British Fantasy Society (Part 3)

Just as hopefully constructive food-for-thought in the general reappraisal of the Society going on at the moment following the concerns HERE, I have collated and clarified my own personal thoughts below from the BFS Forum yesterday:-

In the light of the recent Fantasycon reputedly being the best attended yet, I wonder if it’s known what % of the attendees were BFS members or who have now become BFS members?
If it’s a small %, then you can say the BFS is being ‘used’ but not supported. 

The Society probably needs revolutionising in some way and I get the impression that is indeed what is currently happening.
Whether it will be revolutionised to the liking of all the current members (including me) remains to be seen.

In the light of Facebook etc, what is the point of the public BFS Discussion Forum?
Indeed, the logical next question for any devil’s advocate worth his salt, is what is the point of the BFS?
The only things that members get that non-members don’t get are the special BFS publications in the post. Soon that will stop in favour of on-line publications?
Even non-members can get BFS awards.

I’ll answer my own question (for myself):
Is it a horrasy or a heresy? The BFS for me has always been a Horror society for like-minded people.  Horror enthusiasts who sometimes enjoy fantasy and SF and speculative literature (as I do) as part of that core interest.
If it starts to diversify it loses even that purpose?

What % of those with Promote your Projects threads on the BFS forum are BFS members?

The BFS Forum, for example, could be a private mutual support group of like-minded people. Isn’t that what other Societies are for? And if it is, do they always do this in public? Probably not. (Caveat: With regret, sadness and a sense of irony, I report that one of my own worst arguments on the internet was on the BFS forum between me and another member).

I’d say there is an optimum focus that will produce the manageable membership that will make the BFS thrive, i.e:

One Focus: Just Horror
Another Focus: Horror and its attendant interests in other speculative fiction.
A third focus: All speculative literature without core focus.

I suggest the middle focus is the optimum for the aspirations of the type of BFS membership I have seen since the 1970s.  Too small a focus or too large a focus could both be counter-productive.

As a rider to above, I suggest the Awards system does need significant amendment, as many have said, to ensure the actuality as well as perception of fairness, eg. to ensure that, when lobbying for awards, members do not over-influence any Societal mutual support ethos that I mention above. I feel that some degree of independent jury is needed, the personnel of which are voted in by the BFS members as a whole.  [I have always publicly criticised the present method of Awards but equally I have upheld the necessity of there being no subsequent complaints about the winners if the rules were abided by,  complaints which have forced members apart rather than brought them together in the last few years.]

Just my two cents.

PS: I don’t think the BFS should go to any expense to create physical Awards – those statuettes that have always been counter-productive, I feel.


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10 responses to “British Fantasy Society (Part 3)

  1. For me, the word ‘Horror’ above connotes, inter alia, ‘Weird Fiction’ – and here is my much earlier take on this term:

    NB: The BFS was originally called ‘The British Weird Fantasy Society’ when it started!

  2. Further thoughts of mine…

    I’m still intrigued by the thought of Horror enthusiasts always writing just about Horror? I think Horror enthusiasts, like Anglers on their Angling forum, will have many miscellaneous threads about various interests.

    It may be interesting to consider the place of Fantasy in the map of our interests. Does it belong to Horror (BFS) or SF (BSFA)? Is it a diaspora between the two looking for its rightful Society or a core interest in itself? I, for one, am interested in SF and Fantasy and literary speculative fiction, but am interested from the standpoint of a Horror or Weird Fiction enthusiast (the BFS was originally called The British Weird Fantasy Society, as David R reminded us). I suspect that, say, a Fantasy enthusiast may be interested in Horror and SF, but interested from a Fantasy enthusiast’s point of view. And so on for a SF enthusiast.

    Just thinking…

  3. And we’re simply debating what makes the BFS membership distinctive from any other fiction or literary group membership, i.e. what there is about one’s reading interests that makes one join the BFS rather than another literary or genre group.

    What I believe is that there are multitudes of candidates for awards: mainstream and other big publishers, middle-sized small press, very small press (all of them possibly incorporating print books only, print books with alternative ebook versions, and ebooks only).

    My original idea on the other thread a week or so ago:

    Quote from: Nemonymous on October 05, 2011, 08:23:18 AM

    How about all members voting for a long-list and for the membership of two juries.
    An oversight jury to add to the list.
    An overload jury reducing it.
    Then the two juries preparing a final voting list of 4 in each category for members to vote on, but only if they’ve read all four.

    Brainstorming a bit.

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