Author Topic: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards  (Read 38844 times)

Offline Rolnikov

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #30 on: November 25, 2011, 09:27:13 PM »
Sorry, I'm afraid you seem to have misread it, Amanda. If you go back to the OP, Resolution 1, which we are asked to support, is:

Quote
The British Fantasy Society resolves that the BFS Awards shall ultimately be decided by a jury deliberating on a shortlist determined by the members of the Society.  The Jury shall comprise individuals directly or indirectly related to the writing, publishing and bookselling genre fields. The Jury shall include at least one non-member of the Society.

The Jury shall be appointed by the Awards Administrator, subject to approval by the BFS committee.

The Jury shall deliberate on a shortlist of four nominations as determined by the membership by online or postal vote.

The Jury shall also have oversight powers to add nominations where it identifies an egregious omission or to subtract a nomination in the case of a poor quality nomination artificially boosted by the practice of canvassing.  In order to add or subtract such nominations the jury must make a unanimous decision.  The addition or subtraction of a nomination will be made in camera.

There's much more to it than just accepting a juried award.

Offline Rolnikov

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #31 on: November 25, 2011, 09:50:03 PM »
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.

Offline SAWatts

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #32 on: November 25, 2011, 10:37:21 PM »
I think the aim has to be, as Amanda suggests - to arrive at an inclusive short list that highlights the very best in the genre each year.

Important to remember that the short list would come from members recommendations and BFS and Fantasycon members have the opportunity to make it as diverse and comprehensive and exciting as can be?

I think we've probably all got questions about just how it will work - I know I have! - but I think it's a plan to work to - and of course the recommendations are still to be voted on.


Offline Del Lakin-Smith

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #33 on: November 25, 2011, 11:36:19 PM »
Oh, the wonderfully emotive awards discussion. It does not get any more complex than this.

I think points raised have their merit, and there will always be folk who have many different opinions. I think based on the fact that these resolutions were determined, largely, from the survey that was carried out, it is a good starting point for the discussion.

At the end of the day, someone has to make the decision. As far as I can interpret the statement, the time between the announcement and the vote is precisely in order for this discussion to take place.

I think it is our job to give our thoughts and opinions on the awards and give the decision makers as much info to base their decisions on. If we don't, then we are responsible for the apathy and potential pitfalls of having an awards system that does not represent the BFS as an organisation.

One of the key points in the statement to me is do we vote on 3 resolutions, or on each point individually? This is something we could and should discuss here.

To voice my opinion, I think that the new resolutions are a good starting point for change. I could pick holes in each and every point and come up with many scenarios where the system could be undermined or could go wrong. But I don't see the value in that. I welcome and embrace the change, but also look forward to the adjustments that come from learning what works and what does not (instead of assuming nothing will work).


Offline Rolnikov

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #34 on: November 25, 2011, 11:39:28 PM »
I think we've probably all got questions about just how it will work - I know I have! - but I think it's a plan to work to - and of course the recommendations are still to be voted on.

But we shouldn't have any questions about how it will work: those questions should all be answered by the proposed new rules. The point of the awards constitution is to tell the awards admin exactly what they should do in any given situation. Where the rules don't give those answers is where the awards admin can find themselves in a fix.

For example on deciding ties - the existing awards constitution has a rule for that, but the new rules don't. And these proposals say that the rules can't be changed except at the AGM. So as soon as you have a tie you'll be stuck in a constitutional loophole.

Or on the horror/fantasy awards: many books will be eligible for both. If a novel up for the horror award has to be excluded from the fantasy award, that has to be explicitly spelt out in the new rules (which it isn't in the current resolution), or you'll have no standing to do it.

Offline Rolnikov

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #35 on: November 26, 2011, 01:45:32 AM »
One of the key points in the statement to me is do we vote on 3 resolutions, or on each point individually? This is something we could and should discuss here.

One thing I noticed is that Resolution 1 and Recommendation 5, Stage 2 overlap, effectively giving the jury proposal two bites at the cherry, which might give us a problem if one passes but the other doesn't. I'm sure they'll both pass regardless, but it might be worth straightening that out.

I also think the part about "The Jury shall also have oversight powers ... to subtract a nomination in the case of a poor quality nomination artificially boosted by the practice of canvassing" should be a separate proposal (or better still, dropped altogether), given how controversial it is, how it's come out of nowhere, and how much potential it creates for unfairness.

Even if the jurors are completely honest, just having that option there will put doubt in people's minds about the fairness of the awards procedure. As a former juror on an awards panel, I wouldn't have wanted that power and wouldn't have used it. I would rather just read the books and choose the best one, rather than be expected to impose sanctions on the bad ones.

Apart from anything else, you'll have to read the book to decide it's rubbish anyway. And to read the book you'll have to request it from the publisher. And if you request it from the publisher and then it doesn't appear on the shortlist they'll know it's been booted, and once they know it's been booted there will be all heck to pay...!

Plus, why impose sanctions on bad books that benefit from canvassing, but not good books? Surely the "crime" is the same?

Offline Rolnikov

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #36 on: November 26, 2011, 02:32:08 AM »
I welcome and embrace the change, but also look forward to the adjustments that come from learning what works and what does not (instead of assuming nothing will work).

The problem is, this proposed procedure doesn't seem to build on what we've learnt previously about what works and what doesn't. It doesn't seem to take account of the way members actually vote, because applying these rules to previous years show how odd and arbitrary the resulting shortlists could be.

If there was a desire to build on what had come before, shouldn't there have been a former BFS awards admin on the working team to offer their experience of how the rules work in practice? Maybe not me, since I'd quarrelled publicly with David and might be seen as biased, but Gary Couzens, David Sutton, etc?

It bothers me that everything I and other BFS members have said here seems to have been brushed off as nit-picking, cynicism, complaining, catastrophizing, whatever, if not completely ignored. But I spent a good two years thinking constantly about these issues and trying to keep the BFS out of trouble: you pick the procedure apart in order to make it watertight, to protect yourself, your integrity and the integrity of the awards.

For example, one of the most important lines in the constitution was: "The Awards Committee has no discretion to discount votes for reasons other than those set out in this constitution." From the OP it looks like that's gone now, but it was there to keep us honest. If there's a good reason for discounting votes it should be voted on and put into the constitution, not decided on the fly by awards administrators.

The other thing bothering me is the impression I'm getting that whatever members say in the forums, the proposals are going forward in this form...

If these resolutions are put to the vote as they stand, I'll reluctantly vote against them. Taken as a whole, I'm afraid I think they'll make the awards procedure worse rather than better.

Offline Des Lewis

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #37 on: November 26, 2011, 08:03:43 AM »
Some good sense above from all quarters, I feel.
My still developing view is that the members should vote on a no holds barred 'Long list' and on the membership of the jury who then 'in camera' debate the list, add and subtract from it, and then come up with 4 in each category for the members' final voting.  Or those democratically voted-in jury members actually come up with the winners themselves.  I'd be easy with either method.
And I feel it is ludicrous to have separate horror and fantasy awards. It goes completely against the grain of my view about literature. But that's maybe just me. 'Weird' fiction covers both?
« Last Edit: November 26, 2011, 08:05:47 AM by Nemonymous »
MY WEBSITE: www.nemonymous.com

Offline Rolnikov

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #38 on: November 26, 2011, 08:51:05 AM »
The PS Publishing Independent Press Award
Eligibility:  Independent presses active during the relevant year. Note that PS Publishing withdrew from competition in this category in 2009, choosing instead to sponsor the award.   *Special jury to be appointed by PS publishing.

Nothing against PS Publishing, who do wonderful work, but is it really appropriate for a sponsor to appoint the whole of the judging panel for one of our awards? Inviting them to supply one representative might be alright.

Not keen on the change from Small Press to Independent Press.

Offline Peter Coleborn

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #39 on: November 26, 2011, 09:16:00 AM »
The PS Publishing Independent Press Award
Eligibility:  Independent presses active during the relevant year. Note that PS Publishing withdrew from competition in this category in 2009, choosing instead to sponsor the award.   *Special jury to be appointed by PS publishing.

Nothing against PS Publishing, who do wonderful work, but is it really appropriate for a sponsor to appoint the whole of the judging panel for one of our awards? Inviting them to supply one representative might be alright.

Not keen on the change from Small Press to Independent Press.

I have to say, I missed the part about PS appointing the whole jury. Despite our many and frequent disagreements, I'm with Stephen on his first point* -- but I do agree with the name change to Independent Press.

* (Unless PS is paying for the award itself as well as the prize money.)
« Last Edit: November 26, 2011, 09:17:43 AM by Peter Coleborn »

Offline Rolnikov

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #40 on: November 26, 2011, 09:17:02 AM »
3.   Changes to These Guidelines
Changes to these guidelines may only be made by a vote at the AGM of the British Fantasy Society, taken according to the same rules of procedure outlined in the BFS constitution.  A committee vote may not be used to reverse a decision made at an AGM.

Just noticed this change, that the awards rules will be downgraded to guidelines, rather than a constitution. I suppose that answers my questions about there being gaps in the awards procedure, although it isn't the answer I'd have wanted: if these are just guidelines the admin can just do whatever they think best when they hit a problem. :-\

On the other hand, one thing about the new procedure that'll be good for the awards admin is that because the longlist stage is being abolished, they won't have to do what's previously been the hardest bit of the job: checking the eligibility of the longlist items. They'll only need to check the top four items in each category, which'll save them hours and hours of work.

Offline Peter Coleborn

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #41 on: November 26, 2011, 09:46:55 AM »
"The Jury shall deliberate on a shortlist of four nominations as determined by the membership by online or postal vote."


Is it too late to suggest that the jury deliberate on a shortlist of five or, better still, six nominations as determined by the BFS & Fantasycon membership? It might make the process seem more open and more encompassing.

Personally, I rather not split the novel category. However, given the endless horror vs. fantasy debate I can see the rationale behind this (even if not voted for in the recent survey). I support using the name of Robert Holdstock for the fantasy novel award.


Offline Rolnikov

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #42 on: November 26, 2011, 10:24:12 AM »
I'm not quite as sure about naming it after Robert Holdstock - no disrespect to him, he was a marvellous writer who fully deserves to have awards named after him, and I know you were a friend, Peter, as were lots of BFS members.

However, something like Mythago Wood was I think just the kind of dark fantasy that tends, rightly or wrongly, to get lumped in with horror when people are totting up genre representation on our awards lists. I'm not sure he's the ideal choice if the idea is to show we're more open to sword-swinging fantasy than people think.

Plus, and for me this is much bigger issue, we already have three awards named after men, and now we're going to have four.

I would have loved for it to be named for Diana Wynne Jones...

Offline LouM

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #43 on: November 26, 2011, 02:28:02 PM »
When we were originally discussing the idea of a YA / children's award, the idea of making it the Diana Wynne Jones Award came up - I'd have loved to see that, but I don't think it's an option at this time. Maybe in the future, another committee might want to consider it...

I'm not quite as sure about naming it after Robert Holdstock - no disrespect to him, he was a marvellous writer who fully deserves to have awards named after him, and I know you were a friend, Peter, as were lots of BFS members.

However, something like Mythago Wood was I think just the kind of dark fantasy that tends, rightly or wrongly, to get lumped in with horror when people are totting up genre representation on our awards lists. I'm not sure he's the ideal choice if the idea is to show we're more open to sword-swinging fantasy than people think.

Plus, and for me this is much bigger issue, we already have three awards named after men, and now we're going to have four.

I would have loved for it to be named for Diana Wynne Jones...

Offline Jen

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #44 on: November 26, 2011, 02:44:05 PM »
When we were originally discussing the idea of a YA / children's award, the idea of making it the Diana Wynne Jones Award came up - I'd have loved to see that, but I don't think it's an option at this time. Maybe in the future, another committee might want to consider it...

Second that motion!   ;D :-*