Author Topic: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards  (Read 79925 times)

Offline Rolnikov

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #60 on: November 28, 2011, 08:28:19 am »
OK, I've looked up the old awards system so what seems to have happened is that  the long-list stage has been abolished. The question is, I suppose, is how much does the longlist round whittle things down? Does it make things much more manageable?

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

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

Basically, the current recommendations stage is our way of getting members to put together a manageable list of eligible items.

Offline Andrew Hook

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #61 on: November 28, 2011, 10:14:48 am »
Having thought about it over the weekend and now read the above posts I again feel that this is a workable system, but it may well be that we won't know whether it has worked or not until next year's awards ceremony.

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

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

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

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

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

Offline Rolnikov

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #62 on: November 28, 2011, 10:24:19 am »
Graham took me to task on Facebook for saying that the survey results showed 50% of members were against the split best novel award, saying that the survey included the votes of non-members as well. I did wonder why I'd made that mistake, and double checking it was because that was what it said in this announcement:

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

And also here on the forums:

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

Given that the survey wasn't supposed to be open to non-members, I feel it might be really useful to know what the results of the survey would have been without their votes being counted, if that were possible.

Offline Grafire

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #63 on: November 28, 2011, 10:32:29 am »
From monitoring the comments on the Forum and elsewhere it is clear there is a lot of unease about the idea of a Jury’s powers to eliminate weak material boosted through canvassing, while there does seem to be general satisfaction with the jury’s oversight power to add a title.  Thus we have accepted an AMENDMENT to Resolution 1 paragraph 4 to  DELETE the words “or to subtract a nomination in the case of a poor quality nomination artificially boosted by the practice of canvassing” in the first sentence and to DELETE “or subtraction” in the second sentence.

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

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

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

Many thanks to Charles Rudkin for discussing and proposing this amendment which is accepted by the original proposers of the Resolutions.

Offline Rolnikov

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #64 on: November 28, 2011, 10:47:45 am »
As to the definition of fantasy/horror this will be decided by the voters who create the shortlist. No confusion to be had there - it's in our hands!

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

Offline Andrew Hook

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #65 on: November 28, 2011, 11:08:39 am »
As to the definition of fantasy/horror this will be decided by the voters who create the shortlist. No confusion to be had there - it's in our hands!

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

Oh! You may be right there...

Graham's recent amendment about the power of the jury to add/remove seems a good decision, by the way.

Offline Rolnikov

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #66 on: November 28, 2011, 11:46:27 am »
Two completely separate categories in the way you were thinking might well work better.

I have mixed feelings about the amendment. Glad it's gone, because taken alone I thought it was going to cause problems. On the other hand, the shortlist under this new procedure was already going to be much more vulnerable than the old one to boosterism, and this removes the one barrier to that.

Offline CarolineC

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #67 on: November 28, 2011, 12:01:02 pm »
Thus Paragraph 4 of Resolution 1 will now read “The Jury shall also have oversight powers to add nominations where it identifies an egregious omission.  In order to add such nominations the jury must make a unanimous decision.  The addition or subtraction of a nomination will be made in camera.”

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

As to there being two awards for Best Novel, one for fantasy and one for horror, I said "no" to that on the survey myself. I do think it's divisive, and - for all the reasons people have said above - difficult to administer. I did assume that there were two separate categories/awards, with the author themselves having the final say in whether a book was horror or fantasy - but maybe I'm wrong on that? And, as people have said, what about SF and cross-genre fiction?
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Offline charlesrudkin

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #68 on: November 28, 2011, 12:21:49 pm »
Caroline yes, I imagine that's just a typo. This change removes my principal objection and I will now vote for the resolution. I do share Stephen's concerns about the lack of a longlist, but exclusively from the fact that banging a huge list of recommendations into a shortlist may prove too cumbersome rather than because I think it removes us from the decision-making process. After all it is our recommendations that make up the shortlist. I admit to ignorance here. It may well that there are voting systems out there that function perfectly well without a shortlist but there could be a problem. However, even if this goes through as is and problems arise next year we can, as Andrew Hook says, modify the system later, or even introduce a shortlist next year if the recommendations list proves impossible to whittle down.

The remainder of the objections seem to be about the second resolution. Simply put, we can vote against that with no disastrous consequences. I will be voting against simply because I think there should be one award for the novel section. I am sure that cross-genre fiction will be admitted if its good enough just as a novel that is not  branded as genre, the dreaded literary fiction beast, will be if it contains enough genre elements for members to put it forward. As for science fiction, the BFSA already does that. Nevertheless, some examples of our elder sister's offspring do sometimes manage to slip through the door

Offline Peter Coleborn

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #69 on: November 28, 2011, 12:50:19 pm »
The World Fantasy Awards presents one Best Novel award. It does not distinguish between horror, heroic fantasy, urban fantasy, ghost, etc.

Offline Rolnikov

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #70 on: November 28, 2011, 01:18:09 pm »
Just had a re-read of Proposal 1, and now that the bit about removing nominees in camera has been removed, I'll be very happy to vote for it. I'm still not keen on the "directly or indirectly" bit, but I don't see that having much practical effect. Having the awards ultimately decided by a jury is in principle just what I was after.

All the other problems I've raised are in the second and third proposals, so I can just vote against them, vote for this one.

Offline Grafire

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #71 on: November 28, 2011, 01:33:42 pm »
yes Charles is right the "or subtraction" is a typo.  I'll have that cleaned for the resolution as proposed.

regarding res 2 I'll be honest and say I'm PRAYING that gets a yes vote.  We are de facto a Horror society depsite our name.  We've alienated many good people over the last decade or longer.  We have to act to bring them back.  Fantasy Publishers and authors don't want to join a society where their work is never recognised or is relegated and now unfortunately we have a predominant Horror membership who (democratically but exclusively) call the shots on all the awards.  If we don't try to redress the balance the we shouldat least have the honesty to re-title ourselves the British Horror Society and give others a chance to set up a different Society.  Pete's right when he says the World Fantasy Award has only one award, but what he doesn't mention is that Fantasy writers win that award just as frequently as Horror writers.  Splitting the awards is really not a great solution (where does it leave my books for example?) but it's an honest one.  I appreciate people don't much like the idea, but do we really want to go on excluding Fantasy from our awards?  It just feels mean and very unfair.

Offline Des Lewis

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #72 on: November 28, 2011, 01:43:30 pm »
I always thought the BFS was intended to be (and has been de facto) a Horror Genre Society; it was just that its founding fathers removed the 'Weird' from British Weird Fantasy Society (Weird Fantasy being at one time an alternative for Horror), because they didn't want to be deemed 'weird'! Is this a new flashing swords ginger group hoping to take it over? :)
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Offline charlesrudkin

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #73 on: November 28, 2011, 01:49:32 pm »
I'm all for dealing with the horror bias  - I just don't think that splitting the award into two is the way to do it. My own view is that a juried system will deal with this bias anyway. And they have the power to add works if the shortlist is too slanted to the gory genre. I will be recommending GRR Martins latest tome as a practical step to redressing the balance. But I think we need to keep the best novel award undiluted, as it were, in the way the World Fantasy con does.

However, seeing that the present award is named after a horror writer, we could certainly rename it after Rob Holdstock or some other major fantasy figure. That would show goodwill to our friends in the Fantasy genre. I don't know how this works in terms of procedure but it might be worth having a measure like this on the ballot in case the second resolution fails, which it may well do. I would certainly vote for a name change.

Offline charlesrudkin

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #74 on: November 28, 2011, 01:59:38 pm »
The awards for best novel in the first five years all went to Michael  Mporcock, who wrote "science fantasy" not horror.  In fact the first horror writer to win was Ramsay Campbell in 1981This suggests to me that the impetus for the split from the BFSA was led by the sword and sorcery crowd with a strong twist of Tolkien. Although the fact that the best novel was named after August Derleth shows that horror has had a presence since the beginning. I guess you would have to have to talk to the founding fathers, and possibly the odd sister, to know for sure