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Writing: Awards From a Canadian Perspective

Creative Commons: The Bram Stoker Award

 

Like every profession, those who excel or are the tops in their field will often receive an award or some form of recognition. How those awards are meted out tend to differ. For writing, the various top awards are given by means of voting by the readers, by members or colleagues or through juries and judges. All of these have merits and flaws. Here is a partial list of some of the awards given out in speculative fiction:

  • Hugo Awards
  • Nebula Awards (works published in US voted on by SFWA members)
  • James Tiptree Award
  • John W. Campbell
  • Philip K. Dick
  • Theodore Sturgeon Award
  • Arthur C. Clark
  • World Fantasy Award
  • Bram Stoker (voted on by HWA members)
  • Sunburst Award (Canadian works)
  • Aurora Award (Canadian writers)
  • British Fantasy Award (British)
  • Aurealis (Australian)

The list actually goes on, and a full breakdown can be found on the Locus magazine site. Descriptions of each are given as well. My curiosity about visibility of Canadian writers and awards came about because the Horror Writers Association sent me and invitation, saying I was eligible. I’d actually been eligible years before when I could have got full pro membership (before they raised the rates) but never did anything about it. Than I found they’ve created a supporting member category for those who are selling but not at a pro rate of which few magazines offer (.5 cents or more per word). Yes, you do not get rich writing speculative fiction,k in most cases.

I was more interested in whether a story/novel published by a small Canadian publisher would ever be noticed enough to be nominated for bigger awards. Obviously some awards, such as the Nebulas, for works published in the US, or the Aurealis for Australian works, might limit this, but then again there are many Canadian authors published in or distributed in the US. I posted my question to our writers’ list and here are some of the opinions.

Gemma Files, published by Chizine Publications, is up for this year’s Bram Stoker for first novel. Other Canadians have won or been nominated for this award in the past, such as Edo Van Belkom, John Little , Nancy Kilpatrick, Robert Sawyer, Sandra Kasturi, Brett Savory, David Nickle, Don Hutchison, Charles de Lint and probably a few others that I missed. Many of these publications were from the US but some were Canadian. Some of the publishers were Canadian as well, while the authors were American. So it looks like, as long as the publications are known of or distributed far enough, Canadian representation is there in the Stokers.

The Hugo nominees, voted on by fans at the World SF conventions, are supposedly from all countries. However, since most World SF cons are in the US and there majority of publishers are there, there will be a tendency to have more US oriented works. But, that doesn’t mean a Canadian isn’t nominated, especially if they’re published by Tor or some other big US publisher. Charles de Lint is a good example and has been nominated over 45 times for Aurora, Sunburst, World Fantasy, Nebula and British Fantasy awards among others. And he’s Canadian.

However, looking back quickly over the last 11 years of Hugo awards it seems there are very few small presses and  none that aren’t American though in fact they have no restrictions on language or country. (I could also be wrong about small presses from outside the US–someone please correct me.)

But when an award is voted on by attending members of a convention or on fans it is a smaller spectrum of the writing avaialabe. It is first limited by a name the fan recognizes or the books they’ve read. This also runs true for member-voted awards of associations such as SFWA or HWA. There is a limit to how much a person can read or what they like. Some people will vote for someone based on the popularity of their name, even if they have’nt read the work. It happens all the time.

Canada’s population is much smaller than the US, and even if all Canadians were published in the US there would be a smaller percentage and a smaller number nominated for awards. Canadian publishers are less likely to be seen by American readers, which also limits the range of available works. But I doubt there is anyone who has read all that is published in a year though I have to give people like Gardner Dozois and Ellen Datlow huge kudos for the sheer volume of stuff they go through. I’d almost say the Year’s Best anthologies are a more accurate collection of written works than any award.

But truth be told, no award will ever really have all of the best authors or stories or publishers. There is always a limiting of the field by various means. But Canadians don’t do too badly, considering, and are holding their own. As we have more digital formats and the universality of the internet we are likely to see more and more authors from all parts of the world.

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World Fantasy 2008: Part II

A big part of these conventions are the parties. Because World Fantasy is a professional con there are few but advertised parties and launches. SF Canada put on a party on Friday night, which I oversaw and I’m pleased to say that we never ran out of alcohol and that I had to actually return some. I could have ordered more of some things and less of others. We’ll know for the next one but it was definitely a success with over two hundred people passing through the suite.

Other parties included book launches for authors by RedJack press, Tor books, Borderlands, and others that I can’t recall. Because we weren’t leaving until Monday we attended the dead dog Sunday party which had a fair number of people and drinks. The parties were good, noisy and lasted until the room closed around 2 am.

The other place to meet people was in the bar, as always. I met Jetse De Vries, former editor with Interzone, a noticeable man for his long wavy hair, tallness and great rolling, Dutch accent. He was talking about the Netherlands for World Fantasy in 2016 as it would be the 500th birthday of Hieronymus Bosch. It’s a ways off so who knows. I also met Jenny Blackford from Australia, one of the awards judges for next year, and we discussed Greek mythos.

I met Mark Kelly of Locus, recognizing his name before I linked it with his reviews, Bob Brown, an antiquarian bookseller in Seattle, writers Mark Rich and Liz Bourke, and artist Mike Dringenberg. I met many SF Canada members in person including Leslie Carmichael, Claire Earmer, Lorna Toolis, Richard Bartrop, Dom Benoit, Den Valdron, Carolyn Clink, Celu Amberstone, Candas Jane Dorsey, Marcelle Dube, Dave Duncan, Matt Hughes, Alison Sinclair, Cath Jackal, Marie Jakober, Ed Willett.

Publishers that I met in the flesh included Virginia O’Dine and Dominic Macquire of Bundoran Press (Prince George), Gwen Gades of Dragon Moon, Karl and Stephanie Johanson of Neo-Opsis, Jacob Wiseman of Tachyon Press, Diane Walton of OnSpec, Champagne Books, Flash Me Online. I said hello again to Patrick Swenson of Talebones, Brian Hades of Edge, Peter Halasz sponsoring the Sunburst Awards auction, Brit Graham Joyce, Karen Abrahamson, Chris Lotts, Janine Cross, Rhea Rose, Linda DeMeulemeester, Eileen and Pat Kernaghan, Derryl Murphy, Nina Munteanu, Rob Sawyer, Darrell Schweitzer, John Douglas, David Hartwell, Bruce Taylor, Nancy Kilpatrick, Leslie Howle (of Clarion administration) and a few others. There were so many people and conversations that I don’t remember everyone but it’s a good place to meet people and talk about art and writing.

World Fantasy special guests included David Morrell, dark fiction and thriller writer and creator of Rambo, Patricia McKillip, who sold her first novel at the age of 23, Todd Lockwood with a lovely body of artwork, Barbara Hambly with an impressive number of books, Tom Doherty, publisher of Tor and other ventures and Tad Williams as emcee. During the presentation of the World Fantasy awards he gave a very funny speech about the beginning of fantasy writing, with such things as it all starting in the US and William Shakingspear made an indent. He claimed that Canadian writers were really just geographically confused Canadians and that no one knows if Charles de Lint is real but that his footprints have been found deep in the forests.

Tad’s history of fantasy began in the times of cave men and came forward to present day. I do hope this speech will be printed somewhere as it was extremely well done and had people laughing. The awards presentation happened on Sunday. My friend Kij Johnson was up again for a short story but she did not win. Ellen Datlow, who did win, has nine World Fantasy awards. A bunch of us joked about her forming her own Easter Island. Following is the list of winners at the convention:

Life Achievement: Leo and Diane Dillon; Patricia McKillip

Novel: “Ysabel” by Guy Gavriel Kay (Viking Canada/Penguin Roc).
Novella: “Illyria” by Elizabeth Hand (PS Publishing).
Short Story: “Singing of Mount Abora” by Theodora Goss (Logorrhea, Bantam Spectra).
Anthology: “Inferno: New Tales of Terror and the Supernatural” edited by Ellen Datlow, Editor (Tor).
Collection: “Tiny Deaths” by Robert Shearman (Comma Press).

Artist: Edward Miller
Special Award—Professional: Peter Crowther for PS Publishing
Special Award—Non-professional: Midori Snyder and Terri Windling for Endicott Studios Website

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