Bruce’s comment is dead-on. One needs to keep all this stuff in perspective — I’m always reminded of the scene in A Christmas Story, when the father opens the huge wooden box disclosing the hideous lamp shaped like a woman’s leg, and exclaims (to his irritated wife’s question, “What IS it?”) “Why, It’s a MAJOR AWARD!”
We just got nominated for the Montgolfier Award!
(Best SF Discussion Blog).
It’s an honor etc …
I think Liz and Andy and Brett have covered much of the territory I’d cover, but I’d especially like to second the notion that awards help define and validate the community, even though I don’t think they do much to shape the literature, or the art, or the filmmaking.
I don’t think there’s another field that likes to gives itself as many different awards as the SF/fantasy field. There me be what seems like several hundred categories of Grammies, but they’re all Grammies. Every year I seem to discover another SF/F award I haven’t heard of before, and I have to admire the indefatigability of Cheryl Morgan at SF Awards Watch and Mark Kelly of Locus Online of being able to keep track of these things. It seems like too many–until I find myself nominated for one, and then it seems like there aren’t enough.
But back to the community validation thing. Two awards that I’ve been involved in for many years are awarded by the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts. One is a career achievement award for scholarship, and may be a little off-topic for most of this thread, but one in particular sticks with me: we’d decided to give the scholarship award to a very major critic and scholar of folklore and fairy tales–I shouldn’t mention the name, but people can figure it out easily enough–whose reputation was such that we weren’t sure he’d even bother to come to receive it. But accepting the award at the banquet, he told us it was the first award he’d ever received, and felt validated. I think those of us at ICFA felt pretty validated as well, when we learned that.
The other ICFA award, which I administer, is the Crawford Award for a new fantasy writer. I keep administering it year after year, even though it can sometimes be nerve-wracking, because I get to make those wonderful phone calls. A fair amount of the time it feels like you’re inviting someone to a huge and wonderful party they’d known little or nothing about previously, and I’ve seen Crawford winners become very active and highly valued colleagues for years afterward. Whether it really does much for a career isn’t really the point: it does a lot, in terms of validation, for those who win, and for those who get nominated, and for those of us lucky enough to be able to hand them out.