The BFS affair continues to rumble on. Pádraig Ó Méalóid has a good post about how these things seem to someone outside of the BFS community. Pádraig makes the point that we’ll all be tarred by this, which echoes the point I made in my original post about all fan-run awards suffering. In comments on Pádraig’s post, Juliet McKenna notes that the scandal has made it all the way to the pages of the Sunday Express. Ouch!
Also yesterday the news broke that David Howe had tendered his resignation as Chairman of the British Fantasy Society. It would not surprise me to learn that a few other members of the BFS committee were going as well. Some of them have been sounding pretty burned out for a long time.
This, presumably, will cause some major soul searching within the organization. Where does it go from here? It could, for example, rename itself as the British Horror Society and hope that the wider world goes away. Alternatively it could try to engage more with fantasy fans and writers. There are a lot of very successful fantasy writers in the UK, and I suspect that some of them, and their publishers, would like an organization called the British Fantasy Society to pay some attention to what they do. A likely result of that, however, is that the old interest in horror will become something of a minority pursuit within the BFS.
Mike Shevdon has suggested that the BFS have separate awards for fantasy and horror, which might seem a good middle ground, but is also likely to doom the society to endless arguments over the dividing line between the two. It is OK for, say, the Locus staff to have a working definition of what they mean by specific genres as far as awards are concerned; it is quite another for a fan organization to assume that there is a universal definition that will work for all of its members.
The key point here, though, is that if people want things to get better (and I accept that right now there’s no agreement on what “better” means) then they have to get involved. The BFS won’t change simply because people are shouting at it. The only way it will change is if a significant proportion of those people who are unhappy at what went on join up and help rebuild the society. I saw Tom Hunter on Twitter yesterday calling for people to do this. I wasn’t going to renew my membership, which expired at the end of September, but seeing as there is a possibility for change I have paid up. How about the rest of you? Please note, time and effort may be required as well as money.
Update: More interesting comment here from Simon Morden.