EVENLY among fantasy and horror authors - THAT way, us fantasy guys could contribute a lot more - and maybe even advertise the Society better on our respective sites?????
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Marie O'Regan on August 17, 2006, 10:04:28 am
I seem to be the only one not annoyed here. I have merely stated my opinion, as we are all entitled to do. For the record, as Jon says, I write horror and dark fantasy but read fantasy, science fiction, crime, and anything else that takes my fancy, alongside horror. I read Interzone and SFX, as does Paul.  On my bookshelf you will find Gemmell, Eddings, Feist, Marillier, Chadbourn, Gaiman, John Connolly, Mo Hayder, Justina Robson, China Mieville, Jon Courtney Grimwood, Neil Asher, Charles de Lint, Heinlein, William Gibson, Jeffery Deaver, alongside any number of horror authors. I read voraciously across the genres, my only criterion is that the story appeals to me. While we've been with the Society I have published horror authors, but also fantasy authors such as Juliet E McKenna, Mark Chadbourn, Chaz Brenchley, Neil Gaiman, to name but a few. Whilst my own personal favourite is horror, I have always made sure that anything includes the complete range of genre material, not merely one narrow section. SFX itself does this, featuring items on Buffy, Charmed, X Files, Roswell, Smallville - as you can see, a range of material, which is as it should be. The site says clearly, as does every publication, that we celebrate 'all aspects of the genre' - this is also included in promotional material such as the BFS adverts run by Jo Fletcher in Gollancz books and Write Fantastic promotional literature. The Society as a whole seeks to promote each and every aspect, rather than be exclusionist and eliitist. I believe this to be one of its greatest strengths. The membership database also reflects this, showing we have members from every aspect of the genre - from fans to seasoned professionals. This is as it should be, in my opinion. Everyone is welcome. The last issue of Dark Horizons featured an interview with Neil Gaiman, a fantasy author, and the first original short story for six years by Mark Chadbourn, a fantasy author, plus a wide range of reviews in all genres. The next issue features an interview with John Connolly and an article on Terry Gilliam, among other things.

My stated opinion is that Ramsey should stay as President - Chris' is in fact the only contrary opinion I have heard in my time with the BFS. He is entitled to it, of course, I am merely stating that in view of this I see no reason why Ramsey should stand down or why anyone should think he would need to resort to the sort of 'politicking' that has been suggested here. Any matter, whether it be who holds Presidency or changes to our general structure, can be raised at the AGM or via email at any time. That has always been the case. To suggest the Committee is horror dominated, when at the moment four members of the committee are associated with horror out of a possible ten, is obviously erroneous and shows your incomplete grasp of the situation - especially when all four horror fans on the committee go out of their way to make sure there is a balance overall. We spend a lot of time makeing sure we have as much of a balance as possible. Anyone is free to submit a fantasy article, story, review, and the ONLY criteria is that they are good enough to get in. That applies across the board.

As to where are the Pratchett and LoftR fans, I happen to be a fan of both myself, as does Paul, and I would expect, quite a high proportion of current members. We've been in touch with Terry very recently to ask him to be involved in a project (sadly he didn't have time) and Peter Jackson won the Karl Edward Wagner award two years ago for Lord of The Rings, so we're hardly excluding fantasy by my reckoning. If what you are saying is you don't want to see ANY horror, which is what I'm inferring from your aggressive stance on this, then I would suggest that it is you who seek to unbalance the Society, and if you are unhappy with what a large number of members appear to be happy with (going by the number of renewals each year) then perhaps you should form your own Society.

As to Chris' comments on the Awards system, I agree we should agree to disagree. Again, any matters such as this are free to be discussed at the AGM in the appropriate manner.

Jon, like you I am a huge fan of many different types of fiction, although I write predominantly horror. We try hard to provide a wide range of events at FantasyCon and we hope to continue this in the future. Thank you for posting.

We are constantly reviewing our publications/event schedules/looking at guests and prospective interviewees, to get as wide a range as possible. I believe this has no small part in why membership is now beginning to increase and I have every hope that it will continue to do so, with new fans of every genre wishing to join us.

I am sorry that as a mere horror author, the personal opinion of the Chair of the British Fantasy Society is apparently of no interest to you, and hope that as you wish, other FANTASY authors and as such obviously in your narrow opinion more qualified and interesting people post their opinions on this. It should prove interesting reading, some of the people you have cited are friends of mine and I doubt very much whether they'd share your narrow view.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: ChrisT on August 17, 2006, 10:17:54 am
Wow... yesterday afternoon there were just two pages in this topic...  :o

Very interesting discussion, guys. Now, my t'pennyworth:

Personally, I've always found it whimsical that a society with fantasy in the title is made of predominantly horror-type folks - though I'm not adverse to enjoying sf, or comic/dark fantasy, but the more traditional six-book epics with orcs and stuff just leaves me cold.

As for the accusation of cliqueyness, well, I detected a tiny sense of that at my first FCon in 2000 - but I knew hardly anyone, and I wasn't the most gregarious of people back then, but you can't get rid of me that easily. :)

Perhaps a change to "The British Horror and Fantasy Society" is in order, but that's a sense of devolution which could lead to further demarcation (what about heroic fantasy, or comic... and does it mean you don't like sf?)

If Ramsey does indeed wish to stand-down, then I agree perhaps a prominent fantasy author should stand has President - Juliette McKenna? - or Mark C who is known for both genres, perhaps? Of course, you can't force people to stand, so it all depends on who puts themselves forward at the AGM.

As the awards stand, none should go: even though the majority of other awards have the blanket "short fiction" prize for both novellas and stories, I think the majority of members prefer a seperate novella award. With regards to voting, both the Hugo's and BSFA awards are voted by members of their respective societies, with only the World Fantasy award governed by judges (insofar has I know) therefore I think a membership voting scheme is the way to go.

As for renaming awards, perhaps the anthology award could be renamed "August Derleth" since he was an anthologist, and the novel award could then be called the "David Gemmell"? Just a suggestion...

With regard to raising the profile of the BFS/FantasyCon, it amazes me that neither is mentioned within the pages of SFX: I know it's only one magazine, but it is the biggest selling genre mag in the UK (mind you, Langford does mention FCon in his ansible pages of Interzone). And I didn't see a single flyer at last year's WorldCon.

Until I mentioned FCon on the SFX forum (guerilla marketing?) no-one knew about it, and yet if it's some obscure Dr Who event where you get to have tea with the third cyberman from the left, Christ, everyone knows about it!  ::)

Prism/Dark Horizons: it's all down to expense - but both need a slight re-jig: not to pour scorn on the work done in the past, but the rise to glossy covers is a definitel improvement, but if you compare, for example, old Interzone and new Interzone, you just wouldn't think it's the same magazine - we need a design wizard!

Finally, the previous three FCon's, I think, have been very friendly - but then I've got to know most people - so with an almost double the usual number of attendees, what this "new blood" will think could be quite interesting to note, and probably be of immense benefit to the committee.

Only time will tell, but on the whole, as it stands now, the BFS is a friendly place, but like anything it just needs tweaks here and there, and the occasional revamp does stop complecency from setting in.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 17, 2006, 10:42:04 am
I seem to be the only one not annoyed here - MARIE, ARE YOU SURE????????

I'm really not narrow minded - I love horror (any doubt, check out my last few and next two reviews for SFX). My shelves, as I have previously stated, are weighed down with King, Campbell, Michael Marshall Smith, Hutson, Herbert and newcomers like Langan, Whitfield etc.

Horror ROCKS.

.....but, for me, fantasy rocks harder. :-)

What I'm SAYING (exhausted, need oxygen) is that the BFS is a very misleading name. I'm speaking as someone who - at a young age - joined the society because I wanted to know more about FANTASY......I was looking for more stuff by Dave Langford and Pratchett, or for Dungeons and Dragons articles, I was looking for features on Leiber and Robert E. Howard!

I found a nice bunch of people.....all very friendly and interactive. You still ARE a nice bunch of people.....and as one big piece of praise Prism REALLY does seem to be treading the balance between the fields.

But, still, my opinion stands. And - all arguments aside - which of these two titles do you think best/most accurately describes the organization?

Honestly, now......:-).......

The British Fantasy Society (with its current goblin banner logo) or.....

The British Dark Fantasy and Horror Society (dark logo - pref by Les E or JK Potter)

Personally, I'd belong to both.  ;D


Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: ChrisT on August 17, 2006, 10:54:36 am
The British Dark Fantasy and Horror Society (dark logo - pref by Les E or JK Potter)

I'd go with a new logo... the current one is looking, well, old.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Marie O'Regan on August 17, 2006, 11:04:27 am
I'm very sure, Dave. With respect, your last post before mine was the first post I can remember where you made the point of your argument changing the name of the BFS rather than accusing it of being horror dominated and unbalanced in it's treatment of the genres. Your suggestion in the context of changing the name I have no problem with, although I disagree with it personally. It can be raised at the AGM as any other business can. All I did in my posts was clarify my position re:balance, and that of the Society, which is that we strive at all times to feature a wide range of material. You were the one who suggested a British Heroic Fantasy Society, excluding all else, not me. I have answered every point you have raised to the best of my ability, and merely stated that I will continue to try and cover all bases as much as possible, as do all the Committee.  Logo redesign is something that has also been discussed in the past, and when we can come up with a logo that pleases all sides (a few have been discussed) I'm sure it will happen. For the moment, however, the current logo is instantlly recognisable as that of the BFS, and anyone who has links with us knows we have a balance - for those who don't know this, we do try and make it clear on site and in the literature and at events. 'Fantasy', to me, has never been limited to a 'Heroic' or 'High' fantasy view of the genre. I have always taken it to encompass a very wide range of literature indeed.

For the record, my own opinion is that the name should remain unchanged, as fantasy is a very broad term, in my opinion. I see no reason to change it, as we always clarify the title in all promotional material and at events.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 17, 2006, 11:09:05 am
Well, you've got to give it to this girl - she really fights her corner.

I disagree with her TOTALLY......but such fight! It has to be said, she's a damn fine Chair (she can run my society anytime? :)).

However, we've all have a jolly good argument and battered each other senseless with our own viewpoints.

But look at the ratings, guys! We're up! :-)

Good fight, good fight. Now let me just see if I can find a few of my teeth in this keyboard....
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Jen on August 17, 2006, 11:16:45 am
Who's annoyed?  ;D  Constructive criticism is great for improvement...  :-*

Where to start.... 

SFX - that's an easy one
Quote
with regard to raising the profile of the BFS/FantasyCon, it amazes me that neither is mentioned within the pages of SFX:

And do you know how many times we've tried to get BFS things in SFX?  Every bloody time we're met with a brick wall.  Reviews.  News.  Event announcements*.  Awards announcements.  And their ad rates are astro-bloody-nomical or we'd have had a BFS or Fcon ad in there years ago...  (*Mind, I see we've finally made it onto their website events listing...)

So if anyone wants to be SFX liason and give it a shot... be my guest!   Give em a kick about Fcon, see if anyone's going to come (and hence, do a shorty feature) like they have Eastercon etc. 

Prism:
Quote
as one big piece of praise Prism REALLY does seem to be treading the balance between the fields.
Ooh, thanks...  ;D

Quote
Prism/Dark Horizons: it's all down to expense - but both need a slight re-jig: not to pour scorn on the work done in the past, but the rise to glossy covers is a definitel improvement, but if you compare, for example, old Interzone and new Interzone, you just wouldn't think it's the same magazine - we need a design wizard!

Agreed.  DH future comments will have to wait for the new editors to chime in, but Prism...
Yes... glossy covers... yum.... would love to (we used to have them on Prism a while back because the printer we were using did them at ridiculously cheap rates...)  if we can source a printer that won't destroy the budget, we'll go back to glossy covers.   
Also, currently Prism  is cheap and cheerful at the moment because it makes it easier to make sure it gets out regularly... (ahem  :-[ ) 
But yes, any design wizards... talk to me... arty stuff is sooo not my strong point... will try and bring some pretty things in with each new issue, but am also concentrating on getting the text contact boofed up...

Also, what do we think about sizing?  A5 works with the current amount of content, when we have the reviews added for the Oct issue, we're going to be much thicker so will be looking at perfect bound, probably.  And I want more features, and some opinion columns... (though DH is also having opinion columns, I think, so need more conversations with Pete & Jan about split..)  Would it better, at that point, to go to A4?  A5 is a cootchy size, but A4 gives more space to play with and more design options. 






Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Marie O'Regan on August 17, 2006, 11:17:23 am
I agree that I will always stand by my convictions, Dave, and that we'll have to agree to disagree personally. Anything like name change, logo redesign, bring up at the AGM and it will be discussed. I'm glad you think I'm a good Chair, I try very hard to be. It's something I take very seriously and am passionate about.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: ChrisT on August 17, 2006, 11:23:43 am
Well, you've got to give it to this girl - she really fights her corner.

What do you expect Dave? Marie's Irish... they're like bloody terriers!  ;)
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: ChrisT on August 17, 2006, 11:31:38 am

SFX - that's an easy one

And do you know how many times we've tried to get BFS things in SFX?  Every bloody time we're met with a brick wall.  Reviews.  News.  Event announcements*.  Awards announcements.  And their ad rates are astro-bloody-nomical or we'd have had a BFS or Fcon ad in there years ago...  (*Mind, I see we've finally made it onto their website events listing...)

So if anyone wants to be SFX liason and give it a shot... be my guest!   Give em a kick about Fcon, see if anyone's going to come (and hence, do a shorty feature) like they have Eastercon etc.

Well, I'll continue to haunt the forum... infact, I think I'll change my signature.  ;D

But agree with you about the ad-rates, but then the magazine is probably bloody expensive to produce, even with 30,000 odd paying for it.

Quote
But yes, any design wizards... talk to me... arty stuff is sooo not my strong point... will try and bring some pretty things in with each new issue, but am also concentrating on getting the text contact boofed up...

I know Steve Upham's going to FCon - his pdf e-zine Estronomicon looks lovely. Maybe worth a chat...

I've found a printer here that can do a saddle-stitched perfect-bound 32pp A5 glossy-cover booklet, at just over a ?1/copy (@ 200 copies). I'll be giving them a call myself...

A5 is definitely the size, though: handy to read on the toilet.  :o
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 17, 2006, 11:33:34 am
Hey Chris

Tell me about it..........should have known better....I'm only half Irish, so I was bound to get beaten!

Jen's quote "Features on the fantasy side of things are easy enough to rectify... ?People: write me some fantasy features! ?If you send them to me, I'll publish them in Prism. ?Alas, I don't have the time or skill to write them myself..."

I'm working on a page-length cartoon-script series about a barbarian with OCD called Thunk Nuggit and the Fourth Axe of Arsenal. As soon as I
find an illustrator with the right 'style' who's prepared to work for nothing, I'll be straight in with it.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 17, 2006, 11:40:24 am
Incidentally, here's the synopsis:

Thunk Nuggit, barbarian warrior of the Lobstrand Wastes, is BACK. Faced with dental-problems and wracked by a degenerative, enchanted
form of OCD, he's about to take on the Diamondback Death Dragon of Hot Shallow Vale.

Can he overcome his anxiety in order to defeat the beast? Of course he can! (touch wood, touch wood, touch wood....)
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Lermontov on August 17, 2006, 11:53:08 am
Quote
The British Dark Fantasy and Horror Society (dark logo - pref by Les E or JK Potter)

With respect, David, that's a terrible title. It's narrow and prescriptive. And just exactly what IS 'Dark Fantasy'? You ask a dozen people who like Fantasy and six of them will give you six different answers, the other six won't be able to give an answer! Like the term 'Speculative Fiction'.

I've already raised the issue of the website on the AGM thread and I appreciate that the revamp will be done on someone's own personal time, for the love of it. The site needs a major revamp. That's my opinion and well, there you go.

I did quite recently try to help getting things going with a prominent monthly magazine I have a tentative contact with, that undoubtedly has a lot of readers who are into Fantasy, Horror and SF. It would be a good place to advertise. It couldn't be done because finances didn't allow as the FCon had already been put into place with all the funding that requires. With the increase in membership this year (and this is surely mainly due to the stellar and cult names line-up, for which the committee are to be hugely congratulated) perhaps there may be more money for advertising to help spread the word.

There is nothing wrong with the existing title of the society but when you come to the website and especially the Forum, the Forum rooms are vague and frankly downright confusing. What sort of logic is there in a thread like this being in the 'Welcome' room? The Forum room headings should be self-explanatory with one sentence at most if there must be to explain what you will find on entering it. Forum rooms with headings : Horror Writing; Fantasy Writing will probably increase the traffic on the Forums ten-fold in a very short space of time. You don't have long to grab somebody's attention on the internet.

Now I think it's clear that this thread is laced with some flamey and long-standing personal beefs (and I hope the first part of this sentence will not be a gulp of oxygen for that) but it has exacerbated a flurry of activity of defense and counterpoint. On one level that's a good thing but it has taken something like this to bring the site to life (and I've probably posted as much as anyone here in the last year - and that isn't that much - putting aside the committee posting info).

First impressions are everything on the Net.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Jen on August 17, 2006, 12:24:34 pm

Quote
I've always found it whimsical that a society with fantasy in the title is made of predominantly horror-type folks

Is it though?  See, I'd still like to find out how, specifically, people are getting the impression that we're predom. horror...
From the membership database, we have a healthy balance between horror and fantasy professionals (and those dancing the genres in between and around..) ... so is it down to who you find hanging around at an Fcon or open night?  Or who's the most vocal?  Or are we missing something blatantly obvious?  And how do we go about making the fantasy portion more visible?

 
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 17, 2006, 12:55:52 pm
Quote
The British Dark Fantasy and Horror Society (dark logo - pref by Les E or JK Potter)

With respect, David, that's a terrible title. It's narrow and prescriptive. And just exactly what IS 'Dark Fantasy'? You ask a dozen people who like Fantasy and six of them will give you six different answers, the other six won't be able to give an answer! Like the term 'Speculative Fiction'.

I'm very shocked, Lemontov.....you have RESPECT for me?? ;D






 
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Jen on August 17, 2006, 01:00:38 pm
Quote
I'm working on a page-length cartoon-script series

I think that comes under Dark Horizons' new remit, though...  ;)  Will check...

Quote
Why don't we have an honorary committee balanced EVENLY among fantasy and horror authors - THAT way, us fantasy guys could contribute a lot more - and maybe even advertise the Society better on our respective sites

Oh lordy, more committees  ;D  Seriously though, we do have various authors/editors/publishers of both sorts (and those in between) who have always made it quite clear than anything we need, all we have to do is say... everybody is very willing to help out with distributing fliers/general publicising/throwing in helpful suggestions about what we could be doing to run various things a bit better... (like short breaks between panels at Fcon... which we're doing this year...)
 And we get some very helpful conversations at Open Nights and Fcons with assorted folks... (so, if you've got a beef, tell us!)  ;)
 
We've had one (rather lovely  :D  ) fantasy/horror/crime author offer to help us out with any funding applications... now the trick is to find something to make a funding application for... maybe try and work it in for an Fcon so we can go for a more expensive venue (ie, one that's centre of city based) without totally killing the usual shoestring budget...

How would you be wanting something like the mass mind thing to work?  Email list type thing? 


(on another tangent...)  ;D
Quote
But agree with you about the ad-rates, but then the magazine is probably bloody expensive to produce, even with 30,000 odd paying for it.

Oh yeah, granted.  And if we could afford to do it, we would get in there...   I think, at the moment, we could try the sneaky way in and get some line ad announcements in their back section... That might start things off...
Quote
I know Steve Upham's going to FCon - his pdf e-zine Estronomicon looks lovely. Maybe worth a chat...

I've found a printer here that can do a saddle-stitched perfect-bound 32pp A5 glossy-cover booklet, at just over a ?1/copy (@ 200 copies). I'll be giving them a call myself...

Right.. will make a note to grab Steve then...  also, if you can bung us the printers details, we'll have a shuftie... cheers!
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: C.R. Barker on August 17, 2006, 02:10:46 pm
I actually read both Interzone and SFX. I write horror but I publish fantasy, science fiction, horror and military thrillers. So there is some diversity out there! Huge SF fan, even have an MA degree in SF.

Jon

(Abaddon Books and 2000 AD Graphic Novels Editor)

Impressive qualification!

If the BFS ever do appoint awards judges, you'd surely be a very strong candidate for representing the fantasy genre. It's rare to find a genre writer with so pertinent an academic background.

CB
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 17, 2006, 02:57:45 pm
I'll second that. Jon has just become the ONLY person I've ever known to have an MA in sf.

And I'm speaking as someone who knows.....oh......three, maybe even four people.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Stan Nicholls on August 17, 2006, 04:10:28 pm
Two issues are getting entangled here, and it?s not helpful.

No one should need reminding of Ramsey?s qualities as a writer and as a man. 
In my experience, almost universally people regard him with respect and affection.
He?s served the BFS well down the years and is a fine ambassador for the cause.  I?d be sorry to see him resign as President because of criticisms that so far seem to be a minority opinion.  If there really is a groundswell of dissatisfaction with his presidency, the critics should put up their own candidate for the position and let the membership decide.  As a general point on the role of President, there might be an argument for holding elections, say every four years, to let members express validation or censure.  As things stand, I?d vote for Ramsey. 

I?m much more interested in, and sympathetic with, Davey Stone?s comments; and it would be a shame if what he?s saying was interpreted as just knocking the present administration.  We all know that the folk who run the BFS and Fantasycon are hard working, dedicated and often unappreciated.  They put in the hours unpaid and usually get more brickbats than bouquets for their trouble.  I, for one, am grateful for that.  But it seems to me that what Davey?s talking about is how the wider world perceives the BFS and Fantasycon.  And I can back him on this.  Whether you like it or not, and no matter how hard the committee?s trying to change things, there?s a broadly held view that the Society and Fantasycon are almost exclusively concerned with horror.  It may well be unjust, but it?s a fact.  I hear it all the time from readers, commentators on the field, publishers, agents and other authors.  They could be basing their opinion on how things maybe were historically, but that doesn?t change how they feel. 

I was talking to a successful German author a few months ago who?d just guested at his country?s annual fantasy convention.  He told me, with embarrassment, that there were ?only? 6000 attendees.  ?I?m sure you get many more at your British equivalent,? he said, and was amazed to hear we attracted less than 300.  He?d never heard of the BFS or Fantasycon.  I was a GoH myself at Elf Fantasy Fair in Holland in May.  Attendance: 33,000.  The organisers had heard about Fantasycon.  ?But it?s all about horror,? they stated as a matter of fact.  I suggested it might be mutually beneficial to exchange ads with the BFS/Fantasycon.  Elf Fantasy Fair had attendees from all across Europe, including Germany, France and Russia, so it?s not unreasonable to think some of them would be interested in visiting England for our annual event.  The organisers duly wrote, proposing reciprocal advertising.  They tell me they?re still waiting for a reply.  I could tell similar stories about conventions I know of in other European countries, some of which I?ve attended..  They get excellent turn-outs, and would be good places to reach potential Fantasycon attendees.  But they either have no knowledge of the BFS/Fantasycon, until I tell them, or regard them as being ?all about horror?.  Somebody in this thread mentioned that there was no BFS presence at Worldcon in Glasgow last August, the biggest fan/professional gathering in the UK for years.  Are opportunities to increase membership being taken?

This might sound paradoxical, but I happen to be someone who draws few distinctions between categories of speculative fiction.  I see them all as expressions of the creative imagination, and am as happy reading science fiction and horror as fantasy or graphic novels.  I?m not knocking horror, is what I?m trying to say; and it should definitely have its place in both the Society and Fantasycon.  What needs changing is the notion, held by many, that horror is all this organisation truly cares about.  I?m not sure that?s going to be achieved by tinkering with the BFS?s name or its logo. 

Several people here have mentioned that the recipients of British Fantasy Awards give the lie to there being a bias towards horror.  Here?s a list of last year?s winners:                                 

Best Novel (The August Derleth Award):
Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower by Stephen King
Best Novella:
Breathe by Christopher Fowler
Best Short Fiction:
'Black Static' by Paul Meloy
Best Collection:
Out of His Mind by Stephen Gallagher
Best Anthology:
The Alsiso Project ed. by Andrew Hook
Best Artist:
Les Edwards
Best Small Press:
Elastic Press, prop. Andrew Hook
Special Award (Karl Edward Wagner Award):
Nigel Kneale

What do they all have in common?  Don?t get me wrong - there isn?t anybody in the above I don?t value and respect; but what impression to you think such a line-up gives, other than the awards are solely concerned with horror?  You?ll argue that the committee?s hands are tied, and that they can only operate on the basis of what members nominate and vote for; but isn?t it possible that there?s an element of
self-perpetuation here?  A majority of people who vote favour horror, it seems, so horror wins the awards.  With the result that the impression that horror is all it?s about is further reinforced.  A few years ago an eminent editor remarked to me that, ?The BFA?s are just about a small clique of horror fans giving each other awards.?   No amount of arguing on my part could change that editor?s opinion.  Maybe because my heart wasn?t in it.       

One way of giving the awards more gravitas would be to publish how many votes are cast in each category.  Is it true that some entries receive votes in single figures?  When two nominations tie, who decides which one wins, and how?  Why are the members given only one opportunity to vote, on the long list?  Why isn?t the shortlist open for voting on?  More transparency would help.

I think Davey?s idea for a David Gemmell Memorial Award is excellent, and if adopted would help redress that perceived imbalance.  But ? and I have to say this - when Dave died a couple of weeks ago, what was the reaction from the British Fantasy Society?  An item on its website?  A mention in the email newsletter that went out a week after the event?  No.  A special email was eventually sent out, briefly stating the fact that he?d died and linking to obituaries, but only after prompting by several authors who felt it was merited.  And how many messages are there in this forum about Gemmell?s passing?  One, from a member.  With no replies.  Gemmell was one of the world?s bestselling fantasy authors, and an enormous influence on writers in the genre and millions of readers.  If he didn?t warrant the attention of the BFS, who does?  Whereas, if a prominent horror author had died ?

I?ve taken more than enough space in this forum, and some of you might think that what I?ve said is contentious.  But I wouldn?t have bothered if I didn?t care.

SN
                       
         

 

 

Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: DFL on August 17, 2006, 04:20:25 pm
As a non-member, I hope I can comment.

I was a member once.

I left mainly for two reasons:

(i) My interests changed and I did not see BFS central to them any more.  My fault.  Not that of the BFS.

(ii) I started a journal with large investment of time and money publishing stories by BFS members and others and featuring the sort of material that would appeal to BFS members.  It was largely ignored by the BFS.

I always saw the BFS as a niche Horror society.  If the BFS isn't that, there should be one.  I still think it is, actually, a niche Horror society and you have lots to thank Ramsey C and Steve J for.  Great men, both.


Re the BFS Awards - as an outsider trying to get material considered properly - I saw two problems (still do):

(a) Getting stuff on the long voting lists (recommendations).  Nemo 4 (its many original stories and quality packaging) was missed off these lists completely and anyone who saw Nemo 4 agreed this fact was scandalous.  There should at least be an Oversight Committee, I feel.

(b) Getting stuff (previously 'recommended' as in (a)) considered properly by the jury.  I do believe that each member of the jury do not read everything on the voting lists.  Again I feel this is scandalous.  (This is why I offered to send a free copy of Nemo 5 to each member of the jury).  For 'jury', please read whatever you want it to be.  If it happens to be a select group or all the members, fair enough.

des

Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 17, 2006, 04:26:38 pm
I hope the Nicholls post is taken on board and read VERY carefully. Stan obviously speaks from some experience, and I don't think ANY of the above opinions can be interpreted as an 'attack' on the society.

Change is a good thing, sometimes.......REALLY it is.

Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Marie O'Regan on August 17, 2006, 05:14:07 pm
Stan,

First of all, thank you for posting. I agree that Ramsey's Presidency isn't really the issue at the heart of this, and that the AGM is the proper place for that to be addressed. The fact that my own wish is for Ramsey to continue is already stated on this board.

With regards to the main bulk of your post, I am the first to agree that perception is the problem - I have stated as much myself. I agree that there were quite a few horror related awards last year - though not all of them - but that is how the membership voted. In other years there has been a significant Fantasy showing, and I hope that there's a wide range represented again in this year's Awards. Your comments re: voting numbers etc. are noted, and your questions are valid ones, but I feel this should also be raised at the AGM as David Sutton, as Awards Administrator, is the only person who knows this information so I cannot comment on numbers with any accuracy. To do so would be wrong.

Again, the matter of a David Gemmell memorial Award is one that can be discussed at the AGM - but the following should be taken into consideration:
1. Budget - there is a finite budget for Awards, so we have to be sure the money is available.
2. What would this Award be for? I've already argued against splitting the Best Novel into Fantasy and Horror categories as it's divisive, and also any number of authors fall somewhat in between the two categories. If you could suggest a category, please do, and it can be discussed at the AGM in the proper manner.

As regards the Newsfeed error, which was unfortunate - Vicky has already apologised to me for this, and I have apologised to Juliet McKenna and David Howe,  the people who emailed me about it. Vicky put that particular Newsfeed together the night before going on holiday and in the rush to get everything done, simply forgot. It's unfortunate, but everyone makes mistakes, and I accept her apology totally. As soon as I was made aware of the oversight (I hadn't at that point had a chance to read the Newsfeed myself) I put out a special Newsfeed, as you've said. If it had been a horror author, I'm sure the same thing would have happened. Vicky herself is firmly a fantasy fan, and doesn't personally like horror. As to posts on the Boards, the Committee spend time on the boards where they can, but as you've said, we're all very busy and have jobs and famillies, and can't always spend much time here. If no one replied to the posts on the Board that really is unfortunate, but is a matter for members who frequent the Boards and normally post.

Des: re your comments on Nemo - we have a thread devoted to BFS Awards recommendations where people can make material available, which as you say, you have done - we cannot, however, control who wishes to avail themselves of this material. A large number of Nemo readers are probably already BFS members, this would account for lack of response. Ultimately, it is up to members to recommend and nominate, not the Committee. And it is the membership who decide who wins. I do believe this is the right way for things to be done, although the procedure can of course, as I keep saying, be discussed at the AGM. If Nemo was left off of the recommendations list it is unfortunate, but it is not for me to comment on why people vote for a certain author/artist/magazine. I do feel it is unfair to assume members do not take their voting seriously. The BFS is not a niche horror society, it encompasses all aspects of the genre, and always strives to maintain a balance. Again, this is a problem of perception, which we constantly try to address, although given the amount of fantasy guests and material we do put out I feel it is an unfair perception.

Dave, I would never take anything Stan says as an attack on the Society. He has been enormously helpful to us in the past, and I hope he will continue to be so. He is a highly respected and valued member of the BFS.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: DFL on August 17, 2006, 05:20:47 pm
Marie, that is a very fair response to what I (as an outsider) said. Thanks.
des
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Marie O'Regan on August 17, 2006, 05:24:05 pm
You're very welcome, Des. Nemo is a very good magazine, and I don't know why it wasn't recommended. I hope you continue to produce the magazine in the future, as I know at times you have considered not doing so.

Best wishes
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 17, 2006, 05:26:55 pm
How about this:

Best HEROIC Fantasy novel.......in memory of David Gemmell (who wrote.........HEROIC fantasy).
Best HORROR/DARK FANTASY Novel

What in the name of sanity is WRONG with that??????????????????

Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Jen on August 17, 2006, 05:37:39 pm
Quote
I was talking to a successful German author a few months ago who?d just guested at his country?s annual fantasy convention.  He told me, with embarrassment, that there were ?only? 6000 attendees.  ?I?m sure you get many more at your British equivalent,? he said, and was amazed to hear we attracted less than 300.  He?d never heard of the BFS or Fantasycon.  I was a GoH myself at Elf Fantasy Fair in Holland in May.  Attendance: 33,000. 

Gosh.  That's just... scary.  How on earth do they manage that?

Quote
The organisers had heard about Fantasycon.  ?But it?s all about horror,? they stated as a matter of fact.  I suggested it might be mutually beneficial to exchange ads with the BFS/Fantasycon.  Elf Fantasy Fair had attendees from all across Europe, including Germany, France and Russia, so it?s not unreasonable to think some of them would be interested in visiting England for our annual event.  The organisers duly wrote, proposing reciprocal advertising.  They tell me they?re still waiting for a reply.

I remember them asking about press passes and interviews.. (which we definitely did reply to...)  don't remember anything about advertising though...


Quote
Somebody in this thread mentioned that there was no BFS presence at Worldcon in Glasgow last August, the biggest fan/professional gathering in the UK for years.  Are opportunities to increase membership being taken?

Presence at other events is something we've been discussing as a committee recently.  It's a question of who has the time and can afford to go to things.  Ideally we'd have a table of some sorts, give the BFS Special Pubs an airing to a new audience as well as touting BFS and Fcon...  We've had people like Chris T. and Juliet McK kindly offer to take fliers to events we can't get to which is greatly appreciated.
And, as mentioned elsewhere, we are trying all sorts to get an increase in membership... and it's happening slowly.  But if you've thoughts on any specific things we can be doing, please let us know... we'll try anything  :D


Quote
What needs changing is the notion, held by many, that horror is all this organisation truly cares about.  I?m not sure that?s going to be achieved by tinkering with the BFS?s name or its logo.

Agreed.  So what do we do?  Raise the profile generally?  Give extra emphasis to the activities with fantasy leanings?  Extra events elsewhere?  This is the ideal opportunity to put together some solid plans to improve things so, folks, don't be shy...     


Quote
I think Davey?s idea for a David Gemmell Memorial Award is excellent, and if adopted would help redress that perceived imbalance.  But ? and I have to say this - when Dave died a couple of weeks ago, what was the reaction from the British Fantasy Society?  An item on its website?  A mention in the email newsletter that went out a week after the event?  No.  A special email was eventually sent out, briefly stating the fact that he?d died and linking to obituaries, but only after prompting by several authors who felt it was merited. 

... and we've also got a couple of pieces about him going in the Fantasycon souvenir programme mag, plus a piece in the next Prism (which, actually, I needed to email you about if you don't mind...)


Quote
And how many messages are there in this forum about Gemmell?s passing?  One, from a member.  With no replies. 

Yeah, but that one you need to look at in context of activity of the forum in general.  Generally, not a lot of people post... this topic is the most activity the forum has had in a very long while... and I can't remember seeing any other threads started for any other deceased authors (inc. Ken Bulmer who was BFS president)  ... so Gemmell's actually ahead there...


Quote
Gemmell was one of the world?s bestselling fantasy authors, and an enormous influence on writers in the genre and millions of readers.  If he didn?t warrant the attention of the BFS, who does?  Whereas, if a prominent horror author had died ?

... they'd get the same treatment.  People send us obits, we publish them.  They don't, we can't.  We need more active input from people to properly cover everything we should be covering, no matter what it is, as there's a limit to how much we can do & think about at the same time...         

Keep the comments coming please...  ;D
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Lermontov on August 17, 2006, 05:54:16 pm
I honestly think that the Forums would have more traffic if half-a-dozen moderators on top of the committee members were scattered among them.

That spam attack a while ago would have been done and dusted within a few hours if there were ongoing moderators on the Boards with moderate editing capabilities. Every other site has them and they share the workload.

This would also prevent 'Wimbledon Syndrome'! The site has come to life again on the eve of the next Fcon and for much of the rest of it is pretty much dormant. There needs to be a collective effort to advertise the site more. I'm a member of various forums and take the opportunity to trumpet the society when I get a chance (I know for a fact AT LEAST one person joined the BFS and is coming to the Fcon as a result) but when they do come here the lack of activity is hardly inspiring or indeed inviting.

This is The British Fantasy Society. It is the ONE and ONLY British Fantasy Society! It ought to be the first port of call for people wanting to find out the latest Fantasy, Horror etc. news and be part of the Fantasy/Horror etc. related community.

"David Gemmell has died. Wonder what they have to say about it on the BFS Forums?" Not a bloody thing!

It is indeed down to members to start threads etc. No one replied to my Gemmell thread! There were 45 views when I last looked but half of them were probably me mechanically and blindly checking to see if anyone had replied! Westeros (correction: Malazan) have been arranging a sympathy card for his family members.

It is up to members collectively to spread the word and contribute, no question. But I was shocked to read Stan Nicholls' list of areas of obscurity for the BFS when it comes to other Conventions.

It is clearly A LOT of work and surely it makes sense to get a few more people involved in sharing the workload as it is all a labour of love and we all/most of us have day jobs that chip away a little bit more of our brief sojourn here!

Clearly word of mouth is not enough and perhaps at the AGM some discussion out to take place as to just how much of the fudns might be spent on vital advertising even, dare I say it, at the expense of the odd Open Night for example. Just an idea.

This would open the scope of the society and widen its territory. I'm of the opinion that Fantasy as a genre has developed considearably more respectability recently that it has indeed deserved (like any genre or literary area it has more than its fare share of utter crud) but may not have been perceived as having such quality in the past.

You could put 16 authors across the broad spectrum of the genre hailing from this country alone against this year's Booker Long List and they would wipe the floor with it as regards inventiveness, creative and stylistic flare and sheer vision and in many case contemporary relevance.

The iron is hot: STRIKE THAT HAMMER EVERYONE!!!!!
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 17, 2006, 06:02:16 pm
The iron is hot: STRIKE THAT HAMMER EVERYONE!!!!!

Depends.....is it a WARHAMMER??????
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Lermontov on August 17, 2006, 06:08:44 pm
Quote
Depends.....is it a WARHAMMER?

It's the one Bruenor forged for Wulfgar or even the hammer of Thor, David!
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 17, 2006, 06:10:28 pm
In that case, I'm in - where's the iron?
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Lermontov on August 17, 2006, 07:39:17 pm
Quote
In that case, I'm in - where's the iron?

It's here!
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Peter Coleborn on August 17, 2006, 08:11:35 pm
Who's annoyed?? ;D? Constructive criticism is great for improvement...? :-*

Also, what do we think about sizing?? A5 works with the current amount of content, when we have the reviews added for the Oct issue, we're going to be much thicker so will be looking at perfect bound, probably.? And I want more features, and some opinion columns... (though DH is also having opinion columns, I think, so need more conversations with Pete & Jan about split..)? Would it better, at that point, to go to A4?? A5 is a cootchy size, but A4 gives more space to play with and more design options.?



Size matters, as the Post Office is now saying. Be aware of the changing postal regulations about standard and large letter sizes. Postage creates a big indent into budgets.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Peter Coleborn on August 17, 2006, 08:32:29 pm
As a non-member, I hope I can comment.

I was a member once.

I left mainly for two reasons:

(i) My interests changed and I did not see BFS central to them any more.? My fault.? Not that of the BFS.

(ii) I started a journal with large investment of time and money publishing stories by BFS members and others and featuring the sort of material that would appeal to BFS members.? It was largely ignored by the BFS.

I always saw the BFS as a niche Horror society.? If the BFS isn't that, there should be one.? I still think it is, actually, a niche Horror society and you have lots to thank Ramsey C and Steve J for.? Great men, both.


Re the BFS Awards - as an outsider trying to get material considered properly - I saw two problems (still do):

(a) Getting stuff on the long voting lists (recommendations).? Nemo 4 (its many original stories and quality packaging) was missed off these lists completely and anyone who saw Nemo 4 agreed this fact was scandalous.? There should at least be an Oversight Committee, I feel.

(b) Getting stuff (previously 'recommended' as in (a)) considered properly by the jury.? I do believe that each member of the jury do not read everything on the voting lists.? Again I feel this is scandalous.? (This is why I offered to send a free copy of Nemo 5 to each member of the jury).? For 'jury', please read whatever you want it to be.? If it happens to be a select group or all the members, fair enough.

des



Des, BFS members recommend/nominate stories, novels, anthologies, etc. It isn't the fault of the BFS that something isn't on the ballot. There was talk of this some years ago when an unamed author (I'm not saying who) was upset at omission of his work. Various ways of ensuring inclusion of his work was considered but none was found to be viable. An oversight committee is an idea -- but even so, that committee must be able to receive everything published and then must judge what is worthy enough to nominate (with the then accusations of bias).

Alternatively, the voting form could contain everything -- everything -- eligible. Just imagine how many pages that form would run to.

I really don't know how one can ensure that worthy material is always included. If you were a BFS member you could, perhaps, nominate it yourself even though it seems a bit underhand (some have done this previously). Or get mates who are BFS members to nominate. Remember, nominated material is then voted upon in a popular ballot.

I haven't seen Nemo for quite some time (sorry: it's been a busy 18 months or so, what with a new job and two house moves): do you still publish stories without author credits in the same issue?

Des, contact me via email and we can work out something mutually advantageous re DH/Nemo (I would email you but I don't have your email address. I think you can get me via darkhorizons@britishfantasysociety.org.uk)


--- Peter

Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Peter Coleborn on August 17, 2006, 08:40:37 pm
How about this:

Best HEROIC Fantasy novel.......in memory of David Gemmell (who wrote.........HEROIC fantasy).
Best HORROR/DARK FANTASY Novel

What in the name of sanity is WRONG with that??????????????????



In which category would you place a novel by Jonathan Carroll or Charles de Lint? Neither category really works as they (the categories)become so prescriptive... Maybe one could argue that Glass Soup is Dark Fantasy (still reading it), but de Lint fits both categories.

Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: DFL on August 17, 2006, 09:30:37 pm
Hi, Peter, great to hear from you.  Your name reminds me of those great days when I used to attend conventions etc.  I retain a great affection for the BFS.

Getting back to your comments about awards (the title of this thread), I see the postion as two stages (correct me if I'm wrong):  Recommendations by members for voting lists and, then, voting by the 'jury' on those lists.

The crucial problem in the first stage, as I see it, is a safeguard that anything is not inadvertently overlooked to appear on the ballot.  I think that things have been overlooked in the past by the members and subsequently put on the ballot by an overarching authority.  This system needs to be formalised.

The crucial problem in the second stage, as I see it, is that each member of the jury does not read all the fiction works on the ballot (the ballot as created by the first stage above).  A jury, in normal circumstances, I suggest, should consider all candiadtes equally, i.e. read all the candidates.  In the BFS case, the jury happens to be (happens to be, I repeat) all the members who vote.  I think that it is a good idea that all members are eligible to act as a jury-member as long as they act like a proper jury-member.

====

I intend to publish another Nemonymous next May, Peter, with slightly different conditions of by-line presentation, and still a generously paying market for writers.  I will contact you nearer the date.  Thanks for the offer.

des
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Peter Coleborn on August 17, 2006, 09:51:59 pm
Hi, Peter, great to hear from you.? Your name reminds me of those great days when I used to attend conventions etc.? I retain a great affection for the BFS.

Getting back to your comments about awards (the title of this thread), I see the postion as two stages (correct me if I'm wrong):? Recommendations by members for voting lists and, then, voting by the 'jury' on those lists.

The crucial problem in the first stage, as I see it, is a safeguard that anything is not inadvertently overlooked to appear on the ballot.? I think that things have been overlooked in the past by the members and subsequently put on the ballot by an overarching authority.? This system needs to be formalised.

The crucial problem in the second stage, as I see it, is that each member of the jury does not read all the fiction works on the ballot (the ballot as created by the first stage above).? A jury, in normal circumstances, I suggest, should consider all candiadtes equally, i.e. read all the candidates.? In the BFS case, the jury happens to be (happens to be, I repeat) all the members who vote.? I think that it is a good idea that all members are eligible to act as a jury-member as long as they act like a proper jury-member.

====

I intend to publish another Nemonymous next May, Peter, with slightly different conditions of by-line presentation, and still a generously paying market for writers.? I will contact you nearer the date.? Thanks for the offer.

des


Des, unless things changed while I was blinking, the voting works thus: Recommendations are solicited from the membership. Everything that is recommended is put onto the ballot paper. Then the membership as a whole votes for items on this ballot paper. There is also an opportunity to add anything not on the ballot. There is no jury of experts, and I'm not sure where this idea came from (current BFS committee members: please confirm this).

Yes, some titles are bound to be overlooked. But I don't really see how this could be addressed. Would there be a committee to add missed titles? How would these people know what worthies should be added to the ballot paper? This would mean that the committee must set out to read everything published that year. Or should every single item be included in the first place (Locus is a good place to start listing eligible items)? Perhaps voting should be in three stages instead of the current two.

[1] All titles published in a single year are listed and voted upon
[2] The top X number are listed onto a second ballot and voted upon
[3] The top 5 or 6 titles are listed onto a third ballot and voted upon

There main problems are those of timescale and postage. Would BFS members support a wholly on-line process (and could it be made secure to prevent multiple voting)?

I really don't know how things could be tightened up so that everyone is happy, but I'm open to suggestions.

Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Peter Coleborn on August 17, 2006, 09:53:32 pm
I?ve recently been alerted to the current ?controversy?. So I took some time and tried to read every post.

Quote: ?Just as all paths are said to lead to Rome, I kept coming back to the conclusion that I should only vote for things I had read which had impressed me. Although it seemed the dullard's way out, I restricted myself to voting in a little over half of the possible categories, whilst excusing my inability to cast a vote in the other categories because of unfamiliarity with the texts concerned.?

Surely one has to give BFS members some intelligence and hope they vote for worthy items. Which recipient would value a prize simply because they were best mates with a dozen or so of the voters?

Quote: ?Possessing a recognizable name is surely the key to awards success?

Having a recognisable name is a key to -- and a sign of -- success in all walks of life. That recognisable name is usually the result of hard work and quality products (sorry, sounding a bit like a marketing executive). That?s why Ramsey Campbell is feted ? for the quality of his novels and short stories.

Quote: ?This made me reflect upon the claim recently made by someone recently that awards are merely 'crude popularity contests'. Alas that would appear to be true?

What's wrong with a popularity contest? (OK, one can argue that it was a popular poll that voted in the current Labour government...)

Quote: ?I believe that Ramsey Campbell and Steve Jones should voluntarily request that the nominations they receive for BFS awards year-in, year-out be withdrawn. Clearly they possess a hugely unfair advantage, what with RC being BFS President and SJ having held office himself.?

Quote from Jenny: ?if your're going to start disqualifying people because once upon a time they've been BFS officers and people know their names, your start excluding all sorts of people... David Howe used to be heavily involved with the running of the BFS but now runs Telos and has nothing to do with official BFS things, do we exclude Telos from the Small Press category, what about Gary Couzens who was chair for a while but is now concetrating on his writing??

I agree with Jenny. Actually, Stephen Jones and David Sutton did exclude themselves from the awards one time, many, many years ago, after winning several awards for (I think) FANTASY TALES on the trot. Anyway, if people have read Stephen's comments on awards (all awards, available on his website) you will know that he is a passionate believer in integrity.

Quote from Jenny: ?How you change things... Put together a proposal saying 1) what you think's wrong, 2) plan for what you think would fix it, and raise it as Any Other Business at the AGM.  If you can't make the AGM, email it to Marie and we'll raise the point for you and discuss it fully.?

Too true. Some people whinge but never try to do anything constructive. They seem to take delight in criticism for its own sake.

Quote from Chris T: ?I think the problem could be the BFS's "closed" status - only members vote, and at the moment membership is sizeable but not a huge number. Maybe the BFS could implement a similar award system to the Hugo's: if you went to WorldCon, then you're still eligible even if you're not a member of the WSFA. Therefore, if you attend FCon for the weekend then you're eligible to vote in the awards for that year. This would mean, if implemented this year, an increase in possible voting numbers compared to previous years. Mind you, in saying that, RC hasn't won best novel since 1994, and since then he's only won best collection twice. SJ, of course, has won every anthology award except for last year and 2001 but then his anthology is the only mass-market title available in the UK...?

Chris has a point. Both BFS and Fantasycon members should be allowed to nominate/vote (make that te current year?s and the previous year?s Fantasycon members). The more who vote the better/fairer they are. But voting MUST be reserved for people who are members of the BFS and/or Fantasycon.

I didn?t think that Ramsey had won the Best Novel Award for some time. Hasn?t Graham Joyce won several now? Are we to ban him too (and he has been a Fantasycon GOH so voters are obviously prejudiced)? Stephen Jone?s books are perhaps the most consistently high quality anthologies available. He also publishes a lot of titles which, perversely, often dilutes the pro-SJ vote.

Quote from DLS: ?Personally, I know an awful lot of fantasy fans who avoid the BFS altogether because they believe it to be a society entirely devoted to horror and horror writers (and let's face it, they're not a million miles out....) It is my personal opinion, as a published author of fantasy fiction, that the BFS should run/establish a British Fantasy Award FOR British FANTASY novels in all categories. That way, some of the many thousands of fantasy fans in the UK might actually bother to join the society and vote for their favourites. Here's an idea.....what about an award in memory of DAVID GEMMELL - arguably the most original and successful British heroic-fantasy author of our age??

We are branching into different territory here. The BFS may appear to be a horror-orientated organisation; but that is only because it is the horror fans and writers, in the main, who tend to be the most proactive. If fans of David Gemmell, Stan Nicholls, Raymond Feist, etc, were to join and become equally involved then maybe the general feel will alter. (And I don't mean that they should all stand for committee posts. They could contribute with LOC, stories, artwork, assisting at Fantasycon.) When I joined the BFS eons ago, the Society had a definite Conan/LOTR bias. (I also had to explain that it had nothing to do with rubber and latex gear; how times change.) When I used to edit BFS magazines, for every "fantasy" story I'd receive maybe a dozen horror stories. Has that changed? I'll find out soon.

When Mike Chinn and I were running the BFS/Fantasycon we tried to achieve balance. We especially invited fantasy writers to the convention (the showcase event for the BFS). Yet the talks given by Katherine Kurtz and Janny Wurts were attended by a mere handful of people. Shocking. I know that Jenny enjoys "heroic" fantasy, as does Vicky. Jan (the new co-editor of Dark Horizons) is a big fan of such -- she doesn't read horror. I know that they -- in fact all -- BFS and Fantasycon committees work bloody hard to achieve balance. So what more can be done to redress any perception that the BFS is a horror organisation?

Now on to the number of awards, err, awarded each year. They cost money to make. Admittedly the BFS has a good deal now, but what if the Society had to change manufacturer in the future? Before I asked Arthur to cast the statuettes some years ago we had them done by a commercial company. They were very, very pricey. Should the BFS risk increasing the cost again?

As for separate awards for Fantasy and Horror? Why stop there? Why not awards for Comedy Fantasy, Surreal Fiction, Slipstream, Ghost Story, ad nauseum? If you restrict yourself to Fantasy and Horror, where would you place a Graham Joyce or Jonathan Carroll novel? Mark Chadbourn?s stories are based on folklore and myth (fantasy) but often have a grim overtone (horror). I know that it is a little like chalk ?n? cheese, but there must a balance between cost and practicality somewhere. And, like Marie, I see "Fantasy" as an all encompassing term.

CR Barker seems to suggest a panel of experts to nominate/vote: this is used, if I recall correctly, for the World Fantasy Awards and has been tried by the BFS. This system is as open, maybe more so, to abuse as is the current one.

There is also the usual clap trap about cliques at Fantasycon. There isn?t. There are groups of people who become friends and naturally congregate together. New attendees, no matter how many introductions they may be given to existing attendees, must make the effort and join in with these groups. It may be difficult, especially if one is reserved. The best way to become a member of the group is to contribute ? not complain about being ignored.

And Ramsey resigning as Life-time President: This is terrible and reflects badly on the BFS, caused by pettiness of some narrow-minded people.  Ramsey was elected to the post by the BFS members at an AGM. He has served the Society brilliantly and I wish he would reconsider. If not, then I would support re-electing Ramsey, again for life (not meant to sound like a prison sentence).

You must not eliminate any of the Collection/Anthology/Short Story/Magazine categories. Historically, short fiction and magazines/collections were paramount to the genre ? think MR James, Robert E Howard, Weird Tales, Unknown, and many others that my mind refuses to recall just now.

Quote by CR Barker: ?Well, I for one would have very strong objections to Stephen Jones as BFS president. The BFS needs invigorating, not timewarping. It probably could also do with a President who comes from a fantasy background as opposed to horror to correct the various imbalances recently highlighted.?

This is just plain insulting!
 
Quote: ?Well, assuming that you appointed judges until such time as they were resigned (or were voted off), I should imagine that many writers would be flattered to be a resident BFS awards judge. It would akin to a credential.?

No they wouldn?t. Sitting as an expert on a panel is an onerous task, especially if one is trying to make a career out of writing. Talking to previous judges on an awards panels, they didn?t enjoy the experience that much.

Quote: ?If we're really going down that road, then look at the sales figures for goodness sake!!!!! WHERE are the Pratchett fans? WHERE are the Lord of the Rings fans? They're certainly not members of the BFS: I speak as someone holding last year's figures (as up until yesterday I full planned to take over as Sectretary and Treasurer).?

I?m generalising here (so don?t get upset): the majority of Pratchett fans only read Pratchett. They only attend Pratchett events. They are not interested in any other kind of fantasy.

Quote: ?Come to that, WHERE are the readers of SFX? WHERE are the readers of Interzone, which currently has TEN times the BFS membership (and that's a low estimate)? I work for both publications: I KNOW they're mostly fantasy fans?

I?m afraid that this is a reflection on the amateur status of the BFS. If its committee members and editors were paid for their hard work (remember, they do it for love) they would undoubtedly put in a lot more time and effort (and ignore family and full-time jobs); they would be able to put together an organisation that produced frequent and regular and high quality products. Everyone active in the BFS that I know of starts with the very best of intentions ? but real life gets in the way. Unfortunate but true. And anyway, SFX readers, in the main, and based on my previous dealings with the magazine, couldn?t care less for the written word.

I've now read Stan Nicholl's posting -- and have discussed these things with him several times at Balti houses and BBQs. I respect Stan very much and think he makes many, many valid comments. Thing is, I'm not sure quite how to make Fantasycon's 300 attendees increase to 3000. I don't know how to encourage more people to join the BFS other than to spend more time and energy and money -- and that is no guarantee. But firstly, the BFS must return to regularly printed, good quality magazines linked to participaton in fantasy/literary events, Open Nights and, of course, first class Fantasycons. BFS members can help by placing flyers in libaries, book shops, common rooms, etc, rather than, as some are wont, moaning.

Discussion boards are great places for airing constructive ideas, and some here are well worth considering.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: DFL on August 17, 2006, 10:02:31 pm
Just on Peter's specific point:

There is no jury of experts, and I'm not sure where this idea came from (current BFS committee members: please confirm this).

I didn't say I thought there was a 'jury of experts', but merely a jury (in the second stage), a jury that *happens to be* all the members who vote.  Any jury should read all the candidates on the voting list.  And I know this is not possible this year as not many members took up my free offfer of a Nemo 5.

As to the creation of the voting list itself (the first stage), I understand voting members can indeed add to the voting list when voting, but also prior to the voting, the Awards Administration itself can add to the list and has done so in the past.  But not when Nemo 4 was overlooked!

des
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Amarea on August 17, 2006, 10:11:47 pm
OK, this is probably a very newbie question from an admitted newbie member, but what about having the odd open night in different places (in terms of bringing in new members, I'm meaning)? I only joined recently (I'm actually the person who joined due to Lermontov's advertising the BFS), so I don't really know how things pan out, but the couple of open nights that I've seen have been based in London, and I was just wondering if expanding the sites might be possible. I can't really go to any of the open nights in London because I live in Manchester, and it would be too hard for me to get down there with working so much. Perhaps if the odd open night could be held somewhere else, it might expand the number of people who take note of the  BFS. I think most of the interaction needs to be done online for ease, but we need to get the attention first. If people don't think to search on the internet, then they won't find the site, and they can't join if they don't know we're here.

On another point, I love the idea of dedicating an award to Gemmell, but I can see where people are coming from in terms of splitting the Best Novel Award. The problem is that there are no set boundaries in fantasy - there can't be really, and that's what most of us love about the genre - and I think splitting might just cause more problems when it seems like we already have enough.

I don't know what all the categories are, but do we happen to have a life-time achievement award? If we don't, then it would seem fitting that such an award be named after David Gemmell, who gave so much to fantasy. If we do have one, though, then I'm out of ideas  :-\
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Marie O'Regan on August 17, 2006, 10:53:18 pm
Pete: to answer your question re: Awards, there is definitely no jury of any kind. Members recommend as they wish, and the top five recommendations become nominations, as I understand it. The only person who knows who has received awards prior to the Banquet is the Awards Administrator, who is excluded from the voting process. The only exception to this is the Karl Edward Wagner Award (Amarea, this is our lifetime achievement award), which any member is welcome to mail suggestions for to the Committee or to post such recommendations on the Boards. At the appropriate time, the Committee discuss all suggestions and then vote on the recipient.

Amarea, we have looked at holding Open Nights in various places (Manchester included) and the problem has been having members willing to sort out venues as, obviously, the Committee members are spread across the country and can't afford/have time to visit everywhere. We also need members in those areas willing to help with publicising local events. Previous efforts have been less than successful but we're always willing to try. Vicky Cook is the person to mail if you're willing to help on that front (aunico@hotmail.com).

The Award Categories are: Best Novel, Best Short Story, Best Novella, Best Collection/Best Anthology, Best Artist, Best Small Press. There is also a lifetime achievement award given by the Committee, the Karl Edward Wagner Award. I'm sure someone will correct me if I've missed any categories out, but I think that's all of them.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: DFL on August 17, 2006, 11:05:32 pm
Awards, there is definitely no jury of any kind.

It all depends as you define 'jury' I suppose.  In my book, a jury is two or more people who determine the winner of a competition by voting.  Like the juries on the Eurovision Song Contest when  (in the old days)  they used to have 12 people in each country's studio who gave points to each song.  They were juries.

The 'jury', in this sense, and in the context of what I was saying earlier vis a vis the BFS awards, is made up of the people who vote by filling in the questionnaire (as formulated by the earlier recommendations), i.e all the BFS members who vote.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Marie O'Regan on August 17, 2006, 11:08:50 pm
Hi Des, it's not your definition of the term that is incorrect, rather the perception the use of the word 'jury' implies - as people then seem to think there is an organised jury of some kind other than that of the entire voting membership, which definitely isn't the case.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: DFL on August 17, 2006, 11:26:51 pm
Hi, Marie
In my view, the members are asked to act *like* a jury (as defined) and hence my earlier comment that they should read all the candidates, as any good jury-member should.  Otherwise what is it all about?
des
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 17, 2006, 11:31:29 pm
Peter, you made MANY valid and useful points in your post....but I'm afraid that this one:

"And anyway, SFX readers, in the main, and based on my previous dealings with the magazine, couldn?t care less for the written word."

is utterly wrong.

Do me a favour; take a look HERE (http://forum.sfx.co.uk/viewforum.php?f=4)
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Marie O'Regan on August 17, 2006, 11:49:21 pm
Hi Des, I understand your point, and trust that members vote responsibly. I believe that the fact these awards are voted for by 'fans' is one of their strengths, and means something to the winners.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 18, 2006, 07:40:09 am
Quote from DLS: ?Personally, I know an awful lot of fantasy fans who avoid the BFS altogether because they believe it to be a society entirely devoted to horror and horror writers (and let's face it, they're not a million miles out....)

We are branching into different territory here. The BFS may appear to be a horror-orientated organisation; but that is only because it is the horror fans and writers, in the main, who tend to be the most proactive. If fans of David Gemmell, Stan Nicholls, Raymond Feist, etc, were to join and become equally involved then maybe the general feel will alter.

Well, Peter, I've not only applied and been given the nod by Robert Parkinson for the Secretary/Treasurer position, but have already signed on as a signatory on the BFS account....and maybe I can help to change the perception......

.....assuming, of course, I get in.? ;)

Hmm.....has there EVER been a professionally published (HIGH/HEROIC/COMIC) FANTASY author on the ELECTED committee before? Ever? If so, who was it? I'm quite a young guy, so I really don't know the early history of the society....???????
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: ChrisT on August 18, 2006, 08:56:46 am

"And anyway, SFX readers, in the main, and based on my previous dealings with the magazine, couldn?t care less for the written word."

is utterly wrong.

Do me a favour; take a look HERE (http://forum.sfx.co.uk/viewforum.php?f=4)

I'd agree with Dave there: there seems to be more of a resurgance in the written word with the current "administration" - especially now with the Pulp Idol collection of new writers.

Regarding awards, I did make a suggestion earlier about renaming Best Novel to the David Gammell Award and moving August Derleth to Best Anthology: no splitting necessary, and Derleth was an anthologist in his own right, so that adds a touch of gravitas to the award.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Jen on August 18, 2006, 09:48:29 am
Quote
has there EVER been a professionally published (HIGH/HEROIC/COMIC) FANTASY author on the ELECTED committee before?

Off the top of my head...  Mike Chinn, Ken Bulmer, then there's Gollancz editor Jo Fletcher, artist Jim Pitts,...  others more experienced may have a better idea... (I'm still one of the youngsters of the cmtee...)    ;D 

Of course, you could also ask, has there been a professionally published fantasy author who was willing to give up some of their precious free time to join the committee and actively do things?  The word 'committee' tends to put people off... and it really shouldn't as we're an easygoing bunch... and we *are* willing to change things if someone wants to help come up with an actual gameplan and some physical help to get it rolling...


Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Lermontov on August 18, 2006, 09:57:27 am
'David Gemell Award for Best Novel' sounds good Although you can already hear the quibblers (I'm NOT one of them, by the way) asking 'What's a horror novel doing winning an award with a fantasy writer's name on it?' !!!

If an extra award was generated and funds allowed how about:

'The David Gemmell Award for Best Newcomer'.

There doesn't seem to be any such award in the, I'm assuming, inclusive list Stan put up in his post and surely the BFS should be at the forefront in terms of outright acknowledgement in encouraging new writers as it is in the course of things throughout the society.

So many of the threads I've read about Gemmell's passing consist of people relating stories of how ready he was to give time and offer advice and encouragement.

I certainly wouldn't dream of speaking on his behalf or assuming anything, but I would imagine that James Barclay would have some fitting words in remembrance of David Gemmell.

This leads me onto something else (again it is question of time to do these things by the voluntary comittee members, I understand and respect that) but it would help the Fcon's and the BFS's cause greatly if a full list of authors attending was put up in the advertising.

I know that the List of Events does have them, but again to actually advertise them boldy along with the GOHs would snare more intersted parties.

I've noticed that James Barclay is on a panel (I'm not an acolyte of James, only read one of his books - and enjoyed it!) but there is no real adverstising of the fact that James as well as other authors are attending unless you look down at the List of Events which you have to go to the Blog to find.

Again, I know that attendance lists change by the day right up until the last minute, but the more names clearly trumpeted at such opportunities the more clout and exposure the Society and the Fcon will get.

On the Fcon site you have to click on the Blog to find out who is attending other than the GOHs, otherwise you wouldn't know anyone else is there. I don't mean that as a criticism, just as an observation. These are simple things that due to lack of time and demands on the committee often do get overlooked. In an age of millisecond attention span it does make a difference. If on the Homepage, the first page any visitor looks at, the visitor gets a (growing) list of attendees presented to him or her within a couple of seconds of visiting the site, chances of roping them in are increased greatly.

If the Homepage cannot be undated daily because of lack of time and other demands then surely a few more hands on deck are a good idea?

Quote
Of course, you could also ask, has there been a professionally published fantasy author who was willing to give up some of their precious free time to join the committee and actively do things?  The word 'committee' tends to put people off... and it really shouldn't as we're an easygoing bunch... and we *are* willing to change things if someone wants to help come up with an actual gameplan and some physical help to get it rolling...

Your post just leap-frogged mine, Jen!
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: ChrisT on August 18, 2006, 10:02:03 am
Agree there: a list of attending members would be excellent - both WorldCon and EasterCon do this, and even if you're not interested in the GoH's then a "secondary" member may pique your interest.

Of course, having a disclaimer where they could drop out at the last minute, but at least people have a rough idea whose going...

Also, how about renaming the Committee Special Award to The Gemmell Award?
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 18, 2006, 11:10:06 am
Quote
has there EVER been a professionally published (HIGH/HEROIC/COMIC) FANTASY author on the ELECTED committee before?

Off the top of my head...? Mike Chinn, Ken Bulmer, then there's Gollancz editor Jo Fletcher, artist Jim Pitts,...? others more experienced may have a better idea... (I'm still one of the youngsters of the cmtee...)? ? ;D?

Of course, you could also ask, has there been a professionally published fantasy author who was willing to give up some of their precious free time to join the committee and actively do things?? The word 'committee' tends to put people off... and it really shouldn't as we're an easygoing bunch... and we *are* willing to change things if someone wants to help come up with an actual gameplan and some physical help to get it rolling...




Oh dear - it's a very short list isn't it? And.....Jo Fletcher? Jim Pitts? Both breathtaking contributors to the wider field, but looking at the question again.....few.

VERY few......for the British Fantasy Society.

And I know at least SIX pro-fantasy authors who would love to get involved......if they believed the society REALLY was up for a bit of a change.

I must admit, despite predictable arguments from a few notable names - mostly committee or ex committee.....there don't seem to be an AWFUL lot of actual MEMBERS disagreeing with me, here.

Maybe, just maybe, the society can move on now....and REALLY broaden its scope.

I would be more than willing to assist this change....and if that means me contributing FINANCIALLY to the addition of a David Gemmell award for HEROIC FANTASY, then all you have to do is ask....

....and I do mean that. Because there ARE young fantasy authors out there who really DON'T think the BFS is worth joining....and it's time to prove them wrong.



 


Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Stan Nicholls on August 18, 2006, 11:48:50 am
>... contributing FINANCIALLY to the addition of a David Gemmell award for HEROIC FANTASY, then all you have to do is ask.... <

I'd be willing to contribute financially too.

SN




Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Jen on August 18, 2006, 01:26:29 pm
Quote
Also, how about renaming the Committee Special Award to The Gemmell Award?

You mean renaming it from the existing 'Karl Edward Wagner award' ?   ;)

Re. best newcomer award...
Quote
There doesn't seem to be any such award in the, I'm assuming, inclusive list Stan put up in his post and surely the BFS should be at the forefront in terms of outright acknowledgement in encouraging new writers as it is in the course of things throughout the society.

We have done one in the past, not for a while though and I don't know why we stopped... need to check facts on that one...

Quote
Oh dear - it's a very short list isn't it?

Well I did say I was still one of the babies of the group...  :-*  Others will know more...

Quote
And I know at least SIX pro-fantasy authors who would love to get involved......if they believed the society REALLY was up for a bit of a change.

And if they're the six I think they are*, then we'd jump at the chance to get them more involved in stuff...  and why does no one believe that we're up for change?  We are.  We lack the manpower to push it through... this is something that you lot can help us with...  (and you don't even need to be on the committee... just the odd bit of help on the odd thing...)
*.. and if they're not, we still would!

And like I keep saying... give us some *actual plans* on how we can make the BFS worth joining for fantasy folk who think we're horror, and some warm bodies to do them...

From discussions so far we've got:
Awards:
David Gemmell named award of some kind... it's being discussed fully by the committee...
The other proposals re awards are also being heavily debated amongst the commitee and will be rasied at the AGM for non web members to get their say.  We haven't dismissed them out of hand... we're seriously considering the pros and cons for all the suggestions.   
Financially - Fcon pays for the awards.  If a new award category is agreed upon then it can be managed.  We always have budget concerns about *everything* but we also try and find a way to do things anyway.  We split the collections/anthology award into 2 a couple of years ago, despite heavy budget concerns...


Fcon:
Advertising other attending authors to Fcon - easy enough to do.  (and we already do the disclaimer about non appearance due to prior commitments, so that's not a concern).  Will get on that one.
Ad swapping with other events - we do a little, but we completely agree that we need to do more of it...  what we lack is the time to squeeze it in on top of all the other organising bits we're trying to concentrate on... volunteers to take this job on please speak so we can get things going on it.

Other BFS events:
Regional events - we'd do them, we need help organising them.
 

Publications:
Improving quality, content and frequency of publications - something that is already being worked on.  All suggestions welcome. 
All contributions *especially* welcome.  I only get a few people who bother to send me news, some of it I get from signing up to newsfeeds, most of it I get from spending hours of looking (which can be a bit painful on v. slow dial up...)  And I would welcome any fantasy (or horror) author, editor, artist or publisher who wanted to do a guest editorial or regular opinon column or anything for Prism, and I'm sure Pete and Jan are the same for DH... all you have to do is get in touch. 


General publicity:
Presence at other events - yes, we've been wanting this for years.  Does someone want to volunteer to help organise?  Find details of events, get in touch with the right people, organise for fliers or copies of Prism to go in their goodie bags, organise ad swaps, take fliers to events, even have BFS stuff on a table if you're already in the dealers room. 
Hell, even just to *tell* us about events so we can try and find out table prices and see if any of us are free to haunt the things... Don't assume we automatically know about everything that's happening everywhere... we don't, it's one of the areas we need your help in!
Lermontov mentioned publiciity budget to help inprove things - coincidentally we've been discussing this one as a committee lately too.  We'll earmark the funds, we need help on what to do with them. 
(nb.  as far as I'm aware - Open Nights don't actually cost us anything, as we get the room for free... I could be wrong though...)
Revamp flier/glossy brochure - oh yes please.  We've been trying to sort this one out for a while too...  Someone want to volunteer to do draft text/artwork/general project management for it?  Email Marie, if so.
Presence in genre mags - again, we'd love to do this.  Someone please help us out for organising it...

Other stuff:
Revamp of the various online presences - in progress, all suggestions have been noted.  Any further ones please say.
Honorary committee of fantasy/horror authors to advise/plot/ambassador etc.  -  need more info on how this would work!  Expand on this so we can get a better idea please!!
Name change - personally, not keen.  Doesn't mean we're not giving it consideration, though.
Logo change - always up for consideration... has been for a few years with us... haven't found a suitable design yet (as I think Marie mentioned).   Artists are welcome to submit designs anytime.  :D

Erm erm ermm.... what have I missed... (sorry, eyes going squiffy now!)   ;D
Thanks for everything so far!
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 18, 2006, 02:05:44 pm
Okay, Jen, here's a few suggestions (and come on folks - TELL me they're junk if they're junk - shout in my face - I can take it!)

FOR PRO AUTHORS:

* Make USE of the divide between sword and sorcery, dark fantasy and horror, and make the society about ALL of them, but individually. Don't
keep squashing them all together so the reader has to hunt for what he/she is looking for.

* Effective immediately create a British Fantasy Society COUNCIL, consisting of every PRO fantasy and horror author who is a paid up member of the society. Every year, a NEW president is elected to run the COUNCIL - one year horror, next year fantasy - and the FCON can run specific articles and career reviews on that president, eventually giving a vast number of authors - old and new - a focus on their individual careers.

* Divide PRISM and give over four or five pages to a new section called HEROIC FANTASY FOCUS. I will edit the section, personally hunting down news, interviews and book deals concerning every HEROIC fantasy author in the business. We will also try to strike up a mutual deal of some sort involving Carl Critchlow, creator of Games Workshop's immensely popular Thrud, to supply a small cartoon each issue in return for links to his website. We will also run regular and specific features on SFX, Games Workshop's Black Library and Interzone in return for a mention - however small - on their various websites.

Having links with Marc Gascoigne (Games Workshop), Ian Berriman (SFX) and Andy Cox (Interzone) I will do my level best to persuade them in,
promising them that the BFS is actually ON THE MOVE and no longer mired in horror.

FOR AMATEUR AUTHORS:

Every year, the BFS runs a POP IDOL-style hunt for the new STAR of horror/df and fantasy short stories. Rather than cram Dark Horizons full of
notable names, the COUNCIL votes on the ten or so newcomers they think are the new stars of each category. Then the entie MEMBERSHIP votes on it. We then go hell for leather on the winners, doing profile pieces in Dark Horizons as well as publishing the winning stories AND devoting two awards to the cause. It gives the newbies more FOCUS and something really flashy to aim for.

YEARLY PLAY
Don't stop at the Barker play. Every year, get some of the more flamboyant members of the society (me included) to perform small, played-out scenarios focusing on
works by authors who are trying to sell their books at the con. This is fun for the audience, fantastic for the authors involved and generally funky for everyone.

I have about two hundred more suggestions, all of which will follow........but above all.........

....DON'T MAKE THE MISTAKE OF GIVING PEOPLE THE IMPRESSION THAT THE SOCIETY IS STUFFY, ONE-SIDED AND ABSOLUTELY ROOTED TO THE SPOT.

You know it isn't. You know that Marie is incredibly friendly, that Jen is open to all ideas and opinion and that the BFS is alive with the prospect of change.....

....but John Doe doesn't....HE joined the society way back in 1987....and as far as he's concerned, there's bugger all difference.

We need John BACK.

....If we start to shout loudly at the industry, show some flare, ADVERTISE our impressive members and put pressure on every one of our BIG names to start devoting
a small percentage of their time to the society.....

....INCREDIBLE things will happen.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 18, 2006, 02:29:19 pm
Additional: in case it's not obvious, the BFC would be entirely honorary....I'm not suggesting a replacement for the committee.  :-*
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Marie O'Regan on August 18, 2006, 02:39:25 pm
Yet again, you're coming up with suggestions that sound excellent at face value, but are actually extremely divisive - and your comment about the BFS being mired in horror when we've taken pains to show you that it ISN'T, show that you're not as open to being shown you're wrong as you say you are.

We do not squash all genres together. Open Nights and FantasyCon are events for all, of course, unless you're suggesting we separate those as well? Publications contain various sections for reviews, interviews, and stories. I don't personally believe members have to be spoonfed which genre something falls into, they're bright enough to know what they're reading, and it's clear enough in each publication where the relevant information is. I don't object to Heroic Fantasy having a separate section as such, its this insistence on making sure your particular preference is given more prominence than anyone else's I personally object to. We try to make sure ALL tastes are catered for, to the best of our ability. If you're willing to edit a specific section you should approach the appropriate editor with your suggestion, as the Editor of a publication is responsible for it's content. Pete Coleborn will be editing Dark Horizons, and Jen is Editor of Prism. Both Editors are entirely willing to consider any proposal put to them in the proper manner.

We have always been a Society that accepts everybody. By splitting Professionals and Amateurs you are creating different 'classes' of members, whether that is your intent or not. How many busy professional authors have the time to spend a year running a Council as you suggest? It would basically exist as an opportunity to raise an individual's profile whilst in office, and what would this Council do? We already have a very active and hardworking Committee - or are you suggesting getting rid of the existing Committee? A large number of professional authors already help us in very many capacities, when they have time to do so, and to suggest that they should be effectively made to do more is a disservice, in my opinion.

We are an open Society, and are always willing to change and add new events - we must however have the budget available and do things in the proper manner.

Using links is a very good idea, which we do actually consistently try to do, believe it or not, and Andy Cox I know very well - we've discussed this for years whenever we see each other. He was a Committee member, briefly.

You make good suggestions re: helping aspiring authors, as long as you accept this will be open to all genres, not just heroic fantasy, and my own vote for a David Gemmell Award would be for Best Newcomer, providing budget is available (and thank you to you and Stan for your offer of help in this respect but again this is something we need to go into in more detail at the AGM or via Committee email, ie. through the proper channels.

Again, I do not believe singling out one category over all others, be it Heroic Fantasy, as you wish, Horror or anything else, would be beneficial to the Society as a whole - I firmly believe it would merely increase dissatisfaction rather than reduce it. We are committed to doing our best for the Members across the board, and always have been.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Marie O'Regan on August 18, 2006, 02:40:21 pm
I've just seen your last comment Dave, but fail to see what such a Council would actually DO, rather than existing as a tool to raise it's President's profile.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Debbie on August 18, 2006, 03:06:29 pm
These ideas are great, but they all boil down to one thing - manpower!

I've been a committee member for over 10 years and every AGM is the same - we're lucky if anybody volunteers for a post, so it's the same old faces year-in, year-out. That may be good, it may be bad - depends on your point of view! You may argue that's because the BFS isn't interesting enough for people to want to volunteer - but without the volunteers it will never *be* interesting enough.... chicken and egg!

I've tried organising Open Nights in Manchester - spent days scouting pubs, putting ads in Prism. I had 3 people who said they'd come along...

I've had many willing helpers - people who claimed to be passionately interested in doing things - running events, editing mags - then dropped out at the last minute for various reasons, leaving me having to either cancel or work til 2am, then get up and go to a paying job. I once laid out Prism at 4am with a 6 week old baby on my lap to meet a print deadline (go on - get your hankies out.... :()

If we had the money to pay people, we'd get a fantastic response, I'm sure. But we don't - so the committee and other volunteers are exactly that - volunteers. We do have lives, jobs and families. I've been threatened with divorce in the past because of the amount of time I've devoted to BFS stuff!  Now if we had a bigger pool of people, we could all do less, do it better and raise our profile. If we had enough people, we could have sub-committees to organise Open Nights - instead of it being down to one person, we could have a web team - instead of it being one person.

I'm not complaining about things I've done for the BFS and I appreciate we could do lots more and do it better. But we have to start with people who are keen, and more importantly reliable. We do need change - but big-bang change never works in my opinion. Just like you'd never start a new job and change everything on your first day. You'd watch and learn for a while and then suggest improvements.

So basically, the BFS desperately needs people who say "why don't we do x, y and z? I can do x and I have a friend who can do y and z", rather than "x doesn't work, you should be doing y".

Deb
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 18, 2006, 03:11:34 pm
Ding! Ding! Gloves off, round TWO:

Yet again, you're coming up with suggestions that sound excellent at face value, but are actually extremely divisive - and your comment about the BFS being mired in horror when we've taken pains to show you that it ISN'T, show that you're not as open to being shown you're wrong as you say you are.

And earlier you said: If Ramsey steps down, I want Stephen Jones to take over as President. (And you're the CHAIR! If that's not MIRED in
horror, I really don't know what is. Can I possibly predict the next few suggestions? Er...hmm.....1. David Sutton 2. Christopher Fowler??????
Am I right? Er....how far out am I?

And divisive??????? What do you think is going to happen? All the vampires on one side and all the barbarians on the other? It's true, if I meet
that horror author, I'll gi' 'im sommitt ta stitch, etc?????? Divisive???? Really????

You make good suggestions re: helping aspiring authors, as long as you accept this will be open to all genres, not just heroic fantasy, and my own vote for a David Gemmell Award would be for Best Newcomer, providing budget is available (and thank you to you and Stan for your offer of help in this respect but again this is something we need to go into in more detail at the AGM or via Committee email, ie. through the proper channels.

Ah.....but I daresay my proposals will fail to get through the House of Lords, milady.

Again, I do not believe singling out one category over all others, be it Heroic Fantasy, as you wish, Horror or anything else, would be beneficial to the Society as a whole - I firmly believe it would merely increase dissatisfaction rather than reduce it. We are committed to doing our best for the Members across the board, and always have been.

But Marie - listen - sometimes dissatisfaction is EXCITING STUFF! I mean......since we've started arguing - look at the audience!!!!! I've seen
Ramsey Campbell, Stan Nicholls, Mark Chadbourn, Chris T, yourself, Debbie, Jen, Vicky, Lermotov, Jon Oliver and just about everybody else on here - it's like Big Brother!

Let's BE divisive. Our membership will go UP.

I'll constantly argue that you're biased towards horror....and you'll constantly tell me I'm a narrow minded idiot with an obsession for heroic fantasy.

I'll constantly argue that the BFS should be the BHS......and you can keep telling me how blurry whurry the line is between fantasy and horror
(you're right, ya know - I read a James Herbert and a Terry Pratchett last night - couldn't tell the two apart BLOODY identical: I reckon' they're both the same bloke.....).

And as for being 'class' driven about the amateurs. I was an amateur for YEARS - and I would have LOVED a BFS run Pop Idol type drive, especially if the judges were Ramsey, Stan and people like 'em.

Can you IMAGINE the kudos involved in being the horror author RAMSEY CAMPBELL voted as Best Newcomer? You've be walking tall for months: what a start!!!!!!!!!






Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Marie O'Regan on August 18, 2006, 03:21:35 pm
I suggested Stephen Jones because of the massive contribution he has made over the years, not because he's horror-related. I find that offensive. And for the record I would not limit subsequent suggestions to any one genre - I would look at who has made, in my own opinion, a massive contribution to GENRE fiction, not one specific area of it. I may be Chair, but I haven't spoken for the Committee, just made my personal opinion (clearly stated as such) known. Or is that not allowed? As a Member, or as Chair, I only have one vote, just like everybody else.

I think its divisive because it insists on sectioning everything off. People are entirely capable of knowing what event are, and what stories etc are, without us telling them specifically. Making fun of someone else's opinion because it is not the same as your own is hardly an adult way to progress a discussion.

Any suggestions you make to an Editor are up to the Editor. Any suggestions you make to a Committee are discussed and decided upon by the Committee. That is why a Committee gets elected. There is no ulterior 'House of Lords' as you suggest.

I have already said that I would support the suggestion of a Best Newcomer award, but yet again you use this to comment on 'Excitement' and 'Big Brother'. I will always consider and support serious discussion on matters for the benefit of the Society as a whole, but I don't appreciate being made fun of for them or that you appear to enjoy turning this discussion into a game. As for membership, it's already going up, as I've said before. And we all, constantly, work very hard to ensure that that continues.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 18, 2006, 03:41:40 pm
I can assure you very strongly that I do not consider this discussion to be a GAME....

....if I did, I wouldn't have offered to financially support the addition of an award in David Gemmell's honor.

But your comments HAVE stopped me in my tracks, Marie. I wonder if it's WORTH continuing the discussion, when the same views are peddled out time and time again.

Here's a fact: the BFS hasn't changed much in the last ten years.

Here's another one: my ENTIRE argument is based on the hope that it might change over the NEXT ten years.

But you're right and I'm wrong.

NOTHING is going to change.

Horror will continue to dominate the awards, the fiction contributions, the news sections and the showcases......and it will be left to a new
group of people to give the British fantasy fans their OWN society.

Prove me wrong.....and I will come back on here in a year from now and bow graciously before you.

BUT......if nothing changes..........there WILL be an exciting new society for the fantasy fans of Great Britain to belong to. For if we build
it....they will come.


Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Marie O'Regan on August 18, 2006, 03:50:15 pm
I have consistently said that we are open to change, and willing to discuss such matters and vote on them if raised at the AGM, and that we cover all aspects of the genre and will continue to do so. I have also said that I would personally vote for a Best Newcomer David Gemmell Award if it was agreed upon at the AGM. Other than that I have only said that I do not agree with splitting the Society into sections. I fail to see how this makes us resistant to change. Members submit their news and we publish it regardless of genre, I have published both fantasy and horror authors alike, I see no dominance. Even your comment that the Committee is horror dominated is untrue, as only four out of ten members are horror-related and those four try very hard to be fair to all. I have at no time resorted to jokes about this but have tried to answer your points as honestly as I could. The Society is constantly changing and trying to take note of members' wishes to the best of their ability - we are limited only by budget and time.

Again, put your editorial suggestions to the Editors, and raise other matters at the AGM. Given the budget and time, we are always open to suggestions.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Paul Kane on August 18, 2006, 03:55:07 pm
Dave, you're just not listening to what you don't want to hear. The BFS has changed a lot even since I first came on board.

You've sat there and listened as we've told you that the BFS is not horror biased (over half the committee are horror fans, and half the membership, and Marie and I both read across the board). Our President writes both horror and fantasy. FantasyCon reflects all the genres, not just horror - look at the line-up and the panels this year, plus which we set up events that are purely fantasy-based like the Steve Donaldson event from last year (there were no pure horror events like this last year or this year). I've only worked on one horror special pub, the others were fantasy or had fantasy elements, like our celebration book. If you want to know what the major authors, fantasy, sf and horror feel about the BFS and whether it's stale, read the book.

Granted, it might be the perception that the BFS is horror-biased, but this perception is clearly wrong as we've tried to explain. Your answer to this seems to be to get rid of parts of the committee that are horror, half the membership and the President (which you keep insisting you don't want), and for yourself to have a more dominant role.
 
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Paul Kane on August 18, 2006, 04:02:58 pm
I did of course mean to put only half the committee are *horror*, although I think as Mare pointed out earlier it's less than that. Four out of ten? I might be wrong.

Paul.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 18, 2006, 04:05:57 pm
for yourself to have a more dominant role

I want a dominant role? Paul.......I only applied for the Secretary/Treasurer post because the Prism ads were getting increasingly desperate.
As it was, when I spoke to Rob Parkinson on the phone (great bloke) he was practically OVERJOYED that somebody, ANYBODY had shown
an interest.

And please, Paul, why oh why would I want to become a powerful force in the British Fantasy Society if not to help give fantasy a louder voice? To increase the sales of my books? To be mentioned alongside the greats of fantasy like Terry Pratchett or David Gemmell.

Oops, forgot - those guys are hardly ever mentioned anyway. Hell.....has Terry ever WON a British Fantasy Award????? Did David??????
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: DFL on August 18, 2006, 04:09:21 pm
As an ex-member (always actively considering re-entry) I find Marie's last few posts eminently sensible and attractive.
des
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Paul Kane on August 18, 2006, 04:16:29 pm
I call it like I see it, Dave. And you've got to admit, President or Chair of the BFS has a certain ring to it. Looks quite impressive on the CV?

Paul.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: DFL on August 18, 2006, 04:18:11 pm
In fact, I have just put a cheque to rejoin the BFS in an envelope (to the address on the website) and I will post it tomorrow.
des
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Paul Kane on August 18, 2006, 04:20:14 pm
Oh and nice that you took the time to read my mail properly and completely ignore everything in it apart from the bit that relates to you...

Paul.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 18, 2006, 04:25:10 pm
Damn it - rumbled. Despite the life-changing deals with Disney, Sony, Hodder and the other fifteen publishers who put out Illmoor across the globe, despite the representation by Ed Victor Ltd and the Creative Artists Agency, despite the film options, the appearances on Richard & Judy and the BBC News, despite the pending graphic novel line, the foreign appointments for the British Council and the past and continuing contributions to SFX, Interzone, Knights of Madness, Games Workshop's Citadel Journal, The Edge and TTA Press.....

....despite all that......


.....what I really want is Ramsey's seat at the BFS table.


Bugger....and I thought I'd been so clever in disguising it.


ps......and I notice you didn't answer my question, Paul, WHEN did Terry and/or David win their respective BFS awards?
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Paul Kane on August 18, 2006, 04:29:20 pm
Many a true word spoken in jest, Dave  ;)

I don't know about the awards offhand, I'm not a human computer - but will have a check for you.

Paul.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: DFL on August 18, 2006, 04:31:53 pm
And once my membership has been cleared, my vote will be for more literary horror, though I do enjoy SF and fantasy.
I'm glad to be back. ?I was a member originally in the mid-seventies. ?But that's beside the point.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: C.R. Barker on August 18, 2006, 04:32:16 pm
These ideas are great, but they all boil down to one thing - manpower!

I've been a committee member for over 10 years and every AGM is the same - we're lucky if anybody volunteers for a post, so it's the same old faces year-in, year-out. That may be good, it may be bad - depends on your point of view! You may argue that's because the BFS isn't interesting enough for people to want to volunteer - but without the volunteers it will never *be* interesting enough.... chicken and egg!

I've tried organising Open Nights in Manchester - spent days scouting pubs, putting ads in Prism. I had 3 people who said they'd come along...

I've had many willing helpers - people who claimed to be passionately interested in doing things - running events, editing mags - then dropped out at the last minute for various reasons, leaving me having to either cancel or work til 2am, then get up and go to a paying job. I once laid out Prism at 4am with a 6 week old baby on my lap to meet a print deadline (go on - get your hankies out.... :()

If we had the money to pay people, we'd get a fantastic response, I'm sure. But we don't - so the committee and other volunteers are exactly that - volunteers. We do have lives, jobs and families. I've been threatened with divorce in the past because of the amount of time I've devoted to BFS stuff!? Now if we had a bigger pool of people, we could all do less, do it better and raise our profile. If we had enough people, we could have sub-committees to organise Open Nights - instead of it being down to one person, we could have a web team - instead of it being one person.

I'm not complaining about things I've done for the BFS and I appreciate we could do lots more and do it better. But we have to start with people who are keen, and more importantly reliable. We do need change - but big-bang change never works in my opinion. Just like you'd never start a new job and change everything on your first day. You'd watch and learn for a while and then suggest improvements.

So basically, the BFS desperately needs people who say "why don't we do x, y and z? I can do x and I have a friend who can do y and z", rather than "x doesn't work, you should be doing y".

Deb

You need to have the online equivalent of an AGM. People who attend business meetings usually work in the same building whereas BFS members are widely spread out. It's crazy to try and do all of this on one morning at an annual convention.

Form a committee via online selection. Then have that committee form policy via online consultation. Set deadlines for input or votes on certain issues. The annual BFS convention could then just be about letting your hair down or clarifying the decisions that have beem made online.

CB



Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Marie O'Regan on August 18, 2006, 04:33:36 pm
Des - thank you very much for your support, and I am delighted that you're rejoining the BFS. Will we be seeing you at FantasyCon this year?

Dave, we have said time and again that we support all aspects of the genre. If you look at past winners over the years and ALL the stories that we publish, you will see that is true. The same goes for the artists we use, we have had horror and fantasy covers to Prism and Dark Horizons while I've been editor, and Debbie did before that. We do as much as we possibly can to promote all aspects, with two fantasy events last year alone, I believe the last separate horror event was a Stephen Laws event, two years ago. As to whether Gemmell or Pratchett have ever won a BFS Award, I'm not sure offhand as my own history with the BFS doesn't go back to the beginning, but the information is freely available in the Awards Section of the website.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: C.R. Barker on August 18, 2006, 04:36:03 pm
I suggested Stephen Jones because of the massive contribution he has made over the years, not because he's horror-related. I find that offensive. And for the record I would not limit subsequent suggestions to any one genre - I would look at who has made, in my own opinion, a massive contribution to GENRE fiction, not one specific area of it.

No, no, no!!!

This is the fundamental problem here. You want to reward someone for years of 'devoted' service, but that's misisng the point entirely. You need someone who is forward-thinking, who can lead the Society into a successful future.

With respect, you are looking at this issue from completely the wrong perspective.

CB
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 18, 2006, 04:39:27 pm
Well, can't say I've looked across the entire board, but prior to 1982, neither Terry Pratchett nor David Gemmell ever won Best Novel.

Shocking.

Now, I'm betting that if JRR Tolkien was still around, he wouldn't have won anything either.

LOVECRAFT on the other hand.......his house would be BUILT of Cthulhu statues.

 ;D

Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Paul Kane on August 18, 2006, 04:41:02 pm
The full listings of who won what are here. No TP or DG that I can see, but I can see quite a few fantasy names there  http://www.britishfantasysociety.org.uk/info/bfsawards.htm (http://www.britishfantasysociety.org.uk/info/bfsawards.htm)

Now, how about answering my original mail properly, which you again ignored  :)

Paul.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Marie O'Regan on August 18, 2006, 04:41:36 pm
With respect, Chris, Ramsey doesn't run the BFS single-handed. He is President, yes, but still has only one vote, like everybody else. The Committee as a whole IS forward-thinking, and permanently looking at new ways to improve things. The President provides a recognisable face for the Society as a whole, which is why it has to be someone well-established, and therefore easily recognisable. Both Ramsey and Steve are eminent in their field, hence my support.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: DFL on August 18, 2006, 04:42:26 pm
Thanks, Marie. ?Yes, I'm now seriously considering coming to Fantasycon. ?I shall check the accommodation situation etc.
des
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Marie O'Regan on August 18, 2006, 04:43:49 pm
Lord of the RIngs was, however, the reason Peter Jackson won one. It is pointless going back over votes thirty years old for two names, when it is obvious that awards have been won over the years by both genres. It is also pointless to make accusations about who would have won. What is important, as a member, is to vote for what you believe in - then the balance will be maintained.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Marie O'Regan on August 18, 2006, 04:44:42 pm
Go to www.fantasycon.org.uk, Des, all the information you need is there. Email me if anything's not clear.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 18, 2006, 04:50:36 pm
Dave, you're just not listening to what you don't want to hear. The BFS has changed a lot even since I first came on board.

You've sat there and listened as we've told you that the BFS is not horror biased (over half the committee are horror fans, and half the membership, and Marie and I both read across the board). Our President writes both horror and fantasy. FantasyCon reflects all the genres, not just horror - look at the line-up and the panels this year, plus which we set up events that are purely fantasy-based like the Steve Donaldson event from last year (there were no pure horror events like this last year or this year). I've only worked on one horror special pub, the others were fantasy or had fantasy elements, like our celebration book. If you want to know what the major authors, fantasy, sf and horror feel about the BFS and whether it's stale, read the book.

Granted, it might be the perception that the BFS is horror-biased, but this perception is clearly wrong as we've tried to explain. Your answer to this seems to be to get rid of parts of the committee that are horror, half the membership and the President (which you keep insisting you don't want), and for yourself to have a more dominant role.


But whether a perception is wrong or not is irrelevant, it's up to US to change it. It's no good just turning round and saying 'people don't know what we're really about' - if you take the 'perception is wrong' angle, the society will just stay exactly as it is. As it HAS done.

Okay....let's try to have a look here.....

What NEW bfs-associated dark fantasy/horror writers have emerged in the past few years? YOU, for one. Then there's Lebbon, Tidhar, David Sutton (his own work), O'Regan (sorry Marie - I'm shortening)......you'll know at least TEN more....

Right....what new HIGH/HEROIC fantasy writers has it produced in the same period?

Er.......hmm........tough one...........hang on.........Bilbo Baggins?
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Paul Kane on August 18, 2006, 04:58:28 pm
Now you're assuming the BFS had something to do with those people 'emerging'. I've been writing since the mid 90's and was published way before I came to the BFS...

As for new Fantasy writers - aren't you one, Dave (albeit comic fantasy, granted)? And if you don't know any more then that's a sad reflection.

Anyway, life's too short to talk to brick walls. I'm off for the weekend to have a life  ;) Adios.

Paul.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Marie O'Regan on August 18, 2006, 05:00:25 pm
I'm sorry Dave, but David Sutton is not a new writer. He has been writing and editing for a very long time, now. Paul was published before he was associated with the BFS and so was I. Likewise Lebbon, Tidhar, and anyone else you care to name. It also stands for new fantasy authors - Mark Chadbourn and Juliet McKenna have, I believe, come to prominence over the last ten years, and you. None of which has been solely due to the BFS. And the BFS cannot be held responsible for what people write.

As to perception, we've said all along that we are always trying to change that perception, and we always will.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 18, 2006, 05:07:29 pm
I'm talking about Sutton's new original fiction (which, again, is worth checking out - and what a cover!)

Thanks for including me in that. However, though I'd love to give the BFS some credit for my progress, interestingly enough my career only seemed to move during the three or four years in which I'd resigned my BFS membership. But then, I do write fantasy.

I'm sorry if you think I'm a brick wall, Paul, but the fact is we both believe PASSIONATELY in our seperate fields.

Nevertheless, the argument has been stimulating and strong.

Have a good weekend. I'm off to run a roleplaying game with my group....hopefully they'll do the orc impressions loudly enough to drown out the noise of my wife's screams when Pete gets relieved of the Big Brother crown by Aisleyne.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: neilw on August 18, 2006, 05:10:58 pm
>What NEW bfs-associated dark fantasy/horror writers have emerged in the past few years? YOU, for one. Then there's Lebbon, Tidhar, David Sutton (his own work), O'Regan (sorry Marie - I'm shortening)......you'll know at least TEN more....

How does one get "BFS=associated", David?  Sorry mate - for leaping into a raging debate unannounced - but I think you're clutching here. The writers you mention are also "associated" with a variety of other things as well. That one doesn't wash for me I'm afraid.

Which is a shame because I was mostly agreeing with you up to a point (if you want to know I thought you could have been just a tad less combative in your delivery).

As it happens I agree with you about the perception thing. I've recently rejoined the BFS (having lapse my membership, but more due to laziness than disgust), but I always thought the intention was to concentrate on dark fantasy and horror because that was the shape of the hole left by the what the BSFA didn't cover. Honestly, the BSFA has been serving fans of heroic/high/big/fat fantasy very well for a long time.  ;)

Having said that, on renewing my sub, I'm happy to see that the BFS *does* - to my eye, and apparently to a number of people signing up for their first ever fantasy con this year - appear to be expanding its remit. And I think that's great. All power to everyone getting involved and expanding both the membership and appeal, and eventually Changing The Perception. Which will take time and effort. I think after FCon this year you'll see a bit of a change though. By the sounds of it the membership is bigger and more varied than usual, and I think that's largely down to the selection of guests. So, all good, yes?

The question of whether high fantasy novels should win the BFS award will become an intersting one. Obviously horror fans will vote for their authors and the high fantasy fans will vote for their authors, and hopefully there will be enough non-aligned free-thinking members left to make sure the awards go to the best written and most innovative, challenging and entertaining work of the year.

I prefer juried awards to popularity contests. Nothing gets me more depressed than the Hugo awards short story short list. *sigh*
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Marie O'Regan on August 18, 2006, 05:20:30 pm
Hi Neil, glad you rejoined :) And you're right, I think, perception is beginning to change, although it is a problem and has been for some time. We're committed to continuing to expand, and raise the profile/broaden perception - and have been for as long as I can remember.

As to the awards: I see your point, but the whole point of the BFS awards for me, is that they awarded by members to those they believe most deserving. I would sincerely hope it is not just a popularity contest. The cure to this, I believe, is for as many members as possible to exercise their vote, and to exercise it wisely. With a broad membership base, which we have, everyone stands a chance.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Marie O'Regan on August 18, 2006, 05:22:12 pm
I forgot to mention, Dave, David's collection features both original and previously published fiction, not just new fiction. I've read it, and it's excellent.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Debbie on August 18, 2006, 05:25:41 pm
neither Terry Pratchett nor David Gemmell ever won Best Novel.

Haven't a clue whether or not they have - I'll take your word for it. But if they haven't, it's because they didn't get the most votes!

It really is that simple.

deb
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: neilw on August 18, 2006, 05:31:48 pm
That's it exactly. The larger your membership, the more representative the decision should be.

I think the winner of this years novel award will be an interesting indicator of how far things have moved. There are quite a few of the usual suspects on the recommendation list, but there high fantasy novels are represented too from the likes of George RR Martin and Mike Cobley. There humourous fantasy from Rankin, there's Space Opera (is that even allowed???), young adult stuff from Gifford,  and there's the edgy, innovative, unclassifiable stuff that floats my own personal dinghy, the Tambour and the Duncan.

And will Geoff Ryman's virtually all conquering Air even make the short list?

There'll be controversy, I tell you!

I'm looking forward to finding out at Fantasycon. ::)

Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Marie O'Regan on August 18, 2006, 05:37:29 pm
Ah, there's always controversy, Neil :) We can but hope that the voting reflects our attempts to 'deepen the pool', as it were, persuading as many existing members and new members as possible to vote. Membership is roughly half and half, so it should be wide open.

Looking forward to seeing you at FantasyCon - it's been awhile!
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: neilw on August 18, 2006, 05:40:54 pm
Yeah, well they don't let me out as often as they used to.   ;D
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Marie O'Regan on August 18, 2006, 05:43:30 pm
Know the feeling, mate :)
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Peter Coleborn on August 18, 2006, 07:08:33 pm
Bloomin heck, what a lot of posts since last night. Alas, I don't have the time to read everything now, but I wish to make a few comments.

I did as suggested and went to the SFX message board and I stand corrected. It does indeed appear that SFX readers ? those that post on the SFX message board at any rate ? are keen readers of the written word.  My comments were based on previous experiences with the magazine (when attempting to promote the BFS) and its contents. Back then SFX gave me the distinct impression that if it wasn?t on celluloid they (and by extension the readers) were not interested. I apologise to erudite SFX fans if I slighted you. And I?m tempted, now, to buy an issue to see how it has changed over the years.

I think you'll find that BFS committee members have nearly all been aspiring professions and some have been successful; those that are tend to run out of time and are unable to remain on the committee. As for President: Ken Bulmer was President once -- a writer of heroic fantasy. Stephen Jones and David Sutton once edited and published one of the best small press mags to come from the UK: Fantasy Tales. FT contained horror, HF, S&S and SF.

Have people forgotten that Karl Edward Wagner, after whom the Special Award is named, was a writer of some of the finest S&S (aka heroic fantasy) ever? Oh, he also wrote horror. Rob Holdstock writes SF, horror and fantasy. George RR Martin writes SF, horror and heroic fantasy. Until this thread started I didn't hear professional writers going on and on about barriers within the genre; there are enough barriers hemming us apart from literature in general.

If horror dominates the awards, well that's the wishes of the members who vote. The vast majority of members do not vote, alas. If they did things may alter. Why should a particular author win a BFAward? By what right? No one deserves to win. It's up to the members who vote.

Yes, I want to see the BFS evolve and get bigger and better and continue to serve all fantasy fans. Some of the diatribes on this message board are just being unnecessarily agressive now, which is disappointing especially after making some worthwhile suggestions early on.

Hi Des: glad to have you back in the fold.

Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Debbie on August 18, 2006, 11:25:48 pm
You need to have the online equivalent of an AGM.

That's a good idea. Not sure how it'd work in practice. We do have online committee meetings currently, and it's sometimes hard to keep up with so many different people all talking at once (they take hours too!)  But it's definitely worth thinking about how we could make it work.  That's always been one of my worries - having the AGM at FantasyCon makes people think they have to be at the Con to stand for a post, or even to come along, whereas we do try to make the point that any BFS member is welcome to attend the AGM/vote/stand - they don't have to have registered for FCon.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 19, 2006, 09:05:08 am
Okay......I'm starting to see things from your point of view......

EVERYTHING Peter Coleborn said in his last post was right. Peter knows the society - to my mind - better than anyone else. He has described the way it works PERFECTLY.

Peter's argument was basically this: what right do Terry Pratchett and David Gemmell have to automatically win British Fantasy Awards?

The answer is: no right at all. But the fact these two men are the BESTSELLING fantasy authors in Britain and the fact that they have NEVER
won awards tells me something. It tells me that the - oh - 500,000 people who read their books are not MEMBERS of the society. Nor are
Stan's fans or Martin Scott's.....or mine.

I think - I personally think - that the society can't AFFORD to change.

If Terry Pratchett's fans joined and voted, they would totally outnumber the current membership - so Terry would win all the awards.
The same goes for David Gemmell. That's not fair.

But if the BFS isn't the place for Terry's fans or David's fans, etc...then what is it?

Honestly? It's a place where authors who've yet to make it big can go to get their work read and appraised by other people with the same
interests. It's a place where people can get their photograph taken with pro authors like Ramsey Campbell and Neil Gaiman, and put those
photographs on their website for others to see.

It's a place where - because of its small membership - people can submit their work with half a chance of actually SEEING it published.

And reading that all back.......why should you change? Most of you - the ones I've read - are really promising authors who SHOULD get deals with major publishing houses (who admittedly seem to be putting less and less money into genre fiction).

But does all of the above actually make the society what it is NAMED to be.....THE BRITISH FANTASY SOCIETY........goblin banner and
all........no, no it doesn't.

The PROBLEM is that your membership is never going to rise because at the moment there is really NOTHING special for people who AREN'T
aspiring writers. All I'm saying is that a 'little' space given over to high fantasy would - to me - make all the difference. Throw in an RPG
game for the RPG fans, throw in a barbarian cartoon for comic-fantasy fans, run a few interviews with Pratchett, etc. Devote a few pages
to reflect on the awesome career of David Gemmell. Harry Potter is fantasy, isn't it? How about a feature on that? How about a feature on
FIGHTING FANTASY - 14 million copies sold worldwide! Where are the features on the current BOOMS in fantasy? World of Warcraft? Guild
Wars?

It would encourage people like myself to run adverts for the BFS on our websites, because the publications would suddenly start to contain stuff we'd consider GENUINELY of interest to our fans.

Here's an example: if you publish a Thrud strip at the back of every issue, you suddenly attract the Carl Critchlow fans. If you get Stan to write
a short RPG game set in Maras-Dantia, along come the orcs fans.

Mix it up a bit, make it interesting for new people.....and for young people. Fantasy is something that should be enjoyed by everyone.

You guys say you're not getting the contributions.......but are you going out and asking for them? I've been writing Illmoor now for three
years now, five novels in hardback and four in paperback so far, January and June, and I've never been asked to contribute in any way. Don't
think I ever saw David G or Terry P contribute to Prism, either - now Terry might be a busy man, but he's also very friendly and approachable,
and you're not telling me that over the last few YEARS he's not agreed to one interview.



Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 19, 2006, 10:46:10 am
What was the Cambridge event BTW??

Sorry, Jen - was flicking through the first few pages and saw that I'd ignored your question!

The event was set up by Heffers in Cambridge for sf/fantasy authors from both the adult and children's market. Guests included Susanna Clarke, Stan Nicholls, Mark Chadbourn, Patrick Cave, Chaz Brenchley, China Mieville, Sarah Ash, Colin Greenland, Michael Scott Rohan and myself.

I remember having a great time, though was violently ill after eating at a really BAD restaurant with Pat and the publicity team from Simon & Schuster.

And when I say ill.......I mean it.? :-X
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Marie O'Regan on August 19, 2006, 12:41:38 pm
I find it sad that you resort to personal comments, Dave, and will not do so myself, but stick to the 'argument' you keep repeating. A large numer of members are, I'm sure, fans of Pratchett and Gemmell. BFS Publications have sections on RPG, reviews on independent and mainstream books, films, interviews with fantasy and horror figures. Surely fantasy fans will enjoy a Neil Gaiman interview and a Terry Gilliam article? Jen has told you Gemmell will be featured in FantasyCon literature, and in Prism. We are not excluding anybody, and never will. The British Fantasy Society is a place for fans and professionals alike from all aspect of the genre. Membership is increasing, and we have said repeatedly we are working hard to ensure that continues. This year's FantasyCan has four Fantasy Guest of Honour. Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Raymond Feist, and Juliet McKenna.  Ramsey is the only 'Horror' Guest, and he also includes writing fantasy in his repertoire. I see no sign of this horror domination you persist in pushing. I do ask for contributions, and have been very lucky to feature both Fantasy and Horror authors. Dark Horizons also seeks to encourage new writing, hence including the winner of annual Short Story Competition - one of your suggestions which was already, in fact, in existence. We feature articles on film, interviews with authors and filmmakers (which I'm sure are of interest to readers and film fans as well as aspiring writers).  Guidelines for Dark Horizons are on the site and Prism and Dark Horizons are open to submission from everyone, not just members, if news is submitted it will be included as long as space permits, and submissions to Dark Horizons are not limited by genre. Likewise the awards are voted on by members, and therefore 'awarded', if you like, by them - the readers. The Committee is unable to bias this in any way - we find out the winners at the Awards Ceremony, the same as everyone else. We are constantly trying to ensure there is an interesting mix, and the increasing membership is, I believe, an indication that we are succeeding. We will, however, continue to keep things fresh.

You have said that I keep giving the same answers, but what I have said is the truth, and the truth doesn't change. What other way can it be said? Your perception of the BFS is a wrong one, and perception is something we are constantly seeking to correct, but your refusal to listen to the answers if you don't like them doesn't help this.

I have answered your questions - and directed you to the relevant editors should you wish to submit material, and will continue to answer any questions you may have. I will not, however, reply to personal comments, whether they be against me or any other Committee member.




Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 19, 2006, 01:12:03 pm
If you're really taking this as an attack on you personally, then I'll apologise and say no more....for such is not my intention. My intention, as a fantasy author, was to request a few changes to the machine that is the BFS.

That, and nothing more.

I'll leave you with this, though. I was a member of the BFS in 1997, again around 1999 and am currently a member.

Apart from the dramatic improvement of Prism (and that has improved) it seems to me that nothing has really changed, just a general shuffle
of the same names.

I'm sorry if you believe this to be wrong, but thanks to some of the emails I've received in the last few days, I am increasingly of the belief that there really ARE a lot of people out there who feel the same way I do.

I will keep my membership going until the current subscription runs out.

Thank you for listening and replying personally to all of my comments.

Davey.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Debbie on August 19, 2006, 01:42:32 pm
Last Dark Horizons - Spring 2006:

- story by Mark Chadbourn - if he isn't fantasy, then I don't know what is!
- book reviews - fair mix of fantasy, horror and sf
- interview with Neil Gaiman
- story by Lavie Tidhar - haven't read it but the illo is horror
- graphic comic review
- short story award winner's story
- article on Abraham Merritt - quote "essentially a pulp fiction writer", "influential to later heroic fantasy writers"
- rpg reviews

Plus some poetry. Looks like a fairly well- balanced selection of material to me - a nod to all facets of the genre

deb
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Marie O'Regan on August 19, 2006, 02:06:17 pm
Thank you Debbie, much appreciated. My nod to personal comments wasn't meant to refer to comments against me personallly, Dave, it was your comment: "Honestly? It's a place where authors who've yet to make it big can go to get their work read and appraised by other people with the same interests." Together with your contention that no members are Gemmell or Pratchett fans. I am sure that any number of our members who like those authors would find that offensive, as would all those members and nonmembers alike who are not 'names' and submit their stories to Dark Horizons and other such publications in the hope that their work will be read. I have published authors big and small, and am happy to have been able to provide a platform, without excluding anyone on the basis of their chosen preference in the genre.

Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Jen on August 19, 2006, 04:34:07 pm
Gosh... you go offline for a bit....  ;D

Dave - thanks for the Cambridge info... and will also reply to that long ideas post in a bit, there's some bits worth discussing...  ;)  Any more ideas, shoot 'em over!

In the meantime, just so everyone is clear about what & who the BFS have and haven't covered over the last few years, I've had a quick flip through the back stock...

Note: the first - getting some of the below content onto the website is one of those projects we're working on between other things..

Note: the second - it's not in chronological order.

Note: the third - this doesn't cover fiction/poetry/artwork/reviews/mini interviews included in news items as we'd be here all day....

Prism/BFS Newsletter

Regular opinion column by Chaz Brenchley  (still current ? moved to DH, though skipped last issue)
Regular opinion column by Nicholas Royle
Regular opinion column by Tom Holt
Regular opinion column by Ramsey Campbell
Regular opinion column by Tom Arden

Interview of James Barclay
Interview of Juliet Marillier
Interview of Graham Joyce
Article about dragons in English folklore
Article about fantasy in rock music
Interview of Andrew Hook
Interview of Gary Couzens
Interview of Stephanie Bedwell Grimes
Article about William Morris
Article on Dracula
Interview of Joe R. Lansdale
Article on marine/aquatic folklore
Article on tv show ?Strange?
Interview of Stephen Gallagher
Article on Johnny Weissmuller
Interview of Mark Morris
Article on H. Rider Haggard
Interview of Marion Arnott
Article on Arthur Machen
Article on William Hope Hodgson
Interview of Jonathan Aycliffe
Article on animal folklore
Article on scholarly fantasy
Opinion piece by Chris Fowler
Article on Worldcon
Article on short story submissions
Interview of Jon G.
Article on superstitions
Interview of Lisa Tuttle
Article on EosCon
Article on Eastercon
Article on Edgar Rice Burroughs
Interview of John B. Ford
2 Interviews of Neil Gaiman
Interview of KJ Bishop
Article on The Matrix
Interview of Tony Richards
Article on Alan Garner
Interview of Stuart Young
Interview of Sophie Masson
Article on French fantasy
Interview of Peter Cannon
Interview of Stephen Bowkett
Interview with Theresa Breslin
Article on Literature and Fantasy at the Tate
Article on alternative history
2 Interviews of David Gemmell   ;)
Article on World Horror Con
Article on Dan Dare
Opinion piece by Jane Yolen
Interview of China Mieville
Interview of Willie Meikle
Article on monster archetypes
Article on Lovecraft
Article on black dogs in folklore
Opinion piece by China Mieville
Article on George MacDonald
Article on DreddCon


Dark Horizons

Article on Call of Cthulu RPG game
Interview of Neil Gaiman
Article on Abraham Merritt
Opinion piece by Anne Gay
Opinion piece by Steve Jones
Article on vampires
Interview of Mark & Julia Smith (Jonathan Wylie)
Opinion piece by Ken Cowley
Article on supernatural fiction
Article on Simon Raven
Opinion piece by Storm Constantine
Article on fantasy trilogies

Fantasycon Magazines
(not all inclusive as I?m missing some?)

Article on Chris Fowler
Article on Tom Holt
Article on Kim Newman
Article on Arthur Machen
Article on Doug Bradley
Interview of Storm Constantine
Article on dragons
Article on the Tomb Raider video games
Interview of Stephen Lawhead
Interview of Stan Nicholls (with a rather fetching photo!)
Opinion piece by Chaz Brenchley
Opinion piece by Doug Bradley
Article on the importance of fantasy
Article on TV SF
Article on Robert Holdstock
Interview of Neal Asher
Article on Muriel Gray
Article on Lord Dunsany
Interview of Louise Cooper
Interview of Raymond E. Feist
Interview of Graham Masterton
Interview of Robert Rankin
Opinion piece by Robert Rankin
Another opinion piece by Chaz Brenchley
Opinion piece by Mike Tucker
Article about Mike Tucker
Interview of Freda Warrington
Interview of Jane Yolen
Article about Ramsey Campbell
Interview of Mark Chadbourn
Interview of Simon Clark
Interview of Steven Erikson
Interview of Hugh Lamb
Opinion piece by Tom Holt
Article on horror films
Article on anthologies
Article on international fantasy/sf
Article on small press publishing
Article on Jim Burns
Article on professionally writing about genre TV
Article about adapting books for film
Article on Lord of the Rings
Opinion piece by Juliet E. McKenna
Interview of Chris Fowler
Interview of Catherine Fisher

Special Publications

BFS: A celebration (many authors, multiple genres!)
2006 Horror calendar (does what it says on the tin)
2005 Fantasy calendar (ditto)
Age of Chaos: the worlds of Michael Moorcock
F20 #1 (Anthology of short horror fiction from various small press authors)
F20 #2 (Anthology of short fantasy fiction from various female authors)
Spiral Garden by Louise Cooper
Manitou Man: The Worlds of Graham Masterton
Holt!  Who Goes There?  (Collection of Holt?s columns)
Shocks by Ronald Chetwynd Hayes
Miscellany Macabre by Ken Cowley
Long Memories (an appreciation of Frank Belknap Long)
Clive Barker: Mythmaker for the Millennium
Annabelle Says by Simon Clark & Stephen Laws
Colonel Halifax?s Ghost Story by S. Baring-Gould

Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Jen on August 19, 2006, 05:37:40 pm
... right, so, where were we...  ;D

Quote
* Effective immediately create a British Fantasy Society COUNCIL, consisting of every PRO fantasy and horror author who is a paid up member of the society. Every year, a NEW president is elected to run the COUNCIL - one year horror, next year fantasy - and the FCON can run specific articles and career reviews on that president, eventually giving a vast number of authors - old and new - a focus on their individual careers.

So what would the council members be doing?  (scuse my poor brain if it's already been mentioned!) 
We can run author focuses on any author right now, in Prism.   :D   

Quote
* Divide PRISM and give over four or five pages to a new section called HEROIC FANTASY FOCUS. I will edit the section, personally hunting down news, interviews and book deals concerning every HEROIC fantasy author in the business.

Really not keen on an official division by genre... but I'll give as many pages as you want over to everything to do with fantasy folk if you can get it to me. 

Quote
We will also try to strike up a mutual deal of some sort involving Carl Critchlow, creator of Games Workshop's immensely popular Thrud, to supply a small cartoon each issue in return for links to his website.

Great.  We'll do it.  Set it up.  (Know a small cartoon won't step on DH's toes!  Just need to check about longer comic strips...)

Quote
We will also run regular and specific features on SFX, Games Workshop's Black Library and Interzone in return for a mention - however small - on their various websites.

Yep.  Like it.  Let's do it. 

Quote
Having links with Marc Gascoigne (Games Workshop), Ian Berriman (SFX) and Andy Cox (Interzone) I will do my level best to persuade them in, promising them that the BFS is actually ON THE MOVE and no longer mired in horror.

That'd be lovely, thanks!  The more people using and abusing their contacts, the better.

Quote
Every year, the BFS runs a POP IDOL-style hunt for the new STAR of horror/df and fantasy short stories. Rather than cram Dark Horizons full of notable names, the COUNCIL votes on the ten or so newcomers they think are the new stars of each category. Then the entie MEMBERSHIP votes on it. We then go hell for leather on the winners, doing profile pieces in Dark Horizons as well as publishing the winning stories AND devoting two awards to the cause. It gives the newbies more FOCUS and something really flashy to aim for.

We do already do a short story comp.... we're open to revamp if it'll improve things.  Still not sure about deliberately splitting the genres on it...  But yes, hell for leathers with the winner.

p.s - Dark Horizons does already publish plenty of small press & first time authors... (don't make me go through them to list them boyo, my sanity wouldn't take it!  :-* )


Quote
Don't stop at the Barker play. Every year, get some of the more flamboyant members of the society (me included) to perform small, played-out scenarios focusing on works by authors who are trying to sell their books at the con. This is fun for the audience, fantastic for the authors involved and generally funky for everyone.

Now this one's a great idea!  We're always after quirky stuff like this for Fcon!  You volunteering to go first at next years one?   ;)

Quote
The PROBLEM is that your membership is never going to rise because at the moment there is really NOTHING special for people who AREN'T aspiring writers.

... and we're all willing to change that...

Quote
All I'm saying is that a 'little' space given over to high fantasy would - to me - make all the difference.

Honey, I'll give more than a *little* space...   :-*

Quote
Throw in an RPG game for the RPG fans

As in an actual live thingy? Or is there some way to do it in print media?  (Sorry, clueless about RPG stuff, though it does look fun!)
Anyone wants to set up an RPG at Fcon, we have a funky boothed room that connects the main area to the restaurant/lounge bar area... let us know and we'll publicise it for you...

Quote
Throw in a barbarian cartoon for comic-fantasy fans,

Done... get me one!

Quote
run a few interview with Pratchett, etc. Devote a few pages to reflect on the awesome career of David Gemmell. Harry Potter is fantasy, isn't it? How about a feature on that? How about a feature on FIGHTING FANTASY - 14 million copies sold worldwide! Where are the features on the current BOOMS in fantasy? World of Warcraft? Guild Wars?

Just as soon as we get someone to write them... speak if you're willing to write this kind of thing please.  Or just send articles on-spec.

Quote
Here's an example: if you publish a Thrud strip at the back of every issue, you suddenly attract the Carl Critchlow fans.

I will.. I will..  :D

Quote
If you get Stan to write a short RPG game set in Maras-Dantia, along come the orcs fans.

(whispers... there's an orc fan right here!  8) )  Seriously though, as above, don't know how it would work, but if it's an interesting print thing then I'm willing to do it...

Quote
Mix it up a bit, make it interesting for new people.....and for young people. Fantasy is something that should be enjoyed by everyone.

Agreed.

Quote
You guys say you're not getting the contributions.......but are you going out and asking for them? 

Did you not see all those desperate appeals for interviewers?   ;)  Personally, all the interviewers I know that have done some for us before, have now moved on to other things and are too busy.  I need to know some names of new people who are willing to be commissioned to do stuff.  I have a huge list of people I want to see interviewed.  (Technically, DH is the place for long interviews, but I'm willing to run as many shorter interviews as I can get away with...)

Quote
I've been writing Illmoor now for three years now, five novels in hardback and four in paperback so far, January and June, and I've never been asked to contribute in any way.

Now this is a personal foible, and in no way reflects on any previous BFS editors... but personally, I worry about approaching already busy authors to beg that they write something for free for us.  It's illogical, and I have been told several times that I'm being stupid... but, for instance,  I'd have any one of the Write Fantastic crew writing a regular opinion column, like a shot.  (Although, Chaz already does one for us...)    You mentioned Martin Scott (you did mention him somewhere didn't you... I'm not going batty?) ... I love the Thraxas books.. what can he do and where can I find him...  :D

Quote
now Terry might be a busy man, but he's also very friendly and approachable, and you're not telling me that over the last few YEARS he's not agreed to one interview.

The problem here is more - who do we get to interview him?  Someone wants to sling together a list of questions, I know Marie has contact with him so we can send them to him and it'll be done.  Actually, I have half a memory of someone saying they were doing one of him for DH so that could be coming up... need to check...  ::)

Quote
thanks to some of the emails I've received in the last few days, I am increasingly of the belief that there really ARE a lot of people out there who feel the same way I do.

Great.  Try and persuade 'em to post here so we can hear their views too.  The more people the better... ;D
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Vicky on August 19, 2006, 09:21:58 pm
Couple of things from my end:  Open Nights currently do not have a budget allocated to them (remember that one coming up a few pages ago) - it really is up to someone (usually me) setting something up in a free venue (increasingly hard to do).  I really want stuff to happen outside of London too - I personally find it very hard to get down there from Birmingham.  I organised a couple of readings a couple of years ago in Chester and Birmingha as well as the Bath SF/Fantasy week, and like Debbie tried to set up a general non-London Open Night.  Only a handful of people came to the Brum one though possibly better advertising could have been done for it, admittedly.  Basically I have the ideas, just need people from all areas to come and volunteer information like free venues, big enough for about 50 say, and willing to run around and advertise posters etc.

The other thing: RPG - as Jen says, yup if anyone wants to do something please let her or me know.  I have been chatting to Marc Gascoigne about this idea, as he suggested it a while back, but nobody came up with a gameplan, so to speak  :P  This happened last year too - ideas are thrown about but nothing comes of it.  So if those RPG fans out there want anything to happen at FCon please come and give us some good ideas!

Stepping off the soapbox for a bit now.... ;D

Thanks
Vicky
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Wayne Mook on August 20, 2006, 04:53:40 am
Hello as a long time poster here and Ex-committee member I guess is should throw my hat in the ring. I am mainly a horror and crime fan. I like Pratchett, got his books, Conan top stuff and SF wise Phillip K. Dick is one of my all time faves. I also like RADIO, in case nobody noticed.

1.) The spam. I would happily be a non-committee Moderator if it will help.

2.) I tryed to get a Manchester meet off the ground but was messed around by some people and in the end could not find a free venue in the city. The bloody miles I put in. If someone knows a place I'm more than willing to do the leg work for Vicky. I've been trying in Stockport but I have trouble getting there and trying to get hold of the bloke I'm after. No E-mail, what sort of a book shop has no e-mail. Vicky is the power behind the Open Night throne though.

3.) Juries. The Booker jury has more crap, judges storming out and contrived dummy spitting than all the idiots at Big Brother. No we the silent membership are the ones I trust. It's not great but the best of a bad lot. And if your favourite did not win what's easier than shouting that the jury is rigged and a jury is easier to rig. I did not vote this year because I felt I had not read enough. I know other members I've talked to have felt/feel the same way, shows they care that they should only vote if they feel they have a valid view. I will put this right next year in my case though.

4.) Who won What?

James Herbert the biggest selling HORROR author in Britain, a man who outsold King here has won the best novel how many times????? Answer. None. If his fans were to fall on the BFS he would out vote and so on. We can all pick names, it's a pointless arguement.

5.) Has The BFS changed?

Yes. Back to the Winners. In the early days the biggest winner was Michael Moorcock, He was the all in novel winning champeen. Then Fantasy was king, even Piers Anthony's A Spell for Chameleon won. When I joined in the late 80's early 90's (Joe R. Lansdale was GOH at my first FantasyCon.) it was horror not quite all horror but it felt like it. Like a number I drifted, I've been back in the society for many years now. The society is changing, slowly but surely. It is moving back towards fantasy. A lot of the old guard are horror so they give that horror feeling.

6.) Latest Winner in the novel section, lets face it's what everyone looks at.

China Mieville: Perdido Street Station (2001.) & The Scar (2003.) A author who has won SF, Fantasy and Horror awards, one of those authors all over the place. I don't see the problem with these. I don't see why fantasy or another fan should have a problem.

Simon Clark: The Night of the Triffids. (2002.) This is a SF adventure story, post apocalyptic thing with killer plants. If anyone would like to argue it's horror I'll glady do so at the FCon bar.

Christopher Fowler: Full Dark House (2004.) I thought this more a crime novel and was heartened that it won, but more a win for the horror camp.

Stephen King. Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower. (2005.) Do you want to tell me who has more fans than this man? I always classed these Tower books as fantasy, not read the later ones I'll admit, still he is a horror writer so how do you split this one?

6.) Want to change stuff bring it up at the AGM and get a vote on it.

7.) Bottom line. The society reflects the members. If there are more fantasy fans who are members then that is the way the society will go. Simple. It was heavily Fantasy biased in the early days if the membership want it that way it will be again.

8.) In the 90's the horror was king, this debate would not have taken place so this thread its self is a sign of change.

9.) At the moment Adult Horror stil dominates Adult Fantasy in film, radio (Notice how I got that in) and TV. The main Fantasy on these days are children's fantasy and Tolkien. Not much else appears. Dunno why, Hercules and Xena did well on TV, The BBC are making a Robin Hood so maybe it will change but for all our love of books the moving picture wins. They odd Myth/Legend based stuff appears on radio as well as Tolk and Chilren's stuff. Shame really.

10.) Name change, no I think not. It would cost money, horrid thing to mention but it's a consideration, this name has been here years, and now you want to cut up what is fantastic and put it in smaller jars. No thanks. I thought you authors went against these comparments, not build them. What is Fantasic?

11.) The reason the society dipped was because FCon basically became a day thing in London and there were serious problems with publications. Apart from the odd hiccup the publication thing is a lot better, Jen, Marie, Paul and Co. need a pat on the back for that. FCon is on the way up due a lot of hard work from Debbie, Jen, Vicky and a whole bunch of over people. It's getting better.

12.) RPGs Craig Lockley is your man. Have a word, he has been trying really hard to get more RPG stuff to review.

13.) We had Games Workshop at a Con, not much interest. The Cthulhu did well under Jon, but last year Jon couldn't make it I spent a lot of money on new books and stuff and nobody was interested. I'll bring some CoC stuff if you want but Jon Oliver would be the man to ask. Plus I play Ad&d (Fantasy) and CoC. (Horror, yes there are horror role-playing games.)

14.) If you want more input, send stuff in, reviews and news etc. Or join the committee.

15.) Finally, when all said and done it's done to the members. They are the key.

Now I'm off to do the radio list, SF, Horror and Fantasy, there is a thing about Theseus at the moment, Kids tolk and Myths are all radio fantasy seem to stretch to. Some one must do something.

Wayne.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: ChrisT on August 20, 2006, 11:25:16 am
Going back to the "perception" of the society, as the new reviews ed I'm getting more fantasy and some sf than "horror" books from Orbit and Time Warner et al. In fact, only PS send me horror - apart from the one book from Orbit. So, we're still seen has a "fantasy" society from the major publishing houses.

As Wayne mentioned above, the society reflects the views of the membership: in the 80s/90s, horror was the *in* thing and when you had Ramsey C and Steve J prominent in the society, and whose books would be regulary seen on the average bookshop shelf, then naturaly fans of theirs would want to congregate. But, has horror drifted off, fantasy is now returning to the fore. I have no problems with this - fantasy is a very broad term and the society is big enough for all kinds.

If someone wrote an article on heroic fantasy, I don't see why it shouldn't be published in Prism/DH: perhaps the reason there isn't any coverage is because no-one has written about it?

As for RPG's, didn't Jon Oliver setup a game a couple of FCon's back? Personally, I'm not really interested any more - it was something from my Uni days, and even though back then I enjoyed the occasional 24 hr session I've moved on now... that's not to say I consider it childish, far from it, but well our likes and dislikes change.

Going back again to Davey's post, you sounded exasperated and ready to quit the society: don't! If you want to help faciliitate change, then the only way is within the society - not on the fringes.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 20, 2006, 02:02:43 pm
Thanks, Chris.....yes, I was exasperated. TOTALLY exasperated.

However.....given some time to calm down (which regularly takes me the best part of a night - I'm a redhead and therefore explosively tempered), I'm ready to continue the debate.

I've just spent an hour going over the posts, reading the various arguments from committee members past and present, and I acknowledge that there does seem to be some REAL feeling on here that I'm wrong about the bias.

Jenny has gone to great lengths (and no slight effort) to prove her point and Marie has passionately and ferociously argued with me to the point where it is obvious we were both quite stressed.

I still feel very sure that there HAS been a strong horror bias in the society within the past ten years. However, if I'm being completely fair, my CURRENT membership with the society has not been active long enough for me to assuredly accuse the committee that this is the way things ARE as opposed to the way things WERE back when I was previously a member.

I do feel that some of the initiatives and ideas I've come up with would benefit Prism (and yes, Jen, I'll get them to you as soon as I'm back from Edinburgh), and I'm sure many of you will agree that with this debate I've breathed more life into this forum in one week than it has seen in the past YEAR......

....but on reflection it would sadden me to leave, if only because (as Chris points out very sensibly) change can only be helped from within.

Davey

ps. Marie - very sorry if it looked like I was taking a 'shot' at the small/independent press. I do not and have never looked down on the SP. For one thing, my career wouldn't have STARTED if it weren't for the likes of Xenos, Sierra Heaven and Andy Cox's Zene. And I do write horror myself, albeit very infrequently. In fact, I had a story called 'Wednesday' scheduled to appear in the Lebbon/Williams edited anthology 'Tales From Teeth Park' - does anyone know what happened to that? I moved house just before it was due to publish and forgot about it entirely!
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Marie O'Regan on August 20, 2006, 02:18:08 pm
Hi Dave,

I'm glad to see that after reflecting on people's posts, you can see that your perception was based more on previous experience than on current practise. After a while as a member, I'm sure you'll see that we're telling you the truth, and really do try to be fair to everyone. We are, however, limited in space per issue for budgetary reasons - as I'm sure you can understand, so sometimes the balance might be more apparent if taken over more than one issue - and given my problems over the last year, there's not been much to see. This is why I've accepted Pete Coleborn and Jan Edwards' kind offer to carry on with DH after my last issue. Any ideas you have for the publications are more than welcome, as we've said - just get in touch with Jen or Pete Coleborn. The forum has been livelier, true, but personally I hate it when debate becomes argument and I did get very upset. I do accept your apology re the small press, its a vital breeding ground for talent, which helps raw writers to grow and move on.

I don't know what's happened to Tim's anthology - have you tried looking on www.ralan.com?
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 20, 2006, 03:35:59 pm
True, it is....but the independent press has certainly become more successful and 'visible' in the past few years.

Back in 1998, I published a small-press magazine called Freudian Variant. I had two editors on board (Craig Bell & Barbara Cooke) and Andy Cox at TTA supplied incredible rates for the printing.

For our first issue, we had a brilliant line up, including fiction from Des Lewis (with Chris Pelletiere supplying the art), Nicola Caines, Paul Pinn, Barbara Davies, Clifford Thurlow, David Murphy (editor of Albedo One), Ceri Jordan and Paul Bradshaw. We also had a large interview with Ramsey Campbell, supplied by David Mathew (now co-editor of Interzone and without whom we'd never have got off the ground).

Try as we might to get publicity from the wider field, the magazine bombed. However, determined not to go down at the first issue, I called the group together for an urgent meeting. The result of that meeting was to shrink the magazine, refund subscriptions and start again with Darkhaven. Enter Mark Chadbourn - Mark kindly supplied us with a headline story and (again thanks to Dave Mathew) we prepared Darkhaven to replace FV. This second magazine lasted a good deal longer, and we found an ageing printshop owner in Ramsgate who inexplicably agreed to a print-on-demand deal for the magazine. I'm not sure HOW or WHY he agreed.....but seeing as he's now dating my grandmother, maybe it should have been more obvious.... ;)

Anyway.....we managed to survive for a further 4 issues when, despite being funded by ads from Earthlight and other sf/fantasy publishers, we couldn't push the magazine onto success. It died at number 5, I believe.

:-[


Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: ChrisT on August 20, 2006, 04:12:35 pm
Tales from the Teeth Park is, as I believe, dead, from what I've heard from Tim and Gavin; it was supposed to be published by Razorblade, but then RB imploded.

Pity really since the title of the anthology was just superb.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: DFL on August 20, 2006, 07:40:20 pm
Hey, Dave. I  didn't know you were the 'Freudian Variant' main man.  Nice to 'meet' you again.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Debbie on August 20, 2006, 09:14:28 pm
As for RPG's, didn't Jon Oliver setup a game a couple of FCon's back? Personally, I'm not really interested any more - it was something from my Uni days, and even though back then I enjoyed the occasional 24 hr session I've moved on now... that's not to say I consider it childish, far from it, but well our likes and dislikes change.

Me too!  I was into RPGs and live stuff - but you're going back to the mid-80s now (yes, I'm *that* old). We did indeed run an RPG stream a few cons back. Games Workshop were going to run a stall - and dropped out last minute, but as far as I'm aware the gaming still went on. We even did computer games further back - had a set of pcs, some pre-release (I think) copies of one of the Tomb Raider games and life-size cardboard cutouts of Lara Croft (which curioulsy went missing.... ;))  We even thought about live roleplay, but couldn't do it for insurance reasons.

deb
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: ChrisT on August 20, 2006, 10:10:22 pm
The Tomb Raider "tie-in" was 2000 and my first FCon - as for the disappearance of Lara, not guilty y' honour.

Weren't the writer/producer of Urban Gothic goh's then?
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Jonathan Oliver on August 21, 2006, 08:52:40 am
Hello

If there's enough demand for it I'd be willing to do another RPG session. Prefer people sign up before Fantasycon though as I wouldn't want to be left there sitting with my books looking like a nana.
Would probably be Call of Cthulhu again though, anything else would take too much prep.

Cheers

Jon
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Wayne Mook on August 21, 2006, 09:03:29 pm
Tell me about it Jon.

You can sign me and Nadia. Plus if anyone brings their Magic deck nadia is looking for someone to play.

Wayne.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Debbie on August 21, 2006, 10:15:54 pm
Weren't the writer/producer of Urban Gothic goh's then?

They certainly were. Very cute one of them was too - and unfortunately young enough to be my son.... :-[
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Gary Couzens on August 22, 2006, 06:36:20 pm
Some thoughts from a former Chairman and Awards Administrator...

I've nothing against naming an award after the late David Gemmell, but I would be against splitting the novel category, even into Fantasy and Horror. What do you do with works that don't fit neatly into either category? Not all fantasy is *heroic* fantasy, so why should that subset of the genre be singled out? And what do we do with science fiction, as that does get occasionally recommended and nominated?

I'd also rather not do away with the novella category, as I voted for it and it's only run one year so far! I don't think short stories and novellas are equvalent, though it would be difficult to draw a dividing line between them. But for awards reasons we do - at 10,000 words, the same as the World Fantasy Awards do.

There was a Best Newcomer (the Icarus Award) in the early 1990s, but if I remember (I wasn't on the Committee then but did attend AGMs) there was some confusion as to who qualified as a "newcomer". The last winner was Poppy Z. Brite who had had been published for years. The award was replaced with the current Special Award when Karl Edward Wagner died. And KEW had more claim to longterm involvement with the BFS than David Gemmell had.

As for Terry Pratchett, Robert Jordan, James Herbert or indeed David Gemmell, when they published novels they were eligible for the awards. If they weren't nominated, that's because people didn't wish to vote for them. They have no more right than anyone else to be nominated or to win. In fact, James Herbert had his one and only nomination to date two years ago.

What I like about the current system is that everything which is eligible gets on the voting form. Yes, you will get some strange choices, but you will get some interesting stuff that may have been otherwise overlooked. The only eligibility is for publication date: it's not up to the Awards Admin to decide if something "belongs" in the genre (and we have had arguments about certain works in the past, as to whether they are really fantasy or horror). Then again, if you don't think something on the form is worthy of the award, don't vote for it.

To answer one of Stan's questions about awards procedure, the Awards Admin can recommend works (and I did do that) but is not allowed to vote. If there is a tie, then the President has a casting vote - this didn't happen in my four years as Awards Admin, though there were a few categories decided by a single voting point. Apart from that, the President just has a single vote, the same as any other BFS member. The Awards Admin can call on other people to check the recommendations list for any errors and for eligibility - I did do this myself, and this year I performed this function for Dave Sutton.

The drawback of allowing Fantasycon members who aren't also BFS members to have a vote is that the award plaques are made and engraved in advance of the convention. However, I'm sure there is a way around this if needs be - award a plaqueless award and hand out the plaques later?

The BFS Council idea. Don't like it - it seems elitist. Are pro writers necessarily gifted with wisdom? All that means is that you are lucky/talented/perseverant/hack (delete as applicable, and I'm not aiming this at anyone) enough to have a deal with a major publisher. That would exclude quite a few big names who are published in the UK by PS, Immanion and other independents. And it's safe to say that major book deals are for novels - why exclude short story writers? Drawing distinctions like this reminds me of the badge colour-coding system that Fantasycon had in the early nineties when I first attended - to distinguish between "professional guests" and "other guests". I hated that system, and I'm glad it was scrapped. If we do have a Council (and what's wrong with a committee anyway?) it would need to be made up of volunteers anyway - we all have demands on our time after all.




Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: David Lee Stone on August 22, 2006, 07:17:08 pm
Hey Gary

Welcome to the debate. You might want to pop over to the David Gemmell Award thread and/or copy your post over there, as the discussion has shifted to the Writers/Artists section.
Title: Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
Post by: Stan Nicholls on August 22, 2006, 08:44:32 pm
Gary - I've taken the liberty of copying your post to the thread about a possible David Gemmell award in the Writers/Artists section.  Given your experience in these matters, and how pertinent some of your points are, I think they should be seen in the context of that discussion.

Hope you don't mind.

Best
Stan