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Messages - Peter Coleborn

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1591
BFS Publications / Re: New Dark Horizons guidelines
« on: August 24, 2006, 11:26:54 pm »
UPDATED 17 APRIL 2007

Deadlines for Submissions

At the AGM held during Fantasycon 2006, the editors agreed to produce two issues of Dark Horizons every year. The deadlines for submissions to Dark Horizons are 1 June and 1 November, with anticipated publication in February and September. We aim to stick to these dates but as is ever the case, the best laid plans of mice, men and editors are wont to go astray. These deadlines do not prevent potential contributors from submitting at any time during the year but as you can see from this timetable, the busy periods for DH production will be in the two or so months before publication.

The fantasy field is embedded on a foundation of short stories and Dark Horizons seeks to continue this tradition. But the contents of the magazine can only reflect its contributions. In order to create and maintain a balance, we wish to encourage contributions that cover all tastes, all areas of the fantasy genre, from the darkest corners to the brightest of horizons, by way of the heroic, supernatural, surreal -- you name it. The only criterion is that the stories are good enough.

Dark Horizons will also publish non-fiction, be it articles about themes, writers, artists, interviews, and essays expressing the author's opinion. If you have something to say, consider Dark Horizons as the vehicle for your views. If you wish to write non-fiction for us, please email us first.

Please take a look at the submission guidelines, also available on these message boards.

            Peter Coleborn and Jan Edwards



1592
Promote Your Projects / Re: Dark Horizons
« on: August 24, 2006, 11:25:24 pm »
DEADLINES FOR SUBMISSIONS

The deadlines for submissions to Dark Horizons are 1 November 2006, 1 March 2007, 1 July and 1 November, with anticipated publication in February, June and October 2007 and in February 2007. We aim to stick to these dates but as is ever the case, the best laid plans of mice, men and editors are wont to go astray. These deadlines do not prevent potential contributors from submitting at any time during the year but as you can see from this timetable, the busy periods for DH production will be in the two or so months before publication.

The fantasy field is embedded on a foundation of short stories and Dark Horizons seeks to continue this tradition. The contents of magazine can only reflect its contributions. In order to create and maintain a balance, we wish to encourage contributions that cover all tastes, all areas of the fantasy genre, from the darkest corners to the brightest of horizons, by way of the heroic, supernatural, surreal ? you name it. The only criterion is that the stories are good enough.

Dark Horizons will also publish non-fiction, be it articles about themes, writers, artists, interviews, and essays expressing the author?s opinion. If you have something to say, consider Dark Horizons as the vehicle for your views. If you wish to write non-fiction for us, please email us first.

Please take a look at the submission guidelines, available elsewhere on the BFS message boards or in Prism.

            Peter Coleborn and Jan Edwards

1593
Promote Your Projects / Dark Horizons
« on: August 24, 2006, 11:22:56 pm »
Dark Horizons is the critically acclaimed journal of the British Fantasy Society.  Over the years it has seen many changes and editors.  2006 sees another change: new editors have been appointed.  Peter Coleborn and Jan Edwards take over at the helm from this year?s Fantasycon. Dark Horizons will continue to publish fiction, poetry, articles and interviews.

Fiction: Dark Horizons is a broad church as far as ?fantasy? is concerned ? but the emphasis will be in the weird and fantastic (heroic fantasy, swords and sorcery, surreal, ghost stories, horror).  The field is wide open. Stories have to be good. We prefer stories in the 4000-7000 word range, but will take shorter or longer tales; stories over 10,000 words will only be accepted occasionally.

Poetry will be selected and edited by the award-winning Joel Lane. Subject matter as for fiction; they should have a fantastic, weird, supernatural or mythical theme.  Any form will be accepted with a maximum length 30 lines (again, longer poems will be considered: is anyone writing a 21st century ?The Raven??).

Articles: we will consider anything (interviews, overviews, critiques, biographies, histories, etc) that may interest BFS members and again, ?fantasy? has a wide brief.   DH will not publish reviews of current books or films; these will be included in Prism.  We suggest that you contact us before you write your article (either by letter or email).

Artwork: we are looking for artists in all mediums (including photography) prepared to illustrate stories ? and the front cover.  Please send good quality examples of your work ? not originals.

Submitting your work: all initial submissions must be sent as hardcopy; accepted material must be available in electronic form (disk or email).  We will accept poetry submissions via email, as long as they are no more than 30 lines in length, and sent in the body of the email, not as an attachment.  Manuscripts must be in standard MS format (double spaced, single side, etc); they must not be folded more than once when stuffed into an envelope (preferably not folded at all, especially MSS of five or more pages).  Always include a self-addressed envelope with sufficient postage (UK stamps or two Dollars or Euros) if you want the MS returned. If the MS is disposable include SSAE or an email address for correspondence. 

A bit of a downer: the British Fantasy Society is a non-profit organisation and therefore DH is unable to pay for submissions (other than in copies).  However, you will be in good company: Ramsey Campbell, Louise Cooper, Stephen Gallagher, Clive Barker, Brian Lumley, Mark Morris, Lisa Tuttle and many others have all been published by the BFS.

Send submissions and other snail mail to Dark Horizons, 36 Town End, Cheadle, Staffordshire, ST10 1PF, U.K., and send emails to darkhorizons@britishfantasysociety.org.uk

1594
Promote Your Projects / Re: David Gemmell Memorial Award
« on: August 22, 2006, 11:36:58 pm »
Maybe not in the right thread, but some of these postings have made a valid point: why does there appear to be so few short heroic fantasy stories? As has been said previously, almost all of the small presses in the UK that I've seen and that publish short fiction cater for non-THE fantasy. Almost all the UK small presses I've seen are published by fans of non-THE fantasy. Why is that? When I started reading fantasy a long time ago the shelves were full of short THE and related fantasy anthologies and collections: Conan, Fritz Leiber, Sprague de Camp, Swords Against Darkness, Lin Carter anthologies. These were professional books, not semi-pro/small press titles. Nowadays, in Waterstones you are hard pushed to see THE/S&S fantasy collections.

Maybe because non-THE fans went out and created their own imprints, non-THE short stories became more successful, more popular. Many of these people are BFS members, and they carriied their enthusiasm into the Society and hence the high number of so-called horror (this is a wide area) dominates the nominations.

When I edited DH (albeit for two issues) a decade ago, the greater majority of short story submissions were non-THE. I'm told it's not that much different now.

I'm told that the breakdown of THE and non-THE fans in the BFS is about equal. Certainly at Fantasycons you see a lot of attendees clutching the lastest epic fantasy. So why the apparent imbalance? If THE fantasy fans were as proactive as other fans, things may be different.

And for the record, there was a small press anthology published a few years ago that exclusively published heroic fiction. Ask Stan: he has a fine story contained therein. The book is SWORDS AGAINST THE MILLENNIUM, edited by Mike Chinn, and published by The Alchemy Press. Copies are still available; email me for further details.

And I am sure that if someone wishes to edited something similar for BFS publication, the committee would be receptive. Send a proposal to the Chair (but be prepared to do the work of soliciting, editing, and producing the book).





1595
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.


1596
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.

1597
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.


1598
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.


1599
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


1600
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.

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