Controversy at the Con

It always follows that when a large group of friendly writers pour their weary bones into their going-home transport, someone is busy writing what seems to many to be a sour grapes blog. And so it is for this year’s British Fantasy Society’s annual bash, FantasyCon 2011 in Brighton. In spite of luminaries such as veteran SF writers being in attendance and readily accessible, the plethora of awards for both mainstream and independent presses and their authors / artists, Stephen Jones has poured scorn. In a peanut shell he raises a kind of nepotism in the way the awards work. That is: there was an unhealthy relationship between the winner of best novel and short story – the beautiful erotic-vampire-writer, Sam Stone, her feller, David Howe, and the means of award voting. There is no perfect democracy and if you have nothing better to do you could devise a better way to award points and votes to books and artists. However, I have read and reviewed Sam’s books and know that in spite of the abundance of vampire literature, she manages to pull off original concepts and exhilirating three-dimensional characters. I haven’t read all the other books in the category so I cannot say if Demon Dance is better than the others. But I have been a fiction judge, and have been judged, and know how subjective the whole process is – not just for novels but for all art. If another book won the awards I know from the stochastics and probability theory I have applied to my climate stats that you can accuse any system of not being fair. If Stephen Jones (his argument here) is saying that an officer of BFS (David Howe is this year’s chairman and Sam’s partner) should not be involved as an award nominee then he may have a moot point. However, it is not disallowed at present. Stephen should move such a move in the proper channels instead of picking on the recipients after the event.

It’s tempting to say awards don’t matter. Many of us have entered for them and come away empty-handed / headed and won a few, with the feeling that it was sooooo objective that the importance is lessened. However, readers note them, publishers use them on back covers so it is best if an award is seen to be honest and as objective as possible.

With regard to FantasyCon 2011, Sam Stone should keep her awards. Her work is worthy. Change the system for future awards if the feeling Stephen has is shared, but don’t diss the winners.


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4 Responses to “Controversy at the Con”

  1. Maria Says:

    Geoff you are so right that if he has a legitimate concern he should go through proper channels. That kind of sour grapes writin only make the author look bad.

  2. Robert Smith? Says:

    So you can only legitimately criticise the system if you’re part of the insider crowd, with access to “proper” channels?

    In a dictatorship, perhaps that would be the case. But I’m glad I don’t live in one and that individuals who aren’t part of the system can still criticise it.

  3. geoffnelder Says:

    No problems with honest criticism from inside or outside.

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