Extra opportunity to nominate for the BSFA Awards!

I have a guilty admission to share with you.  For all the times I posted about the BSFA Awards in the last year, encouraging you to share your recommendations of the best UK-published sf novel, the best sf short story, the best work of sf non-fiction, and the best sf artwork from 2011… I never actually got around to putting in a nomination myself last week by the deadline.

I didn’t nominate because I didn’t feel I’d read a wide enough selection of 2011 works. And that may be the same reason why number of people nominating were down somewhat from last year. I still read – and saw – a number of works which were worthy of nomination and which I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing on the ballot.

But! I – and you – have a chance to make up for this.

Starting right now, until Thursday January 19th at 10 pm, the BSFA is accepting additional nominations, especially – particularly – from those BSFA members who haven’t already nominated.

Join me, and nominate! The more people who do, the more representative of the BSFA the resulting shortlists will be.

Last chance to nominate for the 2011 BSFA awards!

BSFA members have just one day left now to nominate what they consider to have been the best science fiction novel, short story, work of art, and/or work of non-fiction from 2011. Nominations close at midnight on Friday, 13 January. That is, as of when I’m posting this tomorrow.

It’s worth making a nomination if there are any eligible works which you would like to see on the shortlist. Just because someone else nominated it already, doesn’t mean it has enough nominations yet to make the shortlist in its category.

Email nominations, along with your name (and, ideally, BSFA membership number) to awards@bsfa.co.uk. Currently, there are no limits on the number of nominations you can make, but you should not nominate your own work.

BSFA Award Nominations: One week to go!

BSFA members have just one week left in which to nominate what they consider to have been the best science fiction novel, short story, work of art, and/or work of non-fiction from 2011. Nominations close at midnight on Friday, 13 January.

Email nominations, along with your name (and, ideally, BSFA membership number) to awards@bsfa.co.uk. Currently, there are no limits on the number of nominations you can make, but you should not nominate your own work.

Awards to come

This weekend’s awards were the Hugos. (See the survey of initial reactions at Strange Horizons.) The UK and the UK SF community did fairly well out of them, even if this country-as-setting was, by many accounts, the weak point in the best novel winner of Blackout/All Clear. Still, between Claire Brialey, James Bacon, Dr Who episodes, and relatedly Chicks Dig Time Lords, Britain would not have done half badly, if this were a country contest. Which it is not.

But the BSFA awards are to some degree, and, although BSFA members can nominate year-round for them, we are coming up to that time of year when nominations are officially open for the awards: the beginning of September.

In the meantime, the rules and guidelines for the 2012 BSFA awards have just gone live over on the BSFA website.

Vector #267

Certain topics ask for poetic treatment—love is one of them, and unrequited love in particular. Poetic writing is, through its intensity, writing that says more than it appears to say. Thus the love that dare not speak its name, in Lord Alfred Douglas’s words, lends itself to poetic treatment, in times when it focuses on an expressly forbidden topic. What we have here is, of course, essentially a literary structure: At its center is a guilty secret—and the guilt and the secrecy are both pivotal. The guilt and the secrecy creates a relationship between two persons, one who knows, and one who does not know. I suspect all writers, from time to time, can be drawn to that structure more or less strongly, whether the secret involves gay sex or not. But I suspect its hard to write a story using such a structure, possibly for its poetic potential, that is not going seem, to some readers, a coded gay tale—even to the surprise of the author; which I think may have been what happened here.

Samuel R. Delany

But the fact is, none of the writing I did about that time—or during that time—gives a direct portrait of my sexual life back then. To repeat, this was three, four years before Stonewall. Back then you didn’t write about things like that, except in code. You left clues that people could—sometimes—read, between the lines. But it was actually dangerous to write about them. You could get in real trouble. You could get your friends in trouble. So you didn’t do it—not in journals, not in letters, not in fiction. A few brave souls, like Ned Rorum or Paul Goodman, were exceptions—and later on, I tried to fill in a few incidents myself. But basically, that wasn’t me.

I tell you this, because it’s important to remember, when considering fiction—like “Aye, and Gomorrah”— just how wide a gap can fall between life and literature—and how social pressures control that gap, so that, in looking at, say, the two award-winning stories of mine that deal with matters gay from the second half of the ’sixties, you have to realize they are finally fairy tales in the way my anecdote about the African medical student cruising the park and his friends is not—even though the Science Fiction Writers of America, who handed out the awards, doubtless felt that they were congratulating me for bringing a new level of “mature realism” to the genre, simply because I was dealing directly with something they thought of as sordid and probably wouldn’t have recognized it at all if I had presented it in any other way. Possibly, at that time, I wouldn’t have recognized it either.

For much the same reasons Nabokov says that Madame Bovary— famed at its time of publication for its realism, it even helped found the school of realism—is finally as much a dark fairy tale as “Jack and the Beanstock” and “Sleeping Beauty.”

Samuel R. Delany

BSFA Award Winners

The winners of the BSFA Awards for the best works published in 2010 were awarded at Eastercon on Saturday night in a ceremony hosted by Paul Cornell, assisted by hard-working BSFA Award Administrator, Donna Scott.

Best Novel: The Dervish House, Ian McDonald

Best Short Story: “The Shipmaker“, Aliette de Bodard (PDF)

Best Non-Fiction: “Blogging the Hugos” at Big Other, Paul Kincaid (Part 1)

Best Artwork: Cover for Zoo City, Joey Hi-Fi

Thank you to everyone who nominated and voted, and congratulations to the winners!

BSFA Award Deadline(s)

Today is the last day for BSFA members to send in their votes for the BSFA Awards in advance. You have until midnight tonight to email in your votes.

After that, it’s still possible to vote – but only if you will be attending Eastercon, where both BSFA and Eastercon members will be able to submit their votes on Friday (and possibly part of Saturday). Then, that evening, the winners will be announced at a ceremony at the convention!

The shortlists are here. Email ranked votes and BSFA membership number to awards@bsfa.co.uk.

London Meeting: BSFA Award Discussion

With only about a month left until voting closes for the BSFA Awards, it’s time for the annual BSFA Award Discussion at the London Meeting. Our panelists this year year will be Tom Hunter, Clarke Award Director; Martin McGrath, BSFA Focus Editor; and Donna Scott, the BSFA Awards Administrator.

As a reminder, here are the shortlists. I hope many of you will be able to come and join in the discussion there!

Date: Wednesday 23rd March 2011

Venue: The Upstairs room at the Antelope Tavern. 22, Eaton Terrace, Belgravia, London, SW1W 8EZ. The nearest tube station is Sloane Square (District/Circle) A map of the location is here.

All are welcome! (No entry fee or tickets. Non-members welcome.) The Interview will commence at 7.00 pm, but the room is open from 6.00 (and fans in the downstairs bar from 5). There will be a raffle (£1 for five tickets), with a selection of sf novels as prizes.

Future London Meetings

Wednesday 20th April 2011 ** – DAVID WEBER: Interviewer TBC
Wednesday 25th May 2011 – SARAH PINBOROUGH: Interviewer TBC
Saturday 4th June 2011 – BSFA/SFF AGM
Thursday 30th June 2011 ** – GILLIAN POLACK: Interviewer TBC

BSFA Award Nominations: Art Statistics

Interest in the art category was down this year compared to the year before. Or perhaps there were just fewer works which happened to catch the eyes of BSFA members.

This year, a total of 24 BSFA members nominated a total of 44 works of art for the art category of the BSFA awards. That means that it was the second-least nominated-in category, although non-fiction trailed well behind it with both sets of numbers. Only 4% of the BSFA’s total members nominated in this category.

It’s important to note that this isn’t a consistent pattern. Last year, about as many entries were nominated for this category as for the art entry, although a larger number of nominators – 30 – nominated the same number of works, 44. Still, that makes it far more competitive than two years ago, when nominators agreed on only 22 works to nominate.

It strikes me every year how dominated this category is by cover art. There’s nothing wrong with that! But it is the common way by which imagery reaches the households of voting Eastercon and BSFA members, arriving on the cover of an anthology, a magazine, or a novel. Perhaps that’s even what tipped the balance to buying it, judging a book by a quite magnificent cover. There is plenty else out there though, from the artwork for board and card games to artists’ published collections to the work shown in the art shows at conventions such as Eastercon itself or Novacon.

In any event, this too is a category about which prospective BSFA award voters might like to be more mindful for potential nominees as they go through the coming year.

Sooner than next year’s ballot is this year’s vote however: as a reminder, here are the shortlists for the four BSFA awards. Ballots were sent out with the most recent BSFA mailing, and will be available at the forthcoming Eastercon, Illustrious, where the votes will be tallied and the awards presented.

BSFA Award Nominations: Non-Fiction Statistics

The non-fiction shortlist for this year’s BSFA Awards is easily the most diverse of the shortlists, at least in terms of media. There’s a podcast, lots of blog posts, and a controversial nomination which may not even be non-fiction, depending on who is doing the nominating. What counts as non-fiction for the BSFA awards is up to the nominators, not the award administrator.

This year, every person who nominated in the non-fiction category had far more influence than anyone who only nominated in other categories. That’s because a total of eighteen people nominated a total of only sixteen candidates for the non-fiction shortlist. 3% of the BSFA’s membership nominated in this category.

Fewer people nominated in this category than the others – over twice as many people nominated for the best novel and for the best short story shortlists. The proportions, however, are not necessarily typical of the category. Last year, twenty-nine people nominated a total of forty-three works! Even the year before that, twenty-nine different works were nominated for the shortlist.

This is the only category for which there were fewer nominations than nominators which, superficially, may suggest a greater initial consensus on appropriate works than in other categories. There weren’t a whole lot of eligible non-fiction books published compared to some recent years, but there were plenty of other ways in which eligible non-fiction is produced, as is clear from the diversity of this year’s ballot.

To simplify a more complicated situation: Novels have publishers, bookstores, and reviewers to raise awareness of them. Short stories have magazines, online and off, to promote them. Artwork is promoted via novel covers, and thus bookstores, and magazines (which, although it’s a fraction of genre artwork being produced, at least gives it venues for publicity). Non-fiction doesn’t have so many built-in mechanisms for advertising. Collectively, I think, we consume a fair amount of it, but it requires a bit more effort to step back from reading and consider a work’s longer-term importance, and to track casually-read essays, reviews, and criticism for their nomination potential.