Your yearly dose of sf critic carping starts here! No BSFA award for non-fiction … again!

Well, we might have guessed this would happen:

“Nominations were also invited for the [BSFA Award for] best non-fiction of 2007, but although a number of works were nominated there was no consensus and so no shortlist could be formed. A non-fiction award will therefore not be presented this year.”

I suppose there are a lot of ways to look at that – I’m going to take the charitable view and assume they knew that the limited number of us who care about such things would rather thrash it out for ourselves than submit to a consensus we couldn’t agree with.

In which case, ladies and gentlemen – start your engines! 😀

[Historical note – we had a pretty good beef session chat about this last year. But if any smart-arse starts a web-based crit mag in the next five months, I’m not touching it with a bargepole.]


UPDATE 23/01/08!! This just in from the wonderful Farah Mendlesohn – a new LiveJournal community to discuss issues non-fictional in the genre scene, lest the above occur again.

And please, LJ people, no private posts on that one. It’s hard enough for me to stay in the loop as it is!


[tags]BSFA, award, non-fiction[/tags]

13 thoughts on “Your yearly dose of sf critic carping starts here! No BSFA award for non-fiction … again!”

  1. My reading of this is that the nominations arrived in such a way as to make the creation of a shortlist impossible – i.e. lots of works nominated, but none of them with more than one nomination thus making it impossible to choose between individual works to produce a shortlist of sensible length.

  2. Paul: at the risk of not starting a slapfight, I think your charitable view is pretty close to what I’d subscribe to. The number of BSFA members who nominate for the awards is probably pretty small; the number who nominate for the non-fic awards even smaller. It may simply be that a popularly nominated non-fic award is not sustainable from the BSFA’s member base, and that a juried one has all the (arguable) problems we’ve gone over. The end.

  3. Well clearly something needs to change. We all harrumphed about the process last year and nothing was done and this year kind of proves that we were right to harrumph but a) we did not harrumph to the right people, b) we did not harrumph loudly enough, c) we did not harrumph and suggest a new way forward and then try and get something done about all the harrumphing.

    Picking books at random is arguably better than not having a list at all.

    Farah’s idea to give us a place to actually talk about non-fiction is a good, positive step forward.

    As for web-based critical zines… Pshaw Raven! Pshaw!

  4. Oops, just realised that I’ve mirrored Farah’s suggestion… Should read more carefully before commenting!

    In which case, consider Farah’s proposal ‘seconded’.

  5. Jonathan M says that ‘We all harrumphed about the process last year and nothing was done’ which isn’t true. Last year the system was designed to produce a recommended reading list only. This year, the non-fiction award was treated in the same way as the other categories — BSFA member nominations to produce a short list on which BSFA and Eastercon members would vote to select a winner — but a short list couldn’t be produced for the reason given.

  6. I was disappointed last year, and again this year.

    I think the category is difficult, and to be honest, only blame myself. If there was something I really cared about, I should have posted it, on line, and here and elsewhere.

    I think that the problem is that its hard to find consensus. As I was looking on my shelves for things to nominate, I wondered if a Nomination night type of party, would not garner more valid nominations. It also always feels that discussion only takes place immediately before the deadline – maybe I am wrong or it focuses the brain.

    Maybe some sort of special Torquemada Control piece, before xmas, for people to discuss the awards, might be more timely and in order. Will suggest, if it hasn’t happened already (sorry Niall if I missed it) rather than just nominations lists, as the administrators in fairness need to be removed from such discussions.


  7. ah Niall did list some of his favourites, didn’t he, but then, again none struck me, except one I didn’t like…. that’s not so good, I forgot I whined about it.

    but there wasn’t a huge amount of input into that part of the nomination list though.


  8. Since the longlist of Non-Fiction is only 12 or so, why isn’t the Longlist just promoted to a short list, and let people vote on it?

    Isn’t it a bit arbitrary saying the shortlist has to be 5 anyway?

    Seems to be some common sense lacking there.

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