Author Topic: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards  (Read 81454 times)

Offline charlesrudkin

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #45 on: November 27, 2011, 03:25:44 pm »
I think this is all good stuff on the whole, but the proposal for the jury to be able to remove a work because of canvassing is in my view potentially highly damaging.

While we may all feel we all know what canvassing is, it is in fact quite hard to define as a rule. In this David is right. In fact the reforms put forward not only make no definition of what canvassing is, they do not actually ban the practice. What is therefore being proposed is giving a jury the power to throw out a book from the shortlist for an undefined offence that doesn't actually exist. The fact that the meeting to exclude the shortlist is held in secret with no right of appeal makes it even worse and flies against any sense of natural justice. If somebody is accused of something, they should both  have the right to defend themselves and a right to appeal.

A further point worth mentioning is how on earth are you going to prove allegations of canvassing, especially as it has never been spelt out what it entails? Is somebody going to police it by trawling through the Internet? Are we going to be asked to report violations, or, more accurately, what we think are violations?

The potential  consequences of this proposal are that the BFS risks re-running the unfortunate events that occurred this year with a book being chucked off the shortlist and the ensuing division  that would cause. In a worst-case scenario it could open the BFS to court action should an author decide to protect their reputation through legal action.  For the reasons outlined above, there is a good chance that the courts would not rule in the society's favour.

It might be said that it is highly unlikely that a short-listed book will suffer this fate, especially given the need for a unanimous vote. To which the obvious reply is why have such a potentially divisive measure at all? It might be unfortunate that a work gets unto the shortlist through politics rather than merit  but isn't a jury for the shortlist safeguard enough to show  to the wider literary community that we have endeavoured to choose the best  work for that year?  After all, people this year and in previous years too didn't get upset because an allegedly weak piece of work got onto the shortlist but that it went on to win.

There does not seem to be a formal process open to members to propose amendments. However, I have been told by several people that the BFS committee can propose amendments or at least put them forward for discussion. If any BFS committee member agrees with my comments I would be grateful if they would take this matter up.

For full disclosure, I made a point about three weeks on a thread about FB reform. They differ in the respect that in the post below I put forward the suggestion that making canvassing a rule violation would work if the definition was robust enough.

"True. I am not sure about banning canvassing, etc. First of all you would have to define your terms, then you'd have the problem of enforcing it. However, I suppose if you did come up with workable definitions of what is and isn't acceptable, it marks a clear line that many people are unlikely to cross, even if they know they will never be caught"

Offline charlesrudkin

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #46 on: November 27, 2011, 03:45:24 pm »
On Del's point about whether we should divide the resolutions up,  I would actually voted for the jury to be able to add an award. It's the far more problematical matter of booting out a book because of alleged malfeasance that I have a problem. Which is why I am seeking an amendment rather than a vote on the relevant section per se

Offline Di Lewis

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #47 on: November 27, 2011, 03:52:51 pm »
"Resolution Part 2

In the category of Best Novel there shall be one award for Best Fantasy Novel and one award for Best Horror Novel."

If this is voted in, the meaning of "Fantasy" is redefined for the purpose of the BFS awards.

Does this not also redefine by association the meaning of "Fantasy" in the name of the Society?

Offline Peter Coleborn

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #48 on: November 27, 2011, 04:14:21 pm »
"Resolution Part 2

In the category of Best Novel there shall be one award for Best Fantasy Novel and one award for Best Horror Novel."

If this is voted in, the meaning of "Fantasy" is redefined for the purpose of the BFS awards.

Does this not also redefine by association the meaning of "Fantasy" in the name of the Society?

The BFHS -- the British Fantasy & Horror Society, he says, mischievously

Offline Di Lewis

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #49 on: November 27, 2011, 04:33:50 pm »

The BFHS -- the British Fantasy & Horror Society, he says, mischievously

Well, yes, that's what I was thinking.  Didn't it used to be The Weird Fantasy Society though?
Bring back "Weird"!

Offline charlesrudkin

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #50 on: November 27, 2011, 04:58:57 pm »
How about the British Science Fantasy Association?

Offline DavidJHowe

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #51 on: November 27, 2011, 05:02:50 pm »
Couple of other things just to throw in the ring.

The Sydney J Bounds Estate does not wish to take part in the decision making process for the Newcomer Award - they just fund the prize money to the winner. Therefore the wording on this one: 'The winner is decided by a special panel of readers appointed by the BFS and will include representatives from the Bounds estate and the BFS'. is not possible. I'm also puzzled by 'appointed by the BFS' here - is this suggesting that the whole membership be asked every year who should be on this panel?  Or is the panel appointed by the Awards Coordinator as elsewhere?


The award for 'Screenplay' does not currently exist, so this is additionally voting to add a new Award to the process. This was raised at the AGM and discussion deferred to later on with the membership to be asked.  So the category probably needs a separate vote on whether that is to be added in or not.


The same thing was raised at the AGM re a YA award which Lou mentioned below. The AGM said that the idea would be discussed further and put to the membership - so is this not then happening? Is the Committee changing the decision of the AGM? (which isn't allowed). Or has the proposer (who was Lou I think) changed their mind and has, post AGM, withdrawn the proposal?


David

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Offline charlesrudkin

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #52 on: November 27, 2011, 05:12:09 pm »
Hopefully as Del said earlier, these points will be taken on board. Clearly, the update needs some revisions if some of the information is inaccurate.

Offline LouM

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #53 on: November 27, 2011, 05:37:13 pm »

The same thing was raised at the AGM re a YA award which Lou mentioned below. The AGM said that the idea would be discussed further and put to the membership - so is this not then happening? Is the Committee changing the decision of the AGM? (which isn't allowed). Or has the proposer (who was Lou I think) changed their mind and has, post AGM, withdrawn the proposal?



Yes, David, that was me  :)

I'm not quite sure how the discussions among the Awards working party played out - I'm sure it will have been considered at that level, at least - although I don't know how that fits into what had already been discussed in terms of the AGM.

It may well be that it was felt there were already too many awards - and I know a few people have commented on that online - and another one would be impractical at the moment; or perhaps everyone thought that YA was represented strongly enough by awards outside the BFS...

Personally, I would still love to see provision for a YA & children's award at least considered, but I can imagine the focus at the moment needs to be on the bigger picture.


Offline Rolnikov

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #54 on: November 27, 2011, 06:32:59 pm »
I've suggested on my blog that members vote against these proposals unless at least some of these problems are fixed. Sorry about that, but in summary they seem rushed and badly thought-out, and if they go into effect in this form I think they're likely to cause more problems than they'll solve. Rather than rush into something we'll regret, I think we should reject these proposals and let the incoming committee make any changes they feel are necessary.

I should mention that Graham has called me a liar several times on Facebook for raising the points I've made above in this thread. Obviously that's left me rather unhappy, but more importantly it doesn't give me much confidence that anyone is giving the points made in this thread any serious consideration. (To put it mildly!)

Offline charlesrudkin

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #55 on: November 27, 2011, 07:07:57 pm »
I am not sure that I will go as far as voting against the first resolution - I have already decided to vote against the second - but the fact that I'm considering it disturbs me. However, I am sure that people's concerns being aired here will be taken on board and reflected in what will actually be voted on members. Any proper democratic process allows for amendment and alternatives to be put forward.  I know the timetable is tight but I believe that allowing a jury to remove a book because of canvassing, and even more so on the suspicion of canvassing because of a subjective judgement on the quality of an entry, is a train wreck waiting to happen. Just as the FPTP system for choosing awards and rules allowing the awards administrator to be eligible for an award. Both those rules were in place for years and while not a mention to be made was made of the conflict on interest of the latter, there have been murmurings about canvassing for decades. The controversy this year was new only in its intensity, and because the institutional flaws it highlighted became impossible to ignore if we were to be taken seriously by the wider community.

And here's a final point. This is nothing to do about morality and probity. Nobody here, I hope, is questioning the honesty and moral worthiness of anybody. Promoting your work, or supporting your mates is not not vile act of corruption. Hell, I don't even think  that actively getting people to vote for you in an award is unethical unless it is expressly forbidden, which it isn't. I have know people to do this at the nomination stage for the BFSA longlist, all of them worthy individuals. I think they are mistaken to do it because it defeats the purpose of a award which is to try, with all the subjective pitfalls and caveats, to pick the best work in any given year. Which of course of goes on to diminish the value of the award in the eyes of outsider.

No, I don't think any of the above is unethical but meeting in secret with no right of defence or reply on the part of  the accused  and then   throw out a work on the suspicion that there has been canvassing with the only evidence being  that you think the work is shit most certainly is.  
« Last Edit: November 27, 2011, 07:10:14 pm by charlesrudkin »

Offline David A. Riley

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #56 on: November 27, 2011, 08:01:41 pm »
I've suggested on my blog that members vote against these proposals unless at least some of these problems are fixed. Sorry about that, but in summary they seem rushed and badly thought-out, and if they go into effect in this form I think they're likely to cause more problems than they'll solve. Rather than rush into something we'll regret, I think we should reject these proposals and let the incoming committee make any changes they feel are necessary.

I should mention that Graham has called me a liar several times on Facebook for raising the points I've made above in this thread. Obviously that's left me rather unhappy, but more importantly it doesn't give me much confidence that anyone is giving the points made in this thread any serious consideration. (To put it mildly!)

Thanks for stating things with your usual clarity and precision, Stephen. After having studied your points, I would certainly be voting no too.

Offline charlesrudkin

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #57 on: November 27, 2011, 08:10:56 pm »
I admit to a little confusion here about how the new system of recommendations differs from the longlist. Isn't it just a longlist by another name? 

Offline charlesrudkin

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #58 on: November 27, 2011, 08:17:43 pm »
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?

Offline GaryC

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #59 on: November 28, 2011, 08:15:36 am »
Screenplay
Eligibility:  a screenplay for TV, Film or Electronic Broadcast released in the English language in any part of the world during the relevant year.

Just a note about this one - a motion was passed near unanimously at the 2009 AGM to say that television programmes should only be eligible from the year they were legally available in the UK (i.e. broadcast here, available on DVD, available to import on DVD, available to buy on iTunes, etc).

The idea was to avoid a situation where we were giving nominations to programmes that people could only have watched in the year of eligibility via torrenting. A lot of people strongly felt that the BFS shouldn't be seen to endorse illegal filesharing.

I was one of the few who voted against it (we have US members, after all), but this was a really hot potato at the time, so you might want to consider keeping that rule.

Also, this wording excludes foreign-language TV and film. So no Spanish/Mexican ghost stories, no intense French horrors, no Studio Ghibli animations etc?

Case in point. The original Danish The Killing (Forbrydelsen) was one of the TV events of the year for me. (Okay, it's crime rather than fantasy or horror, but bear with me.) But it was originally broadcast in 2007, so not eligible? It hadn't been shown in any English-speaking territories until 2010 (when Australian TV showed it), so not eligible? And even when you accept that it wasn't available in the UK until 2011 (TV broadcast and DVD release) is it still not eligible because it's in Danish with English subtitles?

Also, why has the wordcount boundary between short stories and novellas been changed to 15,000 words from 10,000 words? When the novella category was introduced, we deliberately used the same boundaries (10,000 words, 40,000 words between novella and novel) as the World Fantasy Award does, and I don't see a good reason for changing it.

Naming a YA award after Diana Wynne Jones is fine by me. Though I'd also like YA and children's work to be eligible for Best Novel or Best Novella as well. (E.g. Patrick Ness's A Monster Calls, which is 33,000 words, would qualify as a novella if it made next year's shortlist.)

I don't like having separate horror and fantasy novel awards. Where does science fiction go? What about non-genre novels with fantasy, magic-realist, and other non-mimetic elements?

I do intend to be at the EGM, by the way.