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Messages - Allen

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Announcements and Suggestions / Re: BFS Short Story Competition 2012
« on: July 01, 2012, 09:41:23 am »
Update on the BFS Short Story Competition
Phew, the deadline for entries to the British Fantasy Society Short Story Competition 2012 – which I am judging – has now passed! I say “Phew” because, as I suspected, there was a very late surge in the influx of submissions. I closed at midnight on Saturday 30 June and one writer left it till 23.58 and a few seconds to email me their story. Lucky for you that there wasn’t a power outage or Internet breakdown, pal.
I’m reading every story all the way through from beginning to end, in silence. After that, I’ll be whittling them down into a “Second Reading” pile. Anything that makes it to a third reading has a decent chance of winning one of the three prizes or making my “Commended” list.
Further updates to follow.

Announcements and Suggestions / Re: Lack of news on website
« on: June 21, 2012, 12:33:26 pm »
Caroline, you are doing a great job. The BFS website is now my first point of call for what is happening in “our” world.

General Discussion / Re: Let's Have a Sing-Along!
« on: June 19, 2012, 10:47:54 am »
I meant to add another verse to Rhys’ version of “The Lumberjack Song” but it slipped my mind… until now!

I cut down trees
To make my books
To read on the lavatory.
I specialise in SF,
Horror and fantasy.

General Discussion / Re: Is this the worst book title/cover ever?
« on: June 19, 2012, 10:39:35 am »
Some great covers there.  I remember seeing the Jack Vance book in the 1970s and thinking “Servants of the Wankh”?  You cannot be serious!  Must be a cultural slippage.
If you go to this website, take a look at the 15 worst album covers of all time.  My two favourites were “Boned” and the Millie Jackson toilet extravaganza.
Returning to the main theme of book covers, I appreciate that the artists on these old dust jackets at least had a go at giving a flavour of the book, even if that flavour seemed to consist of several mismatched ingredients.  I am always disappointed when no real effort seems to have been made with the cover – it’s just a stock skull or something.

General Discussion / Re: Ray Bradbury 1921 2012 RIP
« on: June 08, 2012, 03:02:38 pm »
Ray Bradbury was, of course, one of the greats that I grew up reading when just a callow youth. Along with the likes of Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, A. E. Van Vogt, etc he shaped the Golden Age of Science Fiction.
When the news came through of his death, I just sat there for a while enunciating the list of his works that had held me in thrall and influenced my own writing. I must have read “Fahrenheit 451” at least 4 or 5 times. “Dandelion Wine” remains another particular favourite – an evocation of childhood to rank with the very best in literature.
However, I think it’s Bradbury’s short stories that mean the most to me – dystopic tales such as “The Pedestrian” or classic time travel such as “A Sound of Thunder”. As someone who specialises in short fiction, I hardly dare to unpick his influence in case my oeuvre starts to unravel. He’s certainly up there with Ballard, Aldiss and Vonnegut as a key figure from whom I strove to learn as much as I could. And he was a nice guy, too – which helps. Always a humanist and liberal. Not many people get the President offering a eulogy.
Cheers, Ray. Thanks for being.

BFS Publications / Re: Spring 2012 Journal
« on: May 01, 2012, 10:19:49 am »
Oh heck!  Two years without posting and I make a mistake!  Sorry about that, Des. 
Aside from that, I’ve started on the non-fiction content and it looks good –conversational and approachable but still useful and grounded in fact or well-informed opinions.

Clarification regarding the Short Story Competition
Oh the best laid plans of mice and men!  And it looks like I’m the mouse in this scenario!  Seriously, though, I’ve just checked through the BFS Short Story Competition information pasted into the “BFS Journal Spring 2012”and it’s not 100% accurate.  Blame a lack of diligence on my part.  When I was formulating the rules, I based a lot of them on a template of Stephen Theaker’s rules from previous years.  What appears to have happened is that this early draft has gone off to the editors and been published.  So, the upshot is that the most up to date rules are those on the BFS website.  The main difference is that, after consulting with Lee, I decided that the competition will not be anonymous.  I know that a lot of story (and especially poetry) competitions are anonymous but it was felt to be an unnecessary complication as there is only me doing all the judging and the admin.
So, to reiterate – follow the rules at the website.  If you have any queries, email me on:

BFS Publications / Re: Spring 2012 Journal
« on: April 30, 2012, 08:07:42 pm »
The latest “BFS Journal” looks appealing both externally and internally.  I like the design refit around the non-fiction features although I’m with Mike and Peter regarding using capital letters. They were invented for a reason, you know…!
Maybe my memory is failing but it must be a heck of a long time since the prolific maestro Rhys Hughes featured in a BFS publication.  In fact, I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen his by-line in a “Dark Horizons” / “Journal” before.
Thanks again to Caroline for her comments regarding my story “Faerie Mails”.  It was fun to write the piece.

General Discussion / Re: Hawkwind
« on: January 02, 2008, 03:06:08 pm »

I?ve still got a copy of ?Time of the Hawklords? down in the cellar somewhere. Haven?t read it in years. I seem to remember being a little concerned at the time that the fictional Hawklords were annihilating almost every other form of music, including a few bands I quite liked! Still, that?s super-heroes for you.

Saw the band at the Astoria on 19th December. Pretty good show, lots of Calvert songs. High spots for me were ?Paradox? and ?Robot?. The latter had the crowd chanting along with ?R-O-B-O-T?. For all you train-spotters out there, the band encored with ?Flying Doctor? ? which they haven?t played in ages ? and their huge hit ?Silver Machine?.

General Discussion / Re: Hawkwind
« on: December 02, 2007, 12:19:14 pm »
Let's return this forum to Hawkwind.
Won't bore you about my guest appearances with the band back in the late 1980s / early 1990s - just to say that I will be in the audience at The Astoria gig on December 19th, so come up and say hello. Fingers crossed that the band will play "Space is Deep" - the Dave Brock song inspired by Michael Morrcock's "The Black Corridor".  The band also, of course, covered the opening page of Moorcock's brilliant novel, with the late Robert Calvert reciting the piece in his fabulous style on their album "Space Ritual"...

Ah, enough reminiscing! - Allen

British Fantasy Awards / Re: 2006 BFS Award Winners
« on: November 16, 2006, 04:48:39 pm »
Hi there everyone,

I thought I'd belatedly take up some of the points made by "C. R. Barker". 
He/she - henceforth CRB - says, "I think this year's awards have underlined for me just how flawed the BFS award system is. The ballot process has bestowed awards on the most popular or high profile candidate rather than the best writer."

Well, as an award winner this year, I'm going to take issue with that. As much as we do what we can to write, edit, publish and sell high quality books, neither myself nor Andrew Hook of Elastic Press could realistically be described as household names. If either of us is "high profile" in any way, it's only within the society and certain dusty corners of the SF / F/ H/ Slipstream genre and that's mostly because we make the effort to talk to and listen to people we meet at BFs events and the like. And because people recognise the fantastic, inspirational job Andrew has done with Elastic Press over the past 3 years or so.

To suggest that it's wrong that a "popular" book or author wins an award is to miss the other meaning of popular - which is "well-liked or admired". Are BFS members going to vote for something that was "unpopular"? As I wrote on the TTA Press message boards a few months back, the beauty of the BFS awards is that the actual members of the BFS vote for the titles / authors / artists they want to vote for. This doesn't happen with a lot of similar awards, especially those which go through some sort of filtering or "committee recommendation" stage. Does CRB want a committee to simply send him a list of choices of the work they think is deserving?

I don't always agree with or vote for the category winners in any given year; I have my own personal tastes and hard luck stories. The bottom line is , though, that Joe Hill won his awards this year because loads of people liked his work... and the excellent production values you get with a P S Publishing book. The BFS has a broad membership with a huge range of tastes and preferences. Personally, what I found refreshing this year was that Neil Gaiman's "Anansi Boys" was the only winner from a Big Name / Mainstream publisher. Everybody else was from the thriving independent press. If it was simply about "High Profile" or "popular" (using the other definition, that of selling loads of books) the awards would go to Stephen King and J. K. Rowling every year. Or even the late J. R. R. Tolkien!

However, I think CRB does raise an interesting point for discussion about the Karl Wagner Special Award. I seem to remember that members used to be able to at least nominate deserving recipients. Maybe we could consider opening the decision on the award to the membership as a whole rather than the committee? As someone who has taken a keen interest in the definitions of BFS awards, I'd be interested in this matter being raised for discussion at the next Open Night or within "Prism". I don't say "at the next AGM" because we could possibly make a decision on this before next September.

What do other BFS members think?

British Fantasy Awards / Re: Elastic Press 2006 recommendations
« on: August 09, 2006, 12:23:24 pm »
Just in case anyone still hasn't put those all important numbers 1,2 and 3 on their voting form - there's a fantastic review of "The Elastic Book of Numbers" by Jonathan Oliver in the latest "Dark Horizons".
This man desrves a drink at Fantasycon!

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