2014 British Fantasy Award Nominees

The 2014 British Fantasy Award nominees are:

Best Fantasy Novel (the Robert Holdstock Award)

  • Between Two Thorns, Emma Newman (Angry Robot)
  • Blood and Feathers: Rebellion, Lou Morgan (Solaris)
  • The Glass Republic, Tom Pollock (Jo Fletcher Books)
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman (Headline)
  • A Stranger in Olondria, Sofia Samatar (Small Beer Press)

Best Horror Novel (the August Derleth Award)

  • House of Small Shadows, Adam Nevill (Pan)
  • Mayhem, Sarah Pinborough (Jo Fletcher Books)
  • NOS4R2, Joe Hill (Gollancz)
  • Path of Needles, Alison Littlewood (Jo Fletcher Books)
  • The Shining Girls, Lauren Beukes (HarperCollins)
  • The Year of the Ladybird, Graham Joyce (Gollancz)

Best Novella

  • Beauty, Sarah Pinborough (Gollancz)
  • Dogs With Their Eyes Shut, Paul Meloy (PS Publishing)
  • Spin, Nina Allan (TTA Press)
  • Vivian Guppy and the Brighton Belle, Nina Allan (Rustblind and Silverbright)
  • Whitstable, Stephen Volk (Spectral Press)

Best Short Story

  • Chalk, Pat Cadigan (This Is Horror)
  • Death Walks En Pointe, Thana Niveau (The Burning Circus)
  • Family Business, Adrian Tchaikovsky (The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic)
  • The Fox, Conrad Williams (This Is Horror)
  • Golden Apple, Sophia McDougall (The Lowest Heaven)
  • Moonstruck, Karin Tidbeck (Shadows & Tall Trees #5)
  • Signs of the Times, Carole Johnstone (Black Static #33)

Best Collection

  • For Those Who Dream Monsters, Anna Taborska (Mortbury Press)
  • Holes for Faces, Ramsey Campbell (Dark Regions Press)
  • Monsters in the Heart, Stephen Volk (Gray Friar Press)
  • North American Lake Monsters, Nathan Ballingrud (Small Beer Press)

Best Anthology

  • End of the Road, Jonathan Oliver (ed.) (Solaris)
  • Fearie Tales, Stephen Jones (ed.) (Jo Fletcher Books)
  • Rustblind and Silverbright, David Rix (ed.) (Eibonvale Press)
  • Tales of Eve, Mhairi Simpson (ed.) (Fox Spirit Books)
  • The Tenth Black Book of Horror, Charles Black (ed.) (Mortbury Press)

Best Small Press

  • The Alchemy Press (Peter Coleborn)
  • Fox Spirit Books (Adele Wearing)
  • NewCon Press (Ian Whates)
  • Spectral Press (Simon Marshall-Jones)

Best Non-Fiction

  • Gestalt Real-Time Reviews, D.F. Lewis
  • Doors to Elsewhere, Mike Barrett (The Alchemy Press)
  • Fantasy Faction, Marc Aplin (ed.)
  • Speculative Fiction 2012, Justin Landon and Jared Shurin (eds) (Jurassic London)
  • “We Have Always Fought”: Challenging the “Women, Cattle and Slaves” Narrative, Kameron Hurley (A Dribble of Ink)

Best Magazine/Periodical

  • Black Static, Andy Cox (ed.) (TTA Press)
  • Clarkesworld, Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace (ed.) (Wyrm Publishing)
  • Interzone, Andy Cox (ed.) (TTA Press)
  • Shadows & Tall Trees, Michael Kelly (ed.) (Undertow Books)

Best Comic/Graphic Novel

  • Demeter, Becky Cloonan (Becky Cloonan)
  • Jennifer Wilde, Maura McHugh, Karen Mahoney and Stephen Downey (Atomic Diner Comics)
  • Porcelain, Benjamin Read and Chris Wildgoose (Improper Books)
  • Rachel Rising, Terry Moore (Abstract Studio)
  • Saga, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
  • The Unwritten, Mike Carey and Peter Gross (Vertigo)

Best Artist

  • Adam Oehlers
  • Ben Baldwin
  • Daniele Serra
  • Joey Hi-Fi
  • Tula Lotay
  • Vincent Chong

Best Film/Television Episode

  • Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor, Steven Moffat (BBC)
  • Game of Thrones: The Rains of Castamere, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (HBO)
  • Gravity, Alfonso Cuarón and Jonás Cuarón (Warner Bros)
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro (Warner Bros)
  • Iron Man 3, Drew Pearce and Shane Black (Marvel Studios)

Best Newcomer (the Sydney J. Bounds Award)

  • Ann Leckie, for Ancillary Justice (Orbit)
  • Emma Newman, for Between Two Thorns (Angry Robot)
  • Francis Knight, for Fade to Black (Orbit)
  • Laura Lam, for Pantomime (Strange Chemistry)
  • Libby McGugan, for The Eidolon (Solaris)
  • Samantha Shannon, for The Bone Season (Bloomsbury)

The winners will be selected by the previously announced juries. The British Fantasy Society committee will decide the winner of the Karl Edward Wagner Award. The awards will be announced at FantasyCon 2014 in September.

2013 British Fantasy Awards

The winners of the 2013 British Fantasy Awards were announced November 3 at the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton:

Best Fantasy Novel (the Robert Holdstock Award): Some Kind of Fairy Tale, Graham Joyce (Gollancz)

Best Horror Novel (the August Derleth Award): Last Days, Adam Nevill (Macmillan)

Best Novella: The Nine Deaths of Dr Valentine, John Llewellyn Probert (Spectral Press)

Best Short Story: “Shark! Shark!” by Ray Cluley (Black Static #29) (TTA Press)

Best Collection: Remember Why You Fear Me, Robert Shearman (ChiZine Publications)

Best Anthology: Magic: an Anthology of the Esoteric and Arcane, Jonathan Oliver (ed.) (Solaris)

Best Small Press (the PS Publishing Independent Press Award): ChiZine Publications (Brett Alexander Savory and Sandra Kasturi)

Best Non-Fiction: Pornokitsch, Anne C. Perry and Jared Shurin (eds)

Best Magazine/Periodical: Interzone, Andy Cox (ed.) (TTA Press)

Best Artist: Sean Phillips

Best Comic/Graphic Novel: Saga, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image Comics)

Best Screenplay: The Cabin in the Woods, Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard

Best Newcomer (the Sydney J. Bounds Award): Helen Marshall, for Hair Side, Flesh Side (ChiZine Publications)

Special Award (the Karl Edward Wagner Award): Iain Banks / Iain M. Banks

The winners were decided by the following jury members. On the main jury, deciding the categories of fantasy novel, horror novel, novella, short story, collection, anthology, magazine/periodical, comic/graphic novel and screenplay: Esther Sherman, Matthew Hughes, Neil Williamson, Pauline Morgan and Ros Jackson. Non-fiction: Djibril al-Ayad and Jason Arnopp. Artist: Daniele Serra, P.M. Buchan and Rachel Kendall. Small press: Elaine Hillson, Elloise Hopkins, Dave Brzeski, Rachel Kendall and Rhian Bowley. Newcomer: Adele Wearing, Alison Littlewood, Jim Steel, Lizzie Barrett and Peter Tennant. The Karl Edward Wagner Award was decided by a vote of the British Fantasy Society committee.

2013 British Fantasy Award Nominees

The nominees for the 2013 British Fantasy Awards 2013 have been announced. The winners will be revealed at an awards banquet during the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton on Sunday, November 3.

Best Fantasy Novel (the Robert Holdstock Award)
Blood and Feathers, Lou Morgan (Solaris)
The Brides of Rollrock Island, Margo Lanagan (David Fickling Books)
Railsea, China Miéville (Macmillan)
Red Country, Joe Abercrombie (Gollancz)
Some Kind of Fairy Tale, Graham Joyce (Gollancz)

Best Horror Novel (the August Derleth Award)
The Drowning Girl, Caitlin R. Kiernan (Roc)
The Kind Folk, Ramsey Campbell (PS Publishing)
Last Days, Adam Nevill (Macmillan)
Silent Voices, Gary McMahon (Solaris)
Some Kind of Fairy Tale, Graham Joyce (Gollancz)

Best Novella
Curaré, Michael Moorcock (Zenith Lives!) (Obverse Books)
Eyepennies, Mike O’Driscoll (TTA Press)
The Nine Deaths of Dr Valentine, John Llewellyn Probert (Spectral Press)
The Respectable Face of Tyranny, Gary Fry (Spectral Press)

Best Short Story
Our Island, Ralph Robert Moore (Where Are We Going?) (Eibonvale Press)
Shark! Shark! Ray Cluley (Black Static #29) (TTA Press)
Sunshine, Nina Allan (Black Static #29) (TTA Press)
Wish for a Gun, Sam Sykes (A Town Called Pandemonium) (Jurassic London)

Best Collection
From Hell to Eternity, Thana Niveau (Gray Friar Press)
Remember Why You Fear Me, Robert Shearman (ChiZine Publications)
Where Furnaces Burn, Joel Lane (PS Publishing)
The Woman Who Married a Cloud, Jonathan Carroll (Subterannean Press)

Best Anthology
A Town Called Pandemonium, Anne C. Perry and Jared Shurin (eds) (Jurassic London)
Magic: an Anthology of the Esoteric and Arcane, Jonathan Oliver (ed.) (Solaris)
The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women, Marie O’Regan (ed.) (Robinson)
Terror Tales of the Cotswolds, Paul Finch (ed.) (Gray Friar Press)

Best Small Press (the PS Publishing Independent Press Award)
ChiZine Publications (Brett Alexander Savory and Sandra Kasturi)
Gray Friar Press (Gary Fry)
Spectral Press (Simon Marshall-Jones)
TTA Press (Andy Cox)

Best Non-Fiction
Ansible, David Langford
The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature, Edward James and Farah Mendlesohn (eds) (Cambridge University Press)
Coffinmaker’s Blues, Stephen Volk (Black Static) (TTA Press)
Fantasy Faction, Marc Aplin (ed.)
Pornokitsch, Anne C. Perry and Jared Shurin (eds)
Reflections: On the Magic of Writing, Diana Wynne Jones (David Fickling Books)

Best Magazine/Periodical
Black Static, Andy Cox (ed.) (TTA Press)
Interzone, Andy Cox (ed.) (TTA Press)
SFX, David Bradley (ed.) (Future Publishing)
Shadows and Tall Trees, Michael Kelly (ed.) (Undertow Publications)

Best Artist
Ben Baldwin
David Rix
Les Edwards
Sean Phillips
Vincent Chong

Best Comic/Graphic Novel
Dial H, China Miéville, Mateus Santolouco, David Lapham and Riccardo Burchielli (DC Comics)
Saga, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
The Unwritten, Mike Carey, Peter Gross, Gary Erskine, Gabriel Hernández Walta, M.K. Perker, Vince Locke and Rufus Dayglo (DC Comics/Vertigo)
The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard (Skybound Entertainment/Image Comics)

Best Screenplay
Avengers Assemble, Joss Whedon
Sightseers, Alice Lowe, Steve Oram and Amy Jump
The Cabin in the Woods, Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro

Best Newcomer (the Sydney J. Bounds Award)
Alison Moore, for The Lighthouse (Salt Publishing)
Anne Lyle, for The Alchemist of Souls (Angry Robot)
E.C. Myers, for Fair Coin (Pyr)
Helen Marshall, for Hair Side, Flesh Side (ChiZine Publications)
Kim Curran, for Shift (Strange Chemistry)
Lou Morgan, for Blood and Feathers (Solaris)
Molly Tanzer, for A Pretty Mouth (Lazy Fascist Press)
Saladin Ahmed, for Throne of the Crescent Moon (Gollancz)
Stephen Bacon, for Peel Back the Sky (Gray Friar Press)
Stephen Blackmoore, for City of the Lost (Daw Books)

Four nominees in each category were decided by a vote of the members of the British Fantasy Society and the attendees of FantasyCon 2012, with up to two further nominees in each category being added by the juries as “egregious omissions”. The exception is the Best Newcomer category, in which all authors under consideration were put forward by voters.

The winners will be decided by jury – see details here.

2012 British Fantasy Awards

The 2012 British Fantasy Awards were presented September 30 at Fanatsy Con in Brighton.

Novel

The August Derleth Award (for best horror novel)
The Ritual by Adam Nevill (Pan)

The Robert Holdstock Award (for best fantasy novel)
Among Others by Jo Walton (Tor Books)

Novella
Gorel and the Pot Bellied God by Lavie Tidhar (PS Publishing)

Short Fiction
“The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter” by Angela Slatter (A Book of Horrors, Jo Fletcher Books)

Anthology
The Weird, editors Jeff and Ann Vandermeer (Corvus Books)

Collection
Everyone’s Just So So Special by Robert Shearman (Big Finish)

Screenplay
Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen

Magazine/Periodical
Black Static, Andy Cox, editor; TTA Press

Comic/Graphic Novel
Locke and Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW Publishing)

The BFA judges were James Barclay, Hal Duncan, Maura McHugh, Esther Sherman, and Damien G. Walter.

Re: Joyce

Novelist Graham Joyce has taken over as acting chair of the British Fantasy Society. He sees an urgent need to reform the BFAs. “The old system that served us for such a long time had a hole punched in it this year. It was always a vulnerable system and with its weakness to ‘boosting’ votes now only too exposed, it is in my view irreparable.”

Here Joyce is echoing a different Stephen Jones criticism than the charges of conflict of interest that prompted BFS chair David Howe’s resignation, but it is necessary to address them all to assure the future health of the British Fantasy Awards.

That will be done soon. Joyce has announced an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Society for December 9 in London to elect new officers and consider a proposal to reorganize the BFS awards. Members of BFS and FantasyCon are currently being surveyed about ideas for improving them.

Along the way Joyce has also provided a fascinating answer to my question of several weeks ago. Sam Stone won two British Fantasy Awards, for Best Novel and Best Short Story, and in the face of the controversy Stone announced she was returning the Best Novel award. If Stone felt that way, I asked why she would return only one of her two awards, and how she settled on the one for Best Novel?

Graham Joyce told BFS members he will, in fact, assume both awards have been returned unless somebody tells him differently:

Regarding the breakdown of this year’s Awards I have been asked what is being done. Sam Stone publicly returned her award, so I contacted the shortlisted authors to ask if they wanted me to examine the ballot to make a re-award. All the shortlisted authors indicated they would prefer this not to happen and that they would prefer no award to be given. Therefore this year the record will indicate *NO AWARD*. There is uncertainty about whether Sam Stone returned the Short Story Award at the same time as the Novel award. Identical conditions applied in both categories so I am assuming this to be the case unless I am told otherwise. Regarding all the awards received by the Telos imprint I have received no information, therefore all these awards stand as announced. I hope we can now consider the matter of this year’s awards CLOSED.

How the Hugos Avoid Conflicts of Interest

The British Fantasy Awards became mired in controversy when Stephen Jones charged a conflict of interest between the administrator and several winners. That prompted a few fans to suggest fixing the BFA by borrowing rules from the Hugo Awards.

The Hugo Awards do have an excellent reputation for avoiding such conflicts, but don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s because of the superior draftsmanship of the rules. The real reason is that over the years many different people have steered clear of conflicts that the rules do not prevent.

What Is a Conflict of Interest? A conflict of interest exists when anyone exploits his/her official capacity for personal benefit.

The Hugo Awards are run under a set of rules that is extremely wary of conflicts of interest. The WSFS Constitution excludes the entire Worldcon committee from winning a Hugo unless these conditions are met:

Section 3.12: Exclusions. No member of the current Worldcon Committee or any publications closely connected with a member of the Committee shall be eligible for an Award. However, should the Committee delegate all authority under this Article to a Subcommittee whose decisions are irrevocable by the Worldcon Committee, then this exclusion shall apply to members of the Subcommittee only.

To avoid disqualifying the whole Committee – upwards of 200 people, most having nothing to do with the Hugos – the Worldcon chair generally appoints the fans who count the votes and apply the eligibility rules to a Subcommittee. So if some minor member of the concom wins a Hugo, as I did while serving as editor of L.A.con II’s daily newzine in 1984, it’s no problem.

From the beginning the WSFS Constitution (1962-1963) has banned all committee members from eligibility for the Hugos. To my knowledge, the rule was modified in the 1970s by adding the option of an autonomous Subcommittee. People thought it should have been unnecessary for Mike Glicksohn to resign from the TorCon 2 (1973) committee rather than forego the chance for his and Susan Wood Glicksohn’s Energumen to compete for the Hugo, which they indeed won.

The modified rule has worked to everyone’s satisfaction for a number of reasons having little to do with its precision. Worldcons once were commonly led by people also involved with Hugo contending fanzines, which has rarely happened in the past 40 years. On those rare occasions the people involved have taken it upon themselves to avoid any conflicts.

For example, many fans involved with running Noreascon Three (1989) wrote for The Mad 3 Party in the years leading up to the con. Edited by Leslie Turek, TM3P was nominated for Best Fanzine in 1988, withdrawn in 1989, and won a Hugo in 1990. Noreascon Three did appoint a Hugo Subcommittee, of unassailable integrity — in my mind, if TM3P had competed in 1989 and won a Hugo there would have been no reason to doubt the result. The committee, however, felt they needed to go beyond what was required in the rules to preserve an appearance of fairness and TM3P was withdrawn.

When I chaired L.A.con III (1996) friends reminded me that I could remain eligible for a Hugo by delegating responsibility for the awards to a Subcommittee. I felt invested in and responsible for everything that was happening with the con, so for me it was never an option to act as if the Hugos weren’t a part of that. I did appoint a Subcommittee – and put myself on it, announcing that I was withdrawing from the awards for 1996.

So the anti-conflict rule works because people make it work. It is not an infallible rule. In fact, I agree with a comment made by drplokta on Nicholas Whyte’s From the Heart of Europe that it would be hypothetically possible for something similar to this year’s BFA situation to play out in the Hugos without violating the rule.   

[Hugo Subcommittee members’] partners are eligible though, and I guess if a Hugo subcommittee member ran a publishing house then the books that they publish would be eligible, since the nomination would be for the author and not for the publisher.

In short, it’s a good rule to have, but it’s not all-encompassing as some have assumed in recommending it to fix the BFAs. 

The Hugo Awards Conflict of Interest Trivia Quiz: When I made my decision to withdraw in 1996 I doubted that other Worldcon chairs had ever faced the same choice. But they did. I’ll share what I’ve discovered in the answers to this two-question trivia quiz.

Question 1: How many times has the chair of the current year’s Worldcon won a Hugo?

(a) Once
(b) Twice
(c) Never

There’s been such controversy about the chair of the British Fantasy Society’s close association with 5 of this year’s award winners — for example, he is a partner in the publisher that won Best Small Press – that you’d have to assume it would be impossible for a Worldcon chairman to win a Hugo at his own con without raising a historic stink, right? Wrong.

Answer to Question 1: Once. Loncon I (1957) was chaired by Ted Carnell. The winner of the Hugo for Best British Professional Magazine was New Worlds edited by John Edward Carnell. The same person.

Ted Carnell is the only chair to win a Hugo at his own Worldcon. And it appears everyone was content. Harry Warner’s history of Fifties fandom, A Wealth of Fable, doesn’t contain the least hint of controversy. Neither do any of the conreports from Loncon I collected on Rob Hansen’s website.

Sometimes in the award’s early days the chair of the Worldcon administered the Hugos and counted the votes. That may not have been the case in 1957. The progress reports directed members to send their Achievement Award ballots to the convention secretary Roberta Wild. The chair winning a major award might still have been questioned but I’ve found no record of any complaint. In all my time in fandom I’ve never heard anybody say a bad word about that having happened.

Ted White, the 1967 Worldcon chair who responded to some questions for this article, agrees: “I have never heard anyone say anything disparaging about it either.  It was a bit too obviously deserved. Fandom was a lot smaller then, and even smaller in the UK.  Carnell wore several hats.  I met him in 1965. A quiet, unassuming, gentle and generous man.”

Question 2: How many times has a Worldcon chair won a Hugo the year before or after their con?

(a) 2
(b) 4
(c) 8

Answer to Question 2: 4 times.

Many Worldcon chairs and their committees were connected with award-winning fanzines over the years. Before the Internet that was the best medium for building fannish communities and wooing voters.  

(1) Wally Weber was a co-editor of Cry of the Nameless, the Best Fanzine Hugo winner in 1960, the year before he chaired Seacon (1961). Cry was not a nominee in 1961 but was back as a finalist in 1962. So was the zine kept out of contention the year they hosted the Worldcon? Wally Weber isn’t certain but he thinks they might have:

As for the 1961 Hugos, I remember a discussion and decision that Cry be disqualified due to the unusually large percentage of the eligible voters being from the Seattle area and who had never read a fanzine other than Cry. Unfortunately my memory is often more creative than accurate and I have no documentation to back that up. I do not even remember who participated in making the decision. I don’t even remember how the voting was done or who counted the ballots. Did we have official ballots? I would think such a decision would have been mentioned in one of the progress reports if, indeed, there actually had been such a decision. Maybe votes for Cry were just discarded during the counting processes.

(2) The 1961 fanzine Hugo winner was Earl Kemp’s Who Killed Science Fiction. The next year Kemp chaired Chicon III (1962). However, as I’m sure you already know, Who Killed Science Fiction was the most famous one-shot in the history of sf. It obviously wasn’t a factor in the Hugos when he chaired the Worldcon.

(3) George Scithers chaired Discon I (1963) in Washington, D.C. He edited Amra from 1959 to 1982. It won the Hugo in 1964. Since it had never been nominated for the Hugo in any prior year it’s difficult to guess whether he took any special steps to keep it off the ballot when he chaired the Worldcon in 1963. None of the committee members who might know are still with us – Scithers, Bob Pavlat and Dick Eney. One thing we do know is that he wouldn’t have permitted his zine to be placed on the ballot because he’s one of the people who helped write the anti-conflict rule into the original WSFS Constitution of 1962-1963.

(4) Ted White co-chaired NyCon 3 (1967), the Worldcon which originated the Best Fan Writer and Best Fan Artist Hugos. He also worked for F&SF at the time. Ted says: “F&SF withdrew itself; this was not a NyCon3 committee decision. Ed Ferman [the editor] had a nice sense of propriety.”

Ted says he didn’t take any steps to stay off the ballot in the fan categories the year he chaired the Worldcon. “I did not withdraw myself from the Fanwriter category (nor make any announcements to that effect) because I did not regard it as necessary. I wasn’t nominated that year, obviating the question.  My win the following year surprised me.” However, he probably did not need to make any announcement: people would have been aware of the anti-conflict rule in the Constitution.

White and F&SF both won Hugos the following year, 1968.

[Special thanks to Robert Lichtman and Ted White, as well as Darrell Schweitzer, Peggy Rae Sapienza, Michael J. Walsh, Elinor Busby and Wally Weber for their assistance in researching this article.]

Howe Quits as Chair of BFS

David Howe resigned as Chairman of the British Fantasy Society just one week after he helped announce the winners of the British Fantasy Awards at Fantasycon. Howe, the awards administrator, was accused by prominent editor Stephen Jones, among others, with a conflict of interest because he is a partner in Telos, the publisher of two BFA-winning stories and winner of Best Small Press, and also is the domestic partner of Sam Stone, winner of two fiction BFA’s.     

British Fantasy Society President Ramsey Campbell exonerated Howe in a statement informing members of the resignation:

Following the recent public allegations made regarding this year’s British Fantasy Awards, The British Fantasy Society Committee would like to state for the record that it is our firm belief that no corruption or wrongdoing took place during the administration of the British Fantasy Awards, and that in this respect all awards should still stand as presented. We confirm that the summation of the votes cast was performed electronically and once the results were checked they were confirmed and verified by another member of the committee.

Campbell asserts that Howe had no control over awards selection, only stepping in to arrange for the physical awards and ceremony when the original administrator was “unable to continue due to personal issues”:

David did not have any involvement with the nominations, short listing or the voting process, other than with the awards administration (procuring the statuettes, plaques, etc) and we are happy that the voting/counting process was 100% accurate within the scope of the current rules. We therefore completely exonerate David from any wrongdoing in the administration of the 2011 Awards.

Perhaps one with full knowledge of the context can reconcile Campbell’s statement with Howe’s own explanation posted October 5 which I took to be an admission of a role in the voting process:

[There] were 140 valid individuals voting in the Awards (I did have to exclude a couple of voters as they were not BFS Members and had not attended FantasyCon either last year, nor were they listed to attend this year).

So the winners were simply those who those that voted thought were worth voting for. Several of the categories were very close between the votes, with in some cases just one vote separating the winner. I asked Del Lakin-Smith, the BFS Webmaster, who was also looking after the online results forms, to do a double check count and tally to ensure complete transparency in what the members had voted for. The results were as announced.

Campbell promises that the awards procedures will be “addressed going forward to maintain the integrity of the society.”

[Via Ansible Links.]

Stone’s Beau Geste

Sam Stone won two British Fantasy Awards last Sunday but is giving one back saying she has been “absolutely devastated” by people’s negative comments.  

No one would be surprised if it’s Stephen Jones’ criticisms she had in mind, although her announcement doesn’t name anyone individually.

I do not wish to be seen as the winner that tore the British Fantasy Society in two. The society means too much to me and I cannot allow this controversy to taint the integrity of those involved. Therefore, I am returning the award for Best Novel.

Those closer to the scene presumably understand why Stone would return only one of her two awards, and why she would choose the one for Best Novel. I hope someone will explain it to me.

In any event, Stone’s decision isn’t in response to any discovery of wrongdoing – she defends the propriety of David Howe, her partner who administered the awards. Stone also reminds everyone the winners were picked by popular vote:

I have seen the comments made concerning my receiving the August Derleth Award for Best novel on Sunday – I repeat again I had no knowledge I was going to receive it and remind everyone that the ballot is from the BFS membership and attendees of FantasyCon. It is their votes, not a Jury or an individual, that decide who wins the awards.

That last part is something Stone may not have fully considered in the high emotions of the moment. That the award was voted upon is not merely an exculpatory fact and a professional writer should be more worried about the risks in rejecting accolades voted by her fans than trying to silence her critics. The critics will only be encouraged by a choice that resembles an admission of guilt, while her fans may be confused or worse.

In fact, a few voices on the internet were calling for Stone not to give in, such as the reviewer at science42fiction who declared:

With regard to FantasyCon 2011, Sam Stone should keep her awards. Her work is worthy.

Stone might as well have kept it. People will honor the announced voting results – so long as nothing happens to overturn them. And if the British Fantasy Society passes the statuette on to the second place finisher how excited can that person feel knowing their name will be entered on the awards list followed by an asterisk?

In the meantime, Stone’s dream-come-true of winning a BFA has turned to ashes.

Along Came Jones

Renowned horror editor Stephen Jones went home from the British Fantasy Awards ceremony at Fantasycon and immediately wrote “Putting the ‘Con’ Into Fantasycon”, casting a pall of suspicion over the results.

He began with the nominating process:

I guess the “fix” was in months ago. The preliminary ballot was posted on the Society’s website before most of the membership had any idea that they actually could start nominating, and it was arbitrarily decreed by the present Committee—without any discussion with the membership—that for the first time ever only electronic ballots would be accepted and that any postal votes would be ignored.

Jones implies the deadline for British Fantasy Society members to nominate (February 14, according to the BFS website) was so early it restricted participation. Certainly the history of another award, the Hugos, shows an early deadline curtails voting — when there was a March 1 deadline in 2008, only 483 nominations came in, compared to hundreds more at the next several Worldcons.

On the other hand, Jones’ implication that eliminating paper ballots disenfranchises people isn’t supported by the Worldcon’s experience. In 2011, with both electronic and paper voting available, Hugo voters showed an overwhelming preference for electronic voting and cast only a trivial number of paper ballots.

Jones devoted his most savage comments to a pattern he observed among the BFA winners, implying several involved a conflict of interest between British Fantasy Society Chairman David Howe and Telos, a small press imprint in which Howe is a partner. Telos won the Best Small Press Award and published two of the award-winning stories. Jones also noted that Howe’s domestic partner, Sam Stone, won in yet another category.

Here are Jones’ key phrases along that line:

Early on, current BFS Chairman David Howe made it clear that he would take the awards ceremony away from the convention and run it himself (not all that surprising since the awards are actually presented by the Society, although they are voted on by members of both the BFS and FantasyCon)….

Simon Clark had already gone when it was announced that he had won it for Humpty’s Bones from small press imprint Telos (remember that name, it will be cropping up again soon)….

By now it was obvious that the awards were not being presented in their normal—or published—order. I’m sure that those conspiracy theorists amongst the audience must have wondered if this was to prevent a pattern from emerging . . . .

The Best Short Story award went to Sam Stone. She cried a lot, thanked her partner—David Howe—and told us what a surprise it was to win. Presumably, David had not told her over the washing-up, nor had she sneaked a peek at the plaques he had brought down to stick on the award statuettes.

But just when Jones hooked his readers with these hints of scandal he changed course and began blasting the bad taste of BFA voters, in the process undercutting his credibility. For the only reason to blame the voters is if they actually chose the winners, by the ordinary democratic process, which is contrary to the impression Jones had labored to create:

Of course, the members of the BFS and FantasyCon are absolutely entitled to vote for whomsoever they want to. Although I suspect it helps if, say, you restrict the voting process and possibly urge all your friends to vote for you and each other. That’s what happened to the HWA Bram Stoker Awards until they became such a laughing stock in the field that the nomination process has had to undergo a major overhaul.

To put it bluntly, this year’s results made a mockery of the British Fantasy Award and everything it has always stood for. Even if you ignore the embarrassing ceremony and clichéd platitudes, few of these awards actually reflected genuine quality or what is happening in mainstream genre publishing today.

Maybe that also reflects the tastes of the BFS membership? Perhaps the majority do not read outside the small press anymore? Maybe they no longer have good taste or any critical acumen?

In the end, readers must ask themselves whether Jones has proven anything besides his own dissatisfaction with some of the BFA winners.

2011 British Fantasy Award Winners

The winners of the 2011 British Fantasy Awards were announced October 2 at Fantasycon in Brighton, reports Dark Wolf’s Fantasy Reiews:

BEST NOVEL (AUGUST DERLETH FANTASY AWARD): “Demon Dance” by Sam Stone (The House of Murky Depths)

BEST NOVELLA: “Humpty’s Bones” by Simon Clark (Telos)

BEST SHORT STORY: “Fool’s Gold” by Sam Stone (“The Bitten Word” edited by Ian Whates/ NewCon Press)

BEST COLLECTION: “Full Dark, No Stars” by Stephen King (Hodder & Stoughton)

BEST ANTHOLOGY: “Back from the Dead: The Legacy of the Pan Book of Horror Stories” edited by Johnny Mains (Noose & Gibbet)

BEST NON-FICTION: “Altered Visions: The Art of Vincent Chong” (Telos)

BEST ARTIST: Vincent Chong

BEST SMALL PRESS: Telos Publishing

BEST MAGAZINE/PERIODICAL: “Black Static” (Andy Cox (ed.)/TTA Press)

BEST COMIC/GRAPHIC NOVEL: “At the Mountains of Madness” by Ian Culbard (Self Made Hero)

BEST FILM: Inception (Christopher Nolan/Syncopy Films)

BEST TELEVISION: Sherlock (Steven Moffat/BBC)

KARL EDWARD WAGNER SPECIAL AWARD: Terry Pratchett

SYDNEY J. BOUNDS AWARD FOR BEST NEWCOMER: Robert Jackson Bennett, for “Mr. Shivers” (Orbit Books)