Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Aurora Awards business

Note: These are not the official Canvention / Aurora Award minutes; they're just my notes and comments on what went down at the business meeting in Winnipeg yesterday.

It only took eleven years, but some reforms for the Aurora Awards very similar to ones I first proposed right here were passed. For one, assuming next year's business meeting ratifies these changes, the unwieldy "Best Long-Form Work in English" will become "Best Novel."

Back in 1997, I'd suggested that "a minimum of ten nominations be required to be named an Aurora finalist, and that any category with fewer than three finalists be declared vacant for the current year." Well, we didn't quite get that tough, but the new rules require a minimum of five nominations to become an Aurora finalist, and categories with fewer than two nominations will be declared vacant. This is a very positive change in my view.

Also, a more recent notion that I and others had put forward, namely that people have to pay to nominate, also passed. Previously, it was free to nominate but people had to pay to vote; this change brings the policy in line with that used by the Hugos: you have to be pay whenever you enter the awards process: if you want to nominate, you pay the membership fee (which is nominal -- this year, it was five dollars) at that time (and then you can vote later for free); if you just want to vote, you can pay the membership fee at the voting stage. No one has to pay the fee twice. (The purpose of this is to raise the level of commitment to the process by those participating at the nominating stage.)

Also passed: a motion to reinstate eligibility of clubzines (magazines and newsletters published by SF clubs) in the best fanzine category.

The previous prohibition had given us the odd situation this year of having only one finalist in the fanzine category, and so for the first time in the history of the Aurora Awards, "No Award" won, not [in my estimation] as a comment on the quality of Opuntia, the nominated zine, but rather in protest over the lack of choice being offered voters.

Meanwhile, the editor of a [very fine] clubzine was given the "Fan Other" award, essentially moving clubzines into that category at the expense of those other fans -- letterhacks, filkers, costumers, etc. -- the category was intended to honour. Note, though, that the definition of fanzine has now been broadened to explicitly include blogs.

I also made an ad hoc motion (but one that I hope will set a precedent) that passed: in two categories this year, there were multiple individuals who won: Best English (Other) and Best Short-Form Work in French were won by pairs of people (Julie E. Czerneda and Jana Paniccia for the former; Yves Meynard and Jean-Louis Trudel under their joint pen name Laurent McAllister for the latter); my motion that additional trophies be immediately commissioned so that each pair of the team will get one passed.

(As it happens, this year with one category having no nominees and another having "No Award" win means that the total number of trophies will be the same as normal -- 10 -- but I do think future cons should budget based on the possibility of ties or collaborative wins.)

A number of other proposals that had been floated in the weeks leading up to the Canvention, including increasing the number of pro Aurora Awards and allowing song lyrics (including filk) to compete for the professional short-form category, were withdrawn, and I think that's all to the good.

My hat's off to Aurora chair Clint Budd, who proved very willing to listen to suggestions both in the weeks leading up to the CanVention and at the business meeting. And I must stay that David Strang, who was the CanVention chair this year, pulled off a really fine ceremony, complete with banquet. Meanwhile, the courtly and efficient Michael Walsh ran his usual civil and tight business meeting, and should be commended.

The Aurora Awards next year will be presented at the World Science Fiction Convention in Montreal.

For my own part, I don't expect to be nominated -- I have no new novel in 2008, and no short stories being published this year, and, as it happens, the two 2008 Robert J. Sawyer Books titles coming are both by Americans and so aren't eligible. Which means I can relax and enjoy the ceremony: Keycon set a very high bar for this; Anticipation is going to have to work hard just to equal the quality of the Winnipeg event.

My hearty congratulations to all of this year's winners. Canadian prodom and Canadian fandom can proudly point to them all as examples of our very best.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


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