Take Online Survey of Shortlisted YA Award Titles

The Worldcon’s YA Award Committee asked fans last year to suggest a name for the prospective award, which received its first passage at MidAmeriCon II and is up for ratification at Worldcon 75 in Helsinki.

The committee received 1,138 responses, giving them 460 unique names to winnow.

Some names have been eliminated because they are already attached to other awards: The Stargazer, the Codex, the Nautilus, the Silver Tree, the Beacon, the Portal, the Unicorn, and the names of authors like Robert Heinlein, Andre Norton, Jane Yolen, and Anne McCaffrey.

Other names have been ruled out to avoid copyright and trademark issues: Golden Snitch, Earthsea, Bilbo Baggins, etc.

And the committee enjoyed but also won’t be using any of the funny suggestions — the Read It and Reap Award, the Rodent of Unusual Size Award, and the Chesterfield Sofa.

They have settled on a six name shortlist and are asking everyone for their opinion in “The <blank> Award for Best Young Adult Book Shortlist Survey”.  The names are —

  • Anansi
  • Lodestar
  • Ouroboros
  • Spellcaster
  • Tesseract
  • Worldcon

The survey will be open until March 15, 2017.

In addition to the survey, the committee is listening to feedback from groups of experts on cultural sensitivity and trademarks, and will also incorporate advice from a panel of three Young Adult authors.

[Thanks to JJ for the story.]

65 thoughts on “Take Online Survey of Shortlisted YA Award Titles

  1. I’ve nothing against either Spellcaster or Tesseract (the only one I didn’t care for was Worldcon, because that would just be dull), but my personal favourite was Lodestar. The image of a guiding light seems both evocative and appropriate – well, to me, anyway.

  2. I’m trying not to be a party pooper when I say I don’t like any of them and so will let others decide. If we’re going to have this award, it ought to be an author’s name.

  3. @steve davidson,

    The survey doesn’t ask you to pick one (or more) of the choices; it actually asks your opinion on each one. I don’t like any of these names either, so the tally of my opinions ended up being two “It’s not good”-s, three “This would be a bad name”-s, and one “I hate this one and am opposed to this award name.”

  4. I’m not wild about any of them, but if this is the direction they’re going in, I guess Lodestar and Anansi are the two best, in my opinion. Ouroboros and Tesseract I didn’t like at all.

  5. I join in the meh. There’s got to be something better.

    The Daybreak Award?
    The Silver Pippi?
    The Golden Wombat? 😛

    (admittedly my body and my caffeine intake have not yet reached convergence this morning…)

  6. Worldcon I actively dislike, as Steve says, it’s dull.
    Not wowed by the others either. Spellcaster is too Fantasy.

  7. The survey hijacked my browser tab and wouldn’t let me page back here. That’s not good programming.

  8. I personally like “Tesseract”;
    “Spellcaster” leans too far into fantasy for me and the first thought “Anansi” brought up was Gaiman’s book so if they’ve eliminated authors why choose that one.
    “Ouroboros” to me sounds like it belongs with horror.
    I have no problem with “Worldcon; not every award needs a flashy name.

  9. I’m going to join the general chorus of “meh”. None of them will look good on a book cover.

  10. I love the name Ouroboros Award, just don’t think it works for a YA Award.

    Any book that puts the name of that award on its cover will be required to have it wrap all the way around the book.

  11. @Soon Lee – well played. LOL

    ——–

    While Ouroboros received the most favorable rating from me, it was one of the luke-warm options. I agree with Steve that the name should include an author. “The Fontana Award for Best Young Adult Book” has a nice ring to it. I’m sure there are others worth mentioning.

    At the same time, I sympathize with a committee that wants to keep conflict to a minimum. By not going the author route, then they have avoided the inevitable pitfall of someone not being happy with the selection due to demography.

    Avoiding a squeaky wheel is sometimes a worthy objective.

    But as this is a YA oriented award, something like The Madeleine L’Engle Award for Best Young Adult Book would be a worthy objective as well.

    Regards,
    Dann

  12. I like Spellcaster. Yeah, it feels like it leans fantasy, but Nebula feels like it leans SF, and the Hugo name may not lean either way but the award’s a rocket ship. Not a big deal, to me.

    I kinda like Worldcon, in that “This book won a Worldcon Award for Best YA Book of the Year” is a nice clear sentence. It ain’t exciting, but it’s functional.

    Ouroboros and Anansi feel like they’d need to be explained too often.

    Lodestar and Tesseract both seem clunky to me. If you want the idea of a guiding star, then Northstar or Polaris have the same connotation, with more style (although the word “north” might be a cultural problem), and Tesseract doesn’t say anything about books or literature to me, other than that it kinda points at A WRINKLE IN TIME.

  13. Dann: At the same time, I sympathize with a committee that wants to keep conflict to a minimum. By not going the author route, then they have avoided the inevitable pitfall of someone not being happy with the selection due to demography. Avoiding a squeaky wheel is sometimes a worthy objective.

    More importantly, they avoided selecting the name of an author who is well-known now but might not be considered well-known in 20 or 30 years — which was the real reason for not picking an author name.

    But hey, nice try at projecting their motivations onto your political agenda. 🙄

  14. Hampus Eckerman: My proposal was The Saga Award after the nordic goddess of poetry

    The Screen Actors’ Guild already has the SAG Awards, so the YA committee might possibly have been concerned about confusion of the names.

  15. Also (to my mind at least), Saga doesn’t feel very YA. It feels like THE WHEEL OF TIME.

    The existence of Simon & Schuster’s Saga Press might have been an issue, as well.

  16. Dann: Age is one demographic measure. But please do roll on with your projections.

    Sure it is. But that’s not the issue here. The issue here is of prominence/ name recognition, not age. Try again.

  17. Would Anansi really require that much explanation? I didn’t think the folklore was particularly obscure.

  18. Meredith: Would Anansi really require that much explanation? I didn’t think the folklore was particularly obscure.

    As far as I’m aware, I had never heard of “Anansi” until a few years ago, when I saw the title of Neil Gaiman’s book, read the synopsis, and Googled to learn more. I’m not the most literature-educated person in the world, but I’m certainly far from the least.

    How did everyone else here learn about Anansi?

  19. Would Anansi really require that much explanation? I didn’t think the folklore was particularly obscure.

    I knew who Anansi was because I’m interested in that sort of thing, but I don’t find it to be common knowledge.

    Similarly, if the award was called the Seanchaí (or even Shanachie), I’d know what it meant, and it suits the purpose, but I think it’d have to be explained a lot.

  20. My favorite is actually Worldcon. Crystal clear with no explanation needed.

    Anansi makes me think of Gaiman.

    I like the guiding light idea behind Lodestar. And it blends SF and fantasy. But I don’t particularly like that word.

    For me, Ouroboros doesn’t really fit well, but could probably be a cool award design.

    Spellcaster says fantasy.

    Tesseract is my second favorite. I think it blends SF and fantasy. And sounds cool. 🙂

  21. I read and heard the stories when I was a child. They were everywhere – but then my particular part of London has an awful lot of black people, which might have had something to do with the ubiquity of Anansi stories. Also, you know, UK rather than USA. Might also have something to do with it. Gaiman’s English, too.

    ETA: I’m particularly fond of fairy tales/folklore/myths&legends, so that’s the caveat, but the Anansi stories were everywhere. I’d expect people to know Anansi but not Geriguiaguiatugo or Sedna, you know? I wouldn’t consider Anansi to be specialist knowledge here.

  22. @Laura Tesseract is my second favorite. I think it blends SF and fantasy. And sounds cool.

    Plus, it is an allusion (at least, to me) to A Wrinkle in Time, which is a great YA book.

  23. How did everyone else here learn about Anansi?

    “Descent of Anansi”, Niven and Barnes, 1982

  24. I was exposed to stories about Anansi and Coyote when I was in grade school. Of course, I did grow up in Berkeley.

    None of the suggested names thrill me. I think that “Tesseract” and “Lodestar” are okay, “Worldcon” is kinda boring, “Anansi” and “Spellcaster” too specialized, “Ouroboros” too obscure.

  25. @ Laura
    My favorite is actually Worldcon. Crystal clear with no explanation needed.
    Same here. I understand why people think it’s boring, but it just seems simple and straightforward to me. I don’t love any of the others, but I don’t hate any of them, either.

    I don’t remember when I first learned about Anansi, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t too long ago. I definitely didn’t grow up with the stories everywhere, like Meredith did.

  26. I am in the camp that learned about Anansi from Neil Gaiman’s novel. I wouldn’t expect my friends or family to be aware of Anansi beyond maybe associating it with Neil Gaiman because of Anansi Boys OR because I’ve mentioned Anansi at some point.

    I think ouroboros and tesseract fall into a similar trap of being a little too niche-knowledge and really I don’t think either are particularly suitable names for a specifically YA award.

    Of all of them, I think Lodestar is the strongest, in terms of not leaning too far towards SF or F, being a (more) recognisable term to the general public and for the imagery it evokes of a guiding light.

    Spellcaster is an overly generic, very fantasy-oriented and overall “meh” sounding name for a major award. Worldcon is at least clear and direct but I would also have concerns about the term being able to gain some traction outside of the Worldcon community and those of us adjacent to it in the same way that, for example, the Hugo Award has.

  27. Anansi: from some sort of “Folk tales from around the world” book in my school library. From my perception it’s one of the better known African/Caribbean folktales, but as Meredith says that could be a UK thing due to the stronger Caribbean influence.

  28. Kurt Busiek:

    “Also (to my mind at least), Saga doesn’t feel very YA. It feels like THE WHEEL OF TIME.”

    He, my guess is that Saga has different meanings in Swedish and English. The Wheel of Time is definitely not a Saga in the Swedish meaning. A Saga today is more like a fairy tale.

  29. The first time I saw Anansi was in China Mievilles book King Rat. I’m kind of ok with the name, but with a former roommate that had arachnophobia, I wonder how the price would look.

    I really hate the idea of Spellcaster as a name. Too much Dungeons and Dragons over it. Tesseract reminds me of Heinlein’s And He Built A Crooked House, but that is about it. Might as well call the award Octahedron or any geometrical figure.

    Loadstar is one of those names that always felt strange for me to say in English. Load what? Leadstar would have been more logical. But I like the idea at least.

    But mostly meh.

  30. Can’t remember where I first heard of Anansi. I think I might be in the same camp as Soon Lee and Mark, on that one – read it in a book somewhere, and have long since forgotten which book. (It was definitely before the Niven/Barnes collaboration, though, because I do remember recognizing the name in that particular title.)

    I don’t think it’s particularly obscure, but that might just be me. (Same goes for Ouroboros and Tesseract, both words I’d come across by my early teens at the latest.)

  31. British filers of a certain age might have first been exposed to Anansi on the BBC children’s TV storytelling show Jackanory. I’m fairly sure that’s where I first encountered them.

  32. @Hampus

    “Lode” not “load”.

    @Nickpheas

    Oh heck, does remembering Jackanory date me?
    I bet remembering the BBC broom cupboard does as well.

  33. Yes, I agree with those who say that Tesseract is an allusion to A Wrinkle in Time. Is that a YA book? It probably is now, since the heroine is 13, though I’m fairly sure it was a children’s book when I was young.

  34. Sometime around the 90s and early 00s, publishers in the US started focusing on *world* mythologies, rather than just Greek and Roman. I saw a lot of picture books and middle grade books with stories about Anansi coming out around then (university librarian who ordered books for the curriculum and children’s collection for the Education Department).

    Hmm, Anansi the Spider came out in 1972

  35. I’ve never heard of Anansi before now, FWIW. That name reads as “Anasazi” on first pass for me only because I’ve read a bit about them.

    @JJ

    I agree. Name recognition, prominence, and endurance should be the only factors in play.

    But come on. Can’t you imagine anyone either playing a demography card or accusing someone else of playing a demography card in discussing an appropriate author to honor? Really?

    Regards,
    Dann

  36. Dann: But come on. Can’t you imagine anyone either playing a demography card or accusing someone else of playing a demography card in discussing an appropriate author to honor? Really?

    Firstly, this “playing a card” narrative is incredibly offensive. This is the equivalent of claiming that someone who is expressing their opinion on something is merely “virtue signalling” to gain brownie points with some imagined cadre of believers, rather than saying something they genuinely believe — a narrative which is also incredibly offensive.

    Saying that someone is “playing a card’ when they express concerns about whether something is truly representative of the people it is supposed to represent is just a nasty, manipulative way of attempting to de-legitimize their very valid concerns.

     
    Yes, I can imagine people raising genuine concerns about whether an author whose name is chosen is truly representative of the people and/or works intended to be honored by the award. That’s not “playing a card”. That’s voicing legitimate concerns.

    But I will point out that you claimed the YA Hugo committee’s motivation for not choosing an author name was to avoid having to deal with such concerns — when in fact, all the discussion I saw on the subject of using an author’s name for the award centered on whether the author’s works would still be considered relevant and well-known 20 or 30 years from now.

    Your credibility is not improved when you project your own political beliefs onto others, and attempt to hijack their motivations to suit your own agenda — something you have been doing repeatedly in the last few threads.

  37. I voted against ALL of them.
    Who is this award for?
    Aside from “Worldcon” (boring), they’re all fairly challenging words to spell. And that’s a problem if they want kids to actually use these awards (i.e. searching for them on Google).

    Even with it spelled out above (as opposed to just hearing it spoken), somebody in this thread confused the homophones Lode & Load.
    Spellcaster can be a single word or a two-word phrase.
    I’m not sure *I* can spell Ouroboros without looking it up.

    I say they should go back to the drawing board: either find some easier-to-spell words or name it after somebody.

  38. Lis Riba: Who is this award for? Aside from “Worldcon” (boring), they’re all fairly challenging words to spell. And that’s a problem if they want kids to actually use these awards

    This award is not for children’s books. It’s for Young Adult fiction, for which the demographic is ambiguous but according to Wikipedia, is targeted at ages 14 to 21.

    The children’s book awards, which are also given out at Worldcon, are the Golden Duck Awards — which should be pretty much within most children’s capabilities in terms of Googling.

  39. “Carnegie” or “Newbery” aren’t that easy to spell…

    Growing up reading comics, my vocabulary would get challenged regularly. I could sometimes work it out from context, but there was also the dictionary. It helped to increase my word power.

    Also, maybe the book award is not just for the young reader, but also the caregiver or librarian. And adults can and do read YA too.

    I don’t think ease of spelling is a big deal.

  40. “Carnegie” or “Newbery” aren’t that easy to spell…

    I remember when THE GRAVEYARD BOOK won the Newbery.

    In his initial, excited blog entry about it, Neil managed to spell Newbery three different ways, and if I remember correctly (and I might not), all of them were wrong.

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