Author Topic: Fourth Update from the Acting Chair Graham Joyce  (Read 5995 times)

Offline Del Lakin-Smith

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Fourth Update from the Acting Chair Graham Joyce
« on: October 18, 2011, 05:20:54 pm »
The Awards Review.

I undertook to review and overhaul the BFS Awards.  The old system that served us for such a long time had a hole punched in it this year.  It was always a vulnerable system and with its weakness to “boosting” votes now only too exposed, it is in my view irreparable.  I have consulted widely and I must say I have had terrific input and support from people connected with the Clarke Awards, the BSFA and SF Awards Watch. There appear to be more voting systems at large than there are denominations of the Protestant church but there are some great ideas around, even if some are contradictory.  So here is the plan.

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

Stage 2: The new formulation, whatever it is, will be put together by a small working group of “wise men and women” in response to the data.

Stage 3: That formulation will then be put to the EGM on December 9th.  We will also collect votes electronically.

It won’t be possible to come up with a system that satisfies everyone.  But it will be possible to come up with a system that has the consent of most of the Society.

The survey will also go to attendees of Fantasycon 2010, 2011 and 2012 who are not BFS members.

Why a survey not a vote?  The logic of this is that Fantasycon attendees are entitled to vote on the awards and I feel they are entitled to express a preference.  (Though of course Fcon attendees who are not BFS members are constitutionally not permitted to vote on EGM or AGM motions, so will not be able to vote on the final proposal.)

The survey will go out later this month and will close after a week.  The motion for a new system will be assembled and published in readiness for the EGM.  The proposed timetable for all this is as follows:

Monday 24 October:  Post Survey online

Monday 31 October: Close survey

November 18:  Working group makes recommendation. Recommendation posted.

December 9: Electronic ballot to close before EGM.  Electronic votes and live votes tallied at EGM.

Graham Joyce
« Last Edit: December 05, 2011, 08:39:47 pm by Del Lakin-Smith »

Offline Rolnikov

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Re: Fourth Update from the Acting Chair Graham Joyce
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2011, 07:43:15 pm »
Sounds really good.


Offline Paul Campbell

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Re: Fourth Update from the Acting Chair Graham Joyce
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2011, 12:34:03 am »
If the survey contains such questions as, "What do you read most of, Science Fiction, Fantasy or Horror?" I hope it also contains the question, "What do you read most of, books released by Professional Publishers or the Small Press?" Because that - as I said on another thread - I believe is the root cause of this whole awards fiasco: too many society members with far too narrow a range of reading interests. It's like literary snobs declaring that the likes of King and Rowling must be mediocre writers because they sell too many copies. In other words the logic probably runs: "If it's published outside the small press it must be watered-down dreck and therefore beneath my contempt."

Yeah, right.

Having been a past Prism small press reviewer, this is one reader who certainly doesn't belief that the sun shines out the small press's proverbial rearend.

Offline David A. Riley

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Re: Fourth Update from the Acting Chair Graham Joyce
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2011, 08:55:20 am »
Perhaps King and Rowling, particularly Rowling, were not the best examples, Paul. Although, for example, I love most of King's earlier novels, until Under the Dome I could not even finish any of his other more recent novels, and of those that I did, like Dream Catcher, were a slog that left me wondering why I had bothered.

Also, let it not be forgotten that King's latest story collection won the Best Collection award this time, not a small press alternative, which of all the categories was the one most likely to attract the perceived small press bias.

I don't know whether it is a small press versus "Professional Press" issue, but more that certain writers just happen to have a lot of friends, supporters and/or fans within the ranks of those eligible to vote.


Offline jim mcleod

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Re: Fourth Update from the Acting Chair Graham Joyce
« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2011, 09:14:17 am »
forgive my ignorance, but how small does a press have to be to be a small press?

I would hardly call Adam Nevill's, Gary McMahon's and Grahan Joyce's entries in the best novel as small press.

Offline Andrew Hook

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Re: Fourth Update from the Acting Chair Graham Joyce
« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2011, 09:41:06 am »
The award overhaul idea sounds like a good one...it'll be interesting to see how it pans out.

And Paul, I understand your way of thinking, but for me the BFS's role in celebrating the small presses is a positive one. Awards such as best small press or best magazine are obviously well suited to promoting small presses who otherwise find it very hard to gain any recognition and exposure. I totally agree that not everything small presses produce is fantastic or award-worthy, but nor is everything from the 'professional' publishers. Of course, the more people we get into the society then the less the small presses are likely to pick up awards - simply because the copies sold would likely be a tiny proportion of those read by the mainstream public who would then be voting. Maintaining an award for best small press and best magazine are crucial under the circumstances to keep small presses alive - and having won the best small press award twice I can tell you how important it felt to achieve that recognition from my peers - if not from the wider book-buying public.

I can see how some might want the awards to be an effectively closed shop because it gives writers the chance to win awards that perhaps they wouldn't win if there was a wider voter base. I guess the effect could be similar to the difference between a poll of the ten greatest movies from Sun readers compared to Sight and Sound readers. In that example I imagine the Sun winners would be those most popular and accessible rather than neccessarily the 'best' - for me, the winners of the Sight and Sound poll would be the movies I'd prefer to actually watch. But that's just my opinion.

For me, reading 'fantasy' probably amounts to no more than 15% of the books I read each year. I've never read Tolkein or King - I'm just not interested in them - not in a snobbish way, it's just not the kind of thing I read. However, I still have found a place for myself within the BFS which I can call home.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2011, 09:54:12 am by Andrew Hook »

Offline Grafire

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Re: Fourth Update from the Acting Chair Graham Joyce
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2011, 05:51:15 pm »

The survey won't have anything to do with " what do you like reading" etc.  It will be "which system would you prefer to see in place for the awards".  Mechanics, not aesthetics.

Offline joshua rainbird

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Re: Fourth Update from the Acting Chair Graham Joyce
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2011, 07:05:05 pm »
The survey won't have anything to do with " what do you like reading" etc.  It will be "which system would you prefer to see in place for the awards".  Mechanics, not aesthetics.

thank heavens for that because I have a hard time trying to work out what is what.
I must lack the pigeonholing gene.   :D

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Offline CarolineC

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Re: Fourth Update from the Acting Chair Graham Joyce
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2011, 08:22:10 pm »
Sometimes I worry that the BFS is becoming a commonwealth of sub-genre factions rather than a bunch of people who like to explore life through a fresh set of eyes.

Josh - I couldn't have put it better! The discussion on the other thread about the definition of "fantasy" is an example of this. Surely the BFS should encompass all "imaginative fiction", or "fantastic fiction", or whatever anyone wants to call it, rather than worry about sub-genres? Personally, I like writing which doesn't necessarily fit into any box. But that's a discussion for the other thread, not this one.

The proposed survey of BFS members and FCon members re the awards sounds like an excellent idea to me ...
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Offline Mike Chinn

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Re: Fourth Update from the Acting Chair Graham Joyce
« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2011, 09:31:01 am »
Sometimes I worry that the BFS is becoming a commonwealth of sub-genre factions rather than a bunch of people who like to explore life through a fresh set of eyes.

We're a loose confederation of warring tribes.  ;)
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Offline joshua rainbird

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Re: Fourth Update from the Acting Chair Graham Joyce
« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2011, 09:40:24 am »
Sometimes I worry that the BFS is becoming a commonwealth of sub-genre factions rather than a bunch of people who like to explore life through a fresh set of eyes.

We're a loose confederation of warring tribes.  ;)

I must be a triple agent, then.  :D
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Offline Des Lewis

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Re: Fourth Update from the Acting Chair Graham Joyce
« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2011, 10:50:28 am »
I must be a triple agent, then.  :D

I'm trying to work out who, if anyone, is the agent provocateur! ;)
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Offline mightyjoeyoung

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Re: Fourth Update from the Acting Chair Graham Joyce
« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2011, 12:12:37 pm »
Regarding the small press/large press issue, maybe an expansion of the awards could deal with the situation.

Couldn't delineations be made for awards by print size. Example: Less than 500 copies. 500-5,000 copies. 5,000+ copies.

Three categories wouldn't exclude anyone and wouldn't put small independent presses and little-known writers up against the giants of the genre. Also, larger presses getting awards would also generate larger publicity for the BFS.

Offline Des Lewis

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Re: Fourth Update from the Acting Chair Graham Joyce
« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2011, 12:24:06 pm »
Regarding the small press/large press issue, maybe an expansion of the awards could deal with the situation.

Couldn't delineations be made for awards by print size. Example: Less than 500 copies. 500-5,000 copies. 5,000+ copies.

Three categories wouldn't exclude anyone and wouldn't put small independent presses and little-known writers up against the giants of the genre. Also, larger presses getting awards would also generate larger publicity for the BFS.

That sounds like a brilliant suggestion to me.
des
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