World Fantasy Awards Winners
Life Achievement (tie)
Edward L. Ferman
The Physiognomy, Jeffrey Ford (Avon)
''Streetcar Dreams'', Richard Bowes (F&SF Apr 1997)
Best Short Fiction
''Dust Motes'', P. D. Cacek (Gothic Ghosts, Tor)
Bending the Landscape: Fantasy, Nicola Griffith and Stephen Pagel, editors (White Wolf Borealis)
The Throne of Bones, Brian McNaughton (Terminal Fright)
Special Award, Professional
The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, John Clute and John Grant, editors (Orbit; St. Martin's)
Special Award, Non-professional
Fedogan & Bremer, for book publishing Judges for this year's awards were Peter Crowther, David Truesdale, L. E. Modisitt, Jr., Janeen Webb, and Peter Schneider.
(Sun 1 Nov 1998)
SFWA Reinstates Dramatic Nebula
Members of the Science-fiction and Fantasy Writers of America have voted to establish a Nebula Award for Best Script, reinstating a dramatic writing category that was last awarded over 20 years ago. (See background below.) The decision was reached in a September 1998 referendum among active SFWA members, spearheaded by new president Robert J. Sawyer, that addressed a number of controversial issues.
Other propositions passed by the referendum extend allowable credentials for SFWA membership to include sales to online publications and to professional English-language publications anywhere in the world, not just in the US. This means that sales to Interzone and Event Horizon, or to HarperCollins UK and New English Library, now count toward the number of sales needed by a writer to qualify for SFWA membership.
Eligibility for the Nebula Award remains restricted to first US publication, however. A proposition that would have extended Nebula eligibility to first publication in English anywhere in the world was defeated. Had the proposition passed, works published in the UK well in advance of their US release, a not unusual occurrence, might have exhausted their Nebula eligiblity before becoming widely available in the US. (Kim Stanley Robinson's Antarctica, for example, was published in the UK almost a full year before its publication in the US.)
A proposition to abolish Nebula juries was also defeated. Nebula juries, whose members vary from year to year, have the option of adding one work to each category of the final Nebula ballot. The movement to abolish the juries charged that in recent years they were not fulfilling their original charter, which was to identify worthwhile stories suitable for Nebula consideration that, presumably because of obscure publication, had probably not been seen by most voters.
Another proposition that failed to pass would have required periodic requalification for SFWA membership, requiring active members to have books in print, or make new sales, every three or five years. In contrast, a proposition for senior membership benefits was approved. This allows 25-year active members to receive, if requested, free associate (non-voting) membership for the rest of his or her life.
Other defeated propositions would have allowed the Nebula Awards banquet to be held outside the United States, and allowed gaming sales as credentials for joining SFWA.
There has long been controversy over the legitimacy of a dramatic writing Nebula Award. To some the category is outside the scope of an organization founded principally to deal with issues of book and magazine publishing. Others feel the award performs an outreach function to strengthen ties with Hollywood, which traditionally has had little regard for the written word except as source material to be improved upon.
There is also the difficulty of judging a screenplay or other written treatment as distinct from the production of that work. The earlier Nebula categories explicitly designated the writers, including the writers of source books, as nominees for the award, not the director or producers or the final productions themselves.
The Hugo Award category for Best Dramatic Presentation ignores this distinction by nominating the produced works, for which the director and producers, as well as the writers, are credited. The Writers Guild of America, an organization of screenwriters, takes the extreme opposite position, considering unproduced versions of scripts for its awards. Harlan Ellison has won Writers Guild of America Awards several times, usually for scripts that were substantially rewritten when produced (including Star Trek's ''The City on the Edge of Forever'' and ''Phoenix Without Ashes'', the pilot for the Canadian TV series The Starlost).
For this new Nebula Award, script is defined as ''a professionally produced audio, radio, television, motion picture, multimedia, or theatrical script'', which would seem to exclude an author's preferred original draft, even if published. SFWA Vice-President Paul Levinson is in charge of chairing a committee to work out appropriate procedures for administering the award.
Complete results of the September 1998 referendum are here.
(Sat 24 Oct 1998)
Besher Serial Debuts on Web
A serial by Alexander Besher, ''After the Bug'', is set to officially debut October 30th on SF Gate. The work is a millennial tale of post-Y2K San Francisco and will unfold with new installments every Friday.
Besher is a Bay-area journalist and author whose SF novels include the Philip K. Dick nominated Rim (1994) and its sequels Mir (1998) and the forthcoming Chi (1999). Another trilogy, beginning with The Hanging Butoh Detective, will be published in 1999 and 2000.
''After the Bug'' belongs to a San Francisco literary tradition that includes Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City, a work that was originally serialized in The San Francisco Chronicle, notes Besher. Where Maupin portrayed the '70s through the stories of roommates in a big house on Russian Hill, Besher portrays the end of the '90s and the start of the new millennium by following five roommates in a big house on Potrero Hill. The central character is Geronimo Poe Smith, a member of the ''00'' or the ''Nothing Generation'', whose job is to bike around town checking high-tech pay toilets for Y2K compliance. Then he gets involved with a secret ''Y2K Agency'', whose ''X-Files''-like mandate is to deal with the paranormal fall-out of the Y2K bug.
Besher's work will reflect and exploit the medium of the web, as Geoff Ryman did with his interactive novel 253, by including hyperlinks to add detail and depth to the main storyline. Ryman's work is the longest original fiction by an SF author to debut online (though it is not itself SF), and has since been issued as a book both in the UK and the US. Besher also plans chapters composed of email correspondence, and an interactive call for journal entries by readers to form a ''Collective Diary'' of thoughts about the new millennium.
(Fri 23 Oct 1998)
The 18th annual Canadian SF & Fantasy awards (Prix Aurora Awards 1998) were presented in Montreal, Quebec at Con*Cept on October 5th. The Aurora Awards honor Canadians in 10 different categories. The complete list of nominations is shown below, with the winners in color. The long-form categories are open to works published in previous two years, 1996-1997. Other categories are for works from the previous calendar year, 1997.
(Tue 13 Oct 1998)
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