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.