Author Topic: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards  (Read 93577 times)

Offline Des Lewis

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #105 on: November 29, 2011, 07:35:32 am »
I still don't understand why Fantasy belongs to BFS and not BSFA.

Umm, maybe because BFS stands for British Fantasy Society and BSFA stands for British Science Fiction Association? Just a thought?

As Wittgenstein would have said, via a vis his 'meaning of a word is its use', the meaning of a Society or other grouping / publication etc is its membership / customers not its historically accidental name (like Radio Times?).
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Offline Grafire

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #106 on: November 29, 2011, 07:43:10 am »
One category with two awards.  Thus the membership vote for their top four book choices on a first-past-the-post basis.  The jury, if they so wish it, and if they can reach unanimous agreement, can add one or two titles to that list.  If the members come up with a list of four horror books then I would expect a jury - mindful of its remit to offer both a Fantasy award and a Horror award - would have to add at least one Fantasy title to that list.  
If you want to encourage Fantasy-minded members, vote for the resolution.  If you don't want to encourage Fantasy-minded members, don't vote for the resolution.
It really is about people, not about precise mechanisms.  Neither is it a tablet of stone. If it doesn't work out next year then we change it at the AGM, or with an online vote.  Technology gives us this much more flexible democracy nowadays.  
The big question, as Des is right in saying, is do we want to see change in the BFS?  Or do we not?  Personally I do.  I think we need renewal and that means new people on the committee instead of us Old Guard types; new thinking about what the BFS offers; a new way of approaching the awards; and new thinking about the mebers we would like to welcome into the Society.

Offline Des Lewis

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #107 on: November 29, 2011, 07:50:17 am »
The big question, as Des is right in saying, is do we want to see change in the BFS?  Or do we not?  Personally I do.  I think we need renewal and that means new people on the committee instead of us Old Guard types; new thinking about what the BFS offers; a new way of approaching the awards; and new thinking about the mebers we would like to welcome into the Society.

I don't think it is old guard versu new guard. I'm all in favour of rejigging the Awards system and have said so for years. And your're right, it's what the members want. Are the members interested in Ramsey Campbell, Stephen Jones books, Johnny Mains books, Ex Occidente, Ash Tree Press, Chomu Press, VanderMeers' massive defining 'The WEIRD', Gary McMahon, Simon Clark,  Robert Aickman, Thomas Ligotti, Gary Fry, Stephen King, literary literature associated with the aforementioned, etc etc. Or are they interested in something else?
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Offline Des Lewis

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #108 on: November 29, 2011, 08:02:23 am »

I don't think it is old guard versu new guard. I'm all in favour of rejigging the Awards system and have said so for years. And your're right, it's what the members want. Are the members interested in Ramsey Campbell, Stephen Jones books, Johnny Mains books, Ex Occidente, Ash Tree Press, Chomu Press, VanderMeers' massive defining 'The WEIRD', Gary McMahon, Simon Clark,  Robert Aickman, Thomas Ligotti, Gary Fry, Stephen King, literary literature associated with the aforementioned, etc etc. Or are they interested in something else?

That of course doesn't prevent anyone being interested (as I am) in all genres of fiction, but if you're joining a Society (with monetary outlay) one joins the Society for what it is interested in. One can join any number of Societies, also. I don't think anyone would suggest merging all Societies of fiction (wild west, fantasy, horror / weird, sf, literary literature, chick lit etc) into one Society to give it more muscle or size.  That's your choice - to choose which Society or Societies fits your interests best. (And as I suggested earlier to Caroline, all fiction is imaginative fiction).
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Offline Grafire

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #109 on: November 29, 2011, 08:13:26 am »

well there you are and that's your choice in the vote, and I respect your right to vote which way you want  Sadly Des (and I'm not talking about your opinions on this issue) these last few weeks while I have been Acting Chair have proved to me that there is an Old Guard trying - often bitterly - to stop things from changing.  I'll write a blog about it when I'm done but I can't go into that now.

Offline Rolnikov

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #110 on: November 29, 2011, 08:32:25 am »
If the members come up with a list of four horror books then I would expect a jury - mindful of its remit to offer both a Fantasy award and a Horror award - would have to add at least one Fantasy title to that list.

But if fantasy is still defined in the wide way you mention, it's not an egregious oversight to have one particular sub-genre of fantasy absent from the list.

If you want to encourage Fantasy-minded members, vote for the resolution. If you don't want to encourage Fantasy-minded members, don't vote for the resolution.

I do want to encourage fantasy-minded members, but I don't think this is the way to do it. If this goes through, they may be encouraged for five minutes, but when the shortlists are announced I think it'll be worse than ever.

One interesting point that people may not realise is that heroic fantasy is generally over-represented on the longlist, in relation to the interest our members have in it - most of the heroic fantasy recommendations on the longlist come from a very small number of people who do their best to make sure it is represented. Those people will now be restricted to just three recommendations...

I would still be interested in knowing how BFS/FantasyCon members voted in the survey, leaving out the votes of non-members, who weren't supposed to be involved in the consultation.

It really is about people, not about precise mechanisms.

Sorry, but that's exactly the problem with these proposals, in my eyes. No precision, and way too much left to the fancies of the people involved. Will that help fix the problems these changes are intended to solve?

For example, if the recommendations process produces ten books that all got three recommendations, how does the awards administrator decide which four go onto the shortlist? This has been asked several times, but no one has been able to suggest a way to do it.

It's no good to have a procedure that isn't written down. The awards constitution is there to make sure the awards admin knows what to do, and that the awards admin who comes next knows what to do as well, and applies the rules in the same way. If the rules don't give any guidance on, for example, how the books should be divided into fantasy and horror lists, each admin will just have to follow their nose.

One thing that would make me tons happier about all this would be if the complete list of recommendations gets published, together with the number of recommendations each item received (I think this happened with the Stokers this year). That way, if novels are not put onto the fantasy shortlist despite high numbers of recommendations, we'll be able to ask why, and thus make proposals to refine the process.

Offline Grafire

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #111 on: November 29, 2011, 09:19:51 am »
>But if fantasy is still defined in the wide way you mention, it's not an egregious oversight to have one particular sub-genre of fantasy absent from the list.<

No.  there may be several sub-genres absent from the list. Or none.

>>I do want to encourage fantasy-minded members, but I don't think this is the way to do it. If this goes through, they may be encouraged for five minutes, but when the shortlists are announced I think it'll be worse than ever.<<

yes Stephen but you think >everything< will be worse than ever because you wrote the previous system of rules (which I might add, ended up with the fiasco of this year's awards!) :-)

>I would still be interested in knowing how BFS/FantasyCon members voted in the survey, leaving out the votes of non-members, who weren't supposed to be involved in the consultation.<

I've answered this before.  Non-members WERE invited to particpate in the survey if they were convention goers.  Convention goers are allowed to vote on the awards, surely you realise that?  But they can't vote at AGMs or in ballots like this.  So the logic of it was to consult all the awards voters and then let the members - exclusively - decide.  Stephen I'm sorry to sound impatient with you but this has been explained many times in different places yet you keep bringing it back. I'm not even sure if we can separate the members' preferences from the covention voters' preference.  It woudl be very time consuming and pointless for Del or someone to have to do that.  And even if we had time to do it, why bother?  That was  a SURVEY.  This is a VOTE.

>For example, if the recommendations process produces ten books that all got three recommendations, how does the awards administrator decide which four go onto the shortlist? This has been asked several times, but no one has been able to suggest a way to do it.<

Okay, I really didn't want to tie a system down.  But would you be happier if we wrote in an STV or an ATV system?


>>One thing that would make me tons happier about all this would be if the complete list of recommendations gets published, together with the number of recommendations each item received (I think this happened with the Stokers this year). That way, if novels are not put onto the fantasy shortlist despite high numbers of recommendations, we'll be able to ask why, and thus make proposals to refine the process.<<

That would make a popular vote winner apparent.  And if the Jury happened to pick a different winner?  Back to square one.   Though as a compromise I'd be in favour of listing all the recommendations, but without numbers.

I'll leave it to other people to carry on discussing because I have lots of other things to do and I know you like arguing these thinsg to the point of entropy.   :)  Just let me add I respect your right to disagree.

Offline Rolnikov

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #112 on: November 29, 2011, 09:24:10 am »
If it doesn't work out next year then we change it at the AGM, or with an online vote.  Technology gives us this much more flexible democracy nowadays.

In principle I agree, but as I mentioned earlier in the thread your proposed new rules don't actually allow for changes to be made by an online vote. It's the AGM or nothing.

Thinking about that made me realise one other little thing that'll need clearing up.

Under the current awards constitution, changes may only be made by a formal vote of the BFS committee or a vote of the Annual General Meeting.

An EGM vote would have been fine I guess, but an online vote of members, such as the one proposed, isn't countenanced by the rules.

That's not a huge problem, though. All it means, to make sure everything is done properly, is that there will need to be either a vote of the committee to ratify the changes, or a vote at the EGM to do so.

Offline Grafire

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #113 on: November 29, 2011, 09:40:35 am »
That's helpful! Thank you!  :)

Offline Jen

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #114 on: November 29, 2011, 09:45:30 am »
If you want to encourage Fantasy-minded members, vote for the resolution.  If you don't want to encourage Fantasy-minded members, don't vote for the resolution.

Was dithering about the whole splitting genres aspect of it, but when you put it like that, it's suddenly a much more appealing proposal!  :D


Offline Rolnikov

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #115 on: November 29, 2011, 09:48:48 am »
>But if fantasy is still defined in the wide way you mention, it's not an egregious oversight to have one particular sub-genre of fantasy absent from the list.<

No.  there may be several sub-genres absent from the list. Or none.

No to what? I don't really understand - you seem to be agreeing with me, if anything.

yes Stephen but you think >everything< will be worse than ever because you wrote the previous system of rules (which I might add, ended up with the fiasco of this year's awards!) :-)

Yeah, but whatever happened last year is going to be multiplied now that people will only need half a dozen recommendations to go straight onto the shortlist. The only big thing that needed changing was to have a jury read the shortlist, and I'll vote for that change. The rest of the procedure was working pretty well, and just needed a few tweaks.

I've answered this before.  Non-members WERE invited to particpate in the survey if they were convention goers.  Convention goers are allowed to vote on the awards, surely you realise that?  But they can't vote at AGMs or in ballots like this.  So the logic of it was to consult all the awards voters and then let the members - exclusively - decide.  Stephen I'm sorry to sound impatient with you but this has been explained many times in different places yet you keep bringing it back. I'm not even sure if we can separate the members' preferences from the covention voters' preference.  It would be very time consuming and pointless for Del or someone to have to do that.  And even if we had time to do it, why bother?  That was  a SURVEY.  This is a VOTE.

I said - and not even to you, but in the context of someone telling everyone who doesn't support the changes to "get on board or piss off" - that 50% of members were against the split vote, and you jumped in to say I was completely wrong. But members includes BFS members and FantasyCon members. So basically, you're saying that 50% of members were against the split. There were people who voted in the survey who were neither BFS members nor FantasyCon members - Rhys Hughes said he did.

Yes, none of it matters very much, but you did jump down my throat about it.

Okay, I really didn't want to tie a system down.  But would you be happier if we wrote in an STV or an ATV system?

I would be happier if you restored the existing system for deciding the longlist and shortlist (i.e. just withdraw Recommendation 5), at least until someone thinks of something that will work better.

An STV or ATV system is fine when you're talking about voting on a short list of items, but how would it work when you're voting in the dark on every book published that year?

That would make a popular vote winner apparent. And if the Jury happened to pick a different winner?  Back to square one. Though as a compromise I'd be in favour of listing all the recommendations, but without numbers.

It wouldn't make a popular vote winner apparent. When we talk about recommendations, we're talking in terms of two, three or four people suggesting a book. That's the whole problem with your proposed method for deciding the shortlist, that it'll be produced by such low numbers.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2011, 10:24:15 am by Stephen Theaker »

Offline Jen

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #116 on: November 29, 2011, 09:51:09 am »
One interesting point that people may not realise is that heroic fantasy is generally over-represented on the longlist, in relation to the interest our members have in it - most of the heroic fantasy recommendations on the longlist come from a very small number of people who do their best to make sure it is represented. Those people will now be restricted to just three recommendations...

Ooh, I know.  It'll be terrible! I've now got to cut my list of 20 or so recs for fantasy novels and short stories down to 3.  This is going to be torment! ;)

Offline David A. Riley

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #117 on: November 29, 2011, 09:51:52 am »


yes Stephen but you think >everything< will be worse than ever because you wrote the previous system of rules (which I might add, ended up with the fiasco of this year's awards!) :-)



Was this the only time the present rules have resulted in a "fiasco", as you term it? If so, they would seem to have worked pretty well so far.

Would it have been termed a "fiasco" is someone else but David Howe had been Chairman at the time? If not, then the rules had nothing to do with it.

The only reason why the awards are being lambasted as a "fiasco" is because a number of people disagree with the results, even though these were by a democratic vote of the members and previous FantasyCon attendees. A couple of years ago when some people voiced criticism of a certain BFA winner they were condemned as spoil sports and of sour grapes - and worse.

I do feel that the society is being railroaded into changes over one awards ceremony. It was a hiccup, maybe, in a system that otherwise seems to have worked well for many years. Not everyone is ever going to agree with all the results whatever system is chosen, but I do feel that this current obsession is over the top.

Offline Jen

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #118 on: November 29, 2011, 10:07:48 am »

I don't think it is old guard versu new guard. I'm all in favour of rejigging the Awards system and have said so for years. And your're right, it's what the members want. Are the members interested in Ramsey Campbell, Stephen Jones books, Johnny Mains books, Ex Occidente, Ash Tree Press, Chomu Press, VanderMeers' massive defining 'The WEIRD', Gary McMahon, Simon Clark,  Robert Aickman, Thomas Ligotti, Gary Fry, Stephen King, literary literature associated with the aforementioned, etc etc. Or are they interested in something else?

That of course doesn't prevent anyone being interested (as I am) in all genres of fiction, but if you're joining a Society (with monetary outlay) one joins the Society for what it is interested in. One can join any number of Societies, also. I don't think anyone would suggest merging all Societies of fiction (wild west, fantasy, horror / weird, sf, literary literature, chick lit etc) into one Society to give it more muscle or size.  That's your choice - to choose which Society or Societies fits your interests best. (And as I suggested earlier to Caroline, all fiction is imaginative fiction).

However, when you see a society called the British Fantasy Society, you naturally assume that it's interested in, y'know, fantasy and has at least a decent representation of it, even if large amounts of members are more of the horror bent...

This member, f'rinstance, is far more interested in works by Charles De Lint, Seanan McGuire, Jim Butcher, Sarah Monette, Chaz Brenchley, Juliet McKenna, Terry Pratchett, Kate Griffin, Aliette de Bodard, Kari Sperring, Mark Charan Newton, Kate Eliot etc. than your above named examples (although I will admit a fondness for Jones anthos and all things King when it comes to horror stuff.)

As always, the key seems to be balancing all interests, which is what the BFS has always tried to do. 

Offline Grafire

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Re: Overhaul of the British Fantasy Awards
« Reply #119 on: November 29, 2011, 10:18:45 am »
>>The only reason why the awards are being lambasted as a "fiasco" is because a number of people disagree with the results, even though these were by a democratic vote of the members and previous FantasyCon attendees.<<

Not true about the lambasting, David.  The system had never been "exploited" before in this way if I can use that word.  Quite legally, yes. Even "democratically" if you like.  But in 20 years of membership I never had a friend or other writer in the Soc ask me to vote for them, nor did I ask them.  That was the prevailing culture and ethos of the Awards and it worked just fine.  Until now.  And though you can't "prove" any canvassing it was as plain as the nose on your face when offered a very clear "slate" of some baffling results.

You say the Society is being railroaded, but I say this to you (and you probably didn't know this):

32 authors and publishers - all what you would call "very signifcant names" - came together within a few hours of the results and said enough is enough, and that either this all changes or we are out.  They were embarrassed to be associated with this Society.  So was I.  We were  an international laughing stock (and in some eyes still are) and people wanted out.  There were even calls to set up a new Society. Without those "significant names" (and I'm sure it would have been easy to double or treble that number but the tipping point was well passed) the Society would have been a very fragile an dmaybe unsustainable thing.  But there were enough people on that list who wanted to stay in and try to put things right.  I agreed to be Acting Chair if people woudl roll up their sleeves, all on the promise that we would start by chaning the awards system.  This is no "railroad".  This is a salvage operation.