Author Topic: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires  (Read 65155 times)

Gary Couzens

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #180 on: August 22, 2006, 06:36:20 pm »
Some thoughts from a former Chairman and Awards Administrator...

I've nothing against naming an award after the late David Gemmell, but I would be against splitting the novel category, even into Fantasy and Horror. What do you do with works that don't fit neatly into either category? Not all fantasy is *heroic* fantasy, so why should that subset of the genre be singled out? And what do we do with science fiction, as that does get occasionally recommended and nominated?

I'd also rather not do away with the novella category, as I voted for it and it's only run one year so far! I don't think short stories and novellas are equvalent, though it would be difficult to draw a dividing line between them. But for awards reasons we do - at 10,000 words, the same as the World Fantasy Awards do.

There was a Best Newcomer (the Icarus Award) in the early 1990s, but if I remember (I wasn't on the Committee then but did attend AGMs) there was some confusion as to who qualified as a "newcomer". The last winner was Poppy Z. Brite who had had been published for years. The award was replaced with the current Special Award when Karl Edward Wagner died. And KEW had more claim to longterm involvement with the BFS than David Gemmell had.

As for Terry Pratchett, Robert Jordan, James Herbert or indeed David Gemmell, when they published novels they were eligible for the awards. If they weren't nominated, that's because people didn't wish to vote for them. They have no more right than anyone else to be nominated or to win. In fact, James Herbert had his one and only nomination to date two years ago.

What I like about the current system is that everything which is eligible gets on the voting form. Yes, you will get some strange choices, but you will get some interesting stuff that may have been otherwise overlooked. The only eligibility is for publication date: it's not up to the Awards Admin to decide if something "belongs" in the genre (and we have had arguments about certain works in the past, as to whether they are really fantasy or horror). Then again, if you don't think something on the form is worthy of the award, don't vote for it.

To answer one of Stan's questions about awards procedure, the Awards Admin can recommend works (and I did do that) but is not allowed to vote. If there is a tie, then the President has a casting vote - this didn't happen in my four years as Awards Admin, though there were a few categories decided by a single voting point. Apart from that, the President just has a single vote, the same as any other BFS member. The Awards Admin can call on other people to check the recommendations list for any errors and for eligibility - I did do this myself, and this year I performed this function for Dave Sutton.

The drawback of allowing Fantasycon members who aren't also BFS members to have a vote is that the award plaques are made and engraved in advance of the convention. However, I'm sure there is a way around this if needs be - award a plaqueless award and hand out the plaques later?

The BFS Council idea. Don't like it - it seems elitist. Are pro writers necessarily gifted with wisdom? All that means is that you are lucky/talented/perseverant/hack (delete as applicable, and I'm not aiming this at anyone) enough to have a deal with a major publisher. That would exclude quite a few big names who are published in the UK by PS, Immanion and other independents. And it's safe to say that major book deals are for novels - why exclude short story writers? Drawing distinctions like this reminds me of the badge colour-coding system that Fantasycon had in the early nineties when I first attended - to distinguish between "professional guests" and "other guests". I hated that system, and I'm glad it was scrapped. If we do have a Council (and what's wrong with a committee anyway?) it would need to be made up of volunteers anyway - we all have demands on our time after all.

David Lee Stone

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #181 on: August 22, 2006, 07:17:08 pm »
Hey Gary

Welcome to the debate. You might want to pop over to the David Gemmell Award thread and/or copy your post over there, as the discussion has shifted to the Writers/Artists section.

Offline Stan Nicholls

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #182 on: August 22, 2006, 08:44:32 pm »
Gary - I've taken the liberty of copying your post to the thread about a possible David Gemmell award in the Writers/Artists section.  Given your experience in these matters, and how pertinent some of your points are, I think they should be seen in the context of that discussion.

Hope you don't mind.