Monday, January 12, 2009

Why there's no Aurora Award for ... whatever

People kvetch that we don't have an Aurora Award for whatever their favourite art form is, and recently someone put forth the silly argument that the reason we don't is because of the cost of making trophies.

Poppycock. The reason we don't have Aurora Awards for every possible form of expression is that no one has taken the initiative to show that we acutally need them. In 1997, I was part of a committee struck by SF Canada to comment on the Aurora Awards; the committee failed to turn in a report, but I posted my comments online, and I raise the same points at every Aurora (CanVention) business meeting when someone suggest a new category:
Periodically, new Aurora categories are suggested. Among those put forth recently include best graphic novel, best TV show or movie, best poem, and best web site — many presumably with separate French and English trophies to be presented. I believe there already are too many Aurora Awards; adding more simply cheapens the value of each one. However, when a new category is proposed, I believe the proposer should be required to put forth mock ballots listing full slates of credible nominees for the previous three years in the suggested category: if five truly award-caliber works cannot be found in each of the preceding three years in a proposed award category, clearly there is insufficient quality work being done in that area in Canada to justify an annual competitive award for it.
In the eleven subsequent years, no one has even once risen to that challenge. Being nominated should be an honour in and of itself; you shouldn't be nominated just because you're one of only a handful of people who worked in a given area in the year in question. Nominations are for outstanding work, not every work; this isn't nursery school where you get a ribbon just for showing up.

You want a new category? Get crackin' on the paperwork. I'll be there at the CanVention business meeting at the 2009 Worldcon in Montreal. Put your mock ballots on the table, and, if they really do contain works that are award-calibre, I'll be the first to vote in favour of a new award category; hell, I'll even second the motion for you. But if you put in a proposal for a new category but no mock ballots to prove the proposal's worth, I'll vote against it, and so, I bet, will just about everyone else in the room.

(In point of fact, almost no one who complains about the Auroras ever shows up at the business meetings. Complaining is easy; actually working to sustain and improve something is hard.)

(My full set of comments from 1997 on the Auroras.)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site



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