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This morning's Netfeed cornucopia brought news of yet another Australian spec fic award starting up. This one's called the Victorian SF Chronos Award and it aims to recognise excellence in Victorian SF, fantasy and horror in 2008. (overseas folks, FYI Victoria is an Australian  state). So its going to be a Vic version of the Tin Ducks.

Last year someone asked me to estimate the size of Australian spec fic. How many of us there are writing, editing, publishing, illustrating, etc the stuff? How many Aussies identify with spec fic fandom? I had no answer to the question, but as far as I can gage, it's a small number. In the hundreds rather than thousands. With a bodycount like this, do we really need more awards? We already have one juried award (Aurealis), one popular vote award (Ditmars) and one horror award (Australian Shadows). Perth's Tin Ducks are a Swancon tradition, with the Mumfan trophy having special significance to that community. But should the rest of the states be following suit?

I think not. I mean no disrespect to the Chronos organisers who I'm sure have nothing but the best intentions in mind, but might we Aussies be running the risk of vanishing up our own parochial bottoms with all this excessive trophy awarding? What does it actually mean when you win an award against such a small handful of competitors? Anything? What do you think?

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On May 31st, 2009 03:36 am (UTC), king_espresso commented:
"might we Aussies be running the risk of vanishing up our own parochial bottoms with all this excessive trophy awarding? What does it actually mean when you win an award against such a small handful of competitors? Anything? What do you think?"

I said the same thing when the Aurealis Awards started. Thin edge of the wedge.
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On May 31st, 2009 03:44 am (UTC), catsparx replied:
One country-wide juried award is culturally relevant IMHO.
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On May 31st, 2009 03:46 am (UTC), king_espresso commented:
But on the other hand, why not have a multiplicity of awards? If the purpose of awards is to encourage and reward excellence, then surely having them on a State *and* Federal level will lead to more encouragement and recognition. There are works, deeds and events of quality that get lost in the signal to noise ratio of strident self-promotion is inflicted the community at the moment. If an award brings interesting works and people to the attention of a larger audience, then this can only be a good thing.
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On May 31st, 2009 03:47 am (UTC), catsparx replied:
even if there's a sum total of fewer that 20 folks eligible in each category?
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On May 31st, 2009 03:47 am (UTC), nyssa_p commented:
I don't like the idea of the state-only thing. Partially because NSW doesn't have one so I'd never be eligible for one, but also your point - how many fan productions are there in Victoria alone? Nationally, I have some pretty damn big competitiors, ASif and HorrorScope, not to mention other things (like Scary food for these Ditmars).

I'd like to win an award, but if I'm up against all of NSW, I don't know if there'd even be 5 different fan productions to choose from on the final ballot. Beating ASif or Horrorscope (as much as I worship Alisa and Shane) would just be insane freaking awesome! :P
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On May 31st, 2009 03:49 am (UTC), catsparx replied:
if there's not much competition we might as well all make our own trophies and award them to ourselves. Every child wins a prize!
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On May 31st, 2009 04:17 am (UTC), cassiphone commented:
The Tasmanian spec fic awards would be AWESOME - me, Dirk, Sara Douglass, Tasmaniac Publications... and... um...

AWESOME.
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On May 31st, 2009 04:20 am (UTC), catsparx replied:
the NT awards would be good too.
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On May 31st, 2009 04:46 am (UTC), babalon_93 commented:
I think *need* is a very strong term, I don't think we really *need* any awards. However, I really love the Tin Ducks and feel really honored for the ones I have regardless of who else was eligible/nominated so I support the Victorians who want their own version. Heh, even the Ditmar I got was me vs 'no award' and I am still really happy with that :)

I guess what I am trying to say here is that I see your point about lack of scarcity possibly equaling lesser value, but I think the value in something like the Tin Ducks has a lot to do with other things like community as well.
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On May 31st, 2009 04:48 am (UTC), catsparx replied:
I scored a Ditmar against No Award once too!
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On May 31st, 2009 05:50 am (UTC), _fustian commented:
Clearly only the States with the social cohesiveness and fannish wherewithal to hold regular conventions need an Awards system. :)
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On May 31st, 2009 05:51 am (UTC), catsparx replied:
well that counts Sydney out!
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On May 31st, 2009 06:04 am (UTC), mireille21 commented:
I'm inclined to agree. Again, no disrespect to the organisers but I am intrigued about the 'why'. I would have thought that the Ditmars would be sufficient, and that if for some reason the Ditmars are not sufficient in terms of a popular award, then it would be better to fix what is wrong about them rather than launching a new award.

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On May 31st, 2009 06:05 am (UTC), catsparx replied:
yeah
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On May 31st, 2009 07:23 am (UTC), nyssa_p commented:
Actually for fan production....I wonder if ASif, horrorscope and Awriter are all eligible if we have minions/reviewers/writers in Victoria? Up against them, winning the award would mean something for me!
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On June 1st, 2009 04:08 am (UTC), dalekboy replied:
The rules are on my LJ, but a quick answer is, if the productions themselves are produced, or have at least one primary editor (as opposed to sub-editors), in Victoria, they are eligible. If they don't, then it's just the Victorian writers and artists who do things for those productions that can be nominated.

Hope that's clear enough, getting a bit tired.
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On May 31st, 2009 02:34 pm (UTC), dalekboy commented:
There are plenty of fan writers and artists in the Victorian (and National) scene that have felt that Natcon in general, and the last Worldcon in particular, abandoned them. If they feel excluded by the cons, why would they even try to get their work nominated for their awards?

For me it's less about giving people 'prizes' and more an attempt to rebuild the Victorian community that was destroyed in the late 90s by the triple threat of fan politics, WorldCon, and the merging of the media and lit Natcons. Getting the fan clubs nominating their newsletters, writers and artists is a way to start the process. I'm hoping it will encourage them to get involved again.
And while the Continuum Foundation oversees the Chronos Awards, any sufficiently large and general event held in Victoria is welcome to host them - they don't have to be held at a Continuum con.

Will it work? No idea. Do I think it's perfect? Nope! Do I fully expect it to take us a few years to get it to something that I'm comfortable with? Yes.
There are more pro categories, because the pros tend to complain louder than the fans. If we get a lot of nominations for something highly specific we haven't covered, we will try to learn from that. Next time around, we may well drop some categories or mutate them into something new. I'm fully expecting that if this starts to work, fans will start to complain and want category changes. And that's fine.

As 'to the everyone wins a prize' aspect... I don't see that it's that much worse than the 'whatever city holds the convention will automatically skew the voting for the Ditmars/Hugos/etc.' thing.

When we had two Natcons, I won a few ASFMAs (Australian Science Fiction Media Award) in my time, and couple of Ditmars. Getting one did not cheapen the other.
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On May 31st, 2009 09:45 pm (UTC), catsparx replied:
Good luck with the project, Danny. I don't know much about fan politics or indeed the fan side of things at all. Anything that works towards building stronger communities is worthy.
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On May 31st, 2009 02:42 pm (UTC), angriest commented:
Having lived in a fandom that's had a state SF award for years, I see no problem in it whatsoever. Is a Tin Duck worth the same as a Ditmar or an Aurealis? Absolutely not. Is it a lovely way to be told that people like your stuff? Sure.

Why *not* have it? What harm does it do? If it doesn't stick, or if people don't care about them, what does it matter?

I'm just shitty because I'm not eligible to win one.
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On May 31st, 2009 09:46 pm (UTC), catsparx replied:
Hell, if it takes off I'm moving to Victoria!
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On June 1st, 2009 03:33 pm (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
Just an outsider's perspective, and just offered as information not judgment. From over here in Tallahassee, Florida, I find the current spate of Australian spec fic awards and sometimes even categories...very confusing.

Unlike the Arthur C. Clarke Award, which has a definitively British flavor, and the British Fantasy Awards, which are somewhat minor but still useful...I don't really know what I'm looking at re the Aussie awards. Like, there's no strong brand, in my humble opinion. There's just all of this competing noise.

I know, I know--who cares what an American thinks, that's not what the awards are geared toward.

But I would find it much more useful if there were one strong central award, possibly even with the word "Australian" in it (is there one I'm not aware of) like the "Australian Fantasy Award" or whatever, where I could say as a reader "ah! there's a list of really good sh-- to seek out."

That's probably just a selfishness on my part, or a laziness, but there it is...at the moment, I look at the awards out there and it looks like a herd of rugby players grappling for a ball I can't even see it's under so many bodies.

Again, no disrespect intended. I've grown to love so many Aussie spec fic writers and have become friends with so many people in the community that if there's one place in the world I'd move to if I didn't live in Tally it'd be somewhere in Australia.

Cheers,

JeffV
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On June 1st, 2009 09:37 pm (UTC), catsparx replied:
Ta for your feedback, Jeff. To me, its the Aurealis award that really means something because its juried. Judges actually have to read the stuff they vote for. I do see a place for the Ditmars too -- the pure popular vote. These are our versions of the Hugos and Nebulas. I'm not sure there are enough of us writing horror to warrant the Australian Shadows award. Any statewide awards seem superfluous to me -- but the Perth folks love their Tin Ducks with a passion... that one's none of my business so I'm staying out of it.

so when *are* you and Ann moving to Wollongong? Huh? Huh?
— On June 2nd, 2009 01:26 pm (UTC), dalekboy posted a reply · Expand
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