Author Topic: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires  (Read 65114 times)

David Lee Stone

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #75 on: August 17, 2006, 11:40:24 am »
Incidentally, here's the synopsis:

Thunk Nuggit, barbarian warrior of the Lobstrand Wastes, is BACK. Faced with dental-problems and wracked by a degenerative, enchanted
form of OCD, he's about to take on the Diamondback Death Dragon of Hot Shallow Vale.

Can he overcome his anxiety in order to defeat the beast? Of course he can! (touch wood, touch wood, touch wood....)

Offline Lermontov

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #76 on: August 17, 2006, 11:53:08 am »
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The British Dark Fantasy and Horror Society (dark logo - pref by Les E or JK Potter)

With respect, David, that's a terrible title. It's narrow and prescriptive. And just exactly what IS 'Dark Fantasy'? You ask a dozen people who like Fantasy and six of them will give you six different answers, the other six won't be able to give an answer! Like the term 'Speculative Fiction'.

I've already raised the issue of the website on the AGM thread and I appreciate that the revamp will be done on someone's own personal time, for the love of it. The site needs a major revamp. That's my opinion and well, there you go.

I did quite recently try to help getting things going with a prominent monthly magazine I have a tentative contact with, that undoubtedly has a lot of readers who are into Fantasy, Horror and SF. It would be a good place to advertise. It couldn't be done because finances didn't allow as the FCon had already been put into place with all the funding that requires. With the increase in membership this year (and this is surely mainly due to the stellar and cult names line-up, for which the committee are to be hugely congratulated) perhaps there may be more money for advertising to help spread the word.

There is nothing wrong with the existing title of the society but when you come to the website and especially the Forum, the Forum rooms are vague and frankly downright confusing. What sort of logic is there in a thread like this being in the 'Welcome' room? The Forum room headings should be self-explanatory with one sentence at most if there must be to explain what you will find on entering it. Forum rooms with headings : Horror Writing; Fantasy Writing will probably increase the traffic on the Forums ten-fold in a very short space of time. You don't have long to grab somebody's attention on the internet.

Now I think it's clear that this thread is laced with some flamey and long-standing personal beefs (and I hope the first part of this sentence will not be a gulp of oxygen for that) but it has exacerbated a flurry of activity of defense and counterpoint. On one level that's a good thing but it has taken something like this to bring the site to life (and I've probably posted as much as anyone here in the last year - and that isn't that much - putting aside the committee posting info).

First impressions are everything on the Net.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2006, 11:54:50 am by Lermontov »

Offline Jen

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #77 on: August 17, 2006, 12:24:34 pm »

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I've always found it whimsical that a society with fantasy in the title is made of predominantly horror-type folks

Is it though?  See, I'd still like to find out how, specifically, people are getting the impression that we're predom. horror...
From the membership database, we have a healthy balance between horror and fantasy professionals (and those dancing the genres in between and around..) ... so is it down to who you find hanging around at an Fcon or open night?  Or who's the most vocal?  Or are we missing something blatantly obvious?  And how do we go about making the fantasy portion more visible?

 

David Lee Stone

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #78 on: August 17, 2006, 12:55:52 pm »
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The British Dark Fantasy and Horror Society (dark logo - pref by Les E or JK Potter)

With respect, David, that's a terrible title. It's narrow and prescriptive. And just exactly what IS 'Dark Fantasy'? You ask a dozen people who like Fantasy and six of them will give you six different answers, the other six won't be able to give an answer! Like the term 'Speculative Fiction'.

I'm very shocked, Lemontov.....you have RESPECT for me?? ;D






 

Offline Jen

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #79 on: August 17, 2006, 01:00:38 pm »
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I'm working on a page-length cartoon-script series

I think that comes under Dark Horizons' new remit, though...  ;)  Will check...

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Why don't we have an honorary committee balanced EVENLY among fantasy and horror authors - THAT way, us fantasy guys could contribute a lot more - and maybe even advertise the Society better on our respective sites

Oh lordy, more committees  ;D  Seriously though, we do have various authors/editors/publishers of both sorts (and those in between) who have always made it quite clear than anything we need, all we have to do is say... everybody is very willing to help out with distributing fliers/general publicising/throwing in helpful suggestions about what we could be doing to run various things a bit better... (like short breaks between panels at Fcon... which we're doing this year...)
 And we get some very helpful conversations at Open Nights and Fcons with assorted folks... (so, if you've got a beef, tell us!)  ;)
 
We've had one (rather lovely  :D  ) fantasy/horror/crime author offer to help us out with any funding applications... now the trick is to find something to make a funding application for... maybe try and work it in for an Fcon so we can go for a more expensive venue (ie, one that's centre of city based) without totally killing the usual shoestring budget...

How would you be wanting something like the mass mind thing to work?  Email list type thing? 


(on another tangent...)  ;D
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But agree with you about the ad-rates, but then the magazine is probably bloody expensive to produce, even with 30,000 odd paying for it.

Oh yeah, granted.  And if we could afford to do it, we would get in there...   I think, at the moment, we could try the sneaky way in and get some line ad announcements in their back section... That might start things off...
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I know Steve Upham's going to FCon - his pdf e-zine Estronomicon looks lovely. Maybe worth a chat...

I've found a printer here that can do a saddle-stitched perfect-bound 32pp A5 glossy-cover booklet, at just over a ?1/copy (@ 200 copies). I'll be giving them a call myself...

Right.. will make a note to grab Steve then...  also, if you can bung us the printers details, we'll have a shuftie... cheers!

C.R. Barker

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #80 on: August 17, 2006, 02:10:46 pm »
I actually read both Interzone and SFX. I write horror but I publish fantasy, science fiction, horror and military thrillers. So there is some diversity out there! Huge SF fan, even have an MA degree in SF.

Jon

(Abaddon Books and 2000 AD Graphic Novels Editor)

Impressive qualification!

If the BFS ever do appoint awards judges, you'd surely be a very strong candidate for representing the fantasy genre. It's rare to find a genre writer with so pertinent an academic background.

CB

David Lee Stone

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #81 on: August 17, 2006, 02:57:45 pm »
I'll second that. Jon has just become the ONLY person I've ever known to have an MA in sf.

And I'm speaking as someone who knows.....oh......three, maybe even four people.

Offline Stan Nicholls

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #82 on: August 17, 2006, 04:10:28 pm »
Two issues are getting entangled here, and it?s not helpful.

No one should need reminding of Ramsey?s qualities as a writer and as a man. 
In my experience, almost universally people regard him with respect and affection.
He?s served the BFS well down the years and is a fine ambassador for the cause.  I?d be sorry to see him resign as President because of criticisms that so far seem to be a minority opinion.  If there really is a groundswell of dissatisfaction with his presidency, the critics should put up their own candidate for the position and let the membership decide.  As a general point on the role of President, there might be an argument for holding elections, say every four years, to let members express validation or censure.  As things stand, I?d vote for Ramsey. 

I?m much more interested in, and sympathetic with, Davey Stone?s comments; and it would be a shame if what he?s saying was interpreted as just knocking the present administration.  We all know that the folk who run the BFS and Fantasycon are hard working, dedicated and often unappreciated.  They put in the hours unpaid and usually get more brickbats than bouquets for their trouble.  I, for one, am grateful for that.  But it seems to me that what Davey?s talking about is how the wider world perceives the BFS and Fantasycon.  And I can back him on this.  Whether you like it or not, and no matter how hard the committee?s trying to change things, there?s a broadly held view that the Society and Fantasycon are almost exclusively concerned with horror.  It may well be unjust, but it?s a fact.  I hear it all the time from readers, commentators on the field, publishers, agents and other authors.  They could be basing their opinion on how things maybe were historically, but that doesn?t change how they feel. 

I was talking to a successful German author a few months ago who?d just guested at his country?s annual fantasy convention.  He told me, with embarrassment, that there were ?only? 6000 attendees.  ?I?m sure you get many more at your British equivalent,? he said, and was amazed to hear we attracted less than 300.  He?d never heard of the BFS or Fantasycon.  I was a GoH myself at Elf Fantasy Fair in Holland in May.  Attendance: 33,000.  The organisers had heard about Fantasycon.  ?But it?s all about horror,? they stated as a matter of fact.  I suggested it might be mutually beneficial to exchange ads with the BFS/Fantasycon.  Elf Fantasy Fair had attendees from all across Europe, including Germany, France and Russia, so it?s not unreasonable to think some of them would be interested in visiting England for our annual event.  The organisers duly wrote, proposing reciprocal advertising.  They tell me they?re still waiting for a reply.  I could tell similar stories about conventions I know of in other European countries, some of which I?ve attended..  They get excellent turn-outs, and would be good places to reach potential Fantasycon attendees.  But they either have no knowledge of the BFS/Fantasycon, until I tell them, or regard them as being ?all about horror?.  Somebody in this thread mentioned that there was no BFS presence at Worldcon in Glasgow last August, the biggest fan/professional gathering in the UK for years.  Are opportunities to increase membership being taken?

This might sound paradoxical, but I happen to be someone who draws few distinctions between categories of speculative fiction.  I see them all as expressions of the creative imagination, and am as happy reading science fiction and horror as fantasy or graphic novels.  I?m not knocking horror, is what I?m trying to say; and it should definitely have its place in both the Society and Fantasycon.  What needs changing is the notion, held by many, that horror is all this organisation truly cares about.  I?m not sure that?s going to be achieved by tinkering with the BFS?s name or its logo. 

Several people here have mentioned that the recipients of British Fantasy Awards give the lie to there being a bias towards horror.  Here?s a list of last year?s winners:                                 

Best Novel (The August Derleth Award):
Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower by Stephen King
Best Novella:
Breathe by Christopher Fowler
Best Short Fiction:
'Black Static' by Paul Meloy
Best Collection:
Out of His Mind by Stephen Gallagher
Best Anthology:
The Alsiso Project ed. by Andrew Hook
Best Artist:
Les Edwards
Best Small Press:
Elastic Press, prop. Andrew Hook
Special Award (Karl Edward Wagner Award):
Nigel Kneale

What do they all have in common?  Don?t get me wrong - there isn?t anybody in the above I don?t value and respect; but what impression to you think such a line-up gives, other than the awards are solely concerned with horror?  You?ll argue that the committee?s hands are tied, and that they can only operate on the basis of what members nominate and vote for; but isn?t it possible that there?s an element of
self-perpetuation here?  A majority of people who vote favour horror, it seems, so horror wins the awards.  With the result that the impression that horror is all it?s about is further reinforced.  A few years ago an eminent editor remarked to me that, ?The BFA?s are just about a small clique of horror fans giving each other awards.?   No amount of arguing on my part could change that editor?s opinion.  Maybe because my heart wasn?t in it.       

One way of giving the awards more gravitas would be to publish how many votes are cast in each category.  Is it true that some entries receive votes in single figures?  When two nominations tie, who decides which one wins, and how?  Why are the members given only one opportunity to vote, on the long list?  Why isn?t the shortlist open for voting on?  More transparency would help.

I think Davey?s idea for a David Gemmell Memorial Award is excellent, and if adopted would help redress that perceived imbalance.  But ? and I have to say this - when Dave died a couple of weeks ago, what was the reaction from the British Fantasy Society?  An item on its website?  A mention in the email newsletter that went out a week after the event?  No.  A special email was eventually sent out, briefly stating the fact that he?d died and linking to obituaries, but only after prompting by several authors who felt it was merited.  And how many messages are there in this forum about Gemmell?s passing?  One, from a member.  With no replies.  Gemmell was one of the world?s bestselling fantasy authors, and an enormous influence on writers in the genre and millions of readers.  If he didn?t warrant the attention of the BFS, who does?  Whereas, if a prominent horror author had died ?

I?ve taken more than enough space in this forum, and some of you might think that what I?ve said is contentious.  But I wouldn?t have bothered if I didn?t care.

SN
                       
         

 

 


DFL

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #83 on: August 17, 2006, 04:20:25 pm »
As a non-member, I hope I can comment.

I was a member once.

I left mainly for two reasons:

(i) My interests changed and I did not see BFS central to them any more.  My fault.  Not that of the BFS.

(ii) I started a journal with large investment of time and money publishing stories by BFS members and others and featuring the sort of material that would appeal to BFS members.  It was largely ignored by the BFS.

I always saw the BFS as a niche Horror society.  If the BFS isn't that, there should be one.  I still think it is, actually, a niche Horror society and you have lots to thank Ramsey C and Steve J for.  Great men, both.


Re the BFS Awards - as an outsider trying to get material considered properly - I saw two problems (still do):

(a) Getting stuff on the long voting lists (recommendations).  Nemo 4 (its many original stories and quality packaging) was missed off these lists completely and anyone who saw Nemo 4 agreed this fact was scandalous.  There should at least be an Oversight Committee, I feel.

(b) Getting stuff (previously 'recommended' as in (a)) considered properly by the jury.  I do believe that each member of the jury do not read everything on the voting lists.  Again I feel this is scandalous.  (This is why I offered to send a free copy of Nemo 5 to each member of the jury).  For 'jury', please read whatever you want it to be.  If it happens to be a select group or all the members, fair enough.

des


David Lee Stone

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #84 on: August 17, 2006, 04:26:38 pm »
I hope the Nicholls post is taken on board and read VERY carefully. Stan obviously speaks from some experience, and I don't think ANY of the above opinions can be interpreted as an 'attack' on the society.

Change is a good thing, sometimes.......REALLY it is.

« Last Edit: August 17, 2006, 04:31:37 pm by David Lee Stone »

Offline Marie O'Regan

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #85 on: August 17, 2006, 05:14:07 pm »
Stan,

First of all, thank you for posting. I agree that Ramsey's Presidency isn't really the issue at the heart of this, and that the AGM is the proper place for that to be addressed. The fact that my own wish is for Ramsey to continue is already stated on this board.

With regards to the main bulk of your post, I am the first to agree that perception is the problem - I have stated as much myself. I agree that there were quite a few horror related awards last year - though not all of them - but that is how the membership voted. In other years there has been a significant Fantasy showing, and I hope that there's a wide range represented again in this year's Awards. Your comments re: voting numbers etc. are noted, and your questions are valid ones, but I feel this should also be raised at the AGM as David Sutton, as Awards Administrator, is the only person who knows this information so I cannot comment on numbers with any accuracy. To do so would be wrong.

Again, the matter of a David Gemmell memorial Award is one that can be discussed at the AGM - but the following should be taken into consideration:
1. Budget - there is a finite budget for Awards, so we have to be sure the money is available.
2. What would this Award be for? I've already argued against splitting the Best Novel into Fantasy and Horror categories as it's divisive, and also any number of authors fall somewhat in between the two categories. If you could suggest a category, please do, and it can be discussed at the AGM in the proper manner.

As regards the Newsfeed error, which was unfortunate - Vicky has already apologised to me for this, and I have apologised to Juliet McKenna and David Howe,  the people who emailed me about it. Vicky put that particular Newsfeed together the night before going on holiday and in the rush to get everything done, simply forgot. It's unfortunate, but everyone makes mistakes, and I accept her apology totally. As soon as I was made aware of the oversight (I hadn't at that point had a chance to read the Newsfeed myself) I put out a special Newsfeed, as you've said. If it had been a horror author, I'm sure the same thing would have happened. Vicky herself is firmly a fantasy fan, and doesn't personally like horror. As to posts on the Boards, the Committee spend time on the boards where they can, but as you've said, we're all very busy and have jobs and famillies, and can't always spend much time here. If no one replied to the posts on the Board that really is unfortunate, but is a matter for members who frequent the Boards and normally post.

Des: re your comments on Nemo - we have a thread devoted to BFS Awards recommendations where people can make material available, which as you say, you have done - we cannot, however, control who wishes to avail themselves of this material. A large number of Nemo readers are probably already BFS members, this would account for lack of response. Ultimately, it is up to members to recommend and nominate, not the Committee. And it is the membership who decide who wins. I do believe this is the right way for things to be done, although the procedure can of course, as I keep saying, be discussed at the AGM. If Nemo was left off of the recommendations list it is unfortunate, but it is not for me to comment on why people vote for a certain author/artist/magazine. I do feel it is unfair to assume members do not take their voting seriously. The BFS is not a niche horror society, it encompasses all aspects of the genre, and always strives to maintain a balance. Again, this is a problem of perception, which we constantly try to address, although given the amount of fantasy guests and material we do put out I feel it is an unfair perception.

Dave, I would never take anything Stan says as an attack on the Society. He has been enormously helpful to us in the past, and I hope he will continue to be so. He is a highly respected and valued member of the BFS.

DFL

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #86 on: August 17, 2006, 05:20:47 pm »
Marie, that is a very fair response to what I (as an outsider) said. Thanks.
des

Offline Marie O'Regan

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #87 on: August 17, 2006, 05:24:05 pm »
You're very welcome, Des. Nemo is a very good magazine, and I don't know why it wasn't recommended. I hope you continue to produce the magazine in the future, as I know at times you have considered not doing so.

Best wishes

David Lee Stone

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #88 on: August 17, 2006, 05:26:55 pm »
How about this:

Best HEROIC Fantasy novel.......in memory of David Gemmell (who wrote.........HEROIC fantasy).
Best HORROR/DARK FANTASY Novel

What in the name of sanity is WRONG with that??????????????????

« Last Edit: August 17, 2006, 05:28:49 pm by David Lee Stone »

Offline Jen

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #89 on: August 17, 2006, 05:37:39 pm »
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I was talking to a successful German author a few months ago who?d just guested at his country?s annual fantasy convention.  He told me, with embarrassment, that there were ?only? 6000 attendees.  ?I?m sure you get many more at your British equivalent,? he said, and was amazed to hear we attracted less than 300.  He?d never heard of the BFS or Fantasycon.  I was a GoH myself at Elf Fantasy Fair in Holland in May.  Attendance: 33,000. 

Gosh.  That's just... scary.  How on earth do they manage that?

Quote
The organisers had heard about Fantasycon.  ?But it?s all about horror,? they stated as a matter of fact.  I suggested it might be mutually beneficial to exchange ads with the BFS/Fantasycon.  Elf Fantasy Fair had attendees from all across Europe, including Germany, France and Russia, so it?s not unreasonable to think some of them would be interested in visiting England for our annual event.  The organisers duly wrote, proposing reciprocal advertising.  They tell me they?re still waiting for a reply.

I remember them asking about press passes and interviews.. (which we definitely did reply to...)  don't remember anything about advertising though...


Quote
Somebody in this thread mentioned that there was no BFS presence at Worldcon in Glasgow last August, the biggest fan/professional gathering in the UK for years.  Are opportunities to increase membership being taken?

Presence at other events is something we've been discussing as a committee recently.  It's a question of who has the time and can afford to go to things.  Ideally we'd have a table of some sorts, give the BFS Special Pubs an airing to a new audience as well as touting BFS and Fcon...  We've had people like Chris T. and Juliet McK kindly offer to take fliers to events we can't get to which is greatly appreciated.
And, as mentioned elsewhere, we are trying all sorts to get an increase in membership... and it's happening slowly.  But if you've thoughts on any specific things we can be doing, please let us know... we'll try anything  :D


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What needs changing is the notion, held by many, that horror is all this organisation truly cares about.  I?m not sure that?s going to be achieved by tinkering with the BFS?s name or its logo.

Agreed.  So what do we do?  Raise the profile generally?  Give extra emphasis to the activities with fantasy leanings?  Extra events elsewhere?  This is the ideal opportunity to put together some solid plans to improve things so, folks, don't be shy...     


Quote
I think Davey?s idea for a David Gemmell Memorial Award is excellent, and if adopted would help redress that perceived imbalance.  But ? and I have to say this - when Dave died a couple of weeks ago, what was the reaction from the British Fantasy Society?  An item on its website?  A mention in the email newsletter that went out a week after the event?  No.  A special email was eventually sent out, briefly stating the fact that he?d died and linking to obituaries, but only after prompting by several authors who felt it was merited. 

... and we've also got a couple of pieces about him going in the Fantasycon souvenir programme mag, plus a piece in the next Prism (which, actually, I needed to email you about if you don't mind...)


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And how many messages are there in this forum about Gemmell?s passing?  One, from a member.  With no replies. 

Yeah, but that one you need to look at in context of activity of the forum in general.  Generally, not a lot of people post... this topic is the most activity the forum has had in a very long while... and I can't remember seeing any other threads started for any other deceased authors (inc. Ken Bulmer who was BFS president)  ... so Gemmell's actually ahead there...


Quote
Gemmell was one of the world?s bestselling fantasy authors, and an enormous influence on writers in the genre and millions of readers.  If he didn?t warrant the attention of the BFS, who does?  Whereas, if a prominent horror author had died ?

... they'd get the same treatment.  People send us obits, we publish them.  They don't, we can't.  We need more active input from people to properly cover everything we should be covering, no matter what it is, as there's a limit to how much we can do & think about at the same time...         

Keep the comments coming please...  ;D