Sunday, September 2, 2007

A Call for On-Site Aurora Voting at Con*Cept

A Call for On-Site Aurora Voting at Con*Cept

We now face a major crisis -- yet again -- related to the credibility of the Aurora Awards, thanks to the tardiness of release of the final ballot.

The facts:

1) For good or ill, VCon, the convention at which the Aurora Awards will be presented in Vancouver, has taken the decision to have on-site voting for the Aurora Awards this year.

2) The final Aurora Award ballot has been delayed yet again. With the ceremony scheduled for next month, and no list of nominees available, readers will have very little time to evaluate and vote on works.

As it happens, though, one of Canada's major regional conventions takes place just one week prior to VCon: Con*Cept in Montreal is October 12-14, 2007; VCon is October 19-21, 2007. As it also happens, VCon is the westernmost annual regional convention left in Canada and Con*Cept is the easternmost.

To salvage this year's Auroras -- a year in which no eligibility lists were ever released, a year in which the final ballot has been repeatedly and unconscionably delayed, a year in which the host convention has broken with tradition and decided unilaterally to have local on-site voting -- it seems to me that the CanVention and Aurora administrators should immediately arrange to have on-site voting at BOTH VCon AND Con*Cept, with members of both conventions being allowed to vote for free (in addition to the normal paid by-mail balloting), with the proviso that those who happen to be attending both conventions still may only vote once.

The Prix Aurora Awards are national, bilingual awards; most of Canadian fandom is being disenfranchised by the ridiculously late release of the ballot this year; the only possible salvation for this year's awards is to encourage maximum voter participation despite the irregularities and delays -- and the lucky happenstance that Con*Cept ends five days before VCon begins affords an opportunity that should not be missed.

Doubtless some suspicious soul will now ask how this affects me personally. The answer: not at all. I won't be at VCon (instead, I will be at the Harbourfront International Festival of Authors in Toronto) and I won't be at Con*Cept (instead, I will be at WordFest: The Banff-Calgary International Writers Festival), and I DON'T have a novel eligible this year. But the Auroras are in crisis, and I call upon the administrators of this year's awards to take at least this step to ameliorate the problem.

Robert J. Sawyer
in Beijing


At September 03, 2007 4:56 AM , Blogger Drakkenfyre said...

Hear, hear!

Every time something like this happens, those who care for our our national SF/F award lose confidence in it. And confidence is all that an award has going for it.

I wish the administrator, whom I will not name here, would accept the help of the community. Some of us have offered our help in the past. I wish he would take someone up on it. There's no shame in that.

At September 03, 2007 10:23 AM , Blogger Mike Rimar said...

What goes into this process? Are these delays justified? I strikes me as a basic process where votes are gathered and tallied and a list given of the top 5 vote getters. This doesn't seem too hard. Is there some unforseen cost to the process, other than free time? More importantly, why does this guy have the job when it is apparant he has a problem doing it?


At September 03, 2007 4:06 PM , Blogger Karl said...

I assume people are already able to vote at Concept, unless the mail in voting deadline is earlier than then. The questions about onsite voting are then:
One: Will Concept want pay the voting fee, for those who chose to onsite vote there.
Two: Can the votes be submitted in time.

One is a nice idea (and I’m for it), but it's the concom’s call.
Two is easier to answer. I assume the Concept concom would in such a case, courier ballots to Clint Budd, who's handling the Aurora voting this year, rather than compiling the data themselves. I suggest that Clint Budd would have to be contacted ahead of time, to confirm that he is willing and able to accept batch submitted ballots from a concom.

If the Concept concom isn't in a position to cover voting fees, then they could (if they choose to), gather up voting forms and voting fees at the con from con goers, then courier them in a batch to Clint Budd.

The convention Pure Speculation in Edmonton (, is also held the week before V-Con. The above options could be available for that convention as well, of course.

At minimum it would be nice if ballots are available at cons for members to fill out and mail in themselves.

Karl Johanson
Editor Neo-opsis Science Fiction Magazine

At September 04, 2007 3:24 AM , Anonymous Jim Shannon said...

I kind of like the idea of balloting at a Con but at least give voters time to evaluate their selection before voting. I don't think people will want to spend time reading when they could be meeting with guests and enjoying what makes a convention being there in the first place.

Maybe not as big as VCon or Concept but I'm going to pop in at Pure Speculation. Edmonton's Con in mid October.

At September 08, 2007 2:56 AM , Blogger Teresa said...

Pardon my ignorance, but how much does it cost to vote?

And how does a Hosting convention have the authority to change the established voting process? Are there establishd voting rules and regulations? I couldn't find any on line. Who will be in charge of the ballots, V-con or Canvention?

Not a good situation as far as I'm concerned.

And with respect Rob, as you have a shortstory nominated I'd say that this situation does affect you personally.

At September 08, 2007 3:24 AM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Note the date on this blog post, Teresa. I did NOT have a story nominated when I wrote it, and I had no reason to think I might.

Oh, I wrote a couple of stories that I'm proud of that were published in 2006, but so did a lot of other people (including Robert Charles Wilson, whose Hugo-nominated "Julian" and Sturgeon-winning "The Cartesian Theater" I'd expected to see on the ballot, along with a very fine story by Susan Forest from ASIMOV'S called "Immunity," plus James Alan Gardner's "All the Cool Monsters at Once" (which did make the ballot). Usually, in a year in which a Tesseracts anthology is out, there are multiple nominees from it, too -- so I didn't expect to be nominated (but am delighted to have been).

I note one of the other nominees -- the Mierau -- comes from the same anthology as the story of mine that was nominated, while my OTHER eligible story, "Flashes," from the same anthology as Wilson's "Cartesian Theater," was also overlooked, so perhaps SLIPSTREAMS had better distribution that did FUTURESHOCKS.

I had no idea I'd be a nominee, although am pleased as punch to be one.

(And since "Biding Time" is under option to a Hollywood producer, and was just picked up for the very prestigious PENGUIN BOOK OF CRIME STORIES, edited by Peter Robinson, it's fair to say that the story certainly has significant merit in some people's eyes ... so, of course, I harbored hopes of an Aurora nod, but that's not the same as expecting it.)

For the record, I first heard that I was a nominee in an email received on Thursday, September 6.

As to who makes up the rules, and who gets to decide things related to the Auroras, that's a very good question. I've been part of an informal, grass-roots movement to get more transparency and accountability into the process. Marcel Gagne and I creating the Canadian SF Works Database earlier this year was part of that.

At September 08, 2007 4:13 AM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Also: the point in the post about this not affecting me personally ("this" being having on-site voting at Montreal in addition to Vancouver) was that I was not (and am not) going to be in either Montreal or Vancouver, so I won't be able to vote in person, nor, by my presence, influence anyone to cast a last-minute ballot at either con -- something others have been known to do when V-Con previously had on-site voting.

And, of course, I live in neither of those provinces (British Columbia, Quebec), so I won't gain any home-turf advantage by having voting in Montreal in addition to Vancouver.

At September 08, 2007 6:58 PM , Blogger Teresa said...

Thanks, Rob, for clarifying your position; I should have checked the 'time line' of your posts and the posting of the nominees more carefully.

Rob said:

... by my presence, influence anyone to cast a last-minute ballot at either con -- something others have been known to do when V-Con previously had on-site voting

It never even crossed my mind to think that your (or any author's)presence at a con where voting was taking place would be any sort of 'conflict of interest'. It is troubling to know that people have taken advantage of such circumstances in the past.

At September 08, 2007 7:40 PM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Just for the sake of clarity, note that it's not JUST authors who are eligible for Aurora Awards. Auroras are given to authors, artists, and those involved in organized fandom, and in the catch-all "Other" categories can also go to editors, broadcasters, etc.


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