Author Topic: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires  (Read 64153 times)

Offline Lermontov

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #90 on: August 17, 2006, 05:54:16 pm »
I honestly think that the Forums would have more traffic if half-a-dozen moderators on top of the committee members were scattered among them.

That spam attack a while ago would have been done and dusted within a few hours if there were ongoing moderators on the Boards with moderate editing capabilities. Every other site has them and they share the workload.

This would also prevent 'Wimbledon Syndrome'! The site has come to life again on the eve of the next Fcon and for much of the rest of it is pretty much dormant. There needs to be a collective effort to advertise the site more. I'm a member of various forums and take the opportunity to trumpet the society when I get a chance (I know for a fact AT LEAST one person joined the BFS and is coming to the Fcon as a result) but when they do come here the lack of activity is hardly inspiring or indeed inviting.

This is The British Fantasy Society. It is the ONE and ONLY British Fantasy Society! It ought to be the first port of call for people wanting to find out the latest Fantasy, Horror etc. news and be part of the Fantasy/Horror etc. related community.

"David Gemmell has died. Wonder what they have to say about it on the BFS Forums?" Not a bloody thing!

It is indeed down to members to start threads etc. No one replied to my Gemmell thread! There were 45 views when I last looked but half of them were probably me mechanically and blindly checking to see if anyone had replied! Westeros (correction: Malazan) have been arranging a sympathy card for his family members.

It is up to members collectively to spread the word and contribute, no question. But I was shocked to read Stan Nicholls' list of areas of obscurity for the BFS when it comes to other Conventions.

It is clearly A LOT of work and surely it makes sense to get a few more people involved in sharing the workload as it is all a labour of love and we all/most of us have day jobs that chip away a little bit more of our brief sojourn here!

Clearly word of mouth is not enough and perhaps at the AGM some discussion out to take place as to just how much of the fudns might be spent on vital advertising even, dare I say it, at the expense of the odd Open Night for example. Just an idea.

This would open the scope of the society and widen its territory. I'm of the opinion that Fantasy as a genre has developed considearably more respectability recently that it has indeed deserved (like any genre or literary area it has more than its fare share of utter crud) but may not have been perceived as having such quality in the past.

You could put 16 authors across the broad spectrum of the genre hailing from this country alone against this year's Booker Long List and they would wipe the floor with it as regards inventiveness, creative and stylistic flare and sheer vision and in many case contemporary relevance.

The iron is hot: STRIKE THAT HAMMER EVERYONE!!!!!
« Last Edit: August 17, 2006, 07:38:39 pm by Lermontov »

David Lee Stone

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #91 on: August 17, 2006, 06:02:16 pm »
The iron is hot: STRIKE THAT HAMMER EVERYONE!!!!!

Depends.....is it a WARHAMMER??????
« Last Edit: August 17, 2006, 06:05:25 pm by David Lee Stone »

Offline Lermontov

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #92 on: August 17, 2006, 06:08:44 pm »
Quote
Depends.....is it a WARHAMMER?

It's the one Bruenor forged for Wulfgar or even the hammer of Thor, David!

David Lee Stone

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #93 on: August 17, 2006, 06:10:28 pm »
In that case, I'm in - where's the iron?

Offline Lermontov

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #94 on: August 17, 2006, 07:39:17 pm »
Quote
In that case, I'm in - where's the iron?

It's here!

Offline Peter Coleborn

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #95 on: August 17, 2006, 08:11:35 pm »
Who's annoyed?? ;D? Constructive criticism is great for improvement...? :-*

Also, what do we think about sizing?? A5 works with the current amount of content, when we have the reviews added for the Oct issue, we're going to be much thicker so will be looking at perfect bound, probably.? And I want more features, and some opinion columns... (though DH is also having opinion columns, I think, so need more conversations with Pete & Jan about split..)? Would it better, at that point, to go to A4?? A5 is a cootchy size, but A4 gives more space to play with and more design options.?



Size matters, as the Post Office is now saying. Be aware of the changing postal regulations about standard and large letter sizes. Postage creates a big indent into budgets.

Offline Peter Coleborn

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #96 on: August 17, 2006, 08:32:29 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



Des, BFS members recommend/nominate stories, novels, anthologies, etc. It isn't the fault of the BFS that something isn't on the ballot. There was talk of this some years ago when an unamed author (I'm not saying who) was upset at omission of his work. Various ways of ensuring inclusion of his work was considered but none was found to be viable. An oversight committee is an idea -- but even so, that committee must be able to receive everything published and then must judge what is worthy enough to nominate (with the then accusations of bias).

Alternatively, the voting form could contain everything -- everything -- eligible. Just imagine how many pages that form would run to.

I really don't know how one can ensure that worthy material is always included. If you were a BFS member you could, perhaps, nominate it yourself even though it seems a bit underhand (some have done this previously). Or get mates who are BFS members to nominate. Remember, nominated material is then voted upon in a popular ballot.

I haven't seen Nemo for quite some time (sorry: it's been a busy 18 months or so, what with a new job and two house moves): do you still publish stories without author credits in the same issue?

Des, contact me via email and we can work out something mutually advantageous re DH/Nemo (I would email you but I don't have your email address. I think you can get me via darkhorizons@britishfantasysociety.org.uk)


--- Peter


Offline Peter Coleborn

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #97 on: August 17, 2006, 08:40:37 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??????????????????



In which category would you place a novel by Jonathan Carroll or Charles de Lint? Neither category really works as they (the categories)become so prescriptive... Maybe one could argue that Glass Soup is Dark Fantasy (still reading it), but de Lint fits both categories.


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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #98 on: August 17, 2006, 09:30:37 pm »
Hi, Peter, great to hear from you.  Your name reminds me of those great days when I used to attend conventions etc.  I retain a great affection for the BFS.

Getting back to your comments about awards (the title of this thread), I see the postion as two stages (correct me if I'm wrong):  Recommendations by members for voting lists and, then, voting by the 'jury' on those lists.

The crucial problem in the first stage, as I see it, is a safeguard that anything is not inadvertently overlooked to appear on the ballot.  I think that things have been overlooked in the past by the members and subsequently put on the ballot by an overarching authority.  This system needs to be formalised.

The crucial problem in the second stage, as I see it, is that each member of the jury does not read all the fiction works on the ballot (the ballot as created by the first stage above).  A jury, in normal circumstances, I suggest, should consider all candiadtes equally, i.e. read all the candidates.  In the BFS case, the jury happens to be (happens to be, I repeat) all the members who vote.  I think that it is a good idea that all members are eligible to act as a jury-member as long as they act like a proper jury-member.

====

I intend to publish another Nemonymous next May, Peter, with slightly different conditions of by-line presentation, and still a generously paying market for writers.  I will contact you nearer the date.  Thanks for the offer.

des

Offline Peter Coleborn

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #99 on: August 17, 2006, 09:51:59 pm »
Hi, Peter, great to hear from you.? Your name reminds me of those great days when I used to attend conventions etc.? I retain a great affection for the BFS.

Getting back to your comments about awards (the title of this thread), I see the postion as two stages (correct me if I'm wrong):? Recommendations by members for voting lists and, then, voting by the 'jury' on those lists.

The crucial problem in the first stage, as I see it, is a safeguard that anything is not inadvertently overlooked to appear on the ballot.? I think that things have been overlooked in the past by the members and subsequently put on the ballot by an overarching authority.? This system needs to be formalised.

The crucial problem in the second stage, as I see it, is that each member of the jury does not read all the fiction works on the ballot (the ballot as created by the first stage above).? A jury, in normal circumstances, I suggest, should consider all candiadtes equally, i.e. read all the candidates.? In the BFS case, the jury happens to be (happens to be, I repeat) all the members who vote.? I think that it is a good idea that all members are eligible to act as a jury-member as long as they act like a proper jury-member.

====

I intend to publish another Nemonymous next May, Peter, with slightly different conditions of by-line presentation, and still a generously paying market for writers.? I will contact you nearer the date.? Thanks for the offer.

des


Des, unless things changed while I was blinking, the voting works thus: Recommendations are solicited from the membership. Everything that is recommended is put onto the ballot paper. Then the membership as a whole votes for items on this ballot paper. There is also an opportunity to add anything not on the ballot. There is no jury of experts, and I'm not sure where this idea came from (current BFS committee members: please confirm this).

Yes, some titles are bound to be overlooked. But I don't really see how this could be addressed. Would there be a committee to add missed titles? How would these people know what worthies should be added to the ballot paper? This would mean that the committee must set out to read everything published that year. Or should every single item be included in the first place (Locus is a good place to start listing eligible items)? Perhaps voting should be in three stages instead of the current two.

[1] All titles published in a single year are listed and voted upon
[2] The top X number are listed onto a second ballot and voted upon
[3] The top 5 or 6 titles are listed onto a third ballot and voted upon

There main problems are those of timescale and postage. Would BFS members support a wholly on-line process (and could it be made secure to prevent multiple voting)?

I really don't know how things could be tightened up so that everyone is happy, but I'm open to suggestions.


Offline Peter Coleborn

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #100 on: August 17, 2006, 09:53:32 pm »
I?ve recently been alerted to the current ?controversy?. So I took some time and tried to read every post.

Quote: ?Just as all paths are said to lead to Rome, I kept coming back to the conclusion that I should only vote for things I had read which had impressed me. Although it seemed the dullard's way out, I restricted myself to voting in a little over half of the possible categories, whilst excusing my inability to cast a vote in the other categories because of unfamiliarity with the texts concerned.?

Surely one has to give BFS members some intelligence and hope they vote for worthy items. Which recipient would value a prize simply because they were best mates with a dozen or so of the voters?

Quote: ?Possessing a recognizable name is surely the key to awards success?

Having a recognisable name is a key to -- and a sign of -- success in all walks of life. That recognisable name is usually the result of hard work and quality products (sorry, sounding a bit like a marketing executive). That?s why Ramsey Campbell is feted ? for the quality of his novels and short stories.

Quote: ?This made me reflect upon the claim recently made by someone recently that awards are merely 'crude popularity contests'. Alas that would appear to be true?

What's wrong with a popularity contest? (OK, one can argue that it was a popular poll that voted in the current Labour government...)

Quote: ?I believe that Ramsey Campbell and Steve Jones should voluntarily request that the nominations they receive for BFS awards year-in, year-out be withdrawn. Clearly they possess a hugely unfair advantage, what with RC being BFS President and SJ having held office himself.?

Quote from Jenny: ?if your're going to start disqualifying people because once upon a time they've been BFS officers and people know their names, your start excluding all sorts of people... David Howe used to be heavily involved with the running of the BFS but now runs Telos and has nothing to do with official BFS things, do we exclude Telos from the Small Press category, what about Gary Couzens who was chair for a while but is now concetrating on his writing??

I agree with Jenny. Actually, Stephen Jones and David Sutton did exclude themselves from the awards one time, many, many years ago, after winning several awards for (I think) FANTASY TALES on the trot. Anyway, if people have read Stephen's comments on awards (all awards, available on his website) you will know that he is a passionate believer in integrity.

Quote from Jenny: ?How you change things... Put together a proposal saying 1) what you think's wrong, 2) plan for what you think would fix it, and raise it as Any Other Business at the AGM.  If you can't make the AGM, email it to Marie and we'll raise the point for you and discuss it fully.?

Too true. Some people whinge but never try to do anything constructive. They seem to take delight in criticism for its own sake.

Quote from Chris T: ?I think the problem could be the BFS's "closed" status - only members vote, and at the moment membership is sizeable but not a huge number. Maybe the BFS could implement a similar award system to the Hugo's: if you went to WorldCon, then you're still eligible even if you're not a member of the WSFA. Therefore, if you attend FCon for the weekend then you're eligible to vote in the awards for that year. This would mean, if implemented this year, an increase in possible voting numbers compared to previous years. Mind you, in saying that, RC hasn't won best novel since 1994, and since then he's only won best collection twice. SJ, of course, has won every anthology award except for last year and 2001 but then his anthology is the only mass-market title available in the UK...?

Chris has a point. Both BFS and Fantasycon members should be allowed to nominate/vote (make that te current year?s and the previous year?s Fantasycon members). The more who vote the better/fairer they are. But voting MUST be reserved for people who are members of the BFS and/or Fantasycon.

I didn?t think that Ramsey had won the Best Novel Award for some time. Hasn?t Graham Joyce won several now? Are we to ban him too (and he has been a Fantasycon GOH so voters are obviously prejudiced)? Stephen Jone?s books are perhaps the most consistently high quality anthologies available. He also publishes a lot of titles which, perversely, often dilutes the pro-SJ vote.

Quote from DLS: ?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. 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??

We are branching into different territory here. The BFS may appear to be a horror-orientated organisation; but that is only because it is the horror fans and writers, in the main, who tend to be the most proactive. If fans of David Gemmell, Stan Nicholls, Raymond Feist, etc, were to join and become equally involved then maybe the general feel will alter. (And I don't mean that they should all stand for committee posts. They could contribute with LOC, stories, artwork, assisting at Fantasycon.) When I joined the BFS eons ago, the Society had a definite Conan/LOTR bias. (I also had to explain that it had nothing to do with rubber and latex gear; how times change.) When I used to edit BFS magazines, for every "fantasy" story I'd receive maybe a dozen horror stories. Has that changed? I'll find out soon.

When Mike Chinn and I were running the BFS/Fantasycon we tried to achieve balance. We especially invited fantasy writers to the convention (the showcase event for the BFS). Yet the talks given by Katherine Kurtz and Janny Wurts were attended by a mere handful of people. Shocking. I know that Jenny enjoys "heroic" fantasy, as does Vicky. Jan (the new co-editor of Dark Horizons) is a big fan of such -- she doesn't read horror. I know that they -- in fact all -- BFS and Fantasycon committees work bloody hard to achieve balance. So what more can be done to redress any perception that the BFS is a horror organisation?

Now on to the number of awards, err, awarded each year. They cost money to make. Admittedly the BFS has a good deal now, but what if the Society had to change manufacturer in the future? Before I asked Arthur to cast the statuettes some years ago we had them done by a commercial company. They were very, very pricey. Should the BFS risk increasing the cost again?

As for separate awards for Fantasy and Horror? Why stop there? Why not awards for Comedy Fantasy, Surreal Fiction, Slipstream, Ghost Story, ad nauseum? If you restrict yourself to Fantasy and Horror, where would you place a Graham Joyce or Jonathan Carroll novel? Mark Chadbourn?s stories are based on folklore and myth (fantasy) but often have a grim overtone (horror). I know that it is a little like chalk ?n? cheese, but there must a balance between cost and practicality somewhere. And, like Marie, I see "Fantasy" as an all encompassing term.

CR Barker seems to suggest a panel of experts to nominate/vote: this is used, if I recall correctly, for the World Fantasy Awards and has been tried by the BFS. This system is as open, maybe more so, to abuse as is the current one.

There is also the usual clap trap about cliques at Fantasycon. There isn?t. There are groups of people who become friends and naturally congregate together. New attendees, no matter how many introductions they may be given to existing attendees, must make the effort and join in with these groups. It may be difficult, especially if one is reserved. The best way to become a member of the group is to contribute ? not complain about being ignored.

And Ramsey resigning as Life-time President: This is terrible and reflects badly on the BFS, caused by pettiness of some narrow-minded people.  Ramsey was elected to the post by the BFS members at an AGM. He has served the Society brilliantly and I wish he would reconsider. If not, then I would support re-electing Ramsey, again for life (not meant to sound like a prison sentence).

You must not eliminate any of the Collection/Anthology/Short Story/Magazine categories. Historically, short fiction and magazines/collections were paramount to the genre ? think MR James, Robert E Howard, Weird Tales, Unknown, and many others that my mind refuses to recall just now.

Quote by CR Barker: ?Well, I for one would have very strong objections to Stephen Jones as BFS president. The BFS needs invigorating, not timewarping. It probably could also do with a President who comes from a fantasy background as opposed to horror to correct the various imbalances recently highlighted.?

This is just plain insulting!
 
Quote: ?Well, assuming that you appointed judges until such time as they were resigned (or were voted off), I should imagine that many writers would be flattered to be a resident BFS awards judge. It would akin to a credential.?

No they wouldn?t. Sitting as an expert on a panel is an onerous task, especially if one is trying to make a career out of writing. Talking to previous judges on an awards panels, they didn?t enjoy the experience that much.

Quote: ?If we're really going down that road, then look at the sales figures for goodness sake!!!!! WHERE are the Pratchett fans? WHERE are the Lord of the Rings fans? They're certainly not members of the BFS: I speak as someone holding last year's figures (as up until yesterday I full planned to take over as Sectretary and Treasurer).?

I?m generalising here (so don?t get upset): the majority of Pratchett fans only read Pratchett. They only attend Pratchett events. They are not interested in any other kind of fantasy.

Quote: ?Come to that, WHERE are the readers of SFX? WHERE are the readers of Interzone, which currently has TEN times the BFS membership (and that's a low estimate)? I work for both publications: I KNOW they're mostly fantasy fans?

I?m afraid that this is a reflection on the amateur status of the BFS. If its committee members and editors were paid for their hard work (remember, they do it for love) they would undoubtedly put in a lot more time and effort (and ignore family and full-time jobs); they would be able to put together an organisation that produced frequent and regular and high quality products. Everyone active in the BFS that I know of starts with the very best of intentions ? but real life gets in the way. Unfortunate but true. And anyway, SFX readers, in the main, and based on my previous dealings with the magazine, couldn?t care less for the written word.

I've now read Stan Nicholl's posting -- and have discussed these things with him several times at Balti houses and BBQs. I respect Stan very much and think he makes many, many valid comments. Thing is, I'm not sure quite how to make Fantasycon's 300 attendees increase to 3000. I don't know how to encourage more people to join the BFS other than to spend more time and energy and money -- and that is no guarantee. But firstly, the BFS must return to regularly printed, good quality magazines linked to participaton in fantasy/literary events, Open Nights and, of course, first class Fantasycons. BFS members can help by placing flyers in libaries, book shops, common rooms, etc, rather than, as some are wont, moaning.

Discussion boards are great places for airing constructive ideas, and some here are well worth considering.

DFL

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #101 on: August 17, 2006, 10:02:31 pm »
Just on Peter's specific point:

There is no jury of experts, and I'm not sure where this idea came from (current BFS committee members: please confirm this).

I didn't say I thought there was a 'jury of experts', but merely a jury (in the second stage), a jury that *happens to be* all the members who vote.  Any jury should read all the candidates on the voting list.  And I know this is not possible this year as not many members took up my free offfer of a Nemo 5.

As to the creation of the voting list itself (the first stage), I understand voting members can indeed add to the voting list when voting, but also prior to the voting, the Awards Administration itself can add to the list and has done so in the past.  But not when Nemo 4 was overlooked!

des

Amarea

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #102 on: August 17, 2006, 10:11:47 pm »
OK, this is probably a very newbie question from an admitted newbie member, but what about having the odd open night in different places (in terms of bringing in new members, I'm meaning)? I only joined recently (I'm actually the person who joined due to Lermontov's advertising the BFS), so I don't really know how things pan out, but the couple of open nights that I've seen have been based in London, and I was just wondering if expanding the sites might be possible. I can't really go to any of the open nights in London because I live in Manchester, and it would be too hard for me to get down there with working so much. Perhaps if the odd open night could be held somewhere else, it might expand the number of people who take note of the  BFS. I think most of the interaction needs to be done online for ease, but we need to get the attention first. If people don't think to search on the internet, then they won't find the site, and they can't join if they don't know we're here.

On another point, I love the idea of dedicating an award to Gemmell, but I can see where people are coming from in terms of splitting the Best Novel Award. The problem is that there are no set boundaries in fantasy - there can't be really, and that's what most of us love about the genre - and I think splitting might just cause more problems when it seems like we already have enough.

I don't know what all the categories are, but do we happen to have a life-time achievement award? If we don't, then it would seem fitting that such an award be named after David Gemmell, who gave so much to fantasy. If we do have one, though, then I'm out of ideas  :-\
« Last Edit: August 17, 2006, 10:13:55 pm by Amarea »

Offline Marie O'Regan

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #103 on: August 17, 2006, 10:53:18 pm »
Pete: to answer your question re: Awards, there is definitely no jury of any kind. Members recommend as they wish, and the top five recommendations become nominations, as I understand it. The only person who knows who has received awards prior to the Banquet is the Awards Administrator, who is excluded from the voting process. The only exception to this is the Karl Edward Wagner Award (Amarea, this is our lifetime achievement award), which any member is welcome to mail suggestions for to the Committee or to post such recommendations on the Boards. At the appropriate time, the Committee discuss all suggestions and then vote on the recipient.

Amarea, we have looked at holding Open Nights in various places (Manchester included) and the problem has been having members willing to sort out venues as, obviously, the Committee members are spread across the country and can't afford/have time to visit everywhere. We also need members in those areas willing to help with publicising local events. Previous efforts have been less than successful but we're always willing to try. Vicky Cook is the person to mail if you're willing to help on that front (aunico@hotmail.com).

The Award Categories are: Best Novel, Best Short Story, Best Novella, Best Collection/Best Anthology, Best Artist, Best Small Press. There is also a lifetime achievement award given by the Committee, the Karl Edward Wagner Award. I'm sure someone will correct me if I've missed any categories out, but I think that's all of them.

DFL

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #104 on: August 17, 2006, 11:05:32 pm »
Awards, there is definitely no jury of any kind.

It all depends as you define 'jury' I suppose.  In my book, a jury is two or more people who determine the winner of a competition by voting.  Like the juries on the Eurovision Song Contest when  (in the old days)  they used to have 12 people in each country's studio who gave points to each song.  They were juries.

The 'jury', in this sense, and in the context of what I was saying earlier vis a vis the BFS awards, is made up of the people who vote by filling in the questionnaire (as formulated by the earlier recommendations), i.e all the BFS members who vote.