Author Topic: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires  (Read 64142 times)

Offline Jen

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #15 on: August 16, 2006, 12:13:22 pm »
...hmm, actually, yeah, that would open it up a bit, having both BFS members & Fcon attendees... and it'd be an easy enough thing to implement should the consensus agree... 

Only problem I can see is that lots of Fcon people leave their booking to the last minute (this is why we're all going prematurely grey...) and so would either miss the initial recommendation process or would miss the voting deadline...

For clarification of ChrisB's post (cos I forgot to mention it in my other post... having a slow brain day today...)... are you proposing, then, that we automatically exclude anyone currently serving on the BFS/Fcon committee from eligibilty in the awards.  (But the Prism/DH columnists & section editors are still eligible, as are people who have previously served but are not currently involved...).


David Lee Stone

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #16 on: August 16, 2006, 02:15:44 pm »
This is a very interesting topic.

Re: Membership
Personally, I know an awful lot of fantasy fans who avoid the BFS altogether because they believe it to be a society entirely devoted to horror and horror writers (and let's face it, they're not a million miles out....)

It is my personal opinion, as a published author of fantasy fiction, that the BFS should run/establish a British Fantasy Award FOR British FANTASY novels in all categories. That way, some of the many thousands of fantasy fans in the UK might actually bother to join the society and vote for their favourites.

I mean, fine, you have Juliet E. McKenna and Raymond E. Feist as guests of honour this year. That is terrific, but wouldn't it be even BETTER if they were presenting awards to new and upcoming FANTASY authors? Fine to have Best Novel awards for Horror (and admittedly the Best Short Story / Anthology categories would HAVE to be for horror) but......fantasy, anyone?

Here's an idea.....what about an award in memory of DAVID GEMMELL - arguably the most original and successful British heroic-fantasy author of our age?

I am in the process of a series of discussions to take over from Robert Parkinson as BFS secretary after September, and I FULLY SUPPORT the idea that BFS committee members (only) should be excluded from the vote and the voting.

After all, I think we can all agree that the BFS should have an awful lot more members - perhaps we need to start looking at why it doesn't.

If I'm ABSOLUTELY honest, I DID quit the society back in 1998 - when I was a struggling writer aged 19 - because it seemed to me at the time like a very clicky, guess-who-has-won-this-year-again kind of organization. I'm all for bringing a big hammer down on THAT situation.


David Lee Stone
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C.R. Barker

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #17 on: August 16, 2006, 02:54:53 pm »
...hmm, actually, yeah, that would open it up a bit, having both BFS members & Fcon attendees... and it'd be an easy enough thing to implement should the consensus agree...?

Only problem I can see is that lots of Fcon people leave their booking to the last minute (this is why we're all going prematurely grey...) and so would either miss the initial recommendation process or would miss the voting deadline...

For clarification of ChrisB's post (cos I forgot to mention it in my other post... having a slow brain day today...)... are you proposing, then, that we automatically exclude anyone currently serving on the BFS/Fcon committee from eligibilty in the awards.? (But the Prism/DH columnists & section editors are still eligible, as are people who have previously served but are not currently involved...).



I'm not entirely sure what I am suggesting to be honest! I just think that there are some flaws with the existing system, the biggest two perhaps being that 1) the big-name nominees gain a wider audience because they are printed in bigger numbers (thus making it a contest based upon circulation fugures rather than talent); and 2) that the big-name nominees will benefit more from unqualifed votes than the lesser-known ones (by 'unqualified' I refer to the practise of voters just voting for someone famous they have heard of even if they haven't read the work in question).

In a previous life I worked on the award of a ten-year multi-million pound contract; we had to design a very sophisticated model which could be used for calculating which of the bidders should win. Every aspect of service provision had to be numerically quantifiable. Applying the same criteria to the genre awards system, I came up with this model:

http://hauntedriver.co.uk/page23.html

As you can see, it eliminates the need for a general vote because a panel of experts would evaluate the entries (their decision-making would be transparent so they would have to justify their decisions). It also incorporates a self-regulating adjustment to help redress the issue of big-name advantage. Imperfect as the model is, I still think that by using something like that the system would be much fairer. Instead of relying upon a crude popularity contest, the grass-roots members could nominate the works they felt most deserving, and then an elected panel of judges could consider each entry based upon the criteria laid down in any model.

By employing a system along these lines, the nominees would feel reassured that the process was fair and the judges would feel less pressurised and might even find their task much easier. It would also allow everybody to enter, and because the points scoring would be published, the process by which the final decisions are arrived at would be transparent and openly accountable.

Thoughts?














 

 


C.R. Barker

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #18 on: August 16, 2006, 03:03:00 pm »

If I'm ABSOLUTELY honest, I DID quit the society back in 1998 - when I was a struggling writer aged 19 - because it seemed to me at the time like a very clicky, guess-who-has-won-this-year-again kind of organization. I'm all for bringing a big hammer down on THAT situation.


David Lee Stone
http://www.illmoorchronicles.com





Heh, heh, heh.....I attended a BFS convention in the mid to late 90s myself and was appalled at how cliquey it was. I decided not to join the BFS at that time for that very reason. There was a loud circle of self-important BFS cronies who were just there to promote their own careers whilst schmoozing the few agents and publishers who had been duped into attending. Fans and budding writers were treated as second-class citizens.

A few years later I discovered that BFS founder (?) Keith Walker had resigned in disgust for the very same reasons...read his original condemnation for yourself:

http://groups.google.co.uk/group/alt.horror.creative/msg/949c5066c7f7b0e7

Hopefully the times they are a changing.....









Offline Jen

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #19 on: August 16, 2006, 03:42:50 pm »
Quote
Re: Membership
Personally, I know an awful lot of fantasy fans who avoid the BFS altogether because they believe it to be a society entirely devoted to horror and horror writers (and let's face it, they're not a million miles out....)

Now that one always strikes me as bizarre when I hear it, as my inclinations are more towards the fantasy side of things than the horror side. 
And as an interesting side note - we've also had a lot of complaints from horror fans saying that we're *too* fantasy...   ::)


With Fcon, we always try and get a fantasy/horror balance for guests and panels and always get the same complaints from both fanbases...
 
Quote
It is my personal opinion, as a published author of fantasy fiction, that the BFS should run/establish a British Fantasy Award FOR British FANTASY novels in all categories. That way, some of the many thousands of fantasy fans in the UK might actually bother to join the society and vote for their favourites.

I mean, fine, you have Juliet E. McKenna and Raymond E. Feist as guests of honour this year. That is terrific, but wouldn't it be even BETTER if they were presenting awards to new and upcoming FANTASY authors? Fine to have Best Novel awards for Horror (and admittedly the Best Short Story / Anthology categories would HAVE to be for horror) but......fantasy, anyone?

Erm... the Best Novel (and other awards) are for both fantasy and horror titles... and we do get plenty of each nominated for each category... just seems to be the horror titles that get the most votes...     

Quote
Here's an idea.....what about an award in memory of DAVID GEMMELL - arguably the most original and successful British heroic-fantasy author of our age?

Raise it at the AGM!  (Actually, do I remember you saying you couldn't make it this year?)  What category, potentially, could it be for?  Are you proposing, for example, splitting the Best Novel into Best Horror Novel and Best Fantasy Novel?


Quote
I am in the process of a series of discussions to take over from Robert Parkinson as BFS secretary after September, and I FULLY SUPPORT the idea that BFS committee members (only) should be excluded from the vote and the voting.

Make sure you mention it to Marie...

Quote
After all, I think we can all agree that the BFS should have an awful lot more members - perhaps we need to start looking at why it doesn't.

Oh, believe me, that's something we've been doing constantly ever since I can remember... part of it is keeping current members by maintaining a certain level of service   :-[  , part is attracting new members... we have had a distinct rise in memberships this year that has outstripped standard new member sign ups for the last few years... which is great.  We've gone after lapsed members and got a few pick ups from there... we've gotten new members on the strength of various special publications that have come out... (publicity gotten from the authors involved helped with that one, I think...)  We need more exposure across a wider range of genre mouthpieces to get in more members, which we sometimes have trouble sorting out...  Personally, I want to build up Prism a bit, make it worth being a member for...  (so suggestions welcome on that  ;D  )  (though you don't need to mention about regular timing.. know about that one... ;)  )

Also, are there any other services that BFS as an organisation could be offering to make people want to be members.. (keep it clean...  :-* )

Quote
If I'm ABSOLUTELY honest, I DID quit the society back in 1998 - when I was a struggling writer aged 19 - because it seemed to me at the time like a very clicky, guess-who-has-won-this-year-again kind of organization. I'm all for bringing a big hammer down on THAT situation.

Really?  Because I've been here since I was a wee lass of 16 and I've not found that.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2006, 03:49:02 pm by Jen »

David Lee Stone

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #20 on: August 16, 2006, 03:59:44 pm »
Hey Jen

Some good points.

Yes, I absolutely do think the Awards should be split into Fantasy and Horror, if only to give some weight to the outside viewpoint that this IS the British FANTASY Society and it does have some fantasy connection.

If you could bring it up at the AGM, I really would appreciate it.

I agree re: Prism.....but I DO think it's a worthy news source: I always find out a good few things I didn't know in each issue.



Offline Jen

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #21 on: August 16, 2006, 04:04:53 pm »
Quote
I'm not entirely sure what I am suggesting to be honest! I just think that there are some flaws with the existing system, the biggest two perhaps being that 1) the big-name nominees gain a wider audience because they are printed in bigger numbers (thus making it a contest based upon circulation fugures rather than talent); and 2) that the big-name nominees will benefit more from unqualifed votes than the lesser-known ones (by 'unqualified' I refer to the practise of voters just voting for someone famous they have heard of even if they haven't read the work in question).

Do they vote that way though?  Isn't it more likely that people simply don't vote for what they don't know about?  If memory serves, I think we have had people not voting in certain categories because they just hadn't read any collections that year, or didn't feel able to vote, in, say, the artist category or small press category. 

Plus, last year, Elastic Press beat the mass market publishers in the Anthology category... so  smaller circulation items do get through... 

Quote
In a previous life I worked on the award of a ten-year multi-million pound contract; we had to design a very sophisticated model which could be used for calculating which of the bidders should win. Every aspect of service provision had to be numerically quantifiable. Applying the same criteria to the genre awards system, I came up with this model:

http://hauntedriver.co.uk/page23.html

Will check it out.. .

In the meantime, one of the things, as a group, that we've always liked about the awards is that it is voted on by the entire membership instead of a smaller panel of judges... 

Offline Jen

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #22 on: August 16, 2006, 04:13:01 pm »
Quote
Yes, I absolutely do think the Awards should be split into Fantasy and Horror, if only to give some weight to the outside viewpoint that this IS the British FANTASY Society and it does have some fantasy connection.

Rightio... so proposal: Split the August Derleth Best Novel award into 2 awards...  1) August Derleth Best Horror Novel and 2) David Gemmell Best Fantasy Novel

Will make sure it's raised!

David Lee Stone

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #23 on: August 16, 2006, 04:22:57 pm »
Ta, Jen. You're a star.  :)

Offline Marie O'Regan

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #24 on: August 16, 2006, 04:30:04 pm »
I've just read this thread with interest and also, I have to admit, with some concern. The British Fantasy Society was created to celebrate 'ALL ASPECTS of the genre' - that means Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror, Slipstream, and any other subdivision you care to mention, to my mind. Our membership is fairly evenly split between horror and fantasy, and I am convinced that is how it should remain. As a Committee we try to make sure all members are catered for yet inevitably, each publication/event/award will displease someone purely BECAUSE we are so diverse. Take the publications - since Paul Kane took over as Special Publications Editor we have had a fantasy calendar and a horror calendar, Cinema Macabre as a joint venture with PS Publishing (PS Publishing very kindly helped us with the cost of this book, a free one for members), and now BFS: A Celebration, which features stories and reminiscences from all aspects of the genre, and from a very diverse range of authors. Our next publication, which we'll announce when all details are sorted out, isn't horror either. The awards reflect this, to my mind, and showcase all aspects of the genre, both small press and mainstream. Members nominate and recommend anonymously for whoever they wish, and the only person who is aware of how anyone has voted is the Awards Administrator, Dave Sutton, who is the only person not allowed to vote himself. The Committee have no idea how individual members have voted or indeed who the winners are right up to the Awards Ceremony. The only exception to this is the Karl Edward Wagner Award, which is voted for, and awarded by, the Committee. Any Member is free to email the Committee with suggestions for this throughout the year, and at the appropriate time the Committee discuss all suggestions and vote. Again, Dave Sutton isn't allowed to vote or discuss.

I am firmly of the opinion that voting by membership is the correct way to run the Awards, part of the Awards' strength is that they are the opinion of the readers/viewers, and not a decision made by a panel of 'experts'. Further, I do not feel that we should exclude either Committee members or past Committee members from eligibility if members feel they warrant it. To choose otherwise, to my mind, is a form of censorship, and I cannot condone it. Members are free to raise this at the AGM, of course, and I realise mine is only one vote, but I will never personally vote in favour of anything that I see as divisive and elitist. Steve Jones was a very early Committee member, but hasn't been on the Committee for a long time. Ramsey is our President, yes, but as a member he still has only one vote, and is a well-respected and much published author. Both are eminent in their field, and I can't see why they should be penalised for supporting the BFS in this way.

This year's FCON guests are predominantly fantasy. You mention Juliet and Ray, but Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman are also fantasy authors, although possibly of a darker nature. Clive Barker hasn't written out and out horror since Books of Blood in the eighties. We've chosen our guests to provide as wide an appeal as possible, as we always do. Since I've edited Dark Horizons I have tried to maintain this mix, and have published slipstream, horror and fantasy.

I note the suggestion of an award for David Gemmell - this is a good suggestion for next year's Karl Edward Wagner award, so please recommend it as such and it will be considered, along with all other suggestions. I'm sure you'll understand that his death came too close to this year's awards for him to be considered this year.

To summarise, as Jen has said, we are always looking for ways to increase membership, and are seeing some success. This membership, again, is across all aspects of the genre, and we have to try and please a very broad range of people - something we are continually trying to do. As regards the awards, I believe an anonymous vote by members is the fairest and most worthwhile way to vote, and do not believe anyone should be excluded because they happen to voluntarily work to provide news and events for other members, or have done in the past. That side of our lives is separate from the writing side, for those of us involved in that, at least it is in my case, and in my experience.

Offline Ramsey Campbell

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #25 on: August 16, 2006, 04:59:01 pm »
I won't be withdrawing my stuff from eligibility for the BFS awards unless a majority of members at the AGM vote that I should. However, let me announce now that I'll be standing down as President at the forthcoming AGM. If I'm voted back in, fine, but any other nominations?

Paul Kane

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #26 on: August 16, 2006, 05:03:49 pm »
Just to wade in about the Fantasy vs Horror element. Although I'm a horror writer, I've always tried to cater to all genre fans with the Special Publications - to the extent that this year's book contains all three genres: SF, Fantasy and Horror. If that isn't balance I don't know what is. I've always tried to do my best to cater to all members, not just fans of one or the other (horror, fantasy, sf) - and don't forget some people like all three. There's been a lot of generalisaion on here about how people 'think' - ie Fantasy fans aren't joining because there's too much horror etc. and vice versa. How come membership's up this year then, with a big influx of Fantasy fans? How come I keep getting Fantasy manuscripts to consider for Special Publications?

As Marie says we have four fantasy authors as GoH's this year. If that doesn't tell people we have an association with Fantasy I don't know what the hell does. But at the same time you can't alienate people who are into horror as well, that would lead to a split in the society itself as it's pretty much half and half. Then there would be less members, not more.

Regarding awards, don't forget we have to work on a budget and can't split novel nominations unless we have the money to pay for them. Where do you draw the line? Fantasy (Mass Market), Fantasy (Small Press), Horror (Mass Market), Horror (Small Press) etc. Who's going to pay for the dozens of awards needed?

As regards a panel of 'experts' - a panel of judges for a horror organisation took it upon themselves to discount all the anthologies published in 2005 for their awards this year, simply because it was their opinion that they shouldn't be considered. There's a phrase that fits this nicely. Who watches the watchmen? And how would you come to a satisfactory decision (for everyone) on who to have on such a panel? It's all subjective.

Paul.

Offline Marie O'Regan

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #27 on: August 16, 2006, 05:08:05 pm »
Hear, hear. And Ramsey, I'd hate to see you resign as President, so my first inclination, personally, would be to vote you back in. If you really are adamant about standing down, however, and speaking purely as an individual member I'd nominate Stephen Jones as your successor.

Offline Ramsey Campbell

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #28 on: August 16, 2006, 05:13:30 pm »
"As I glance down RC's and SJ's list of award credits, I am appalled to find that three quarters of them have been awarded to them by the body they work so closely with i.e. the BFS."

I'm not sure what mathematics are involved here. At my count, exactly half of my awards come from the BFS - in other words, half don't.

"Little wonder that mainstream observers who are unaware of this conflict-of-interest believe them to be highly regarded professionals."

That's because we are, and our professional publishers agree.

David Lee Stone

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #29 on: August 16, 2006, 05:32:54 pm »
Did I blink and miss something? This thread seems to have become an attack on Ramsey???????

Paul - all good points, well made, but I STILL believe that awarding seperately for fantasy and horror - perhaps losing one or two categories in
order to make the split - would be a good move.