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.

7 thoughts on “Stone’s Beau Geste

  1. I sincerely doubt there is anyone who considers Sam Stone guilty of complicity in manipulating the vote, or foreknowledge of the result, but even those who believe BFS chair David J Howe innocent of any wrongdoing will have difficulty justifying the manner in which he oversaw the ballot. At the very least, he should have stepped aside the instant a potential conflict of interest arose and appointed a fully independent administrator. To proceed as he did will be viewed by many as evidence of either an arrogant indifference towards the views of the membership or astonishing naivety.

  2. In 1967, with both myself and Ted White on the committee for NYCon 3, the World SF Convention, it was decided that our mutual employer, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, would be ineligible for the Hugo Awards that year. No such restriction was apparently in effect at this year’s British Fantasy Convention.

  3. I think there’s a difference between being on the convention committee and being the person (or part of the small group of persons) administering the award itself. There’s a practical reason for this, too: One of the reasons that Worldcon firewalls off the Hugo Administration Subcommittee is that if they did not do so, they’d probably lose a number of fine volunteers simply because those people were potential Hugo Award nominees.

    Just being on the convention committee shouldn’t be sufficient reason to be disqualified from award eligibility; however, person responsible for administering those awards, even if that just means feeding the ballots into the computer, should be ineligible. Having access to the ballots and vote-counting software means you should not be eligible for the award in question.

  4. In 1967, there was no Hugo Administration. The worldcon committee did it all: got the nominations, made up the final ballot (which, btw, included all the Nebula nominations even if they didn’t get enough votes from Hugo nominators; something that Ted White did), counted the votes, made the Hugo statues, presented the awards. One of the winners did not get enough nominations from the Hugo voters, but ended up winning anyway. Go figure…

  5. I wrote the above at 9:12pm, October 7th… And it’s now 9:13, same night…

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