Author Topic: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards  (Read 81453 times)

Offline LouM

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #75 on: November 28, 2011, 02:00:55 pm »
I think this is a fundamental part of the problem with perception of the Society. When you consider, as an example, some of the bloggers out there who really *are* into fantasy-proper (as it were), they come to the BFS and look at it from the outside, and fail to see fantasy represented.

In fairness, no wonder they're disappointed. To say that it was originally set up as a horror society doesn't necessarily mean that people don't expect it to embrace fantasy too, nor that there isn't room for it. It's not about anyone "taking over", it's about trying to represent the widest possible range of the meanings of "fantasy" and giving a wider feeling of inclusiveness. If you like horror, that doesn't mean you have to stop liking it - it just means we have the potential for a wider membership base which bring us more funds and more opportunities for the whole membership.

If the current membership genuinely feel that there isn't room to represent fantasy as well as horror in balance, then perhaps Graham has a point and that should be made explicit in the name.

Offline Rolnikov

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #76 on: November 28, 2011, 02:11:43 pm »
Graham, with regard to the under-representation of fantasy, did the working party consider my Conan amendment (first mentioned here) - if they did, I'd be interested to hear what they thought of it, because it's something I might well propose to the AGM at some point.

Reserving one slot of every fiction category for THE fantasy could give us the representation of fantasy on the awards shortlists you're after at a stroke.

Offline CarolineC

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #77 on: November 28, 2011, 02:13:03 pm »
I think this is a fundamental part of the problem with perception of the Society. When you consider, as an example, some of the bloggers out there who really *are* into fantasy-proper (as it were), they come to the BFS and look at it from the outside, and fail to see fantasy represented.

In fairness, no wonder they're disappointed. To say that it was originally set up as a horror society doesn't necessarily mean that people don't expect it to embrace fantasy too, nor that there isn't room for it. It's not about anyone "taking over", it's about trying to represent the widest possible range of the meanings of "fantasy" and giving a wider feeling of inclusiveness. If you like horror, that doesn't mean you have to stop liking it - it just means we have the potential for a wider membership base which bring us more funds and more opportunities for the whole membership.

If the current membership genuinely feel that there isn't room to represent fantasy as well as horror in balance, then perhaps Graham has a point and that should be made explicit in the name.

All good points, Lou. I've been trying - when I post news on the site - to give a reasonable balance, so that the Society's "shop window" (ie. its website) gives the feeling that we embrace ALL forms of imaginative fiction. Although I'm a horror fan (I admit sword-and-sorcery bores me silly  ::)) I really do think it's important for the society to embrace all forms of imaginative fiction. That's why I don't like the idea of a split award - but I do see the possible need to bring fantasy people back into the fold, as Graham suggests. It's a kind of "positive action" thing to redress the balance. Perhaps it would only need to be temporary - until that balance was redressed and fantasy folk were back in the fold?

I do think it needs to be made clear to us horror folk, though, that the society isn't going to go down the route of excluding horror. The reason I joined the BFS in the first place was that it was welcoming to a horror fan like me. Without that, there'd be no reason for me to be here.  :(
« Last Edit: November 28, 2011, 02:35:43 pm by CarolineC »
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Offline SAWatts

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #78 on: November 28, 2011, 02:14:35 pm »
There isn't a wall between horror and fantasy - many of us like to play for both teams? (And moonlight in science fiction.) Often we don't know which side we're on :)

Seriously - if having two prizes encourages members to recommend great fantasy and great horror novels and the BFS represents both - then we all win?

Offline Peter Coleborn

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #79 on: November 28, 2011, 02:26:57 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

I can't recall the exact details, but the Derleth name was appended to the BFS Novel Award because he was a publisher of a small(ish) press at that time (Arkham House) that was created to promote the pulp writers including, of course, HPL. He was also a mentor to many then young writers (including Ramsey). In those days, small presses were rare beasts.

Yes, Moorcock won a lot of BFS awards in the early days. Then, as you say, horror writers like Ramsey started winning the award. Nevertheless, some 'fantasy' titles were still winning, such as the Xanth book by Piers Anthony.

I think Moorcock's books were labelled science fantasy by publishers rather than just fantasy, to distinguish them from sexual fantasy titles. It would be interesting to learn if this was, in fact, the case.

Graham is correct, both 'fantasy' and 'horror' titles win the WFA.

Offline Des Lewis

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #80 on: November 28, 2011, 02:36:54 pm »
There isn't a wall between horror and fantasy - many of us like to play for both teams?

I don't think there can be a dividing line, I agree.  I  just echo Caroline's comment below about joining the BFs because it was the only group approaching a Horror Society I could find, i.e. from the late seventies onward.
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Offline neilw

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #81 on: November 28, 2011, 02:38:14 pm »
In an ideal world, the two novel award thing also makes me a little uneasy, but I think I'm going to vote for it. Stephen's  suggestion of having at least one "THE Fantasy"  (Traditional, Heroic, Epic) novel on the the short list isn't a bad one but I fear it could end up just being an exercise in tokenism. I think to really open the society's doors to the THE crowd, the gesture has to be unequivocal.

Although... I'd hate to see all the non-horror, non-THE fantasies slip between the cracks.

Looking a little further ahead though, if this move does come off and the THE fans join in their vote-enfranchised hordes, the horror fans might be grateful for that split award...

Offline Peter Coleborn

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #82 on: November 28, 2011, 02:39:01 pm »
In the early days of the BFS, heroic fantasy or S&S (eg Conan) played a large part. Back then, that's what I read -- along with Moorcock, of course -- and I felt at home in the BFS, with its wide-ranging coverage of REH, JRRT and HPL... Dark Horizons published both horror and heroic fantasy short stories.

But things changed and for some reason the membership became more horror focussed, despite the best efforts of the committee to cover all aspects of the genre. Now, DH fails to receive good quality heroic fantasy short story submissions -- pity. It seems that some people only perceive heroic fantasy in terms of trilogies; they forget the wonderful history of short stories in the tradition of Vance and Leiber, etc. I hope Guy manages to redress the imbalance better than I managed.

I think that Caroline is doing a marvellous job with the range of news she posts on the BFS website. I hope everyone visits the site regularly and appreciates her work. As for book reviews: you'll note that the majority of books received from mainstream publishers -- and reviewed -- are fantasy or urban fantasy or SF. I think the website illustrates the BFS's broad church.

Offline David A. Riley

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #83 on: November 28, 2011, 04:35:58 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

I can't recall the exact details, but the Derleth name was appended to the BFS Novel Award because he was a publisher of a small(ish) press at that time (Arkham House) that was created to promote the pulp writers including, of course, HPL. He was also a mentor to many then young writers (including Ramsey). In those days, small presses were rare beasts.

Yes, Moorcock won a lot of BFS awards in the early days. Then, as you say, horror writers like Ramsey started winning the award. Nevertheless, some 'fantasy' titles were still winning, such as the Xanth book by Piers Anthony.

I think Moorcock's books were labelled science fantasy by publishers rather than just fantasy, to distinguish them from sexual fantasy titles. It would be interesting to learn if this was, in fact, the case.

Graham is correct, both 'fantasy' and 'horror' titles win the WFA.

You're right about Derleth's link to Arkham House - by that time he was Arkham House. But he wasn't just the owner of the largest independent press in the horror/fantasy genre at the time, he was also perhaps the leading anthologist too, and anthologies edited by him (and published by mainstream publishers) were a regular feature during the 1960s, right up till his death. He was also a not insignificant writer too, though he seems to have faded into virtual obscurity since then unfortunately.

Offline Peter Coleborn

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #84 on: November 28, 2011, 04:39:39 pm »
Thanks for the clarification, David

Offline Grafire

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #85 on: November 28, 2011, 05:43:25 pm »
yes we did consider the Conan notion Stephen.  It has good things going for it but it also got us deeper into definition territory whereas the two words Fantasy and Horror are really incredibly permissive.  I agree that the writers that might fall between the cracks might be pople like me.  But we also went for the Rob Holdstock title to try to suggest something broader.  So in the end we went for two "very broad" rather than any reductive ones.  I'm the first to admit it's a sticky business, but I also desperately want to say "Welcome" to Fantasy ones.  Plus I really don't get what Horror fans think they will lose out (talking to Des here - whom I haven't seen for ages - and others) by this gambit.

Offline CarolineC

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #86 on: November 28, 2011, 06:18:27 pm »
Plus I really don't get what Horror fans think they will lose out (talking to Des here - whom I haven't seen for ages - and others) by this gambit.

If I could maybe clarify that, Graham, from my point of view anyway? When this whole issue of there being "too much horror" in the BFS flared up a few years ago (when quite a few THE writers/fans left, I believe) it really felt like the idea was to reclaim the BFS for fantasy only - it didn't feel like there'd be a place for horror at all in the BFS. But maybe we (ie. us "horror people") misread the signals at that time? That was my fear - that "redressing the balance" means that horror will get sidelined, or kicked out altogether. I guess this is what Des and others are feeling too? (though I don't speak for Des of course - he can speak for himself!  ;)). But if it means simply making things equal, then that's just how I think it should be. BFS in my opinion stands for British [Imaginative] Fiction Society - ie. we are all equal!

I guess I'm coming around to the idea of a split Award - if that's what it takes to make things equal.
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Offline Des Lewis

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #87 on: November 28, 2011, 06:24:48 pm »
Caroline speaks for me there (other than agreing to the split award!).
Has anyone read Ann and Jeff VanderMeer's 'The WEIRD' yet? That's what I thought the BFS was all about.
The Weird - as Horror and Weird Fantasy (and Doctor Who and LOST...). Since when was it Tolkien or Flashing Swords?
(Graham: Power to your elbow. Long time no see).
des

Plus I really don't get what Horror fans think they will lose out (talking to Des here - whom I haven't seen for ages - and others) by this gambit.

If I could maybe clarify that, Graham, from my point of view anyway? When this whole issue of there being "too much horror" in the BFS flared up a few years ago (when quite a few THE writers/fans left, I believe) it really felt like the idea was to reclaim the BFS for fantasy only - it didn't feel like there'd be a place for horror at all in the BFS. But maybe we (ie. us "horror people") misread the signals at that time? That was my fear - that "redressing the balance" means that horror will get sidelined, or kicked out altogether. I guess this is what Des and others are feeling too? (though I don't speak for Des of course - he can speak for himself!  ;)). But if it means simply making things equal, then that's just how I think it should be. BFS in my opinion stands for British [Imaginative] Fiction Society - ie. we are all equal!

I guess I'm coming around to the idea of a split Award - if that's what it takes to make things equal.
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Offline stevemosby

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #88 on: November 28, 2011, 06:50:14 pm »
I think the whole thing is a very good arrangement - at least in terms of a substantial initial overhaul that can be streamlined in future as necessary. My feeling is that there are too many awards, so the ceremony becomes a bit unwieldy, but that's only my personal taste. The Society needs to give lesser-known authors in the field a foot up - to get the attention of the mainstream, larger publishers, who are obviously going to be drawn by the more central awards (Best Novel, etc) - so perhaps it's unavoidable.

My only concern is the practicalities - what happens in the result of a tie, specifically. That probably needs clarifying. I liked the original suggestion that the jury could remove a book at their unanimous discretion, but there you go. As things stand, I'll be voting yes.


Offline LouM

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #89 on: November 28, 2011, 06:52:14 pm »
I can understand your point, Des - and yes, I do see where you're coming from. But the point is that the BFS isn't called the BWFS right now, and people expect it to reflect that. To go back to my example of book bloggers: they may not know much about Weird fiction. With the new anthology (which looks spectacular... I'm asking Santa for that, for sure) maybe this will change, but the fact is that many people expect "fantasy" to mean something substantially more than HPL: they *do* expect Tolkien, yes, and urban fantasy and crossovers and -god help us all - even the occasional bit of paranormal romance *in addition to* weird fiction and slipstream and Cthulu and King and so on.  Whether they understand where the "Fantasy" originally came from or not isn't really the issue  :)

Enfranchising fantasy isn't about disenfranchising horror - quite the opposite. It's about saying that this is what "the fantastic" encompasses. I've just read "The Shining" and then "The Night Circus" back to back, for example. Just because I read one doesn't mean I can't read the other. The broader the church we become, the more members we potentially attract. That gives us more clout, more funds, more opportunities - both for horror fans and fantasy fans and... I don't know, fans of novellas involving ghost-unicorns haunting space-zoos or something! No-one is trying to dismiss horror, but they are hoping to see it in balance with fantasy.