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Friday, January 04, 2013

SFWA Platform: the first five points

As some of you already know, I have declared myself to be a candidate for the SFWA president in the next election, which takes place this spring.  Here are the first five points of my platform; I'm interested in any ideas for improving them:
  1. SPLIT THE NEBULA AWARDS: Science fiction is not fantasy. Fantasy is not science fiction. I propose doubling the number of Nebula Awards, and presenting awards for Best Novel, Best Novella, Best Novellette, Best Short Story, and Best Script in two categories, Science Fiction and Fantasy.
  2. AWARD A CASH PRIZE FOR BOTH BEST NOVEL AWARDS: A $5,000 prize will be awarded to the winner of Best Novel:Science Fiction as well as to the winner of Best Novel:Fantasy. The long term goal will be to work towards making the winning of a Nebula a more prestigious and financially valuable event than winning the Man Booker Prize.
  3. EXPAND THE MEMBERSHIP: The right to SFWA membership will be granted to all self-published and small press-published authors who have sold more than a specified number of ebooks to be determined, eligibility number to be confirmed via official Amazon report. It will also be granted to all SF/F-related computer game lead designers, senior designers, and writers with primary credits on two or more SF/F-related games.
  4. ELIMINATE THE APPEARANCE OF CORRUPTION IN THE AWARD PROCESS: Closing the nomination process to the membership and the public made the appearance of corruption worse, not better. Reducing the number of recommendations to reduce logrolling was a good idea, hiding the results from the membership created more harm than good.
  5. EMPOWERING THE NEBULA JURIES: The most prestigious and lucrative literary prizes are awarded by juries. The Nebulas should be no different if they are to attain equal prestige. I am entirely open to a debate about the best way to ensure jury integrity, but my initial thought is to randomly select the juries from the membership, with jurors barred from voting for works published by their publishers. In situations where the latter bar would lead to an obvious injustice being done, the SFWA President and Vice-President would have the ability to release a juror from the bar on a case-by-case basis if they both agreed such an act was justified by the quality of the work in question.

Labels: ,

74 Comments:

Blogger Shimshon January 04, 2013 8:51 AM  

Vox, I know Amazon is the 800 ton gorilla of the ebook business, but wouldn't recognizing other big-name sellers, even if much smaller than Amazon, be a reasonable thing to do? Why give Amazon a monopoly on the numbers?

Blogger Alexander January 04, 2013 8:59 AM  

With regard to point #3, Expand the Membership, it's worth remembering that the video game industry is going through its own version of the "publisher" v. "self-publisher" debate. Whereas previously in order to ship a game you had to have a fair amount of resources and a publisher to put you in channel, online distribution, browser games and mobile games have made it easier for indie developers to ship titles. That in turn means its as hard to assess a legitimate videogame credit as it is a legitimate writing credit.

Depending on your intent, here are some recommendations for alternatives:
#1 "It will also be granted to all SF/F-related computer game lead designers, senior designers, and writers with primary credits on two or more SF/F-related games that have sold more than a specified number of copies (to be determined)." [This will exclude free to play / freemium games.]

#2 "It will also be granted to all SF/F-related computer game lead designers, senior designers, and writers with primary credits on two or more industry-recognized SF/F-related games. An industry-recognized game is any game published by a major game publisher, or an independently-published game which has sold more than a specified number of copies or been freely distributed more than a designated number of times (TBD)." [More complex but it permits a wider range of games. The threshold of sales v. free should obviously vary.]

Blogger vandelay January 04, 2013 9:00 AM  

Have you had any feedback from SFWA leadership/membership on your candidacy yet?

Anonymous Jeigh Di January 04, 2013 9:06 AM  

Splitting the awards into two catgories sounds good, but where do you draw the line between fantasy and science fiction?

Blogger Markku January 04, 2013 9:11 AM  

3 and 5 put together sounds problematic to me. I wonder if a game designer, randomly selected to the jury, will be in a good position to judge the quality of the prose.

Anonymous jay c January 04, 2013 9:16 AM  

I don't care for the Amazon bit. I've sold more books through http://3mpub.com than through Amazon. (None of them science fiction or fantasy, but that could change some day.)

Anonymous jack January 04, 2013 9:19 AM  

Markku January 04, 2013 9:11 AM

3 and 5 put together sounds problematic to me. I wonder if a game designer, randomly selected to the jury, will be in a good position to judge the quality of the prose.


An excellent point. Qualified, perhaps, by the idea of 'jury' IE, more than a few, less than a crowd. The jury selected would have to be a cross section of abilities. Not every expert re prose content would be comfortable coding up a game system. And, as obviously, you would want the game designer/coders there to weed out the junk.

Anonymous JartStar January 04, 2013 9:22 AM  

1. Sci-fi and Fantasy are routinely lumped together for good reason as it is nearly impossible to determine where certain stories reside. I think this could turn into a controversial sideshow of endless debates.

4. This is the best plank in the platform and if you ran on this alone you'd likely garner a lot of votes.

Blogger Markku January 04, 2013 9:27 AM  

The jury selected would have to be a cross section of abilities

If there were both novel and game awards, this would be true. However, with awards going out only to novels, it would seem to me that a random game designer would never be in a better position to judge a novel than a random author.

Blogger Markku January 04, 2013 9:29 AM  

And even if you might present some argument to the contrary, the important question is, would the current membership who is voting for or against Vox be persuaded of that.

Blogger Nate January 04, 2013 9:31 AM  

"1. Sci-fi and Fantasy are routinely lumped together for good reason as it is nearly impossible to determine where certain stories reside. I think this could turn into a controversial sideshow of endless debates."

it is?

No. it isn't.

One has space ships and or robots and clearly hints at more advanced technology. The other recalls the past and almost always indicates reduced technology.

Anonymous jay c January 04, 2013 9:46 AM  

Nate, ever played Warhammer 40K?

Anonymous Alex N. January 04, 2013 9:48 AM  

Is this not in the cards anymore then?

>disenfranchising all of the female members and endorsing a Federal law banning women from writing any science fiction or fantasy that does not contain vampires or wereseals and comes with a warning label: WARNING: this is Vampire/Wereseal fiction, not actual science fiction or fantasy.

http://voxday.blogspot.it/2010/05/who-said-women-killed-science-fiction.html

j/k (or am I)

Anonymous Tad January 04, 2013 9:53 AM  

SPLIT THE NEBULA AWARDS:

This is such a no brainer it's hard to believe it hasn't already been done. Plus, with more awards, you get more attention for the awards.

However, if game designers are to be included in the membership, how is there work recognized and awarded?

Anonymous Daniel January 04, 2013 9:56 AM  

Nate's right. It isn't rocket sci-

Well, it is but that doesn't mean it's difficult to discriminate. Without cover or blurb, you can usually tell by the first paragraph.

Anonymous Daniel January 04, 2013 9:58 AM  

The Nebula's would simply have a new set of sub-category within the two Nebulas, Tad. Sci-Fi Nebula for Best Game Design, etc.

Anonymous Tad's Brain January 04, 2013 9:58 AM  

....Please create an award for best Gay Firefly Fanfiction...oh please!....

Anonymous Outlaw X January 04, 2013 9:59 AM  

6) Let me vote.

Anonymous Daniel January 04, 2013 10:00 AM  

Nate, ever played Warhammer 40K?

Sci-fi, jay c. The "in space" part of "Orcs in space" is the tip-off. The twilight area of "space fantasy" is very small, and insignificant in the process of determining genre. You are over thinking it.

Blogger Nate January 04, 2013 10:03 AM  

"Nate, ever played Warhammer 40K?"

Its like porn and art. You know it when you see it.

Anonymous Stephen J. January 04, 2013 10:04 AM  

1. I like the idea in principle, but I too am skeptical in practice of being able to find a point of definition to distinguish Science Fiction from Fantasy that will (a) be acceptable by 90%+ of members and (b) work for 90%+ of cases. Most ostensible "science fiction" stories take even their theoretically possible speculations to fantastically implausible extremes, and many stories combine plausible SF speculations with fantastical "magical" elements. Is The Dragon Waiting, by John Ford, science fiction for its alt-history speculations and its treatment of vampirism as a plausible disease, or fantasy for its overt inclusion of magic?

2. Where will the money come from? Increased membership fees? Not likely to appeal, if so.

3. On the other hand, if membership significantly expands due to this, then maybe there will be no need for raised dues. But if membership significantly expands, administrative demands on the staff may likewise expand, and you may see less interest in running for key positions.

4. I am always in favour of transparency, but don't say "reducing the appearance". The perception of corruption often comes from an observer's bad faith rather than tangible evidence, and any process will always "appear corrupt" to somebody. Say rather "reducing incentives and opportunities to abuse the process".

5. Rather than bar jury members from voting for works by their own publishers completely, determine which publishers are represented by particular jury members and weight against those jurors' votes for works published by their own publisher by an appropriate amount. For example, if five out of twenty-five jurors write for Tor, any vote those five jurors cast for a Tor-published work is reduced by 20%. (The idea being here that genuinely good works should not be rendered ineligible by the mere chance of enough randomly-selected jurors happening to write or have written for the same publisher as that work; the industry is too incestuous and fluctuating to make excluding this a viable possibility, I think.)

Anonymous JartStar January 04, 2013 10:11 AM  

Nate,

Was Krull SF or Fantasy?

Was Time Bandits SF or Fantasy?

Anonymous Roundtine January 04, 2013 10:14 AM  

I generally dislike fantasy, but enjoy sci-fi. I can readily tell the difference. One has elves and fairies; one doesn't.

Anonymous Roundtine January 04, 2013 10:18 AM  

Krull. Sci-fi ported onto a fantasy template.

Time Bandits is fantasy. Too whimsical.

Anonymous JartStar January 04, 2013 10:26 AM  

Krull. Sci-fi ported onto a fantasy template.

I'm not going to debate you, but I always considered Krull fantasy with Sci-fi being injected into it. I do agree that 90%+ will be easy to distiguish, but the remaining could be contentious and detract from the entire process. Breaking them in to two categories is a risk that might be worth taking.

Anonymous Daniel January 04, 2013 10:33 AM  

1. Yes.

2. Funding questions - Does the SFWA currently and historically have a place in its budget for consistent funding. My outsider's take on it is that the SFWA is a guild that lives hand-to-mouth, consisting primarily of financial controllers who are the sort to rely on their agent for legal advice. No offense intended. Also, I believe there should be 4 cash prizes: Best Sci-fi Novel, Best Fantasy Novel, Best Sci-fi game design, Best Fantasy game design (although I wonder if those design awards should instead be game writing awards, if for no other reason to prevent the return to the glory days of Metal Gear's "I FEEL ASLEEP!") That's a $20,000 outlay.

3. Yes. Absolutely. Good luck with that, sailor. All the single ladies and middle aged gamma-ray fanboyz in the science fiction hall of fame knitting club are going to really love you now.

4. Public nomination list, shortlist determined by an entirely separate group than the final jury. Clear the decks, too. Past winners eligible only for a non-cash, "Hall of Fame" legacy Nebula: in other words, Le Guin, Bujold, Gaiman, Haldeman - all those past winners - can write books that win in the Legacy category, but the Best Novel of the year has to be by someone who hasn't won it before. That way, in the future, Haldeman can still be a "Nine-time Nebula" guy or whatever, but he doesn't knock off Pratchett for no apparent reason anymore.

5. I say jurists can vote for books within their house, but that those only count as half a vote. That slight discouragement would neutralize the slight encouragement they undoubtedly receive from their publisher.

Anonymous Rantor January 04, 2013 10:35 AM  

Why not have the entire membership vote on their one nominee for each category and then the Jury picks the winner from the top 10? Entire membership is involved, Jury still chooses.

Anonymous Roundtine January 04, 2013 10:36 AM  

I think they're sufficiently different that the exception proves the rule. It's a bit like the foreign film category for the Oscars, (except in this case both awards would have equal standing). For example, Letters From Iwo Jima won Best Foreign Film awards in both Japan and the U.S.

Anonymous Tad January 04, 2013 10:36 AM  

@Daniel

The Nebula's would simply have a new set of sub-category within the two Nebulas, Tad. Sci-Fi Nebula for Best Game Design, etc.

Nebula awards have been literary awards, that is, recognition of the best writing in the SF/F category. If the awards will now expand to include video games, they then become something more of a "Storytelling" award.

Given this, why not go all the way and award a Nebula in the category of FILM also???

Anonymous Daniel January 04, 2013 10:45 AM  

Nebula awards have been literary awards, that is, recognition of the best writing in the SF/F category. If the awards will now expand to include video games, they then become something more of a "Storytelling" award.

No, Tad. They become game writing awards. Games rely heavily on writers. If you have ever seen a game script you would realize that it has far less to do with, for example, the national storytellers convention (which has its own award) than it does with literature.

Blogger Markku January 04, 2013 10:45 AM  

Nebula awards have been literary awards, that is, recognition of the best writing in the SF/F category. If the awards will now expand to include video games, they then become something more of a "Storytelling" award.

I have the same feeling. It's going to be already damn near impossible to sell them Vox. But to also persuade them to let go of professional jealousy and open up the possibility of being judged by someone who has perhaps never written a novel in his life and whose actual job they know practically nothing about - ain't gonna happen, no how.

Anonymous the bandit January 04, 2013 10:50 AM  

> Given this, why not go all the way and award a Nebula in the category of FILM also???

> If you have ever seen a game script

From which I would infer that game writers could be awarded under Best Script, as with film, no additional Game Design category necessary.

1. Warhammer 40K notwithstanding (obvious sci-fi, by the way: note how its companion is known as Warhammer Fantasy), this is a great idea. Really, the only major troublesome differentiation for the masses would be Steampunk, so maybe it should be officially categorized as a subgenre (of fantasy, in my opinion). Perhaps there should be an official method of categorizing disputed works, or acknowledgment that there will be one, to cut off that objection.

2. Perhaps the award should not be $5k right off the bat to give time to build associated funds and transition less starkly to cash prizes? This could be accommodated by a set delay in the onset of the cash prize or increasing prize amounts over three years. A possible problem with this would be authors waiting to place their works in the $5k year, so maybe it causes more trouble than not.

3. Great idea. I can see the Amazon requirement being a problem for one of my favorite writer groups: online comic writers. I think talents like the Foglios, Tom Siddell, etc., would be a good addition to SFWA, which one could gauge on number of their books sold. Though I am not sure how to weed out charlatans with games possessing no story development whatsoever, I also like the addition of game writers/designers. It should probably be noted that they would be eligible under the category of Best Script.

4. I have nothing to add that someone else hasn't already.

5. I only think a juror should be banned from voting for their own work (or not eligible for the jury if they have a work on the shortlist), and favor a reduced voting percentage of the sort suggested by Daniel or Stephen J.

Blogger Markku January 04, 2013 10:56 AM  

Nebula awards have been literary awards, that is, recognition of the best writing in the SF/F category. If the awards will now expand to include video games, they then become something more of a "Storytelling" award.

I have the same feeling. It's going to be already damn near impossible to sell them Vox. But to also persuade them to let go of professional jealousy and open up the possibility of being judged by someone who has perhaps never written a novel in his life and whose actual job they know practically nothing about - ain't gonna happen, no how.

Blogger Nate January 04, 2013 10:59 AM  

Krull was clearly fantasy. There was magic... wizards... cyclops... prophecy.. all fanatasy elements. The Beast spaceship was thrown in half-assed hash.

Off the top of my head I honestly cannot recall a single thing about Time Bandits so I couldn't say one way or the other.

Anonymous Krul January 04, 2013 10:59 AM  

It will also be granted to all SF/F-related computer game lead designers, senior designers, and writers with primary credits on two or more SF/F-related games.


Would you consider splitting the awards further, to include awards for best SF/Fantasy plot and storytelling in an SF/Fantasy game?

Anonymous Tad January 04, 2013 10:59 AM  

@Daniel

No, Tad. They become game writing awards. Games rely heavily on writers. If you have ever seen a game script you would realize that it has far less to do with, for example, the national storytellers convention (which has its own award) than it does with literature.


But it strikes me you can say the very same thing about film (or TV). Both require a literary approach to storytelling in the form of scripts. In other words, if the goal is to honor the best forms of SF/F writing and if games are to be included, I don't see the distinction to be made from screenplays or Teleplays.

Anonymous Cinco January 04, 2013 11:00 AM  

#1 is right on. I enjoy SF very much; however, I only read the top of the fantasy genre (fair weather fantasy fan). But let's face it, the two vying for the same award is just silly.

OT: halfway through Wool Omnibus after your 5 star recommendation, so far, it's excellent.

Blogger Nate January 04, 2013 11:01 AM  

Look.. if we can consistently grant awards for Pop and Rock.. we can certainly figure out the difference between Fantasy and Sci-Fi.

You people are making way to big a deal out of it.

Anonymous Tad January 04, 2013 11:01 AM  

@Markku

But to also persuade them to let go of professional jealousy and open up the possibility of being judged by someone who has perhaps never written a novel in his life and whose actual job they know practically nothing about - ain't gonna happen, no how.

This problem is fixed by having judges working within a category be the judges: Game designers judge games, Novelists/writers judge novels/stories, etc.

Anonymous VD January 04, 2013 11:01 AM  

With regard to point #3, Expand the Membership, it's worth remembering that the video game industry is going through its own version of the "publisher" v. "self-publisher" debate. Whereas previously in order to ship a game you had to have a fair amount of resources and a publisher to put you in channel, online distribution, browser games and mobile games have made it easier for indie developers to ship titles.

Yes, I thought of this afterwards. Easily resolved. I'm leaning more towards "major publisher or more than X downloads from Amazon/Apple/Android market".

However, if game designers are to be included in the membership, how is there work recognized and awarded?

Good point. I'll add a plank creating a Nebula Award for Best Game Writing: Science fiction and Best Game Writing: Fantasy. It can't be a game design award, since that involves far more than the writing element.

Funding questions - Does the SFWA currently and historically have a place in its budget for consistent funding.

Trivial point. Google or Amazon will sponsor it. The idea that a sponsor could corrupt the process is ludicrous in light of how it is now little more than Tor authors nominating Tor authors and the Tor author serving as president handing out the award to another Tor author.

Anonymous Krul January 04, 2013 11:01 AM  

Was Krull SF or Fantasy?

Krull? SF? Is there anything about Krull that would suggest SF?

Blogger Nate January 04, 2013 11:04 AM  

"But it strikes me you can say the very same thing about film (or TV). Both require a literary approach to storytelling in the form of scripts. In other words, if the goal is to honor the best forms of SF/F writing and if games are to be included, I don't see the distinction to be made from screenplays or Teleplays."

so apart from the fact that there really aren't Nebular worthy SCI FI and Fantasy screen plays every year... why not include them as well? I certainly don't have a problem with it. Is it writers? or is it "people who publish novels"?

Anonymous VD January 04, 2013 11:06 AM  

Sci-fi and Fantasy are routinely lumped together for good reason as it is nearly impossible to determine where certain stories reside. I think this could turn into a controversial sideshow of endless debates.

Not a problem. Those nominating can decide when they nominate the work for one or the other. If it is that hard to tell what it is, it probably shouldn't win either.

But to also persuade them to let go of professional jealousy and open up the possibility of being judged by someone who has perhaps never written a novel in his life and whose actual job they know practically nothing about - ain't gonna happen, no how.

Probably not. And that is why the SFWA and the Nebula will likely go away. Once I get my next game or three out, perhaps I'll start up a new association on the basis I'm proposing here. And there is more to it my platform than just these five planks; I correctly anticipated that you guys would give me some ideas to improve them. But as a Life Member, I owe it to the organization to give them the opportunity to go in a new direction.

If they choose otherwise, then it's on them.

Anonymous Tad January 04, 2013 11:09 AM  

@Nate

It's "writers", but it's "writers" really in every category, it's just that what's being distinguished is their output: Traditional Novels, Short Stories, Game scripts and, in the best of all worlds, Screenplays and Teleplays. As for their not being Nebular worthy SciFi Screen plays every year, that's fixed by simply choosing not to give one.

Blogger Nate January 04, 2013 11:13 AM  

" As for their not being Nebular worthy SciFi Screen plays every year, that's fixed by simply choosing not to give one."

I don't have a problem with that. I mean it will be pretty insulting to everyone involved.. but it is what it is.

Blogger Nate January 04, 2013 11:14 AM  

I hear-by suggest that "None of the Above" should be an option on all ballots for every award category for every award for anything. ever.

Blogger Nate January 04, 2013 11:16 AM  

Perhaps in those years when there are not really many great novels deserving... instead you could use the award to right some of the past wrongs?

Anonymous Daniel January 04, 2013 11:17 AM  

VD, good point regarding funding. I'd mention sponsorship in plank #2. It is obvious to me now, but I obviously hadn't even considered it. It would be more persuasive.

Anonymous jay c January 04, 2013 11:21 AM  

Nate wrote, "Nate, ever played Warhammer 40K?"

Its like porn and art. You know it when you see it.


True. I'd call Warhammer SF. Same with the Final Fantasy series, the Chronicles of Amber, and others. I'd put them all in the SF category, but they do straddle the line in some ways.

Blogger Herb Nowell January 04, 2013 11:23 AM  

Re: #3 It will also be granted to all SF/F-related computer game lead designers, senior designers, and writers with primary credits on two or more SF/F-related games.

Why just computer games? What not tabletop games of all forms? I find it hard to believe Star Fleet Battles or Traveller authors are less worthy of inclusion than those of Alpha Centauri.

Or are they already eligible?

Anonymous Tad January 04, 2013 11:25 AM  

@Nate


I don't have a problem with that. I mean it will be pretty insulting to everyone involved.. but it is what it is.


Nevermind.

There IS a "Best Script" award already at the Nebulas. It was originally the "Best Script" award and is now called the "Ray Bradbury Award". It appears to honor either movie or television scripts.

Anonymous jay c January 04, 2013 11:26 AM  

Off the top of my head I honestly cannot recall a single thing about Time Bandits so I couldn't say one way or the other.

Time Bandits is one of the best SF movies ever made. Except that it's clearly fantasy and not sf. Almost all the gadgetry is owned and operated by Satan.

Anonymous JartStar January 04, 2013 11:29 AM  

Krull? SF? Is there anything about Krull that would suggest SF?

Aliens from another planet and "lasers".

Anonymous JartStar January 04, 2013 11:35 AM  

If it is that hard to tell what it is, it probably shouldn't win either.

That's harsh. Steampunk alone muddies the water as another has pointed out. My solution would be a vote by the committee in a timely manner to decide on the genre if there's a dispute brought up by a set number of members with a tie being decided by a coin flip.

Blogger Nate January 04, 2013 11:36 AM  

"That's harsh. Steampunk alone muddies the water as another has pointed out"

Steampunk is Sci Fi. Its just a different way to imagine the future.

Anonymous WinstonWebb January 04, 2013 11:39 AM  

FUN FACT: The movie Krull was originally titled Dungeons & Dragons: Krull but the production company ran into licensing problems

Anonymous VD January 04, 2013 11:41 AM  

VD, good point regarding funding. I'd mention sponsorship in plank #2. It is obvious to me now, but I obviously hadn't even considered it. It would be more persuasive.

All right.

Perhaps the award should not be $5k right off the bat to give time to build associated funds and transition less starkly to cash prizes?

No need. See above. I could probably find the sponsor by the end of the weekend if I had the authority. 10k is nothing to people who regularly invest $20 million; it's a small amount for a sponsorship that will get a modest amount of media coverage.

Anonymous ridip January 04, 2013 11:47 AM  

With regards to "is it Sci/Fi PR Fantasy" if a work is successfully nominated for both allow the author or publisher to choose which it will run as. If they can't make up their mind or decide, drop it from both lists.

Anonymous zen0 January 04, 2013 12:26 PM  

10k is nothing to people who regularly invest $20 million; it's a small amount for a sponsorship that will get a modest amount of media coverage.

If this becomes common knowledge among the voters, it won't matter what your other planks are.

Anonymous ivvenalis January 04, 2013 12:59 PM  

#1 is just too contentious. I think you're correct, but it's just not as important as some of your other points. You're saying that current voting methods are actively destroying the prestige of the SFWA and its award, and you will get them changed. This will prevent them from becoming less relevant than they are now, stop them from losing influence.

Expanding membership to self-published authors (trivial point: Shimshon is right, you should count other vendors than Amazon even if that's 98% of sales), video game designers/writers, and (presumably) creating a new award for Best Sci-Fi(/Fantasy) Game Writing will make the SFWA more relevant than it is now, expanding their influence (also, I think it will be good for video games, but never mind that). These two things aren't the same, but together they amount to a comprehensive strategy to both preserve and expand the SFWA's prestige and influence.

Where does #1 fit into this? It's something for people to argue over without addressing your other planks. If the status quo in this regard is damaging to the organization, it's probably not as bad as a corrupt process for handing out the Nebula.

Also--and you know more about the SFWA than I do, maybe they have it on hand--you had better have an answer to where that money will come from.

Anonymous Jack Amok January 04, 2013 1:47 PM  

sold more than a specified number of copies or been freely distributed more than a designated number of times (TBD)." [More complex but it permits a wider range of games. The threshold of sales v. free should obviously vary.]


I think free to play with microtransactions/monthly subscriptions will be a large chunk of games for the near future, so the complexity will be necessary or else you will merely be upgrading from a Stanely Steamer to a Model T.


Its like porn and art. You know it when you see it.

Yes, but you still have to formulate a rule for doing the sorting. Who will make the determination and when? A nonimation jury? Details, I know, and perfectly solvable ones. There will inevitably be disputes, but since there's a large female SF/F readership, the drama should be good for sales.



so apart from the fact that there really aren't Nebular worthy SCI FI and Fantasy screen plays every year... why not include them as well?

I'm not convinced there are Nebula worthy novels every year either. Go with the rule of not awarding a Nebula if nothing is worthy that year. Maybe start with applying that rule only to the (new) Game/ScreenPlay award, and after a few years it can leak back into the pure literature awards.


Perhaps in those years when there are not really many great novels deserving... instead you could use the award to right some of the past wrongs?

I was thinking of something like this too, but really it's a different award. It's more akin to the Football HoF. So perhaps it's something new - the Hall of Orion or some such, a recognition of the very, very best. And now that I think about it, nebulae are the birthplace of stars, so shouldn't the Nebula awards be more forward thinking?

Blogger IM2L844 January 04, 2013 1:56 PM  

Those nominating can decide when they nominate the work for one or the other.

Why not allow the creator to decide which category they want their work to be considered for as long as they understand that each work is only eligible for one category and not multiple categories.

Or the SFWA could do like various other awards contests (Academy Awards comes to mind) and charge entry fees to enter each category. Creators could lose in as many categories as they're willing to pay entry fees for.

Anonymous bob k. mando January 04, 2013 4:04 PM  

my initial thought is to randomly select the juries from the membership, with jurors barred from voting for works published by their publishers. In situations where the latter bar would lead to an obvious injustice being done, the SFWA President and Vice-President would have the ability to release a juror from the bar on a case-by-case basis if they both agreed such an act was justified by the quality of the work in question.


two procedures should obviate the need for 'special' dispensations to vote:
1 - a randomized selection process with the conditional that no more than two (?) jury members can have a business relationship with any one major book publisher
2 - a large enough jury pool that any particular publisher relationship will not cancel a significant portion of the vote. say, 50?

this is complicated by the fact that many writers will have relationships with multiple publishers, especially if they're active for a significant length of time. however, they list 35 discrete publishers on their web site and note the possibility of other publishers being eligible.

these considerations will be more of an issue for the short fiction work.

http://www.sfwa.org/join-us/sfwa-membership-requirements/#novel


also, your previous essay asserted that the nomination process itself had been captured and that the award process was almost an afterthought. do you mean for the jury to nominate books, and then for the very same people to vote on the books they just nominated? or are you considering a new nomination process as well?

perhaps i just don't know enough about the current nomination procedure and my question is silly.




Jeigh Di January 04, 2013 9:06 AM
Splitting the awards into two catgories sounds good, but where do you draw the line between fantasy and science fiction?


how does that Clarke quote go? "A sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic"?

if a story presents as both SF and F ( such as Niven's The Magic Goes Away future history stories ), what would prevent it from being nominated in both categories?

Anonymous WaterBoy January 04, 2013 4:12 PM  

Comments on planks:

1. To quote from the SFWA website "Who We Are": SFWA is a professional organization for authors of science fiction, fantasy and related genres.

What exactly are these "related genres", and how would they fit in to the proposed division? I imagine that Horror, for instance, is one of them -- would that not merit its own category, too? (Yes, I already know about the HWA. That doesn't mean that a suitable Horror novel isn't also SF/F and worthy of Nebula consideration.)

As others have already pointed out, the area between the two is at least fifty shades of grey (heh, heh). Rather than condemning something that doesn't pigeonhole nicely into one of them, perhaps a third category of Other/Related might also be considered.

2. I like the cash award idea, and the sponsorship thereof. However, I would recommend against allowing a publisher of any kind from being chosen. And Amazon is an online publisher, is it not?

3. Not so sure about this one. Again, as others have noted, including video game writers -- who seem to have more in common with screenwriters than with novelists because of the medium -- raises the question of how much further to extend the line. You add VG writers, why not screenwriters. Then why not television writers. Then why not comic book writers and graphic novelists. And eventually each category would demand its own award. Before you know it, you're handing out dozens of awards each year and you've become as long as the Oscars.

4. Agree.

5. "The most prestigious and lucrative literary prizes are awarded by juries."

This may be the case currently, but I'm not sure it has to be. Which has more recognition among the general public, the Oscar or the Palme d'Or? I think opening it up to membership-wide voting -- while introducing its own problems -- would resolve the logrolling issue.

Anonymous WaterBoy January 04, 2013 4:20 PM  

Jack Amok: "And now that I think about it, nebulae are the birthplace of stars, so shouldn't the Nebula awards be more forward thinking?"

They're also composed of a bunch of gas, so shouldn't it go to the biggest windbag? ;)

Blogger GuyStewart January 04, 2013 8:18 PM  

Perhaps the two most frustrating experiences I had with SFWA was when while I was on the second and third years of the Andre Norton Jury and we recommended books -- and the membership ignored us and voted for whatever would be "popular"...the second year I was on the Jury, HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS won. Not because it was better than the other YA novels that year, but because that was all the membership recognized on the ballot (having never read any of the others...) I REALLY support your Nebula Reform!

Anonymous Red Comet January 04, 2013 10:36 PM  

I've wondered for quite some time why sci-fi always seems lumped together with fantasy in bookstores and everywhere else.

Probably just to have something nicer to call those books than "Novels for Nerds."

Anonymous bob k. mando January 05, 2013 9:16 AM  

all this talk about genre-bending does beg another question;
are you going to promulgate an 'official' definition for SF/F? and differentiate between them?

i'm thinking this can of worms has high hilarity potential.

Anonymous Kickass January 05, 2013 10:25 PM  

What about an award for unpublished writers, or a writing competion where someone unpublished in each catagory can submit and if they win they get membership and it gets published on amazon? Great for publicity and membership recruitment.

Anonymous Another_Bill January 06, 2013 10:55 PM  

VD,
A little late but,

Science Fantasy does exist in some form. What would you consider Dr. Who? It really isn't Science Fiction and it isn't Fantasy only.

Or if it is one or the other, what is the criteria you would use to base your decision on?

Anonymous The Anti-Gnostic January 07, 2013 1:37 PM  

I was thinking of Michael Swanwick's "The Iron Dragon's Daughter" and better short story, "King Dragon." The distinction can be kind of difficult but is probably still useful.

I tend to think of sci-fi strictly as a story with a prominent turn based on a scientific or technological principle, even if the principle itself is contrived.

Where would this short work by Martin Gardner fit, for example: Thang.

Anonymous Anonymous February 05, 2013 10:07 AM  

Before anybody votes for this guy, please take a look at this. I don’t think you want him running your organization. http://jimhines.livejournal.com/668807.html

Anonymous Anonymous February 18, 2013 3:13 PM  

It would be interesting to hear what your plans are regarding SFWA's Writer Beware. Restructure it? New administrators? Or, leave it alone.

Anonymous Anonymous February 19, 2013 8:00 PM  

I heard today that "The Write Agenda" was considering endorsing you as the SFWA Candidate of choice for the 2013 election. Would you accept their endorsement?

See: thewriteagenda.wordpress.com

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