I have received a schedule for the SFX weekender, taking place at no less a location than Pontins at Camber Sands. Apparently there may still be some changes as the details get ironed out, but for the time being, here is my schedule:
Friday, 12.45-13.30 (Main Void) – Gollancz panel, along with imprint stablemates Dave Moody, Chris Wooding, Justina Robson, Tom Lloyd, John Meaney, and Richard Morgan, and who knows, perhaps one or other of the magnificent Ozzes who make it all happen from behind their curtain…
Saturday 5th Feb, 10.00-10.45 (Main Void) – David Gemmell Legend Award Panel, along with award organiser Debbie Miller, and authors Stan Nichols, Richard Morgan, Adrian Tchaikovsky.
Saturday 6th Feb, 16.00-16.30 (Slaughtered Lamb) – Me, alone – my incandescent brilliance undimmed by the presence of other authors as the tiny moon briefly occludes the majestic fiery orb of the sun during a solar eclipse – reading readings from books written by me, probably including something from the forthcoming The Heroes, to an awestruck crowd (should there be one) and answering questions (should there be any).
Anyone who’s attending the Weekender, and would like anything signed, can by all means collar me at any of these places, though I’ll also more than likely be happy to oblige if you collar me elsewhere, which probably, I shouldn’t wonder, for the rest of the time, means in the bar. Books should be available from dealers there as well, though I couldn’t absolutely swear to that.
Talking of the David Gemmel Legend Award, which it looks like I will be at the Weekender, I note that Nic Clarke has completed a probing examination of last year’s shortlist at Strange Horizons (part I here, and part II here). It’s interesting reading, and not just because she clearly realises what the internet-using population of the world was clearly TOO DAMN THICK, WRONG-HEADED or PROFOUNDLY EVIL to realise, that mine iz the bestest ritten out of that hole load of bookz.
This caused author Mark Charan Newton, who is running a very thoughtful and insightful blog (curse him), to reflect upon the absence of serious discussion about last year’s Gemmell Award, or at least serious comparison of its nominees:
“I must admit to finding it bizarre that any award can have a shortlist where titles are barely compared to each other. How can you call a book the “best” without such an analysis? Getting as many people to vote online seems a spurious way to go about this, when clearly no one could have read so many titles.”
I certainly agree about the online vote aspect, I much preferred the idea of a public vote on the longlist – which would have meant a decent amount of public involvement and a relatively commercial shortlist – then a panel to decide the winner, which would hopefully encourage debate, reduce any chance of vote-stuffing, and hopefully prevent the award endlessly going to the most popular series currently going (I’m a little worried it’ll just end up going to, say, the final three books of the Wheel of Time three years in a row, which there probably isn’t much point in. Awards are at their most useless when they just point Catholics towards the Vatican, as it were.) as well as meaning that the people making the choice do actually have to read and compare the books, rather than just vote for the one they’ve read.
But overall, though I’d like to see more, I’m not honestly sure lack of in-depth discussion is that important. Firstly, it’s a new award, and it takes time for these things to bed in and be taken seriously, and a lot of what determines how seriously it’ll be taken and by who is who actually wins the awards – the character of this has yet to really be established. In due course it may wither or it may become important. It’s also interesting that despite everyone saying a public vote would be incredibly predictable, no one actually predicted the outcome at all last year. Secondly, the award generated some debate in those places that people talk about these kind of books, which generally aren’t the same ones where people talk about other awards, since other genre awards really don’t tend to go to these kind of books – follow me? Thirdly, I’m not sure debate on blogs should be the barometer of success for an award. The Gemmell did get a little attention outside of the genre, and it did get a little attention from booksellers, all in its first year. The more knowledgable can by all means correct me, but my understanding is that genre awards are not terribly significant commercially, and some of the bigger ones are getting less significant by the year. Be nice to have something that can actually get some books in a window, wouldn’t it?
Anyway, just talkin’. I like serious criticism as much as the next guy. I look forward to Mark’s in-depth comparison of this year’s entire DGLA longlist.