Tentacular Grapplings

This post is the first in a series here on Torque Control from Ian Whates.

***

The world of awards seems to be an ever-expanding one, with more and more accolades being presented in every field going. Genre fiction is no exception. In this country alone we have the BSFA Awards, the Clarke, the Gemmells, the British Fantasy Awards, the James White Award, and that’s not even considering global awards such as the Hugos, Nebulas, World Fantasy and Stoker awards, or those voted on by the readers of various magazines… So is there really room for another set of awards?

The Kitschies are the new kids on the block, and their organisers would argue that there certainly is. 2011’s winners were announced at a ceremony during the SFX weekender in February 2012, and, with an expanding set of categories and increasing prize money, the Kitschies are certainly hard to ignore. We asked the organisers, Anne Perry and Jared Shurin, to tell us a bit about the awards and to explain why they’re so different. In particular, they’ve focussed on the Golden Tentacle, awarded for best debut novel.

As a follow-up to this, we’ll be taking a look at each of the novels shortlisted for the Golden Tentacle over the next few months, to get an idea of what makes the Kitschies tick.

“The Kitschies’ shortlists are selected based on strict criteria: progressive, intelligent and entertaining books with elements of the speculative or fantastic. Within those terms, we try to err on the side of inclusivity, and allow each year’s judges the freedom to bring in their own perspective.

Although debut novels are judged by the same criteria (progressive, intelligent, entertaining), they’re a separate category for several reasons. The first is for the authors. There’s something warm and cuddly about discovery. We get to encourage new talent, authors who may not already have an existing audience or support structure. Bringing new books to readers’ attention: that’s the best thing that any award can do.

The second is for the books. This oversimplifies things terribly, but there are different expectations of a debut novel. These are new voices; writers who are challenging their categories in order to wedge their way onto crowded shelves. New authors have to work even harder to get readers’ attention – they need to be brasher, louder, more aggressive. The resulting books are often more raw: shoutier, less polished but, in many cases, also more daring.

The third is for the judges. This is the fun category. Everything is new; the expectations are different. With a debut novel, there are no middle volumes in long series; less predisposition, hype and (hopefully) scandal. In our oversaturated marketing environment, reading a debut is as close as we can get to judging in a vacuum. There’s just the text itself, and whatever surprises it may hold.

The 2011 finalists were an exceptionally diverse group containing (if you’ll pardon the labels): space opera, paranormal romance, epic fantasy, YA and splatterpunk horror. Of course, none of them fit neatly within the boundaries, and if there’s one thing that unites all five titles, it is the fact that they aggressively challenge readers’ assumptions. Several of these titles have gone on to be nominated for – and win – other awards, while others have crept along more quietly.

The Kitschies’ mission is not to dictate taste, but to encourage discussion. For that very reason (and others), we’re grateful to the BSFA for setting up this series. Whether or not you agree with our panel’s selections (and we expect that not everyone will), we hope you enjoy the conversation.” – Anne and Jared.

Trees in the forest

Trees have been falling in the BSFA’s metaphorical forest, but I haven’t had the capacity this summer to keep Torque Control updated to tell you about them; so I am particularly grateful to Tony Keen who has been doing so.
As BSFA members will know, the summer Vector didn’t happen; life intervened in a variety of ways which collectively waylaid the issue for both me and those involved in laying out the issue. I’m delighted, therefore, that the London & SF issue of Vector is due to come out in October, at long last, in the BSFA’s fourth mailing of the year. I already have much of the material in-hand for January’s issue as well, for that matter.

My much more finite-than-usual time in particular was the result of having offspring. Little Grouting-in-the-Fields (as we’re calling her online) has been inadvertently teaching me a great deal about time management: nap whenever possible time comes in small, valuable units, and without prioritization and seizing those moments, I won’t get anything done. I never quite appreciated that routine, generic advice to the degree I have recently. Vector won out over Torque Control. I couldn’t previously have told you they were even in contention with each other.

Ian Whates has generously arranged for a series of posts to be hosted here, beginning with one on the Kitchies.  I’ll be posting them, and, if necessary, passing on comments back to him. If I’m really organised, I’ll be posting more regularly in my own right too.

Science Fiction Foundation Conference; CFP closes on 30 September

Just a reminder that the Call For Papers for the Science Fiction Foundation’s Conference “Swords, Sorcery, Sandals and Space: The Fantastika and the Classical World” (Liverpool, 29 June-1 July 2013) closes on 30 September.  Details here: http://www.sf-foundation.org/conference

Special BSFA Meeting: Han Song interviewed by Lavie Tidhar

On Wednesday 10th Octber 2012, Han Song (Chinese Science Fiction author) will be interviewed by Lavie Tidhar (Israeli SF writer), with Antoaneta Becker translating.

Although little of his work has been translated into English* Han Song is one of the most prolific of Chinese SF writers, and has won the prestigious Galaxy prize six times.

*One recent exception is the short story ‘The Wheel of Samsara’, published in 2009 in The Apex Book of Science Fiction, edited by Lavie Tidhar.

This event is supported by the British Council in collaboration with the Chinese organising committee as part of the China Market Focus 2012 cultural programme at The London Book Fair.

ALL WELCOME – FREE ENTRY (Non-members welcome)

The interview will start at 7 pm. We have the room from 6pm (and if early, fans are in the ground floor bar from 5ish).

There will be a raffle (£1 for five tickets), with a selection of sf novels as prizes.

Location: Cellar Bar, The Argyle Public House, 1 Greville Street (off Leather Lane), London EC1N 8PQ. Map is here. Nearest Tube: Chancery Lane (Central Line).

Please note that this is now the new permanent venue of BSFA Meetings.

FUTURE EVENTS:
24th October** - Nina Allan, interviewed by Niall Harrison
28th November - Paul Cornell, interviewed by Roz Kaveney
(There is no BSFA Meeting in December).
23rd January 2013** – TBC

** Note that this is a month with five Wednesdays. The meeting will be on the fourth, not the last, Wednesday of the month.

September BSFA Meeting: Robert Shearman interviewed by Simon Guerrier

On Wednesday 26th September 2012, Robert Shearman (author, playwright, Doctor Who writer) will be interviewed by Simon Guerrier (Doctor Who writer).

ALL WELCOME – FREE ENTRY (Non-members welcome)

The interview will start at 7 pm. We have the room from 6pm (and if early, fans are in the ground floor bar from 5ish).

There will be a raffle (£1 for five tickets), with a selection of sf novels as prizes.

Location: Cellar Bar, The Argyle Public House, 1 Greville Street (off Leather Lane), London EC1N 8PQ. Map is here. Nearest Tube: Chancery Lane (Central Line).

Please note that this is now the new permanent venue of BSFA Meetings. It would be nice if we could get a good turnout for the first meeting.

FUTURE EVENTS:
10th October – Special Meeting: Han Song, interviewed by Lavie Tidhar
24th October** - Nina Allan, interviewed by Niall Harrison
28th November - Paul Cornell, interviewed by Roz Kaveney
(There is no BSFA Meeting in December).
23rd January 2013** – TBC

** Note that this is a month with five Wednesdays. The meeting will be on the fourth, not the last, Wednesday of the month.

London in 2014 party

The London in 2014 Worldcon Bid are holding a party on Sunday 2 September, to coincide with the announcement of the 2014 site selection. It’s at the Green Man & Porter’s Bar, on the corner of Great Portland Street and Euston Road, from 4 pm onwards. You are encouraged to arrive promptly, as the announcement is expected soon after 4.

The BSFA supports the London in 2014 bid.

Details here:

http://www.londonin2014.org/content/london-party

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 85 other followers